Prunksitzung: In Hindsight

Prunksitzung! Quoi?, you may wonder.

I wondered, too, although my wonderment was more English.

A few weeks back, in the car of the family whose oldest son I tutor, waiting for the mother to come back from dropping her costume off at the tailor’s (conversation translated into English for your convenience)

Me: …Costume?
Son: It’s for the Prunksitzung in a week.
Me: Aah. Wait, the what?
Son: Prunksitzung.
Me: ...The what?
Son: Prunksitzung!
Me: What-sitzung!? What’s that?
Son: Prunksitzung?...P-r-u-n-k–s-i-t-z-u-n-g.
Me: *blank stare, then whines in English* I don’t get it.
Son: Um…
Me: How is it spelled?
Son: Uh, P, R, U… No, wait, maybe it’s with a B?
Me: Hah! You don’t even know!
Son: *laughing and trying to cover up the fact that he can’t spell in his own language*
Me: What is it? What goes on there?
Son: Well…you go all dressed up in a costume, people get on the stage and do skits, funny stuff…
Me: *does not know, at this point, what the German word for stage is, so as far as I’m concerned there are funny people getting on something and making the audience laugh* Okay…
Son: Everyone’s in costumes, it’s like a satire thing. Clowns, for example!
Me: *shudders* I hate clowns.
Son: You eat, sing, drink…
*the Mother returns to car*
Son: I’m trying to explain Prunksitzung to her.
Mother: Ooh! It’s so much fun!! *proceeds to more or less repeat what the son has said* It’s great! What’s that one song?
Son: Oh yeah!
Mother and Son: *break into song – NOTE; this is not the first time they have broken out into song in my presence*
Me: *laughing, more or less nervously, and in confusion*
Mother: Oooh, you should come, do you want to go with!?
Me: I suppose I-
Mother: Great! I have to ask and see if I can get an extra ticket, though. But if I get it, you’re coming. If I don’t get it… well, you’re coming with us to the parade on the 28th anyway. It’s something you have to see – you’re in Germany! Every year we go to the parade and afterwards visit a friend and eat Berliner and drink champagne. It’s great!
Me: …Berliner…and champagne? That’s…an interesting combination.
Mother: It’s tradition! You’re coming. *NOTE: I had little say in the matter*

So February 18th I was picked up by the mother and youngest son and brought back to their house. There I was convinced by the Mother (who had been wearing her Greek Goddess costume since noon when she had gone to the hairdresser’s), to dress like something between a bloated pirate (red is not my color) and a gypsy:

You can’t see it, but my pants were rolled up over my boots. That was my personal touch. All in all I felt more like a dejected child than a pirate-gypsy. Glass of champagne, finished the costumes, and then the Mother, the younger son, and I (the one I tutor stayed at home) left for house #2, where I met some more people I won’t see ever again (Hermann, his 30-something-year old daughter and her boyfriend), the only exception being Hermann, a (seemingly) wealthy man (his house is filled with countless old collectibles) who turned out to be the sponsor of the Arzheim Prunksitzung. The tutoring family’s younger son was employed to “kid-sit” (as he put it; very PC) who turned out to be Hermann’s godson. I thought the kid was the grandson. Hermann’s daughter, after being introduced to me, looked at me kind of odd and said, “Um, do you…speak only English?” I told her “no”, that I also spoke German. “Oh good.” She sounded too relieved.

Another glass of champagne and more people who I’ll never see again showed up (one of the men was dressed like a monk, but looked more like a really jolly Jedi – the Mother came and whispered to me if I’d understand her if she told me he was a “Frauenarzt” – I did. A Frauenarzt is a gynecologist. I had a temporary “I think my appendix is/ovaries are infected” scare in November and quickly learned all necessary words and terms in case I ended up needing to call the police to take me to a hospital. Everyone else I know was gone that weekend so what can I say, I panicked). These new people, who did NOT appear as a direct result of another glass of champagne, put on hats or wigs – the extent of their costumes (at least Hermann was in a tux with old school coattails and a hot pink top hat, his daughter a conservative Playboy Bunny, her boyfriend a cowboy). We then headed off to the Prunksitzung.

I’ll make another note here that at this point I had been several times introduced to others as Kaija, an exchange student from the US and Nico’s English tutor – I was (and would be throughout the night) referred to as a very lovely, nice person/tutor, whom the Mother was very grateful and lucky to have found. If that’s not a validation of the positive and likeable quality of my character, I don’t know what is.

