Month: December 2022 (page 1 of 2)

Sydney, we’re home ❤️

It’s the last day of 2022, and we’ve been home in Australia for two weeks now. It feels… truly surreal.

For the last month or so in Europe, I kept having conversations with people who either A) didn’t realise we were moving back to Australia or B) thought we’d already left. For the record, the plan when we moved to Munich back in 2020 was always to return in a couple years. I had a vague idea that it would likely be in 2023, and that’s the time frame we shared with our German landlord, our Australian tenant, and my manager at AWS.

Things suddenly got real in January 2022 when my manager asked me to call him. It turns out that my buddy who headed up the AWS Developer Relations team in Asia-Pacific had decided to resign and go work for a startup. My manager wanted to know if I was interested in the role. On one hand, it was a promotion of sorts, and it would be the #1 role I’d have wanted if I was moving back. But on the other hand, this was way ahead of schedule. I also knew that if I didn’t go for it, they’d hire someone else and that role wouldn’t be available when I eventually did move. I asked my manager if it would be possible to do the role remotely for the rest of the year, and he said it was as long as I was willing to deal with the timezones. I interviewed for the role, got it, and officially took it on in April 2022. For the last 8 months I’ve been managing a team of Developer Advocates in Asia-Pacific from Germany, which has meant being on calls at 6am and late into the evening.

We left the timeline vague as long as we could. We knew we wanted to experience Oktoberfest and as many Christmas markets as possible, and I wasn’t sure yet whether I’d need to go to AWS re:Invent in November. Then the Snook resigned from his job at Google and finished up at the end of August (after 10 years!), which meant he only had a couple months to stay in the country legally on his visa. Our tenant Kelly let us know that she wanted to go visit family in Perth for Christmas, which meant that we’d need to arrange someone to look after Petey. Honestly, that made everything a lot simpler. On October 1st, we gave notice that we’d be out before the end of the year and we booked our flights for December 14th.

In early November Rodd started organising for the furniture shipment and we had to decide what to keep or get rid of. We quickly decided not to keep the giant TV that we’d shipped from Australia, and I sold it to an Amazonian. We also sold off our gaming chairs, my IKEA desk, the Sodastream, my bike, and a bunch of other houseware items we didn’t need in Sydney. We also donated a bunch of old clothes that we hadn’t worn in ages to charity.

Selling the TV

We got back from our trip to Paris and Luxembourg exactly two weeks before our return flight to Sydney. There was so much to do! We made a “punch list” of sorts to make sure we didn’t forget anything.

Punch list

We used the same shippers we had two years earlier – OSS – and they were scheduled to arrive one week before we left. We set out all our suitcases and started filling them with the things we knew we wanted to carry back to Australia.


Then we started pulling together everything that would get shipped back. The challenge was that we had rented our place furnished, so we had to make sure we didn’t inadvertently ship back anything that belonged with the house. (Thankfully the Snook had taken very detailed photos of every drawer and cupboard when we moved in, which helped a lot!) Everything we were shipping from the kitchen went onto the dining room table, along with the coffee machine, grinder, and KitchenAid.

Kitchen stuff

We also had designated areas upstairs and downstairs so the movers would know exactly what to take.

Rodd also turned off the server and packed it up with the other things from his office, including his standing desk.

Office stuff

The movers turned up on time and got to work packing it all up in boxes. They were finished within a few hours and carted it all away. It was only about five cubic meters in the end. It will eventually be loaded into a shared shipping container in Rotterdam and then begin the long journey back to Sydney. The normal estimate is up to 20 weeks, so we’re not going to see that stuff for a while!


To my delight, two days later it began to snow in Munich. It was like the city wanted to give us the perfect send-off.

Snow in Munich

My old team in Europe hosted a fun goodbye session with a special trivia quiz themed all around me. They even got Rodd to help them out with some questions! The highlight was definitely the one about Rodd’s favourite type of nut, to which one of the answer options was “Deez.” 😂

Kris trivia

On our last weekend, we had one last Weisswurst Frühstück at the Augustiner Bräustuben. It’s an odd feeling, knowing that you are doing something for the very last time. I felt really emotional.

Weisswurst Frühstück

We went into the city to do some final shopping. Rodd was very keen to buy himself a Janker before we left. This is the traditional collarless Bavarian jacket. We went to several different shops trying them on before he found the perfect one in Lodenfrey. It’s a grey-green linen, which we figured he’d get more wear from in Australia.


It was snowing very prettily in the city, and we took the opportunity to enjoy the Christkindlmarkt one last time.

Snowing in Munich

We took the U-bahn to Poccistrasse and walked across the Theresienwiese. It was snowy and foggy, so much that you couldn’t see the far end. It felt like another world. Hard to believe a few months earlier it had been heaving with millions of people at Oktoberfest.


Our last few days in Munich were a flurry of cleaning and packing, with occasional breaks to look at the snow outside. We cleaned out the fridge and cupboards, and I returned my work laptop and some office furniture I’d borrowed. I gave the rest of our liquor to my colleague Viktor. We rehung our landlord’s artwork and restored the place the way we’d found it. We set up mail forwarding.

