Germany: A Six Day Impression

From a strange man in a strange land…

Since you have last read this space I have arrived and departed Bamberg, Germany. As you will read, I am currently in Bremen, Germany.

In case you forgot what I look like. This is my selfie at the Bamberg train station yesterday.

Who’s Watching The Watchman?
If you are an Apple enthusiast like me then you have heard multiple rumors about an iWatch.

One of the arguments against such of a device is that people have stopped wearing watches because they can get the time from their phone. This is not true in Germany, where time and time again (pun fully intended) I have witnessed people, young and old, wearing watches. The younger hipsters have even taken to wearing ugly square Timex and Casio watches styled after those worn in the 1980s.

Tattoos Are Uncommon, Smoking On The Other Hand
Unlike like in The States where seemingly every woman under forty has at least one tattoo, they are fairly uncommon among young and old in Germany.

Whatever free time the youth have gained by not getting tattoos they have filled with filling their lungs with smoke. Cigarettes rule the roost here, with machines selling them on the streets.

Bamberg, Germany: The City That Wants To Be Helen, Georgia
I kid, I kid. It may be because there was some festival happening in Bamberg last weekend, but this town was a tourist nightmare. I had notions of trying multiple local breweries, but the crowds were so annoyingly large that I did not visited most of them.

That is not to say that I abstained from beer however; quite the opposite in fact. Even though I drank quite a bit I managed to avoid getting drunk because I did a ton of walking between beers. The amount of walking I did in Bamberg may be the only hung from me putting on ten pounds during this trip.

The Euro: A Royal Pain To Use
I hate American coins so naturally I hate lugging around coins in denominations of 2€, 1€, .5€, .2€, .1€, .02€, and .01€. Ching, ching, ching I go around Germany.

Carrying Euro is more frustrating when I cannot understand the person telling me the price of something and I have to bring out a wad of coins like I am a little child. “Do I have enough?”

Europe Just Doesn’t Understand Water
Or maybe it’s me.

In this European heat wave all I really want is water, chilled, with ice if possible. I don’t want water “with gas” (carbonation), or special mineral water, or water with lemon, just plain drinkable water. Hell I was even willing to pay for water, but it was nearly impossible for me to order what I want.

I Am So Conflicted
While I was sitting having a beer and using my new favorite travel app called “CityMaps2Go” (because you can download maps and navigate offline) I saw it — “Weinstube Nüßlein”


“Weinstube”? That means “wine bar”. What the fuck?!?

I entered the establishment to find a wonderful old woman working there. Suffice to say her English was worse than my German, so I never mentioned the I share the last name with that of the wine bar. I did manage to buy a small bottle of wine, though I don’t know why because the last thing I need to lug around Europe is a bottle of wine. What can I say, I am a sucker for “family”.

The Universality Of The “I have no fucking idea what you said” Look
I am amazed how many time either I, or the person to whom I am talking, have had the “I have no fucking idea what you said” look. It’s immediate and clear, and often followed by a smile or apology. I have used the German phrase “tut mir leid” (“I am sorry”) often this past week.

The Trains Don’t Always Run On Time
My journey yesterday involved leaving Bamberg and heading to Bremen? Why Bremen? Because rain was forecasted in the Köln area and I didn’t want to deal with it, so I tried to out-train the rain.

To beat the heat I woke early and hoofed it up to the train station where I managed to book travel with the help of a nice woman who didn’t speak much English. Though it was before 10:00am, I was sweating profusely. In order to reduce the number of transfers I would have to perform I booked a 12:25pm train with one transfer in Würzberg.

The Bamberg station has a few shops (and air conditioning!) so I sat and had some bread and “still” water that I purchased from the bakery while I cooled down waiting for my train. By 11:30am I questioned my earlier logic, but was done was done. (foreshadowing)

The train to Würzberg arrived and departed five minutes late. I was nervous about this because I only had a nine minute transfer window at Würzberg. While on the train the conductor tried to explain to me that the train that I was supposed to catch was running late, by 80 minutes! In some was I was relieved because I knew that I would not miss it.

In Würzberg I decided International Data Fees be damned and took to my phone to figure things out. What I discovered was that my train was no longer going to go to Bremen. Dangen! To the travel agent I went, where I was given an alternative route, now transferring in Hannover, Germany.