The Prunksitzung was held in what I understood to be a kind of community centre. The inside looked like this:

Once the program started it looked like this:

and this

The theme of the evening was “Fiesta Mexico.” Don’t ask, ‘cause I don’t know. We took our seats, unfortunately toward the back of the hall, made the rounds of introducing me to the surrounding people.

After 30 minutes or so it became clearer to me what was going on. Prunksitzung is basically Halloween minus the scary costumes, themes, pranks, etc. It’s another hooplah-crazy holiday tailor-made for eating typically delicious German sandwiches and drinking any and everything put before you. Prunksitzung is part of the Fasching carnival thing, which takes place the last week to two weeks before Lent. Get your party on now before you have to give it up for 40 days, friends! For more information on Fasching go here: What is Fasching?"

During the program, which lasted probably more than two hours, there were skits upon skits. They were funny things I mostly didn’t understand (since it was all in very strong Pfalzisch dialect, I got context 100% thanks to costumes and actors, but only about 50% of actual words), but it was enjoyable nonetheless. My two personal favorites were the children dressed as crocodiles dancing to the “Schnappi” song, and the “Arzheim Männer Ballet” which was… different, wordless, and hilarious. There were maybe 10 men dressed as monks (candle carrying, too!) who walked to the stage during an interlude of Gregorian chant music. Once on stage and with their backs to the audience, the music died down and they proceeded to whip off the monk robes, revealing the fact that they were all dressed in tight, black, half-fishnet material dancer shirts, and white and black camo hot pants. They then danced. Like a chorus line. They got an encore, and I laughed like I hadn’t laughed yet that day.

From monks....

...to glory!

Drinks were standard: Weinschörle (wine + mineral water), Sekt-orange (champagne and orange juice), red wine, and other stuff. The most fun by far, was what was that night named the “Mexiko Rodell” – twenty 20ml bottles of random liquors (ex. fig vodka, plum liquor, cream liquor and whiskey). €15,- of table pounding, liquor shot, traditional fun. Here are some diagrams created a few days ago, reinacting one of the (traditional) ways to drink such a bottle:

Step 1: Kindly accept the bottle of whatever it is they (in my case the tutoring family Mother) offer to you.

Step 2: Inspect the bottle, because you have no idea what’s going on. If the picture of the Red Neck on the label sitting next to a representative fruit icon doesn’t tip you off, ask what it is and it will be explained.

Step 3: Figure “what the heck, this may be the first and last time you get to experience a real Prunksitzung” and open the bottle. Note: Before opening the bottle you have to bang it on the table a couple of times. Don’t ask, ‘cause I don’t know. Neither did the Mother. She said it’s just something that’s done.

Step 4: Be instructed that it is essential to put the cap of the bottle on your nose in order to drink. It’s great to see everyone within 5 people of you (in my case people mostly 50+, minus the Mother, Hermann’s daughter and boyfriend, and myself) doing the same.

Step 5: Make sure the cap is secured. Really secured. You don’t want to screw up on your first go. Because then not only are you a foreigner, but you’re an inept foreigner.

Step 6: Once Step 5 is accomplished, you’re ready to drink.

Step 7: I ended up using holding the bottle, but there is the option of not using your hands. As you can see from the diagram, I look like an idiot. But that’s because I’m the only one in the picture. With everyone else doing the same, it doesn’t look as stupid. Seriously.

Step 8: Realize that you’ve just downed a shot of pretty harsh tasting plum liquor. Be kind of laughed for the face you make.

Step 9: Catch your breath and try to forget the plumy taste. Contemplate whether or not to accept a second bottle of stuff.

Step 10: Glady accept a second bottle of stuff. Repeat process.

The second time around I got fig vodka (or here, vodka with fig taste). I had tried this stuff once before when I bought an interesting little bottle of it at the supermarket. The label was black, lavender, and green, with white googly eyes. I had to have it. The amusing part was that the second bottle I had was good, and the Mother got some whiskey mixture that apparently was not, because she pulled a face much like the one in Step 8’s diagram. It was my turn to laugh. Then there was a short pause before we both agreed (simultaneously) that the vodka with fig was better. Then we giggled like high schoolers (I don’t know if there’s a German equivalent of “Jinx!!”).