Snowy back garden

And then we were ready! The suitcases were packed full and just within the weight allowance. We did a final inspection and handover of keys the night before the flight, and then headed to an airport hotel for our final evening.


On the 14th, we walked over to the airport and dropped off our bags. We were flying Thai Airways through Bangkok, and we’d splurged on a business class upgrade. (It was the cheapest we could find.) We were chilling in the lounge when Rodd groaned. “The weather forecast,” he said, “is not looking good.” Something about blizzard ice. 😱

We went to the gate at the nominated boarding time, but it was pretty clear we weren’t going to be getting on the airplane anytime soon. Eventually we started hearing announcements that Lufthansa were cancelling all their domestic and short-haul flights, and we saw lots of frustrated travellers lining up for rebookings. Our crew were optimistic though that the long-haul international flights would eventually make it out. After a few hours we started to see some activity from the snowplows on the tarmac.


Four hours after our original boarding time, they announced we could finally board the plane! Everybody cheered.

On the plane

We settled into our seats and I hit the button on my goodbye post. The Thai business class seats were comfy but nowhere near as over-the-top as the ones on Qatar on the way there. The attendants told us that we’d be waiting a bit before the wings could be de-iced. We ended up sitting there for two hours! Eventually it was our turn for the de-icer, and then we could finally take off.


Once we were in the air the flight was proceeding smoothly. We were a good six hours behind schedule so I knew we’d miss our connection in Bangkok, but it was out of our hands at that point. I was just hoping that we’d be still be able to stay in business class on whatever flight they got us on.

Right as they were serving dinner, one of the attendants from Economy came running into our cabin and said something frantically to another in Thai that included the word “choking” in English. Clearly a passenger was choking(!), and there was a lot of dashing about and getting first aid kits and such. At that point, I honestly expected them to announce that we’d be turning around and landing somewhere to get the guy medical attention. That didn’t happen though, and our attendant told me later that there was thankfully a doctor onboard and the passenger was okay. Eventually they brought him (in an oxygen mask) and his wife up to sit in two of the free business class seats. Phew! It felt like the universe was really trying to keep us in Europe.

As we got closer to Bangkok, we paid for wifi so we could check whether we’d been rebooked. Nothing yet. I look tired here, but I did manage to get some sleep. A lie-flat bed helps enormously, and I’m happy to report that at 5’10” (178cm) I just fit in the Thai business class seat.

Flying over Myanmar

When we deplaned in Bangkok, we immediately spotted a Thai Airways attendant holding up a sign with our names on it. She collected us and another guy who’d missed his flight as well. She explained that we were being rebooked on Qantas and helped us clear Security and get into the Lounge. We spent several hours in the Lounge waiting for our new tickets to be reissued. (The Lounge was nice enough, but I was disappointed the showers weren’t open.) Eventually we got our tickets, and as expected we’d lost our Business class seats. Not only that, but we were going to be sitting in the middle two seats of the middle block of four. 😩 But I tried to look on the bright side – the staff at Thai had done everything they could, and we were almost home!

Bangkok Lounge

Right before we boarded the Qantas flight, we got a notification on the app that our seats had changed. They moved us to a bulkhead row! Those are the seats that they reserve for people with infants, but there weren’t any on the flight so they bumped us up. That was really nice and had us feeling better about the nine-hour flight. We settled in for the final leg…

Flight to Sydney

We landed in Sydney on schedule and were through immigration and customs quickly. Before you know it, we were in a taxi heading back to town. We had actually booked two nights in a hotel, knowing that the house wouldn’t be in a state to immediately move back in.

In the taxi

We dropped off our luggage at the hotel and then headed to the house. Kelly had moved out a few days earlier but had been coming by to feed and water Petey. We found him in the closet, and thankfully he seemed to forgive us pretty quickly for leaving him.


It was honestly a little depressing to return to the house. It was in decent shape, but two years of unprecedented rain had taken a toll. There were spots of mold on the ceiling (despite Kelly cleaning it repeatedly), and everything we had put in storage was either musty (at best) or covered in mildew (at worst). We also didn’t have much furniture beyond our bed and dining room table. Kelly had left us an old couch (that Petey had torn to shreds) and a small TV with a broken remote. Rodd said exactly what I was thinking: “This feels like camping.”

We set to work unpacking and cleaning. I tackled the bedroom and the bathroom while he worked on the kitchen. The washing machine broke on the very first load, but we persevered and ordered fresh sheets from Amazon. By Saturday night, we were sleeping in our own bed again. On Sunday we were restocking the kitchen and signing up for new mobile plans.

In bed

Unfortunately by Monday it was clear that I was sick. I started to feel a lot of chest congestion, and then my nose stuffed up completely. By Wednesday I was blowing green goo and I couldn’t smell anything. Repeated Covid tests were negative, so I went in to see my GP. He reckoned it was a sinus infection and put me on antibiotics, with some codeine to help me sleep at night. That knocked me out for the rest of the week, and I couldn’t really do anything but knit. It made for a quiet and rather depressing Christmas. The only highlight was that my sense of smell came back on Christmas Day so I could celebrate appropriately:

Petey eventually left the closet and became very, very clingy. He wants to make sure we never leave him again!


