Sunday, March 29, 2015

The best five years

Recently we had our 5th wedding anniversary!  Five years has gone by very fast.  It is interesting to think about how snowy it was when we got married, there has been almost no snow this winter.  Quite a bit has happened in the last five years.  Three graduations, two moves, became home owners, watched all seven seasons of Deep Space Nine, and had one beautiful baby (soon to be two).  Worth a celebration indeed.  We decided to go to the Laulasmaa spa, which is about 20 km  from Keila on the coast. 

 It is basically the same place where Maris had girls camp the year before.

 Lucky for us they had a nice little play room for kids.  Our kid loves to climb on everything.

 This is a picture of the hotel, we had a family room which was nice.  There was a nice little water park attached to the hotel, no slides, but a lazy river (more like small ring) and some different pools and saunas. 

It is also right on the coast which is great for summer.  It was pretty cold and windy when we went.  Our kid still loved it and was screaming when I took her away to go back to the hotel. 

Thumbs up for Laulasmaa and thumbs up for the last five years of marriage.  I'm not sure what we will do for next year, but it will probably be another place close by, Haapsalu sounds nice!  At some point I would love to go on a wild adventure, maybe for big number 10.  Leave some good suggestions in the comments below!  Right now I would love to go to Goa India, the Maldives, and Bali! 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Americans are from Mars, Europeans are from Venus part 3

Recently another grocery store opened near our house.  For those counting that makes seven stores within a 20 min walk, six within a 12 min walk and two within a 3 min walk.  I'm not sure if Keila needs so many grocery stores, but it is great to have the selection and the competition.  This also reminded me about something very different about Europe from the US, maybe the biggest difference.  Planning and zoning.  Even though Keila is a town of only 10,000 people it is still very compact with a lot of apartment buildings, and almost everything within walking distance.  For us we can get everywhere in just 10 min or so, hair salon, bank, children's play place, train station, places to eat and so on.  In the US everything is very spread apart and segregated.  Overall I liked the mixed zoning and compact cities better, no urban sprawl in Europe.

 This picture says it all, an apartment building to the left a bus stop in front, and the new Maxima in the background.



The Maxima stores have different sizes, the one x is the smallest.  It was a nice store, but I would rather have had a two x.  Luckily we still have some pretty big stores like Selver and Rõõmu.

 They have a family parking spot right next to the handicap parking spot we thought it was pretty cute. We went on only the second day it was open and it was super crowded and took us forever.  We should have just taken the pictures and gone home.  Since this store is about 10 min away from our apartment we probably won't be going here often. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Americans are from Mars, Europeans are from Venus part 2

Recently my sister had her home coming, welcome home Lynne!  We would have loved to be  home, but it was too far to go.  One place that makes me feel at home that is only 20 min away is an American themed restaurant called Baby Back, their specialty is ribs.  It's a fun place that really makes me feel that I am in America, well except the drinks.  That brings me to the second part in our Americans are from Mars, Europeans are from Venus blog series.  I'll save the alcohol culture for another blog post, for this blog I wanted to focus on non-alcoholic drinks at restaurant.

This might look very normal at first glance, but there are three key differences from what you would find in a US restaurant.

1. They do not serve tap water for free in Europe.  At Baby Back and almost every place they make you pay for bottled water.  We chose the milk shake and a Fanta which was on sale.
2. The drink sizes are crazy small.  This is a .25 liter Fanta.  It was on sale for 1 euro, normally 1.70.  What ever happened to super size me and free refills?!
3. Milk shakes are not made with milk.  :(  They are made with juice and ice cream.  They are still good, but a bit on the runny side.

 This is a picture of the inside of Baby Back, they have tons of random stuff on the walls.  Movie posters, toys, and just random stuff.  This is a large power ranger on the ceiling.  I also saw a jersey and a picture of Terrel Owens on the other side of the restaurant. 

 I got a cheese burger.  It was great, except that they put salsa on instead of ketchup! Next time I'll read the fine print.  Maris got the catfish and didn't like it.  We usually order from the coupon section and so sometimes we have bad orders.  But we are slowly finding out what we like and don't like!

Our baby didn't touch her pasta but she loved the play room! The best I've seen in a restaurant in Estonia. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Americans are from Mars, Europeans are from Venus part 1

As the popular phrase goes: Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus.  There are a lot of differences between living in Europe and living in the US and between Europeans and between Americans.  These types of blog entries seem to be some of the more popular, so I'll try to keep mentioning some of the differences. 

For the first entry I wanted to highlight how much Europeans love hazelnuts.  Americans?  They love peanuts.  Now with globalization this has changes some, you can find Nutella in the USA and peanut butter in Europe, They have even started to sell Reese's peanut butter products which is awesome for us.  But all in all the trends continue, each continent has their preferred nut.  For example you can find a new Snickers version that includes hazelnuts.  I'm not sure if they have this version in the US, but even if they do I'm sure it is more popular in Europe.