For those wondering, I did not drink myself into oblivion. Even had I wanted to, I think it would have been awkward. It was strange enough being invited to the event by the Mother of the kid to whom I give English lessons, much less drinking with her.

By the end of the skits and performances (which the Mother said were disappointingly not as good as the ones in the previous years), the whole thing turned into one big conga-line, myself involved in one leg of it. Eventually I was able to break off and sit with the smoke burning my eyes and music hurting my ears (sitting near the back has its drawbacks – speakers right by you) while the Mother went to dance some more. Around 12.30 or so we made our way back to the house (Arzheim is small, it’s a 5 minute walk from the community centre to the house) where it was planned for me to spend the night on the couch, because the Mother wasn’t planning on driving after celebrating.

The next morning we woke up after sleeping late and had a nice, simple Brötchen and condiment breakfast. Afterwards the Mother and I watched TV for a bit (some animal show) before heading to…Ilbesheim, I think… to take a walk with their dog, Genna. The sons went to play soccer, and the Mother and I left. Whatever town we were in, it was beautiful. Typical small German suburb, architecture, scenery, all of it. We walked up to the top point of the town to a Weinstübl (=little restaurant thing) and had a light lunch of what I only later realized to be split pea soup (I knew it was Erbsensuppe/ pea soup, but it sounds more simple and more appetizing in German, so I think that’s why I was thrown). Then we walked back down to the car and I was driven home.

The Mother offered to take me with to the Prunksitzung at the Bethesda, which is, as far as I understand, a mini campus mixture of a hospital, a retirement home, a facility for disabled and handicapped persons, and other such things. I declined, not wanting to overstay my welcome, but was told the next day (on the way to tutoring, also known as the third day in a row I had seen them – my reason for not wanting to push it, even though the Mother made it very clear I was doing anything but) that I should have gone, because it was apparently better than the Arzheim Prunksitzung. There had been “hired professionals” from the Landau Prunksitzung who came to perform for the elderly and disabled.

Prunksitzung accomplished! Now the only problem is that some of the ERASMUS people now and then refer to me as “Pirate.” News travels fast between us…


Train Schooling

I’m extremely tired today for unknown reasons (but which could possibly be due to an activity filled weekend, which I will discuss within the next few days while the memories are still fresh), so my long-promised and lied about post about train usage in Germany will be informational, but not too amusing. I think.

The first thing you do is decide you want to leave the city and go somewhere else. By train. The next step is to locate the train station in the city. This is fairly easy to do in most cities, because if you somehow ended up in a city and are not aware of where the train station is, just as “Bahnhof?” to anyone on the street and they’ll point you in the right direction, or look at you like you’re a leper and go away.

When you get to the train station you can either A) go to the ticket counter and take the easy way out, or B) head over to one of these puppies.

If you chose A, you’re smart. Unless it’s a weekend. Then you’ve messed up. Here in Landau the ticket counters are closed on weekends – in larger cities like Bonn or Heidelberg the counters will be open even on Sundays. Heck, the counter in Wissembourg (France) is even open on Saturdays. But that’s France, and we don’t talk about the French. The good thing about the ticket counters is that the nice men behind them do everything for you. You tell them which city you want to go to, on what day, and approximately what time. They’ll give you a print out with your options, and if you want you can purchase your ticket then and there. I’m in love with the printouts because of how handy they are for longer journeys. The printouts not only have information on when the first train and following connection trains depart/arrive at each respective station, but the platform on which you depart/arrive is even noted. It may seem like a trivial thing to all of you, but I don’t know what I’d do without this feature. Probably miss all of my connections.

So let’s say you chose B from the start – you’re brave, you’re up for adventure, or maybe you knew you’d end up there on a weekend. If you’re just taking a short trip, for example from Landau to Karlsruhe, or to Heidelberg, the blue machine is your best friend.

Note: there are also red machines that act as automated ticket counters, but they suck, don’t give you the proper discount (with our Student Cards we can get to a certain point “for free”), and are overall nitpicky. They take forever to work with, and the only thing they’re really good for is printing out free timetables for trips to closer cities. Bah.

Back to friend blue machine (FBM). As you can see in the picture below, I’ve taken FBM and marked various features for reference.

