Friday, December 2, 2011

The big difference.

It’s pretty much the usual Friday here in Wienerland,  with the slight exception that it’s the “second work day”,  which in financial terms,  means all the results for the month of November will be filtering in to Travelling Companion over the course of the day.   Kinda sucks that it’s a Friday,  since the “second work day” also means it’s going to be a long day.  I can’t really comment on the competency of those providing the results,  since that would get me into trouble,  but if it’s a long day for T.C., you can draw your own conclusions.

So,  let me explain “the big difference”.  

The first time that I ever came to Europe,  it was as part of a “third year abroad” program when I went to McMaster University.  Of course,  these days they have a website,  everyone and their dog has a website.  You’re welcome to click on the link there and snoop around.   

Each of the two terms that I did,  was basically only for three months.  I spent the fall of ‘78 living and studying in Paris (um, the one in France?  not Ontario), then went home for Christmas,  went back to work in the New Year and worked my butt off in order to have enough money to then head off to Germany some time in April.  There I did a stint at the University of Freiburg

By the way,  I had only met Travelling Companion the previous summer,  we weren’t yet an “item”.  Just so you know.

Fortunately for me,  one of my brothers,  the one I mentioned yesterday that lives in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia,  was in the Canadian Air Force,  and was stationed in Baden-Söllingen.  If you happen to go to that link,  you’ll see that it was about an hour’s drive away from Freiburg,  and if you zoom in to the airport,  you’ll see that the streets have some crazy names like, “Toronto Avenue”, Winnipeg Avenue” and “Victoria Boulevard”,  and that the neighbouring town is called “Klein Kanada”?  (little Canada)

Right.  Well,  it was the Cold War,  and the Brits,  the Yanks and the Canucks all had armed forces right there nice and handy to the Iron Curtain.  But let’s not digress.

I say “fortunately” since,  unlike the situation in France where I was lucky enough to find a dormitory sort of arrangement,  in the Freiburg area I was only able to find an apartment.  In my room,  which was thankfully separate from the common area,  I did have a bed.  But that was it.  So… sheets?  Blankets?   Nada.

Good thing my sister-in-law was only an hour’s drive away and was willing to lend me some stuff.  I guess I would have had to buy something,  but there was only so much money,  and only so much room in my luggage,  so it would have had to stay behind when I left.

Life was great.  My room mate Lutz and I did live more or less like monks,  but he at least he did have a car,  and since I had my “international driver’s license”,  which is another antiquated concept,  we would decide ahead of time who was going to drive,  and who was going to be doing the drinking.  (there’s zero tolerance in Germany)  Once in a while we’d cross over into France for cheap smokes and wine,  and I learned all the dos and don’ts of crossing European borders.  They had them back then.  Things like,  put out your smoke,  turn off the radio,  and whatever you do,  have your passport out and handy,  since you don’t want to reach under the seat for anything

So think about that,  I was driving in Europe as far back as 1979.  Who’d a thunk?


So like I said,  we lived like monks,  and if I was “missing” something, then I knew that at certain point in time,  I’d get to go home,  and then whatever it was that I was missing,  I wouldn’t be missing it any more.  I was a student,  and it was all about going out,  meeting new people,  studying new things,  and just living life.  And if there was say, no decent peanut butter to be found,  well that was no big deal.  Three months.

But here’s the thing,  we’ve now been living in Europe for over three and a half years.  So if we’re having guests and they ask,  “Is there anything I can bring”,  you can bet your bippy that I can come up with one or two things that I just can’t find,  and I know that I want.  The fly swatters and the plastic wrap come immediately to mind.  I just might ask for some decent peanut butter when daughter number one comes over in a couple weeks.  We’ll see.


So last night,  Travelling Companion said,  “I had a craving for that Ham and Pineapple thing that we used to make”. 

“Oh?”  (he said,  all “deer in the headlights”)

I actually didn’t recall ever having seen pineapple here in Wienerland,  so I really didn’t hold out much hope of finding any.   I remembered I had a can of something in the cupboard,  but it turned out to be peaches.  No idea where I got those.  Maybe I’ve had them since the Netherlands?  No clue.

So then that triggered another thought,  and that was that she could make trifle.  I’m sure there are as a many ways of making trifle as there are States and Provinces,  but the way that Travelling Companion makes it is with peaches,  custard,  and a few other things which don’t come immediately to mind.   I think there’s some booze in there,  but never mind.  Oh,  and you need “angel food cake”.

So I set out this morning to find a total of four things.

Pineapple.  Angel Food Cake.  Custard,  and dental floss. 

Yes I know,  “one of these things is not like the other”.   The last item was from a previous conversation a few days ago. 

In typical fashion,  I was two for four.  Found the dental floss,  which is good news,  since that tells me that at least some people in Austria use the stuff,  and I also found the pineapple.  Custard?  Ya, right.  Angel Foo….what?  No.


I mean,  I KNOW they grow pineapple in Puerto Rico,  since we used to buy it fresh when we were there.  As a matter of fact they grow a LOT of pineapple in Puerto Rico,  which was why I was really and truly dumbfounded to discover that the Pizza Hut in Mayaguez had RUN OUT OF PINEAPPLE when I ordered my Hawaiian pizza.   Only in Puerto Rico,  could they grow acres and acres of f**king pineapple,  and then run out. 

But again,  let’s not digress.


For anyone reading this who is NOT somewhere in North America,  I just want to point out that this:


was not the brand I expected to find.

Don’t get me wrong,  I was happy to find it.  But Del Monte?  In Europe?  How can that be?

Turns out it’s a product of Kenya.  Wow. They grow pineapples in Kenya?

There’s a “knock knock” joke in there somewhere,  with the punch line being, “Kenya believe it?”



After that,  I got nothin’.  I’m done.


Thanks for stopping by.




  1. I 'can' believe it!!..hope the dessert is delicious!!..that is if you find the angel food cake!!

  2. They have both Custard (Vanille Pudding)and Angel Food Cake (Bisquit) in Europe. I love it both! Seems you're having agood time though.

  3. You just need these "challenges" to keep you sharp. Do you suppose TC might be doing this on purpose?

  4. My goodness what a story. Hope the meal turns out as delicious and it sounds.

  5. and another great chaw from your day..I so enjoy reading your blogs...umm Peter you must be from NB or something lol custard (vanilla pudding) are they the same? Maybe I'm from Cape Breton and now live in NB...and angel food cake is that the same as bisquit? I make biscuits with least you found the pineapple :)

  6. Now that's one round about way of telling a story! But what the heck is trifle?

  7. That is an interesting story:) My first driving experience "over there" was in 1977.


Well, I've been getting too many spam comments showing up. Just a drag, so we'll go another route and hope that helps. So, we won't be hearing anything more from Mr. Nony Moose.
I guess I'll just have to do without that Gucci purse.