Winded Gypsy Chronicles: Entry 1 – The Beginning


Beth and Crixus 04 07 19
This is me with my lab, Crixus. Photo taken a week ago.

This is my story. I’ve wanted to sit down and write it for a long time, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it until now. I justified my lack of enthusiasm by telling myself my story wasn’t done yet, but what is done? Death? I can’t write this down when I’m dead and given my health and the black cloud that seems to follow me around, that could happen at any moment.

I want to say first that I will try to post these memories in somewhat of an order, but I may jump around a bit as different things enter my mind.

Let’s jump back to June, 2010. I want to start here, because this was where the real trouble began. I was living with my boyfriend at the time and our 2-year-old daughter, Graywyn. (I’ll often refer to her as “G” for short.) I own a small 2-bedroom home in Wisconsin (hopefully not for long, though).

This was already a particularly low time for us. We had previously been doing very well with a commercial and residential construction company we were essentially running out of my garage. We had all the tools, the truck, the crew and we’d made a name for ourselves. We were doing big projects like Walmart, Sam’s Club, Victoria Secret, Harley Davidson and other name brands. We offered general construction, but tile was our specialty.

We’d been thriving before our daughter was born, but it took the two of us working together for one paycheck to make it happen. We always had money in our bank account. We had savings, were able to do things we wanted and we were pretty happy. I worked until I was about 6 months pregnant. We lived in Columbus, Ohio during my pregnancy and after we took a job that required us working on the 20th floor of a building with no elevator, I was pretty much done. I realized I didn’t have the energy to do the work. After I stopped going, things kind of went downhill.

By the time we found ourselves in June, 2010, the construction business was all but over with. Companies were filing for bankruptcy and homeowners didn’t have the money. We switched gears. I focused on writing and transcription, which is what I had done from home before the construction. I loved working with university research departments (still do for readers who may need transcription services). We were now focusing on flipping cars and doing car repairs out of that same garage.

The money just wasn’t there and we were struggling. We were still doing some construction and had a couple local homes (within a block of my house). My ex’s brother was living with us. Over a two year period we’d had a lot of people live with us to help balance out finances and to help them out. At one time, his brother and my sister were both sleeping in the finished basement and another worker of ours was living above the garage. It was a full household and I grew tired of being an adult and having to share my personal space.

By now, only his brother remained. I became aware that he was doing and most likely dealing drugs a few weeks prior to this. I’d seen him make a quick hand exchange (product for money) across the street of my house during a family party. I was pissed. I told me ex his brother had to move out…immediately. He didn’t right away, but by now he had.

He claimed he had work back in Ohio where more of their family lived. He said he was coming back, but we both knew he wasn’t and to be honest, we didn’t want him back. Enough home sharing and enough drug activity. He basically packed his stuff and left in the wee hours of the morning one day. There was something off about it.

A few days later, one of the guys who had worked for us, whose car my ex had been working on and who seemed to have some sort of beef with my ex and his brother, approached me. I’d always gotten along with him. I remember I had bought Christmas gifts for his children one year when I knew they were low on money. I do stuff like that when I can for people.

He told me that my ex was mixed up in something bad. He said it was drugs. I asked him to give me info I could verify (like where was he hiding the drugs, etc). His warning was simple. He has screwed someone over big time and these were the kind of guys who would come for me and my daughter, he said, to get to him. He told me I needed to leave.

I believed him about needing to get out of there. I’d had a dream a few months before about it. Sometimes I dream things. In the dream, I was home alone. I saw a man in my driveway with a gun. I remember locking the side door off the kitchen (the most likely door he’d go to) and then realizing my back door was unlocked. My dog was out in the back in the dream. I remember thinking he might help protect me. It’s silly now when I think about it. A bullet would stop him.

I was trying to figure out what to do next when I woke up. There were other elements in the dream, such as the knowledge that my ex’s brother was involved. The dream was vivid and served as a warning.

After the warning, I remember standing out in the yard with my ex telling him we needed to leave then. He didn’t say he didn’t believe me, but he did think my reaction was a bit extreme. He asked me where we should go? I had no idea and as I listened to my voice, a bit higher and more excited than usual, I sounded crazy to my own ears.