I am finally on the mend, and the house is starting to come back together. The washing machine repairman came out and estimated a thousand bucks for a new motor for our 14yo machine, so we said “Stuff it” and bought a new set on Appliances Online. They delivered them two days later, hooked them up, and took the old ones away. Yay for clean laundry!

Washer and dryer

We also took advantage of the Boxing Day sales to get a new OLED 4K TV. Hooray for overly giant televisions! (He claims it’s the same size as the old one. 🤔)

Rodd was very happy to get back to his induction stovetop, and he has used it to cook me some very excellent meals over the past fortnight. We’ve made a couple trips to Coles as we begin to restock the pantry, and I’m once again blown away by the quality and variety of produce we get here in Sydney.

And finally this week I was well enough to go into the AWS office. I picked up my new laptop from IT and started tackling a backlog of emails and overdue tasks.

In the AWS office

So… we’re back, and people keep asking me what it feels like. It feels weird. It feels like we never left. It feels like if I didn’t have physical proof that we were there – mainly in the fact that our house is still missing most of its furniture – I’d think it was all a dream. We were gone for 842 days. 120 weeks. Two years, three months and change. Did it actually happen? How did it go so fast?

I’m happy to see Petey. I’m happy to see my friends and neighbours and family again. I’m happy to not struggle daily with a foreign language, and to hear the Ocker accent again. I’m happy to see the ocean, eat amazing Asian food, watch the cricket, and drink a beer that isn’t a Helles. My hair texture has already changed for the better. (Munich water is *very* hard.) Australian cafe culture breakfasts are the best in the world. These are all good things.

But it’s really hard not to miss Munich. I miss having four distinct seasons. I miss the lack of humidity. I miss riding my bike all over the city and not having to worry about an irate driver hitting me. (Sydney is not cycle friendly.) I miss living in a city that is beautifully maintained, where piles of rubbish and empty storefronts are rare. I miss cheap and convenient public transport, and high speed rail between cities. I miss frozen, bake-at-home giant pretzels. I miss not needing to drive a car, pretty much ever.

I completely realise how all that sounds. Believe me, every single European thought we were crazy for being sad about coming back. And I know – I know – how incredibly fortunate we are, no matter where we live. This is just the normal comedown you have after a fabulous vacation, except that the vacation lasted 842 days. We’ll be all right.

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.

Thanks to everybody who helped us out along the way. Thanks to our family and friends who supported us in the move, and to our employers who made it possible. Thanks to our European friends for welcoming us so heartily. And thanks to Kelly for looking after our place and our dear Petey Cat.

It’s nice to be home.

Together in Sydney

Christmas Market round-up

One of my goals before leaving Munich was to hit as many Christmas markets as possible before leaving. We had been to the Munich Residenz Weihnachtsmarkt and the Köln Hafenweihnachsmarkt when we visited in November 2019, but all Christmas markets were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. And even though I knew timing would be tight in 2022 since we would be leaving for Australia in December, I still wanted to try.

We ended up visiting 7 of them!

The first was the Praterinsel Weihnachtsmarkt. I had noticed a big sign for it when riding my bike down the Isar in November, and with an opening day of Nov. 10 it was by far the earliest one. That happened to coincide with a visit from our friends Emily and Clare, so we took them along that weekend.

Praterinsel Weihnachtsmarket with Em and Clare

Truth be told it barely qualified as a market, it was so small. It consisted of a couple stalls near the river, and there were a few dozen people standing about drinking glühwein. Still, it was festively decorated and we felt like it was a cheerful start to the holiday season.

A week later was the opening of Das Weihnachtsdorf (“The Christmas village”), the market at the Residenz that we had visited in 2019. We were having dinner with some friends in the city so managed a quick visit beforehand. The market takes place in the inner courtyard at the palace, and the entrance is lit up with neon.

Das Weihnachtsdorf

Inside they have lots of stalls selling food, drink, and gifts. It was pretty crowded even though the weather was cold and drizzly.

Christmas Pyramid

One corner is set up as a Märchenwald (“Fairytale Forest”) with animatronic holiday scenes from stories for little kids. The giant robot mouse in the beautiful colourwork sweater was a particular favourite.

We had Glühwein as we had done three years earlier. We were standing there sipping our hot mulled wine and feeling quite relaxed when suddenly we realised we had made a major error on our first visit. All of the Glühwein stalls serve their drinks in real mugs, and you usually pay a couple extra euros deposit (“Pfand”) that you get back when you return the mug. Back in 2019… we did not understand this. We thought the mugs were commemorative and that we had purchased them. Whoops. 😳 And that’s how we ended up with two Residenz Weihnachtsmarkt mugs in our cupboard for the past three years! (Sorry!!)


Our third Christmas Market of 2022 was “La Magie de Noël” in Paris, which you can read all about on that blog post.

La Magie de Noël

The fourth market was actually two of them – the Lëtzebuerger Chrëschtmaart and the Wantermaart – in Luxembourg. Again, more photos on the blog post.

