By Judy Steffes Special to Published Jul 01, 2008 at 6:41 PM

DACHAU, Germany -- OMG ... I've been taken in by the Sopranos of Germany.

Totally lost leaving the Dachau prison camp, rain starts, and I end up at the gated entrance of a home talking to a man named Oliver who is accompanied by his rottweiler, Cesar.

We chat a bit, he invites me in for a beer and four weisses later I've met the entire family and invited to stay the night.

Oliver is a former body builder whose arms still show the muscles of his heyday. He's very outgoing, friendly and a little loud. "You eat with us white sausages tonight," he says more so with direction than a question.

I say Sopranos, however I don't think the family has any ties to the mafia; they just remind me of a well-to-do, ethnic family, who has all the same issues as everybody else ... and some of the characteristics of Carmella and Tony.

Oliver's kids keep him in line. "My daughter, she say don't talk English because you make too many mistakes."

Oliver, 43, manages at a company that manufactures meat-cutting tools. He shows me around his property which includes an old barn with solid wood beams, a detached workshop with all his man tools and a license plate for Cesar with tick marks next to the words mailmen, car tires, paperboys and mother-in-law.

There's a huge backyard with a swimming pool, patio and garden, and we can't forget the sheep.

"They are my sheeps," smiles Oliver proudly catching a lamb in mid-stride and picking it up with one swoop of his hand.

The sheep are relatively new additions to the family. Oliver rescued them from a trailer broken down outside his home. He heard the lambs crying, looked in the trailer there were three dead sheep and two live ones.

Oliver busted the sheep out, helped get the man back on the road and said he was keeping the sheep or calling the cops.

"I thought he'd bring home one, but then he came in carrying two," says Andrea, Oliver's understanding wife.

She's attractive, long black hair, nice manicure, simple silver necklace, bracelet and rings. A stay-at-home mom with a sarcastic sense of humor and always ten steps ahead of her kids and her husband; nothing gets by her.

"The boys like to chill," she says, teasing her 12-year-old son Alex and his friend Howard who is his constant shadow.

Howard is from Iraq; I nickname him Elvis because he's got a big, black, wavy Elvis haircut, tight blue jeans and a flashy belt buckle. He's been adopted by the family, like I have, only he's been around four years.

My home is your home ...

Oliver invites me to stay the next day, and since it's raining it's easy to comply. He's taken the day off and seems all his friends know it.

"We should open our own beer garden," says Andrea, rolling her eyes; she is used to the constant traffic but frowns on beers before 10 a.m.

Oliver's dad, 76, shows up every day to take Cesar for a walk and then help fix stuff around the house. I find the boys in the man shop, stoking the wood furnace and pulling a couple bottles out of the fridge.

Grandpa is feeding the sheep, which are the main topic of conversation.

"When I have my sheeps all the children come to see," says Oliver, who initially offered "ice" or popsicles to the children who came from the neighborhood. "Pretty soon I handed out 50 ice," says Oliver, who talks with his hands. His English makes him sound very Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"My home is your home," he says and two more friends stop by to visit ... and have a couple beers.

By the time Andrea is done with her "mom taxi" service, running the kids to and from school; her friends stop by. Our topics of conversation range from popular bands, Andrea recently saw Bon Jovi and her daughter Michelle likes Disturbed and Linkin Park to popular TV shows including "American Dad" and the family collection of DVDs including "House" and "Grey's Anatomy."

Our discussion veers to politics and Sept. 11. "It was all over TV," says Andrea. "When it happened, the family didn't even go to Oktoberfest for fear it could happen here."

Today's tidbits ...

Had white sausages and Bavarian pretzels for dinner. You cut the sausages in half, dip in a brownish mustard and eat without eating the skin. The sausage was a little like a bratwurst but without the juice and fat.

Ninety percent of the songs played on German radio are in English. I've heard The Fray, Justin Timberlake and Amy Winehouse.

There are cigarette machines at almost every turn in Germany. A person, 16 and older must put in a debt card or ID to make a purchase. The smokes cost 4 Euros, which is about $8 a pack.

Fruits that don't travel well on the back of a bicycle include bananas which normally turn brown pretty fast and gush over everything. Strawberries get soggy and grapes tend to keep their shape, however they retain heat and if you've had them for a day on the back of your bike it's like popping a juicy piece of red hot lava in your mouth.

Judy Steffes Special to

Judy is a Milwaukee native who is ever exploring the country. Her favorite mode of travel is her 21-speed, blue Centurion bicycle, which she bought after high school. Judy has worked in the local media for the past 20 years. "I need to do something to support my biking habit."

Judy has an extensive history in radio news, having worked at WISN, WUWM, WTMJ, WKTY in La Crosse and WBKV in West Bend. A strong interest in sports also had Judy reporting for ESPN Radio covering the Packers, Buck, Brewers and Badgers. "One of my first Brewer games at County Stadium the security guy yelled as I walked into the locker room ‘LADY IN THE LOCKER ROOM.’ Now it’s so commonplace. But that story makes me sound really old."

Judy is currently working at WISN-TV in Milwaukee. She is a freelance writer and her pieces have been seen in The Small Business Times and The Business Journal. Her travel journal has appeared in Minnesota Trails Magazine, The Statesman and the West Bend Daily News, to name a few.

Aside from biking, running and being active in her community, Judy is known as someone who is "very, very thrifty." "I get candles for Christmas. My friends call them my space heaters because I normally keep the heat in my house at 40 degrees during the winter. It’s not that I can’t afford to turn up the thermostat, I just hate paying for heat."

Judy said her "conservative attitude" plays a part in her bike tours ... not needing to pay for gas and frequently spending nights camping inside churches. "First of all, it makes me feel safe since I’m traveling alone and second all you’re doing is sleeping, so why pay for that. It’s no wonder I can’t ever get someone to travel with me."

Judy grew up in Whitefish Bay and graduated from Dominican High School and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Judy is the second oldest among seven siblings and spends a lot of her time working as a "park tester" along with her eight nieces and nephews.