In the end, we didn’t leave. Instead, we went about our day. I sensed it coming, but had no idea I didn’t have more time.

Later that evening we were sitting in the living room watching a movie. It was about 10 o’clock at night and our daughter was asleep in her bed. I got up to make a later dinner. We were having egg-in-the-hole. I had the kitchen windows open and couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being watched when I was in the kitchen. I looked over at the kitchen door and noted the handle was unlocked. I started to go over to it to lock it, but something stopped me. This decision would make no sense to me until later.

I finished making our dinner and sat down on the couch with our plates to finish the movie. The house is rather small, so the kitchen, dining area and living room are all right there in an open space.

Just like in the movies, we heard a twig snap/crack outside the windows. We turned off the movie and set our plates down. My dog, Horatio, a wirehaired pointer/lab mix stayed silent. This was unusual, because any other time someone even breathed in our direction, he’d be barking. He walked silently over to the kitchen door and listened, his head cocked to the side. My ex quietly said, “You stay here.” Just like any stubborn heroin in a book or movie, I completely ignored his command and followed him over to the door.

Whoever it was tried to open the kitchen door, but it would stick, so they couldn’t get it open on the first try. By the time they did open it, we were both there. Two men were on the other side, armed. Both had ski masks on and gloves, but the first guy stuck his gun hand through the door opening first. This was his mistake, because Horatio lunged for him, grabbed onto gun and hand. My ex and I dropped to the floor and the two of used our body weight to slam the door on his arm repeatedly until he pulled his arm out, falling backwards off the deck onto my car.

“You’re dead, mother fucker!” He yelled over his shoulder before both gunmen fled. As soon as he pulled his arm out, we’d gotten the door shut and the deadbolt locked.

Thinking like a mother, my instinct sent me rushing into my daughter’s room where she still slept peacefully, not knowing what had happened at the other end of the house. I didn’t know if they’d left, if they’d just start shooting or what, so I grabbed by baby out of her crib and crawled to the central part of the house (the hallway). I laid her down on the floor and shielded her with my body while my ex dialed 9-1-1.

Police came. They assumed it was drug-related. The ran a drug dog through our house, our vehicles and our garage and came up empty. The police never fully believed our story and began investigating us.

As far as not locking the door, I feel like if I had, they would have kicked it open; probably broken it and we would not have been able to lock them out.

It’s the kind of scenario you replay in your mind constantly. I do, at least, since the night it happened. There was a knife block right there. Why didn’t one of us grab a knife and cut him? Would the police have believed us if there had been blood/DNA? Then I think if one of us had cut  him, would his natural reaction had been to shoot? Would one of us be dead or injured? I guess it played out like it was supposed to.

We stayed awake all night. The next day, we packed some belongings and fled to the Dells. We stayed a couple of days and then went to a family member’s hard-to-find cottage.

We’d visit the house to get essentials. Neighbors would approach us and say they knew of the bad things that went down. They were scared. They didn’t want to get involved and would not be talking to police, but wanted us to know that my ex’s brother had left town with about $10,000 worth of drugs from a local gang (not to be named here, but a very well-known name) and that they wanted revenge. We were told by multiple people that there was a price on all three of our heads. $20,000 for me and him and $40,000 for my child. I guess the price doubles if you have to murder a baby.

I would never sleep a night in that house again and for years, I’d only go when I had to.

We didn’t know what to do next. At the time, I was managing about 250 writers for an online academic writing and research company. The owner lived half the time in the UK and the other half of the time in Cairo. Egypt was on my bucket list of “must visit” places, so when she heard what happened and offered to fly the three of us and my dog to Cairo and put us up in one of her apartment buildings, it seemed like a good plan.

And so the course would be set for worldwide travel….

The Great Bacon Hunt in Dublin


By Beth Lytle

bacon_main

Hello Everyone!  It’s been a while since I posted on here.  When you visited me last, I was living in Frankfurt, Germany and I was busy telling you what it was like as an American living in Germany.  Well, it’s been a busy year.  Since then, I relocated to Dublin, Ireland.