The fifth market was back in Munich on Dec. 2 – the Mittelalterlicher Weihnachtsmarkt (“Middle Ages Christmas Market”). Rodd had found out about this one somehow, and it was right around the corner from my office. We checked it out in the evening, and it did not disappoint. If you’d have asked me ahead of time to imagine a Middle Ages Christmas Market, this is pretty much exactly what I’d picture.

Mittelalterlicher Weihnachtsmarkt

There were rough-hewn wooden stalls selling “ye olde” gifts like drinking horns, medieval dresses, fur slippers, honey candles, and weaponry. All of the vendors were dressed in robes and costume.

You could buy jewelry, dolls, and gear for knights and princesses.

There were also lots of food stalls, including one that was roasting a whole wild boar.

Roasting a boar

There was glühwein, of course, but beyond that there were several stalls selling more obscure medieval drinks. This one offered Hypocras, a Roman drink of spiced wine that was thought to have medicinal properties.

Hypocras stall

The one I was most excited about was the Feuerzangenbowle (“Fire-tongs punch”). I had seen people drinking out of these odd ceramic cups and was excited to try it. It’s a hot mulled red wine, but the cup has a little bowl set into the lip that they set a rum-soaked sugar cube in. And then they light it on fire, and the hot melty sugar runs down into your wine. How bad-ass is that????? (You wait until it goes out to drink it, of course.)


While I was indulging my pyromaniac tendencies, the Snook only had eyes for one stall: the Metschänke (“Mead Tavern”).


He ended up with a tankard of hot spiced mead.

Hot mead

Incidentally, the deposit on these fancy ceramic mugs was €10 each, so there was no way we were walking off with these!

Enjoying our mead and Feuerzangenbowle

It’s Germany, so there was also beer of course.

Der Biermeister

We were hungry so we hit up the Knödel (“dumpling”) stall for dinner and ate it with sauerkraut hunched over a barrel like medieval peasants.

Dumpling dinner

We went straight on to our sixth Christmas market that same night – the Munich Christkindlmarkt (“Christ Child Market”). We walked over to the Marienplatz and joined the huge crowds checking out all the stalls in front of the Rathaus.



There were lots of stalls selling Christmas decorations, ornaments, toys, and gifts.

Did I mention it was crowded??

Christmas market crowds

We made our way up Kaufingerstrasse, checking out the stalls along the way. There were a lot of stalls selling hot roasted nuts, food, and drink. The Willenborgs Crambambuli place was very popular, offering their fancy organic mulled wine.

Willenborgs Crambambuli

I was also delighted by this glühwein stall that had a mini Frauenkirche on its roof, set up right in front of the actual Frauenkirche.

Frauenkirche glühwein stall

Mmm, sausages.


Eventually we reached the end of the stalls as we got to Stachus, and there ahead of us was the Münchner Eiszauber (“Ice Magic”) – an outdoor ice skating rink with several bars!

Münchner Eiszauber

We went up to the second floor to have a look at the skating. Lots of folks were sitting up there having drinks.

Ice skating

Our seventh and final Christmas market came two days later on December 4th – the Tollwood Winterfestival. We had attended the summer version of this arts and music festival back in July. The winter version was set up on the Theresienwiese, near our house.

Tollwood Winterfestival

There were several music venues and a covered market, as well as lots of outdoor stalls.


Since it’s an arts festival, there are also large scale artworks dotted throughout the grounds.

A few folks were on the Eisstockbahn playing Eisstockschießen, a German winter sport similar to curling. There was no ice though, so it was really more like shuffleboard.


Time for sustenance! We went over to the crepes stall and shared one with applesauce and cinnamon sugar.


They also had a Feuerzangenbowle hut, which was hilariously decorated with wooden flames all over the roof.


We wanted to try something new though so ended up at the Met-Amensis stall. This is yet another meadery, and the Snook ended up with one of their GoldenDark mead beers. I chose instead their “Drakenbluod” (Dragon’s Blood), a hot spiced mead with cherry juice and ginger. It was delicious and warming on a cold day.


On our very last weekend in Munich, we made a final visit back to the Christkindlmarkt for some shopping. Amazingly, it was snowing.

Snowing in Munich

It was perfect. We picked up some Schmalznudel (fried Bavarian-style doughnuts) and ate them along with glühwein in the Viktualiensmarkt.

It was a lovely way to say goodbye to the city. You know, I love an Aussie summer Christmas: cricket on the telly; fresh mangoes; maybe a trip to the beach. But there’s just something special about the holidays in a snowy climate. I’m so glad we got to experience it once more time before we left. 🎄🌟

Random Links

Some random links I’ve had open in my web browser lately:

  • The BBC have been broadcasting daily episodes of a dramaticization of Susan Cooper’s book The Dark is Rising. It’s also available as a podcast (on pretty much all the platforms), and we’ve been listening along and really enjoying it. If you’ve only seen the terrible 2007 film, you should listen to this and then go out and read the whole series. (Rodd and I have also been having fun casting an imaginary version of this for Netflix. He reckons Peter Capaldi for Merriman.)
  • The Most Popular Series Eats Recipes of 2022. I’m amused how many of these are just simple potato recipes. And hey, it includes Tartiflette! I will definitely be making that pork and bean stew next winter.
  • Mapping Sydney Billboards: Every QMS advertising panel in Sydney. I saw this linked on a Mastodon thread griping about the new electronic advertising panels. We’ve only been home for 2 weeks and already these things are annoying me. They’re huge and intrusive, and they take up disproportionate space on Sydney’s already narrow footpaths.
  • How to Sew Like a Mathematician. Making continuous bias tape has already been a favourite sewing trick of mine – I have a whole blog post and video about it – but I hadn’t thought very deeply about the topology of it. That post goes deep into the details and then tries an interesting technique to start with a regular torus, resulting in “almost” bias tape. 🤯

AWS folks to follow on Mastodon

I’m still enjoying Mastodon and staying the hell away from Twitter, and it seems like more and more folks are making the switch. If you use AWS and want to follow more folks in the developer community, my colleague Gunnar has curated several lists of employees, Developer Advocates, AWS Heroes, AWS Community Builders, and User Group leaders. Here’s how to get the latest lists and import into your own Mastodon account:

1. Click on the the Actions tab on Gunnar’s Github repo.

Click on the Actions tab

2. Click on the latest workflow, whatever it happens to be.

Click on the latest workflow

3. Scroll down on the page to the artifacts and click on the list to download a Zip file.

Artifacts4. Unzip the file. Then go to the Settings page within your Mastodon instance and select “Import and Export” and then “Import” options.

Importing the list

Leave the Import type to “Following list” and Merge so you don’t overwrite your existing followers list. Then select the list you want to import and hit Upload. Easy peasy!

Incidentally, you can see my Mastodon profile at and follow me if you like, or you can subscribe to an RSS feed of my posts.

Paris and Luxembourg

At the end of November I had a couple work commitments a week apart in Paris and Luxembourg, so we decided to combine them into a single trip – the last and biggest of our time in Europe. (I suspect it’ll also be the longest blog post!) ❤️

We kicked off with a very early (6:45am!) Sunday morning TGV train from Munich.

Train to France

We bought coffee and pastries to have breakfast on the train, and we just relaxed and watched the scenery as the sun came up.

On the train to Paris

By 10:30am we were crossing the Rhine into France.

Crossing the Rhine

The train had been moving pretty fast through Germany, but you could definitely tell when we crossed over and started really moving. (That’s about 200mph.)

316 km/h

The French countryside is very pretty.

We arrived at Gare de l’Est around 12:30pm and caught a taxi to our hotel. We were staying at the Hyatt Regency Paris Étoile in the northwest of the city. Not an especially touristy area, but it was fairly close to my office. After we dropped off our stuff, we headed out for a walk and ended up at the Arc de Triomphe.

Arc de Triomphe

We took the underground passageway and popped out right at the base of the arch.

Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Those carvings there amused me, as the ones on the right are meant to be bearded Germans while the ones on the left are the French. In the middle under the archway is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I

Hey, there’s the Champs-Élysées! While it’s considered the most beautiful avenue in the world, on a rainy day with lots of traffic it just looks like any other street.


We next headed towards the Seine, passing by some very fancy shops. Mr. Snook was looking pretty fashionable himself in the Belstaff.


We crossed the Seine at the Pont de l’Alma and got our first glimpse of the Tower.

The Seine and the Tower

We walked along the pedestrian promenade towards the Tower and passed by the Memorial National de la Guerre d’Algerie.

Memorial National de la Guerre d'Algerie

And then we were at the Tower! There’s a lot of work being done around the base, presumably ahead of Paris hosting the Olympics in 2024.

Eiffel Tower

We crossed back over the Seine at the Pont d’Iéna.

Crossing the Seine

On the other side, we walked up past the Trocadero Gardens to the Palais de Chaillot. Our only previous trip to Paris had been in 2001 (21 years ago!), and we both had a vague memory that this had been where we posed in front of the Tower all those years ago. Unfortunately it was fenced off for renovations…

View of the Tower blocked by fence

…but I peeked through the little window. Pretty sure that’s where it was.

Eiffel Tower

The date was Sunday, November 20th, which means it was our 18th wedding anniversary. I had planned something very special for dinner that night – a river cruise with Ducasse sur Seine.

Ducasse sur Seine

This is a beautiful glass restaurant boat docked right at the Pont d’Iéna. (Note: our Uber driver was confused by the directions as the wharves are below the level of the street. He ended up letting us out on the corner and we went down the stairs to the docks.) The host took our jackets and led us to our table, which had a perfect view of the Tower.

Our table at Ducasse sur Seine

I had booked us for 4-courses with matching wines, starting at 19:30. That meant we had an hour before the boat actually left for the 2-hr river cruise at 20:30. We had both dressed up and we were feeling pretty special.

The menu from our dinner is currently on a boat somewhere between Amsterdam and Sydney, so I don’t have exact details on what we ate. (The online menu has been updated since then.) But we started off with some small bites along with bread and butter.

There was also a small soup… potato, I think?


At 20:00, the twinkle lights went off on the Tower. 😍

Twinkling Eiffel Tower

For the second course, I had a beetroot and pomegranate dish while the Snook had a duck terrine.