This new train was jam-packed with people; I wound up standing for the first forty-five minutes. When we finally made it to Hannover I was confused again because the the train sitting at the platform had no number, and the signage made no mention of my train.

I finally got to the courage to ask someone what was happening and the man told me that my train was “kaput” and used his phone to find an alternative regional train for me to take to Bremen.

Oh boy, the train gods were fucking with me yesterday.

I made it to Bremen around 6:45pm (18:45). Thankfully the hotel in which I booked a room was right next to the train station in Bremen. I walked in, got my room and took a refreshing shower. Out the door I went to a restaurant for a German meal before heading to an Irish pub to speak some English, and drink too many Murphy’s red ales while listening to people sing karaoke (mostly with English lyrics).

And finally it looks like my plan has failed. There is a chance of rain for today and tomorrow here in Bremen. It’s 11:00am here now. I really should get out of bed and go out, even if it means trying out my new rain jacket.

Paulie [eatl/ga]

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9 Responses to Germany: A Six Day Impression

  1. Steve says:

    At least you took a picture of the family’s wine shop. Was the wine also of the Nuesslein Estate?

    There was much yardwork, and painting and the realization the paint I thought matched the stairwell doesn’t so it may get completely repainted!! And did you know that unsealed concrete sucks up paint like no tomorrow? After the first quart barely covered half the dog room in the pool house, we got a second, and after a little touch up on the first half and finishing off the second half, I barely made it. That would have sucked.

    Work Sunday was a near complete waste of time. Cisco flew an engineer in from Charlotte to swap a chip in a card. Airfare, rental car, overnight stay, meals and the actual work took less than 30 seconds. I kid you not. I just looked at him and shook my head.

    Today’s objective for the European tourist- less beer, more sightseeing, and try using this phrase “sprechen Sie langsam, bitte? “Speak slowly please” I’m always amazed at interviewers with someone who they know is not working in their primary language, just hurling questions at them… And while the Germans pride themselves on things working as expected, the trains running late (or not at all) doesn’t surprise me.

    Continue to have fun…


  2. There didn’t seem to be any Nuesslein wine. The one I bought was a Riesling local to Bamberg. I may chill it tonight and drink it tomorrow, that is if I happen to stay in Bremen.

    I am familiar with asking people so to speak slower in German, however I don’t think that I have a good enough grasp go the language regardless if the speed.

    It’s 4pm here and I have walked around quite a bit, ate a currywurst lunch, and have had three beers! I am taking a rest and will be headed out again later for fun.

  3. Steve says:

    And the other handy phrase is “sprecken Sie english, bitte”?

  4. Jenka says:

    Yeah, you’re just going to have more of a language barrier in those small towns. When you get to a big city everyone will speak enough English for you to have no problem. In the meantime there’s no shame in going to Irish bars, I do that all the time in foreign countries. There’s nothing wrong with tourists and ex-pats! And the water thing is annoying, for some reason the Europeans really like their mineral water and never use ice. You just have to accept it as one of those cultural differences and move on.

  5. Barb says:

    Sounds like you are having an interesting time. As for the trains, just gotta roll with it. Standing sucks though.

    We are in South GA driving home. Actually stopped in Gainesville (at a university building) to meet up with Opie, who had some honey for me from his bees. We talked for a few minutes, about the old days of Hedon & how it’s too bad we never see everyone anymore.
    It hasn’t rained on us too much, keeping our fingers crossed for the rest of the trip.

  6. Steve says:

    Checking the radar, I think you’ll be dry most of the way home Barb. Be safe- no lights and siren today.

    I have wondered about the water situation as well (get it!). I wonder if it’s more a matter of the local tap water being crappy- not that I ever found that.

  7. Jenka says:

    The water thing is more of a cultural thing. They don’t get bottles of water to walk around with or coffee to go. They sit and have their glass of water or cup of coffee. You can’t go to a cafe and sit and have free tap water, after all.

    Drive safe, Barb! We had delightful 75 degrees in Boston this past weekend. So nice.

  8. Barb says:

    Drive safe….. That’s funny! Anyone that has ridden with Allan driving will get that.

  9. Hello again, though I realize that you may not see this.

    No rain today, so far I have played the weather correctly (sans the heat).

    I am about to write tomorrow’s blog post, tune in then to find out where I will be headed. Hint: I am leaving Germany. 🙁

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