December 15th, 2005

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Quick Germany Review

Now that I'm more awake, and finally through processing the billion emails I had, time for a report on the trip. I know I posted little updates from Martina's house, but I don't think they were very coherent, as I was distracted and struggling with the German keyboard. No cuts on this entry, since I was so quiet the last few days :)

At the airport the line at the Lufthansa counter was impossibly long, but we made it through check-in, and later security, with plenty of time to spare. Our seats on the plane ended up being in the very back row and were really cramped, but we survived. One annnoyance came middle of the night when one of the flight attendants somehow hurt himself in the galley behind us and they had to plea for a doctor or nurse. This woke everybody up. As usual, I didn't sleep at all, and neither did Caleb, although he made the appearance of being so.

Arrived around 7:30 at Frankfurt and as usual, the customs and baggage process was speedy and efficient, as was the train. Frankfurt airport has the coooooolest long distance rail station you can imagine, a giant modern glass bubble with gorgeous modern trains zipping through it. We had pre-booked a train so we waited around a bit before it arrived. We had seats with a table, seated next to this sweet, old Bavarian couple. The trip to Munich took around 4 hours, but it was completely smooth and pleasant. I absolutely love ICE (InterCity Express) trains. Toward the end of the trip we had a fun talk with the couple.

Finally arrived in Munich at 12:30. We were both rather groggy by that point so it took a bit for us to figure out where and how to get the S-Bahn to Martina's. We finally did it and I sent a text saying we were coming. Martina was there at the track to meet us and led us to her place, which was just around the corner. She has a cozy little apartment that was immediately very welcoming and comfortable. We got tea and checked our email and so on until it was time for "brunch," a mid-afternoon meal that was a lot like a really good dinner. The big dish was weisswurst, which I ate despite normally being a vegetarian and not liking weisswurst. I'm so glad I ate it because it was realllllly good. There was also bruschetta and cabbage salad. Yum, yum, yum! Afterward Caleb and I checked out, with a two hour nap, while Martina worked. When we got up, it was to go around the corner to some grocery stores, where we got stuff for dinner and breakfast. Martina made the yummmmmiest pumpkin cream soup! All satisfied, we watched Van Helsing, which I know got panned by lots of folks but I really enjoyed it. We were up 'til around midnight or so, then all conked out. Martina has a day bed she sleeps in and a futon that pulls out for visitors.

We slept 'til around 10, then got up and freshened. Martina's good friend Michelle came by and we all had a big German breakfast, with rolls, cheese, cold cuts, various condiments, and tea. Mmmm! After that we went to the nearby S-Bahn station, where Caleb and I got an all-day "partner" pass so we could ride transit all day w/o worrying about fares. First we went to a little "Pink Christmas" event, which was kind of like a Christmas version of gay pride taking place in a little square. This was the first year for it so it was really small. For a complete contrast, we went to the MEGA Christmas market, Tollwood, which seemed to take up a square mile or something. There was a giant open air market and fair, giant "bazaar" tents and seemingly around 1/2 million people. It was really TOO big, to tell the truth, just overwhelming crowds, but I did a little shopping and Martina fixed me up with a hot Brazilian drink that got me kind of drunk. Afterward we went home and Martina made an intresting concoction, banana chili! We sat around for a while but eventually Caleb and I got restless and took the train into the city center. It was super cold out, but we walked from the Hauptbahnhof to Marienplatz, admiring all the Christmas decorations and pretty buildings, until we finally were so cold we headed back to the S-Bahn underground. We were happy to be inside again and sleeping in a warm bed.

Martina went to work at 9 and from then on, Caleb and I were on our own. After making our own German breakfast and getting freshened, we went out from 11 to 5 on a big shopping and sightseeing whinge. He he! There were so many wonderful, amazing stores. I don't think there's anywhere else I would rather shop than in big German cities. We went to the big department stores, like Galleria Kaufhof and Karstadt, plus New Yorker, C&A, a half-dozen H&Ms, and a ton of other stores. Plus there was a wonderful, giant Christmas street market, with everything from wooden toys to hot spiced wine to crepes to religious artwork. I took care of just about all my Christmas shopping. For non-consumerist fun, we went into the Frauenkirche, where Caleb did some prayers for his grandmother and we each bought things made out of olive wood from Jerusalem. We also walked around the ritzy area by the National Theater. Finally we were too laden with shopping bags and had to go back to the apartment. Well, after that brief "breather," we went back to town so Caleb could go to Saturn, the big music store, and get some CDs. We also went to the Hauptbahnhof and got our train tickets for the next day. We took the S-Bahn to the Isartor stop and walked back to Martina's neighborhood to get food for dinner, plus a few more presents. At the flat, Caleb made pasta dish and we busied ourselves packing up for the trip to Frankfurt in the morning.

