Visiting the U.K. – Part 10.5 (More Germany)Come on, Memory! Here we go:
I’ll just go over the things that stand out the most in my memory about my visit to Germany.
First, I just want to mention the Exit signs. Here in America, our Exit signs are fairly self-explanatory.
Most of them look like the image pictured to the side. I mean, how hard is it to misunderstand the glowing word “Exit” above doors and at the ends of hallways?
Sure, I grew up with them – they make sense to me. That’s what you’re all going to say about the signs used in (all of?) Europe. Who would misunderstand these simple green signs?
Well, call it my brain-fart moment…
But the green Portal Guy did not immediately scream “Exit!” to me. In fact, I was a little baffled by it at first.
Can I blame jet-lag (though I never experienced it?)
Sometimes the Portal guy was running to the left! Sometimes the Portal guy was running to the right! Sometimes–and this reaffirmed my belief that he was, indeed, the Portal guy– he was running straight down through the ground! How could this be possible?
He was the Portal guy, of course. That’s how!
I had to ask my brother: “Why is the Portal guy on all these signs?”
He looked at me with an expression probably close to the one on your face as you’re reading this now, and he said: “Those are the exit signs…”
“Ahh…” It suddenly made so much more sense. The embarrassment was meager.
I moved on.
All was well with the world again.
At least the Portal guy would lead me to safety if there was a sudden fire…
My brother and I left the Koln/Bonn airport by train and at the next station we stopped to eat lunch. The station was full of shops and eateries – I honestly had no idea that the central train stations were more like little shopping malls than anything. This has never come up in a movie before. I just had no way of knowing. How could Hollywood leave me so ill-prepared for my foreign excursion?
Now, you’re probably thinking “Germany! That means bratwurst! Sauerkraut!” and…um…other iconic German foods the likes of which I can’t recall. But, no! You think wrongly!
I’m an American and how better to perpetuate the American stereotype than by eating Chinese food!
Anyway, yeah…we had our choice of Burger King, McDonald’s, Subway, Pizza Hut – basically all of the intrusive American fast food joints that foreigners claim to hate because they’re so American and unhealthy (and yet they love to eat there just as much as we do!)
WARNING!! TANGENT APPROACHING! WARNING!!
**Author’s Note: Okay, yes, I don’t know ALL that many foreigners. And yes, I’m saying this only because of a few under-educated posts I’ve read on the internet. And yes, I’m also saying this to be contentious…But look around the internet, people complain a lot that they hate that our fast food and retail giants have invaded their countries. I do understand you.
I can’t blame you – having them here has turned America – in the eyes of practically all non-Americans – into FAT LAND. We have some of the most obese people around. But it really irritates me that everyone else thinks we’re all living a “Super Size Me!” life here. I like fast food, but I don’t go eat it every opportunity I get. I just don’t want McDonald’s to be the poster-child for American culture.
Then again, I guess what I want doesn’t really matter in the big scheme of things, huh?
So, anyway, we ate at a Chinese place (I have the receipt at home! I’ll try to remember to scan it in just for kicks!) I think I had something like Chicken Lo Mein but who can say for sure without that receipt?
Update: I found the receipt (plus some, including all my train tickets) and it was Sesame Chicken.
My brother ordered since he knew enough German to get the point across (though if I remember right he ended up mostly using English anyway.) In addition to the food, he ordered two bottles of water to go with the meal, which was fine and dandy…
Until I took my first thirsty gulp.
And discovered we had two huge bottles of sparkling water - which in the U.S. is what shoots out of the fountain machine when it’s broken: A.K.A carbonated water. And yes, I know that we also sell sparkling water here in the U.S. but I was never exposed to it in my life (not as a beverage choice, that is – like I said, sparkling water is what you get when the soda machine is broken!)
I don’t know if you’ll understand this because it’s kind of an oxymoron – but sparkling water is the driest water I’ve ever had. It’s like it takes the moisture right out of your mouth.