At this point, the boat started moving! We slowly cruised east along the Seine. Here we are passing under the ornate Pont Alexandre III bridge.

Pont Alexandre III bridge

We also cruised past the Tuileries Garden, where I knew a big Christmas market was happening!

Tuileries Garden

Mr. Snook was enjoying himself.


The cruise goes all the way up to Île de la Cité, under the Pont Neuf, and around the island before heading back. Unfortunately the angles were such that we couldn’t really get a good view of Notre Dame.

Pont Neuf

For the mains, I had scallops while Rodd had lobster.

And then it was time for dessert! Mine involved chocolate and ice cream, while the Snook’s was clementine (orange) flavoured.

On the return trip we got to see the other side of the river (the Left Bank). Here’s the Musée d’Orsay.

Musee d'Orsay

And then the Tower came into sight, and we knew we were at the end of the trip. What a wonderful evening! Good food in an unforgettable setting, with my favourite person in the world.

Returning to the Tower

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DACH Community Day in Dresden and the Sächsische-Schweiz

Back in October, I was very honoured to be invited by some of my friends in the DACH (aka Germany, Austria, Switzerland) tech community to be the keynote speaker for AWS Community Day 2022. This was going to be their first time back in person after two years of virtual events, and I was very excited to finally meet some of them in person. Rodd was going to accompany me, of course, and he had planned out some fun touristy things for us to do as well.

We caught the Tuesday morning train from Munich. It was about a 4.5hr trip, including a short transfer in Leipzig. I mostly used the time to finish off my slides for the keynote!

Train to Dresden

On Tuesday night, the local AWS Dresden group were having a pre-Community Day meetup so we went along. Here’s my buddy Mohamed presenting about a couple serverless apps he built, as well as Martin from Groundfog sharing how they built a personalised web experience for visitors.

Wednesday was the big event, so we headed over early in the morning to the conference venue to help set up. My friends Linda (from Vienna) and Markus (from Munich) were going to be kicking things off in the morning.

Me, Linda, and Markus

Markus insisted that I wear the AWS dress. 😂 He was also going to be introducing me on stage.

Me and Markus

Eventually everything was ready and the hosts kicked off the morning. I was very excited to see them launch the Förderverein AWS Community DACH, which brings together all the different AWS groups into a single association. (Bonus points for the pun in the logo – in German, “Dach” means “roof”.)

Launching the Förderverein

Markus gave me a very humorous intro in which he’d scraped some dubious photos from my social media accounts, but thankfully he ended with the nicest one. ❤️

Markus introducing me

My talk started out quite personal, talking about how isolated I felt in the first ten years of my career. It wasn’t until I started going to meetups and hackathons that I finally felt like I belonged. At that point, it turned into a big soppy love letter to the folks in the room, who were my first friends when we moved to Germany. I ended by talking about how much AWS values the external community, and some of our plans to support them even more in the future.

My keynote

One last photo of me with Markus and Linda, who I’m going to really really miss. 😢

Me, Markus, and Linda

We spent the rest of the day at the conference, going to sessions and meeting sponsors and attendees. It was a small but passionate crowd, and everyone was so excited to get back together in person. Thank you to the organisers for inviting me!

We were pretty tired that night but of course had to take advantage of the hotel sauna…

Post sauna

I worked from the hotel the next day, but Rodd got me out into the sunshine for a quick walk and lunch in the city.

Me and Rodd in Dresden

We were very amused to see that there is actually an Australian restaurant in Dresden! The Snook was dubious, but hey, they serve kangaroo goulash soup. 😂

We walked up to Brühl’s Terrace, a large elevated terrace overlooking the Elbe. It was a beautiful day.

The Elbe from Brühl's Terrace

Here we are with the Hofkirche (Dresden Cathedral), the most important Catholic church in the city.


We also found the Lego store, which had a “Selfie Point.” Okay, then.

Lego Store Dresden

Our hotel was very close to the famous Frauenkirche in Dresden. This Lutheran church was destroyed during the firebombing of the city in 1945 and left in ruins as a war memorial for 50 years. It was only rebuilt after German reunification and was completed in 2005. The darker stones you can see were salvaged from the original church and were able to be reused in the reconstruction.


We went inside to take a look as well. It was all soft pastels, trompe l’oeil, and extravagant carvings. Very pretty! The story of how they rebuilt it is truly amazing.

Inside the Frauenkirche

That night we had booked a special dinner at Genuss-Atelier, a local Michelin-starred restaurant. It was described as “rustic vaults” and it felt very cozy.


One of the coolest things was that the tables had built in drawers with all the cutlery you’d need, so the waiters didn’t need to keep bringing fresh sets. I’ve never seen that before.

Cutlery drawer

We went with the six-course “Surprise” menu, and since it’s all seasonal and not printed, I tried to keep notes on my phone about what we had. We started with a couple small bites: pickled herring with potato chip, and felafel with yogurt.

Small bites

The Snook enjoyed the little bread rolls and butter. (He may have also been drafting a post for We Want Plates.)

Bread and butter

Our first proper course was beef tartar with sour cream and chives.