After another nice breakfast, Caleb and I set off for Frankfurt, taking the S-Bahn to the Hauptbahnhof, where the IC train was waiting. We got on a car that was half-smoking, so it was a bit stinky, but the trip went fine. There was a dining car that served champagne and a dozen kinds of wine! We got apple juice and mineral water. Arriving in Frankfurt, we found our way to the hotel, which was awwwwwwwesome. Caleb got a deal on this really modern, upscale place, the highlight of which was the clear glass shower open to the room. He he. I have pictures of that :) After nice lonnnnnnnng showers, we of course went out shopping. We got all-day transit passes again, so we were able to get around quickly and also avoid walking through the big nasty sections of Frankfurt ;) The shops were incredible as always, plus there were several big Christmas markets. We got crepes and I got mine all over my coat and gloves, which was both sick and hilarious. We went home again on a tram, only to go out again. For dinner we went to the Dinea cafeteria, which is the top floor of any Kaufhof department store. It was "OK," but kind of sucky, although it's the best we can expect in Frankfurt, which seems to have abysmal food options. And we shopped MORE after that. At the hotel we had MORE showers and watched German TV. And packed. That night I couldn't settle down to sleep and was bothering Caleb, so I wound up sleeping on the floor. (Yeah, in a luxury hotel with a gorgeous bed, I slept on the floor next to the clear shower.)

Pretty much woke up, went to the train station, took train to the airport, did a bit of grocery shopping, and went home. There were long lines at check-in and they do 3 different security checks on you, but we made it to the gate in time for boarding anyway. We had back row seats again this time but there was a lot more room. The whole trip back seemed quick. We arrived around 2. Back!

We took a ton of pictures, which are probably a lot more fun than this description. I'll be posting those sometime today.

A happy median

Luckie really likes to be around me and seems bothered by my working, since she can't properly "be" with me. She can only last so long on my lap and I don't like her crawling around on the desk, so the only thing she could do was lie in the bottom drawer or stare at me from on top of the scanner. Her new thing is to demo her annoyance by jumping on the back of my head all of a sudden and clamoring about demanding attention.


So I opened up the middle panel of my barister-style bookcase, put a pillow on it, and voila, cat is totally happy. She crawled up on it so she's next to me, yet not ON me. Been napping there pretty much all day. Awww.

Vikings Party Too Hard is currently featuring the following headline:

Four Vikings charged after bawdy boat party

This created a really funny image in my head, beefy Norse men drinking too much mead and flipping over their war boat. And I was like, "What, some Scandinavian Viking recreators got carried away?"

Sadly, the story is about some football players.

What a letdown.
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German places

Writing an email to my brother-in-law Peter, who's going to Hamburg this January, made me think about where in Germany I've been. Never been to Hamburg, but I've been to...

Bonn/Cologne, including both cities, plus suburbs and nearby towns like Bad Godesburg, Meckenheim, and Bruhl.

Dortmund, where Marja lives.

Xanten, home to a rather amazing Ancient Roman archaelogical park.

Trier, old Ancient Roman city as well as modern, if rather provincial, German city.

Munich, where yakalskovich lives.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, town by the German Alps, where I visited as a teenager.

I've also been to the Ahr valley (looks just like Vermont), the Sauerland, whatever town the Wraeththu LARP was in, plus wherever Burg-Satzvey is.

I really want to go to Hamburg and Berlin.

(no subject)

I think I just got banned from a community. One that is poking fun at intolerance but apparently has mods who act like... well, I won't make that over-used comparison, but you know what I want to say. Ack. Oh, well. I guess I can still read the community, just not comment? Which would've been the smarter thing anyway.

EDIT: Well, just erased said community from my bookmarks so I won't go there again and get myself into trouble. Sigh. I should've trusted my instincts and known that people with hammers will nail you every time.

EDIT 2: Thank you, tharain for being the voice of reason.
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Just a few things before I go to bed.

1. Mead RULES. Just had a little glass, totally calmed my nerves.

2. Mom just called. A sign I haven't called in a while :) She's well, liked my Germany pics.

3. Gave Luckie some "cat milk" I bought in Germany. She *loved* it.

4. Got several client checks in the mail today. Small ones, but still, YAY!

5. Got a copy of Storm's new Dehara magic book today. Whoopee!

6. tharain has cheered me up with his own brand of snarkiness.

7. I got a stuffed guinea pig in the mail today and I keep on thinking it's real.

8. Need to go shopping for guinea pig hay tomorrow. Put it off today. Piggies are *mad*.

9. Need to go shopping for people food tomorrow, too. One cannot live on tea & crackers!

10. Had to wash pillowcase where Luckie always sleeps. It was sooooo hairy!
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