Now that I’ve been here a year, I’ve decided there are a lot of things I have to say about Dublin.  For one thing, even though I didn’t have problems getting around Frankfurt as an English-speaking person, it is, of course, much easier in an English-speaking country.

One thing my family has learned since being here is that we’re not big fans of rashers, the UK/Irish version of bacon.  Since bacon is one of our all-time favorite foods, I began doing some research on the subject.  I’ve also discovered where you can find bacon in Dublin.  Even though there are not many places, you can actually find bacon all over Dublin.

Here’s a bit of background information about bacon.  It will help you understand why an American might find rashers to be a bit off.  In the United States, the majority of bacon is prepared from the pork belly.  In other parts of the world, it is prepared from several different cuts of meat, usually from the back and sides.

So, let’s get on to where you can find the bacon you’re looking for in Dublin.  There are three main places we buy our bacon from here.  The first place is Tesco, but it’s not just any Tesco.  In fact, many Tesco’s do not carry what we’re looking for.  The Tesco we buy it from is the Tesco on Navan Road (next to the Maple Centre).  What we buy there is actually called Pancetta.  It looks and tastes like American bacon.  The brand we get is Sol.  It can be found usually in an end cap of a refrigeration aisle across from the deli section.  Despite the fact that we always find it there and that we order our groceries from that particular store, it does not show up on Tesco’s online ordering.

Maple Centre

Next, you can buy bacon from the Fresh Market in Smithfield.  Sometimes they have it, sometimes they don’t.  You’ll find it to the right of the refrigerated Polish section if they do have it.  As far as I can tell, they stock two different brands.  The brand names are Espina Bacon and Campofrio Bacon.  We just found these brands, so I haven’t tried the Campofrio brand, but I cooked up the Espina brand yesterday.  It claims to be lower in fat and was okay, but even when cooked at a low temperature, it cooked up pretty crispy.  So far, my preference is the Pancetta from the Navan Road Tesco.

Fresh Market Photo

Finally, you can get bacon from Marks & Spencer.  They have a couple of different types of brands.  Unfortunately I haven’t bought any from there lately, so I don’t have the brand names or photos.  We get it from the M&S at the Jervis Shopping Centre.

Jervis Shopping Centre

Have you found other places in Dublin that you get your American-style bacon?  Post a comment letting us know where!  I will make changes to this article as I come across more information, because, yes, bacon is that important!

About the Author

Beth Lytle works with The Site Gardener as copywriter and editor, project manager, and marketing director.  She also works on several other ongoing projects, including Seen It MagazineTranscription Connection, her Winded Gypsy expat blog and varying small projects.  Connect with Beth on Facebook for constant updates to her projects.

Moving in Frankfurt, Germany: The Skippy on Cost


We found that SIXT was the cheapest way to go for truck rentals in Frankfurt.

Moving can be a challenge for an expat in Frankfurt am Main.  It can be a problem whether you’re picking up furniture or trying to move an entire household.  One problem many people run into in Frankfurt is the fact that many rely on public transportation, biking and walking as their means of travel.  Many people do not own vehicles and those who do, often drive cars that are smaller and can’t really be used for hauling furniture items.

Finding a place in Germany and furnishing it can be a tricky experience for an expat.  Many expats find themselves in need of a furnished sublet for the first few months (up to one year) that they are in Frankfurt, even if they have a job.  This is because many landlords look upon foreigners (unless they’re EU citizens) as individuals who can leave the country and return home at any time.  If this is the case, it can be very difficult to track the person down if money is owed or they’ve damaged property somehow.

If you’ve searched in the right places (I’ll post a blog on this later), you’ve probably found that there are many free or inexpensive items (in good condition) available in Frankfurt.  The catch is simple: you’ve got to pick them up.  If you’re willing to haul the item and often times, to disassemble it, you can furnish an apartment or room relatively inexpensively.

If you know someone who has a car that can haul some furniture items, you may consider asking them if they would be willing to help you get some furniture.  Keep in mind, that it can take several trips to several different locations to find everything you need.  You will probably need to pay for gas and depending on the person you’re asking, you may have to give them additional money for their time.  You’ll have to work this out with your friend.  If you are on a really tight budget and know the person well, perhaps offer them dinner or lunch.