So beware, fellow travelers! When in Germany, if you want regular water – be specific! You have to request tap water. (Or just stick to pop… it’s unhealthy and sugar-filled but at least it tastes good.)
Kyle ended up drinking both bottles of sparkling water.
So, are we keeping up? What two things have we learned about Germany so far?
1) the Portal guy leads you to safety
2) the water may be sparkling water in disguise
Moving right along…
There was the first night of celebrating Karneval, during which I learned how to drink a mini-bottle of some sort of alcohol – which involved sticking the little lid on the tip of your nose and then drinking the bottle without hands. That was interesting. Of all the events, that fun little moment still stands out- all 30 seconds of it.
Aha! After a quick Google search, I discovered a photo showing exactly how it’s done! I’ve also learned the drink is called “Feigling” and it’s a type of fig vodka, I guess.
So, there was a second night of more dancing and drinking, though I wasn’t really interested – as I mentioned in my previous post.
Then there was a day of trying to see the Dom of Cologne – turns out it had been closed for several days due to the massive parade that was taking place in the streets around it.
There were a lot of people there. It was a big parade…
After breaking through the parade and finding a less busy side-street, my brother takes a moment to fire off a text.
I’ll take this moment to just say: “Wow!”
The German people take their costumes seriously. I was really impressed with some of what I saw. I’m not outgoing enough to walk up to total strangers in another country and ask to take their pictures, though, so I don’t really have many shots to serve as an example. I did, however, manage to capture a few Smurfs!
Once we got tired of the parade and we were ready to head back to Leverkusen, we stopped by the Dom one last time to get some more photos:
I would really have loved to get to go inside and see what the interior looked like, but I guess sometimes we just have to take what we can get. Maybe one day there’ll be a chance to go back and see more of Germany.
After taking the last of our photos of the cathedral, we hopped back on the train. I decided to snap photo of the station as seen from the outside.
I had to adjust the brightness some so you could see him, though it didn’t do me much good.
While we were inside standing in the line to buy our return tickets, I took a few shots of the inside of the station. Basically, I was bored because the lines were pretty long, what with all the people having come out to celebrate and all, so they’re just some really random pictures that I ended up liking enough to post.
That was the departures board just above the ticket machine (so far as I could tell anyway.)
This was the tiled ceiling above the departures board on another wall. I just liked the tile and the shadows.
It just looked cool. To me. Yeah. Real cool.
Once we had our tickets we proceeded to the train platforms:
So, that about wraps it up for the picture spam. I didn’t take as many pictures in Germany because we were out just doing stuff most nights, so I was just too preoccupied.
Our last day in Germany, my brother and I returned to the train station and had lunch before flying out to Edinburgh.
Where did we eat? I know what you’re thinking: “Some kind of WURST! Sauerkraut? Anything authentic at all?”
Sadly, no. I’m sorry. I’m the pickiest eater (with the exception of one other individual) that I’ve ever seen in my life. I don’t really enjoy food the way most normal folk do. I mean, I forget to eat sometimes. Other times I blow it off entirely because my stomach doesn’t hurt and I don’t feel hungry, so why bother? I have to force myself to eat a 3-meal a day schedule (and to be perfectly honest… it’s usually only a 2-meal success – I hate almost all breakfast foods.)
Do I regret it? I want to say “Yes!” because I really wanted to try some real German foods – I mean, hey! I managed the traditional English breakfast in London, I tasted Haggis in Scotland and I ate some Fish and Chips…but I just failed miserably in Germany. The entire time I was there I had Chinese food once, McDonald’s a whole lotta times, and Subway.
So, we concluded our foray into Germany with Subway, two delayed trains, and another panicked-mad dash to the airport gate from which our plane nearly departed without us.
What can I say? I guess we liked cutting it close.
Next up? Edinburgh and Dundee, Scotland!