Beef tartar with sour cream and chives

Next was a vegetarian course – turnip cabbage (aka kohlrabi), celery, and yuzu.

Turnip cabbage, celery, yuzu

Next was the fish course – “eagle fish” (which we think is also called a “meagre“) with radicchio, celery, and capers.

Eagle fish with radicchio, celery, capers

For the meat course, we had lamb with pumpkin and polenta, and of course we opted for the extra shaved black truffle!

Lamb with pumpkin and polenta

Everything was delicious and beautifully prepared. We were also having matched wines with each course, all of them from the local area. Rodd was amused when the waiter excitedly told him how one of them was matured in oak, which is something of a novelty in the region. (It’s very common in Australia!) Needless to say, we were having a wonderful evening.

And we finished with TWO desserts! First was “blueberry, butter cookie, and vanilla.”

Blueberry, butter cookie, and vanilla

And lastly, “banana, coconut, mango sorbet.” Yum!

Banana, coconut, mango sorbet

Highly recommend Genuss-Atelier if you are ever in the Dresden area!

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So good.

Beer is expensive and pretzels are disappointing, but some things are definitely better in Australia. ☕️ 🥭

Random Links

A couple tabs I’ve had open in my browser this week:

Oktoberfest 2022

When we got our apartment in Munich, one of the features we were most excited about was its proximity to the Theresienwiese. (We were literally a 5 minute walk to the Bavaria statue.) The Theresienwiese is the big showgrounds (historically it was a meadow) where Oktoberfest happens every year… except, of course, it didn’t happen in 2020 or 2021 because of Covid. This was a major blow to the city, both in terms of the economy and civic pride.

People, there was no way I was leaving Munich without getting to experience Oktoberfest. After our small taste at Frühlingfest in April 2022, we were so excited for it to finally happen in September. Strap in – this is going to be a long post with a lot of photos and videos!

One thing that surprised me was how early they started setting up. In May I was riding my bike across the Wiese and saw the new Pschorr Bräurosl starting to take shape. We found out later that this was because it was a new, larger design than it had been previously, and they needed to set up early so it could go through security tests and approvals.

Pshorr Bräurosl

It also doesn’t look like much of a tent, does it? They’re more like barns than tents.

By the start of July, the rest of the tents were going up as well. The Pschorr Bräurosl now had a roof and the walls were going up. The Schützen Festzelt was also taking shape, as well as the famous Paulaner and Löwenbräu pillars.

A month later in August, things were still further along. I was surprised by the Nymphenburg Sekt tent; I hadn’t realised there were tents for drinks other than beer. (“Sekt” is sparkling wine.)

The last thing to go up were the fair rides in early September. By this point most of the Wiese had been fenced off as the final touches were put in place.

Oktoberfest Rides

And then I had to head off to Bangkok for a work trip… I landed back in Munich on the morning of Saturday, September 17 – the very first day of Oktoberfest. I caught the train home from the airport and was delighted to see loads of folks in Tracht on the train and in the stations. Many of them were carrying large boards, which I later found out were the trays serving staff use to carry food.

Oktoberfest servers

A few hours later I was at home when a large BOOM rattled the house. I realised it was the traditional 12 o’clock opening gun salute and ran to the window to get a video.

We didn’t plan on going to Oktoberfest on the first day, instead frantically cleaning the house ahead of the arrival of our guests the next. Around 5pm I heard drumming and watched as a drum corps marched past behind the house in the pouring rain. In full lederhosen, no less! That’s dedication.

The next afternoon we headed back to the airport to welcome my mom, step-dad, and brother. Eventually we managed to collect them and get them back onto the train home.

The Garbericks

The Garbericks were pretty jet-lagged, but we herded them out of the house and down to the nearby Wirtshaus am Bavariapark for dinner. That’s where Joe discovered a new affinity for Schnitzel. 😃

Dinner at the Wirtshaus

Me and my gorgeous Mom. ❤️

Me and Mom

We dedicated the next day to sightseeing. Our first stop was the Olympia-Schimmhalle so Joey (who swims competitively for Ball State) could get in his workout. Interestingly, they had up a sign that due to the war in Ukraine (and the need for Germany to conserve energy) the temperature in the pool would be cooler than normal. Joey didn’t mind.

Joey at the Schwimmhalle

We walked them all around the Olympiapark, including stopping by the 1972 Olympic Massacre Memorial. The 50th anniversary had recently been commemorated, so there were wreaths for each of the murdered athletes. It was very moving.

Olympic Massacre Memorial

We then went into the city to show them the highlights of the Altstadt. We finally went into the Frauenkirche, the symbol of Munich.

Of course I had to take Mom to a local quilting shop! She bought a fabric panel covered in scenes from Munich.

Mom at a local quilting shop

We walked all over, trying to take advantage of the sunshine to help them get over the jetlag. In the afternoon we stopped for a little rest in the Residenz Hofgarten.

Residenz Hofgarten

The next day was Tuesday, and it was finally time to head to Oktoberfest! Rodd and I got dressed up in our Tracht, and Mom braided my hair for me. It was cold and rainy so I wore boots and a cardigan with my dirndl.