Many people come to Frankfurt with the idea that finding and furnishing an apartment will be like it is other places.  They are sorely mistaken.  First of all, even if you have the money to pay for a place of your own and you have a full time job here, most landlords will not rent to you right away (again, I’ll post more on this subject in a different post).  Which brings us back to having to sublet (usually furnished) an apartment.

If you find yourself in this situation, the smartest thing you can do is to look for a place to store furniture.  This in itself can be very tricky and you’ll find that commercial storage rental places are extremely expensive and work differently than other places (for example, the United States).  They often won’t have anything reasonable available and tend to rent the storage space to you in a leasing manner (for a year or so) or in many cases, they want to sell you the storage space (some people purchase the storage space and then rent it out monthly).  Basically, this isn’t a popular option for most people.

You will have better luck going one of two routes.  The first option is to find someone who is renting a house or an apartment that has a garage that they don’t need.  You can often rent a garage for around 50 or 60 Euros a month.  This option will take you some research and time to find (again, another post can be dedicated to this subject later on).  The second option is to find someone who has either rented a storage space in their apartment complex or has access to one as part of their apartment.  For example, in the last sublet we lived in, storage units were rented out individually.  All of them were taken, but we were able to rent a storage space from another renter for a two month period.  And if all else fails, ask around.

So let’s say that you’re either moving from one apartment to another or you just need to haul something.  There are people with smaller moving vans that will load and unload items for you for an hourly rate.  A good source for this is EBay Classifieds (go to http://www.ebay.de and choose EBay Classifieds; if you don’t speak German, make sure you’ve installed an automatic translator, like Google Translate, so that you can translate the page).  You’ll find a lot of choices in varying price ranges for furniture pickup and also moving.

If you have a little bit more money to spend, you also have the option of hiring a professional moving company to come in, pack up your place and move you.  You can save a little bit of money by packing everything yourself and having it ready for when they get there.  These companies will also disassemble and reassemble furniture for a fee.  There are websites where you can plug in information about your move in order to receive bids for this service, but we looked into this when we were moving and found it to be too expensive.  Just to give you an idea of what I mean, we said we were moving a 100 square meter apartment and that everything would be packed and ready to go, as well as all furniture disassembled, and the cheapest price we received was for around 600 Euros with tax.

The other way you can move a household or pickup items is to rent a vehicle.  The good news is that Germany makes it very easy for you to rent a car, truck or van, even if you don’t have a license to drive in Germany.  Moving truck rentals vary and everyone told us to use a place called Turtle, and though they were cheaper than Europcar, we had the best luck with SIXT.  We were able to rent a 12’ moving truck for around 80 Euros for 24 hours, including full coverage insurance.  The catch here is that you’ll have to have someone who has the right license drive it.  We were lucky enough to have a friend who still had an older German license, which meant he could drive trucks this big.  Otherwise, you can go with one size smaller and anyone can drive it, including you.  My boyfriend does not have a license at this time, but because he had a license in the U.S. at one time, SIXT provided him a temporary driving permit that allowed him to drive the truck during our rental.

With gas and paid help, we were able to move everything in one day for around 175 Euros total.  If we hadn’t been so rushed, we would not have had to pay for so much help and could have taken our time in loading and unloading the truck and it would have been closer to 100 Euros.

The nice thing about SIXT is that you can request a truck online without having to put any money down.  You can make a tentative reservation online and add on the drivers, etc. and pay in-person when you pick up the truck as long as you bring the reservation number from the email.

The final thing I’ll touch on here is boxes.  Moving boxes are very expensive here.  One friend told us that anytime friends or family are getting rid of moving boxes, her parents take them and store them for later use.  You can expect to pay around 5 Euros per box if you buy them in the store.  If you look for sales, you may get them cheaper.  People typically sell them (again, EBay Classifieds) for about 1 Euro a piece (used boxes).  We asked the grocery store outside of our last sublet for boxes and were also given several boxes from a friend.  Between these two free options, we were able to acquire between 40 and 50 boxes for moving.  The other thing to consider is that most moving boxes are very big, so boxes from the store can sometimes be better for dishes, etc.  Otherwise, you can only fill the boxes up partially.

