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Finally, got some major changes done to the site. First, the photo gallery is back up and working. In the process of upgrading, I hope to have made the gallery more attractive and easier and more fun to navigate. One of the reasons it took so long was trying to get all the layout bugs fixed for Internet Explorer. Everything worked swimmingly in FireFox, Safari, Opera, and Camino, but it looked like crap in Internet Explorer!! And according to my blogGet FireFox! statistics, 60-70% of you are still using IE instead of FireFox – so get the with the program, do yourself a favor, and get FireFox! But the 2nd reason for the delay was getting everything transferred to my new domain name – joelion.com. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been automatically redirected from the old URL, thalions.com/blogs/joe. Ideally, all the old links to the thalions.com/blogs/joe site should redirect properly to the new address, but you should probably update your bookmarks or RSS feeds anyway. Also links to pictures are different and pictures embedded in previous posts are mostly broken, for now at least. Since I bought thalions.com a couple years ago, and now Alisha uses alishalion.com for her site, I thought I’d go for the trifecta and snatch up joelion.com before I become big and famous and someone ends up stealing it from me.

Anyway, enough of that boring business. Not much else to report, but I did put up another photo album of my trip to the Starkbierfest last week at the Paulaner bier hall. Now the German’s aren’t going to get any awards for creativity when it comes to naming their beers. I’ve mentioned the most popular beers before – Helles, CIMG1323_smWeiss, and Dunkel. Those words literally mean “light”, “white”, and “dark” in English. Now to add to that list is a special brew made only once a year, Starkbier. Or, AKA known as “Strong beer”. How creative! Starkbierfest is kind of like the Spring version of Oktoberfest, but instead of everyone gathering at the carnival grounds, it’s up to each brewery to stage their own festivities at their own bierhalls. And as I mentioned, starkbier is only brewed once a year for this event, so you can’t get it any other time. That’s probably a good thing too, since it contains a good bit more alcohol that the other normal beers, and it’s drank in 1 Liter size steins of course. A couple/few of those will put you under the table for sure. (more…)

So I spent much of my last post complaining commenting on the weather around here. Well parhaps I spoke too soon because this weekend has been great, hinting that Spring may be around the corner. By great I mean it’s been sunny, at least, and temperatures have been above freezing. So I took advantage and went for a run in the English Garden and found almost all of Munich had the same idea. The park was full of people running, walking, riding, eating, but no nude-sunbathing (not yet, at least). The lakes are still frozen over, so while there is not ice hockey being played as there was last time I visited, there were groups of dogs enjoying the smooth lake to chase ducks and geese across the water!

For a little aside here, I’ll remind anyone who missed all my posts from last summer that when the weather is good here, most dining seems to take place outdoors. Between the time I got here in July and when the weather started going bad in November, probably 80% of my meals were outside, either in a garden or park, or in an outdoor seating area. Most cafes and restaraunts put tables all over the sidewalk or in adjacent squares to their location, and it makes for pleasant dining. Also, as I mentioned in the last post, European’s seem not to mind standing outside in freezing temperatures, as long as they had a group of people, and food and drinks. Well, with temperatures soaring into the low 40’s today, the cafes apparently have collectively decided it is time to break out the outdoor tables and chairs! As evident from this picture of a cafe at the end of our block, the locals seem to be more than happy to once again start eating outdoors again!

Spring Dining
I also have another short video to show. I had the pleasure of joining an Irish friend and his family at a local Irish Pub to watch a rugby game between Ireland and England. As you could imagine, tensions were running high and after 78 minutes of play (i.e. 2 minutes left), and hundreds of pints of Guiness from the bar patrons, Ireland was down by 4 points. Well, Ireland pulled together and marched down the pitch for a clutch touchdown with 1:30 left in play, and I had my camera ready to catch the reaction from a hundred drunk Irish hooligans!

I think I read somewhere that something like 90% of the blogs created in the last 3 years are now considered dead; i.e. having no posts or updates in the past 3 months. If my blog isn’t dead yet, it’s certainly on lifesupport, so the goal of this blog now is simply to keep close friends and family informed and occasionally entertained and to serve as a semi-permanent, online, searchable archive of our travels, experiences, pictures, thoughts, all that jazz.

So anyway, I’ve added a new photo gallery of some recent snow and a very cold and snowy St. Patrick’s Day festival. Also, my brother Todd and his girlfriend Becca spent a week here in Muinch over their Spring Break. They left 70+ degree weather in Raleigh (and returned to 80+ degreesǃ∂.) to spend 8 days in the cold and snow. The first weekend ofIMG_0178.JPG their trip, Southern Germany was slammed with the largest snow storm in 20 years, dumping over 20 inches of snow in downtown Munich. The snow made it a bit difficult to do all the normal tourist stuff, and we even made a foolish attempt at taking the Die Bahn (regional train) for a day trip to the Linderhof castle. I was thinking “what’s a little snow to a 50 ton train?” I failed to account for ice downing trees and debris on the tracks, and we ended up stranded for 6 hours in a Munich suburban train station before finding a cab back to town. By the next day the tracks were cleared, and they managed to escape to Vienna for a few days, where the weather was at least slightly warmer and there was considerably less snow.

The weekend after they left, there was an early St. Patrick’s Day celebration downtown. I kind of overslept though the parade, but did make it to part of the after-parade party. A St Pattycouple days of rain had cleaned out most of the snow, but by Sunday afternoon it was well below freezing again and the snow arrived just in time for the Irish jigs on the main stage. There was still a pretty good crowd, because one thing I’ve noticed about Europeans (taking experience from Munich, Austira and Prague though the past few months) is that they don’t mind standing around outside in freezing temperatures and horrid conditions, as long as they are with a big group of people and have something alcoholic to drink. In this case it was cold beer, but around Christmas the drink of choice was Gluwein, a very tasty heated, spicy red wine drink.

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