Me and Rodd in our Tracht

We headed down early to the nearest entrance at the Bavaria statue. A kind person offered to take a group photo of the five of us! ❤️

Group photo

It was Joey’s 21st birthday, so we’d all chipped in the day before to gift him an outfit from Trachten Rausch. He got a belted lederhosen with a beautiful collarless shirt and knitted socks.

Rodd and Joey

Mom’s wearing my other dirndl. Don’t we look cute?

Me and Mom

Pretty quickly, Joe and Joey decided that they needed appropriately Bavarian hats. We stopped at a stall where a very nice guy helped sort them out.

Hat stall

The day was really cool and damp, and it was constantly threatening to rain. Little did we know it would be like this almost every day for the next two weeks.

Me and Rodd

We walked up and down the aisles checking out the tents. The Schottenhamel Festzelt is the one where – right as that gun salute had happened on Saturday – the first Oktoberfest keg was tapped by the lord mayor of Munich.

Schottenhamel Festzelt

Right after this it started to rain, so we decided to make the Armbrustschützenzelt (“Crossbowman’s tent”) our first stop of the day. It was very pretty with its green and white striped ceiling, and it wasn’t very full yet so we easily got a table. It apparently hosts the German crossbow championship (in a side tent) every year.


It had just gone noon, so it was definitely time to get on the beers. Here you can see Joe and Joey modeling their new hats.

Joe and Joey

The Garbericks were definitely feeling the Gemütlichkeit.

Mom and Joe

Never underestimate the ability of a 21-year-old to suck down beer. Joey finished his first liter in under 20 minutes!

Joey's first legal beer

We also introduced them to “Ein Prosit,” the short little drinking song you hear every 10-20 minutes at Oktoberfest. Here is me singing it very, very off-key. 😂

I was very proud to have remembered to bring my Deckel, a lid for a beer stein. It’s much more useful in the summertime to keep wasps and bees out of your beer in the biergarten. We got a pair of them engraved a few months earlier.

Me and my Deckel

We were finally at Oktoberfest! It was really happening!!

Me and Rodd

The rain stopped so we headed back out for more exploration. We saw the Paulaner bierwagen and stopped for photos. The wagon is just for show though; pretty much all the beer at Oktoberfest is served from modern kegs. (The only brewery that still does the wooden ones is Augustiner.)

Paulaner bierwagen

We were getting a bit peckish so stopped off at Cafe Kaiserschmarrn for cake. This tent is run by Rischart, a famous bakery chain in Munich. It looked like a giant gingerbread house!

Cafe Kaiserschmarrn

The nearby Münchner Knödelei (“Munich Dumping House”) had a very cute photo stand-in that Rodd and I couldn’t resist…

Me and Rodd

We were getting a bit tired and the Americans all needed a nap, so we headed back to the house to recharge. Along the way we spotted the Löwenbrau bierwagen as well.

Löwenbrau bierwagen

After a nap, we headed back in the evening to explore the Oide Wiesn. This is a fenced off area that is meant to be more like the historical Oktoberfest, and you have to pay a couple euros to get in. We went first to the Museum tent, where a traditional band was playing.

Oktoberfest Museumzelt

I really loved the exhibit of all the old Oktoberfest posters. Those ones from the 60s and 70s were so cool! The 2022 design is also available on a commemorative beer mug, which I bought later that evening.

Oktoberfest posters

We also checked out the Historische Kegelbahn (“Historic bowling alley”) with wooden balls and pulley-system for restoring the pins.

Historische Kegelbahn

Time for another beer tent! We went to the Festzelt Tradition, a 5000-seater in the Oide Wiesn that features traditional brass music and dancing. We got a table and ordered some food for Brotzeit. (You’ll notice that we changed into warmer clothes, because the weather was so chilly and damp.)

Festzelt Traditional

In the Oide Wiesn tents, the beers are served out of ceramic beer steins rather than glass, and I believe it all comes from barrels as well.

Me in the Festzelt

We were absolutely delighted when a group of folk dancers took over the central stage! This was the highlight of the day, seeing them do the Schuhplattler dancing, stomping and slapping their knees and thighs.

The men were later joined by women, who twirled twirled twirled in their beautiful dirndls.

We left the Oide Wiesn in the evening and headed back out to the midway, doing a final lap to buy souvenirs and check out the modern tents. The Löwenbräu tent looked to be pretty popular! My favourite part is the big animatronic lion over the entrance, who throws back a beer and periodically roars.


There are plenty of smaller tents too. We stopped to get some Käsespätzle at Feisingers Kas und Weinstubn (“Cheese and wine parlour”), which was  packed with happy Bavarians singing pop music.

Feisingers Kas und Weinstubn

Mom really liked her Käsespätzle!

Mom eating Käsespätzle

We couldn’t resist the opportunity to finally see inside the Pschorr Bräurosl, after seeing it being built over so many months.

Pschorr Bräurosl

It was PACKED! Definitely not getting a table in here. So many young people, standing room only, up on their seats dancing to rock music. We did a lap and then got the hell out.

Pschorr Bräurosl

And that was it for our first day at Oktoberfest! Time to go home and sleep it all off….

Me and Rodd and the Ferris Wheel

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