Hopefully this information helps some of you out.  We spent the first 7 months or so living in a furnished sublet.  We had limited space to work with, but did acquire a bed for our daughter and a small loveseat-sized couch.  We then moved into another sublet that was a little bigger for three months.  We purchased a lot of the furniture from this sublet, but still needed more furniture to complete an apartment.  Once we had a rental agreement in place and knew how big our apartment was going to be, we began searching for inexpensive or free items online.  A friend helped us pick these items up and we spent two months filling up a storage building in preparation for our move.

We found that SIXT was the cheapest way to go for truck rentals in Frankfurt.

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Can Americans find something good to eat in Frankfurt, Germany?


When we first got to Germany, we were excited to be able to eat something we love again:  PORK.  I know, it sounds awful, but after living in Cairo for five months, we were really missing our sausage and bacon!  One thing I learned to rely on in Cairo was a website called Otlob (Otlob.com).  The site allowed users to create a free account, inputting their home address and phone number.  Just about all of the food places that delivered in town were listed by area.  English-speaking users could put in their order online using English menus.  The order would then be turned into a third-party English/Arabic speaker, who would call the restaurant and give them the order in Arabic.  The worked well and allowed us to try a lot of different food.

We stayed in Cairo until the January, 2011 riots.  Tony was shot several times by in the legs by the police (we originally thought he was shot 24 times, but upon later examination by a German doctor, we found that 28 shots had actually penetrated skin; this is not including several other shots embedded in his steel-toed boots).  The U.S. brought us to Germany for medical attention on an evacuation flight (there’s more to the story and I’ll tell it on another day).  Tony was taken directly to the hospital from the airport, because he had sepsis and was entering into organ failure.  Graywyn and I were left to find a hotel at about 4 a.m. German time.  Every hotel was booked, except for the very expensive Sheraton at the airport.  We stayed there for four days until I found a sublet in Bornheim.

The woman who rented me the flat was a lifesaver.  She allowed us to stay in the sublet for several months.  When it was time to move out, we had a lot of difficulty finding a place, because we wanted to stay in the Bornheim area.  As Americans, it was very difficult to find an apartment of our own.  Although we searched for months, we were forced to move to yet another sublet in an area called Höchst.  We weren’t thrilled, because although the public transportation reaches everywhere, it isn’t as readily available here.  Since moving, we’ve secured our own lease back in the Bornheim/Nordend area and are moving at the end of January.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about food in Germany, it’s that much of it is the same.  Some people are curious about American food here and whether or not you can order it at restaurants.  I wish the answer were simple.  Although there are a few places in the Bornheim area that I like, I find much of the food to be the same.  If you’ve spent any time in Germany, or at least in Frankfurt, you’ll probably notice that a lot of the menus are the same.  It’s not uncommon for a seemingly pizza place to also have an Asian, Indian, Italian and American menu.  For Americans, menus that have an American section are usually disappointing.  I’ve come to realize that what Germans think of as American appetizers is really just burgers and fries.  So yes, you can get burger and fries when eating out, but it may not taste very American.

Of course the usual fast food places are here (McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, etc.), but I haven’t found a great many choices when it comes to eating food that I’m used to.  One of the best places I’ve found is O’Reilly’s Pub near Hauptbahnhof (Central Station).  I love to order their club sandwich there, but it can get expensive.

There’s a burger stand on the corner right where we used to live near the Bergerstraße that has excellent food.  We used to order their cheeseburgers and fries regularly and so far, I think theirs are the best I’ve had here.  It’s a funny corner where three streets meet (Spessarstraße, Mainkurstraße and Arnsburger Straße.  The Bergerstraße is visible from the burger stand and customers can either order their food to go or sit outside at one of the outdoor tables.  This is also where the public bathroom is located (be sure to bring 50 cents to use these toilets) and is directly across the street from where the big Wednesday and Saturday market is in this area.

There are many places offering pizza and as an American used to pizza you get in the states, I found it difficult to find pizza from any of the places that I loved in the Bornheim area.  I do like Joey’s Pizza, but as with many of the pizza places in the area, the pizzas are small and expensive, so most people order one pizza for themselves, because of the small size.  There is a place called the Pizza & Pasta Factoria that is very cool and child-friendly.  In fact, it’s very close to our new apartment.  Located at Martin-Luther Straße 33 (60316), they have a very lovely outdoor seating area with a small area for the children to play in.  This keeps Graywyn busy while we’re trying to eat and she nibbles on her food!  I like their pizza, but I really love their pasta, especially the pesto.  They also have amazingly large (and good) salads.

If you want to get a pizza more reminiscent of the states, you have to order from Höchst.  And by the way, you can use a website at Pizza.de.  Even though it says pizza, you can also order from just about any restaurant.  I use Google translate to automatically translate their pages into English and that way we can put our order in online.  There is a pizza place in this complex that has an amazingly large (rectangular) thick-crust pizza for cheap (around 10 Euros for a family size pizza that should be enough to feed a family of 4 or 5).  Unfortunately, their sauce is a little bit spicy and we started ordering from a place called Call-A-Pizza instead.  EVERYTHING we order from them is great and I’m addicted to their pepperoni pizza.  For 4.50 Euros, Tony can order his cheese pizza and depending on what size I order for me and Graywyn, I can order a pepperoni pizza for about 6 to 8 Euros.  So far, Call-A-Pizza has my vote for the best pizza in Frankfurt.

One thing to note when ordering pizza in the Bornheim area is that pepperoni is not always pepperoni.  It’s also the German name for peppers.  If you want a traditional pepperoni pizza, you have to order a pizza with salami or sometimes pepperoni wurst.  It really depends on the place.  It’s good to clarify if you’re unfamiliar with the place.

As far as Mexican restaurants, we haven’t found any that we like.  There is one place that was within walking distance of our old apartment and we went there because we liked the people, the drinks and the place.  They also have indoor and outdoor seating and a child basket full of coloring books and toys to keep small children entertained.  Some nights they have a live band.  It’s called El Pacifico and is located at Sandweg 79.  None of their food really tastes Mexican, but it’s okay.  I always order the fajitas, because though they’re just not entirely right, it’s the closest I can find there.  They also make a mean Tequila Sunrise.

If you’re strolling through Frankfurt, take a walk down the Bergerstraße and be sure to check out some of the döners places.  The best one we’ve found is the Döneria (Weidenbornstraße 4, 60385).  I’ve had döners at a couple other places and find that theirs are amazingly moist and good.  My favorite is the chicken with a sort of ranch sauce on it.

As far as Spanish food, we like to eat at a place down the Bergerstraße (232) called Mi Casa.  Their La Paella is excellent, but you can eat a hefty meal of appetizers and easily walk away full.

Of course there are many interesting places to eat in Frankfurt and there is a lot of good food, but if you want the type of American food you’re used to, you’ll have to make it yourself.  You’ll find lots of Spanish-inspired food, but nothing that is truly Mexican food.  There are a handful of places that our Italian friend says are authentic.  The final place I’ll tell you about is in Höchst (Sossenheimer Weg).  It’s called the Asia Bistro and they have the best Asian food we’ve had here.  In fact, their food is right up there with some of the best places I’ve eaten at in the U.S.  Otherwise, most Asian food we eat is tasteless and boring (or at least that’s been our experience).  You’ll find the Asia Bistro at Sossenheimer Weg 178 in Höchst.  I’d recommend the fried rice (it’s amazingly like the rice you get in the U.S.), the wonton soup (the best we’ve ever had) and the fried wantons.  We’ve also introduced some good recipes to them (crab Rangoon and moo shu pork), so maybe they’ll be adding some more good things to the menu soon!

Shopping for American Groceries in Frankfurt, Germany


I would have posted sooner, but they were working on something in our neighborhood and managed to knock out the Internet and phone service for everyone who has our service.  It put a real damper on my school work and my freelance work and I’ve been playing catch-up ever since!

For us, living outside of the United States is amazing, but you always miss things about home, especially the food.  Going without our favorite meals just isn’t an option for us, so we’ve found ways to either substitute food we can’t find or we’ve found where we can get it. Check back for updates, because I’ll be talking a lot about what foods/ingredients are available in Germany (or at least, which ones are available in Frankfurt) and where to find them.

When I look around the Internet, I find a lot of posts asking where to find American ingredients.  In Frankfurt, people will tell you that the Galeria at Konstablerwache has a real “American food”.  Some will send you to Real.  It’s true that these places have some American food, but each has a very small section with just a few options.  Both places have virtually the same choices.  These ingredients may change, but here’s what I’ve found at each place:

Galeria:

Crisco

Macaroni & Cheese (not Kraft, but an off brand)

Cake mixes

Cake frosting

Jack Daniels Mustard

Baking soda

Real:

Strawberry Poptarts

American syrup

Baking soda

Hellmann’s Mayonnaise

Brownie Mix

Off-brand macaroni & cheese

Refried beans

Keep in mind that the above lists are just some of the items I’ve found there and are only to the best of my memory.  You can find baking soda in some grocery stores, but it’s not something I find to be readily available.  The other source for pure American brands is Amazon.de.  Unfortunately, you end up paying a lot, because it’s imported.  I don’t think you save money by order from Amazon.  You can just as easily have an American friend or family member go shopping for you and have it mailed here.

Amazon.de has a variety of things available.  You’ll find everything from cereal to chips, candy and other odds and ends.  I know I’ve seen Bisquick available at one of the two stores, but I can’t remember if that was at Real or Galeria.  Neither store has a very big section, so if you’re not going there for something specific, check out the Galeria.  Real takes a little bit more time to get to and it’s much easier if you have a car.

If you’ve spent any time in Germany, you’ve probably come to realize that finding good Mexican food here is pointless.  You have to make it at home.  We’ve managed to make some very good Mexican food on our (of course, it helps that Tony is a trained chef and that I love to cook and experiment).  Rewe stores are excellent for some Mexican ingredients, but you’ll be hard pressed to find anything that’s truly spicy here.  We buy the “hot” salsa and end up adding jalapeno sauce to it to spice it up a bit.  You’ll find taco seasoning mixes, soft tortilla shells, refried beans and salsa at stores like Rewe.  Some large Rewe’s have Ortega spice mixes.  Personally, we prefer to mix our own.  There are a lot of good recipes on the Internet (and we plan on compiling a Mexican e-book to offer on here soon).  I save old jars, wash them out and use them to store my homemade spice mixes.  This mini Pesto jar has what’s left of the last taco seasoning mix I made. 

Do you have a question about where to find something?  Ask me and I’ll do my best to answer!

I have a big mouth, deranged thoughts and I’m here to stay!


My family and I left the United States in August of 2010 to go to Cairo, Egypt.  In February, 2011, we left Egypt and began a new adventure in Frankfurt, Germany.  Why we left each place and how we got there is a different story for another day and I’ll get to it, but for now, I wanted to open with a quick “hello” and a little insight to what I’ll be writing about on here.

The main focus of this blog will be about living as an expat (or a foreigner) in Frankfurt, Germany, but I will most likely dive into my memory of what it was like to live in Cairo too.  I make a living as a freelance writer.  It’s not always a great living, but it works for me and allows me to take care of my daughter instead of sticking her in daycare or school.  I plan to talk about everything with this blog, but you can expect to find a lot of information about living in Frankfurt as a non-German-speaking foreigner.  We’ve overcome a lot of obstacles to create things like we’re accustomed to in America.  Germany doesn’t always make that easy and though options are available, sometimes you have to either know where to look or go out of your way to find it.  Little by little, I plan to address various expat issues, including where to find certain food ingredients, good things to see and places to stop, and some of the more serious questions (like finding an apartment, job and getting a visa).

You’ll also likely catch some of my more deranged thoughts, so don’t be shocked when you take a look into my evil little mind.

I welcome you to my blog and hope to stay fairly consistent with my posts.  As I add information about living in Germany, please feel free to post your own questions to me or suggest topics.  The same goes for writing, working as a freelancer and living as an expat in Cairo.  I can probably be helpful about a lot of different things and the purpose of this blog is to provide information to people.  I noticed that a lot of blogs offer good expat information, but they don’t answer quite everything.  I’m hoping to answer some of the unanswered questions that I see floating around the Internet about Germany.

The Winded Gypsy a.k.a. Beth Lytle

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