I’ll just go through the list. In the upper left-hand corner of FBM, the word “Fahrkarten” has been red-rectangled. Redtangled? Hah! Anyway, this word = “travel cards”, or “drive cards.” Lucky for non-German speakers, the word “Ticket” is now used. I don’t think I’ve ever seriously used “Fahrkarten” since I’ve been here; only for jokes. With this word you know what you’re about to buy.

A) This is the screen. You look at the screen to make sure you haven’t botched up your “order.” We all know what a screen is for.

B) Number pad. This is used to let FBM know which city you want to visit.

C) A list of cities with their corresponding numbers. The thing with FBM is, that if the FBM is in Landau, all outgoing tickets are calculated “Landau to (destination).” If you’re in Neustadt, all FBM tickets are calculated “Neustadt to (destination). Here’s what part of the city list looks like:

Note: Not all German cities are listed here. That’s another drawback. I don’t remember correctly, but I don’t think that, for example, you could buy a Landau – Berlin ticket from FBM. FBM is a more localized dealer.

Let’s say you’re in Karlsruhe, and you’ve had enough of their crazy southern video-gaming scene. You want out, and want to go back home to Landau (redtangled). You enter “462” on the number pad (B) and the screen (A) will read something like “Landau (Pfalz) – (Price).”

D) If you’ve made the right city choice, you give over your money in sub-D, or your plastic in upper-D.

E) If you’re not buying a simple one-way ticket you can look at an overview of other possible tickets. The descriptions are in somewhat complicated German train-speak, little of which I understand. In this case it’s easier to prepare by asking the ticket-counter men which ticket you should go for. One time I had to buy a “Rheinland-Pfalz Ticket”, which was a €23,- ticket, allowed me to take only the slow trains, but was good for the entire day, there and back, no time restrictions. If I had had the time I could have spent the entire day along the Rhein, taking trains between cities as I pleased.

F) To get the “Rheinland-Pfalz ticket” I had to push one of the keys in this section. There is a similar result as with a one-way ticket. Screen (B) confirms your selection and tells you how much money you need to feed FBM.

G) Your ticket comes out here, as does any change if you’ve paid FBM cash.

H) This buttons is important if you want to cancel any choice (even though you’re not obligated to pay anything if you just want to play around and check overall costs to various cities). Otherwise it’s just there.

U) These are unknown parts of FBM. I don’t know why they’re there, but they don’t seem to play an important role in the process of ticket purchases.

After you’ve bought your ticket, you make sure you know at what time and from which platform the train leaves. If you screw up here, it’s not all roses and pancakes. (See "Kein Oktoberfest")

Final notes: If you get caught without a ticket (without the right ticket…might be the same penalty), you’ll have to pay AT LEAST a €40,- fine. We went from Worth to Karlsruhe once without paying, but that’s because it was a Saturday and there is no way to buy a Worth-Karlsruhe ticket in Landau from the red fake-ticket-counter-machine, and it didn’t make sense for us to get off at Worth, buy a €2,20 ticket, wait for another train, just to make the last 10 minutes of our trip legal. (We bought valid tickets on the way back, Karlsruhe-Worth, though. It’s not like it was fun riding in fear.) As I told my father, if I at any time plan to free-ride on any of the trains, I’m at least going to make my final destination Paris or Berlin, make the trip worth the fine, y’know? There is also a possible fine of €25 if you’re caught with your feet on the seats. Seriously.


Helping Tourists

Saturday I finally, **FINALLY**, secured a European standard power cord for my speakers. I repeat, FINALLY. There was an issue back in… November when my dad first ordered it for me. The cord kept on not being delivered, and we had to wait two months before there could be an official assumption of “item definitely lost” declared. Then it occurred to us to find the company base here in Germany, which we did, and ask them where we could get the cord. After several emails the Customer Rep. person told me that the item could be ordered and shipped. Then I found out that I could order it right through this CR person, via email. I did so, and she informed me that the item would be shipped the next day. As mentioned above, I picked up the cord from the post office today (I received the slip yesterday). This process, as opposed to the one almost four months ago, took less than a week. HURRAH!

Lesson: Don’t trust international post with items that you *really really need* (case in point, I really *needed* that cord so I could play my music at an appropriate college-student-volume-level).

On my way back through the city I was stopped by a man who, in broken German, asked if I spoke any English. I nodded, and after asking confusedly about the “main street” (and me not understanding where he was going with the question) wife told me they were “ basically just looking for a place to have breakfast.” I said I knew the perfect place for breakfast and coffee, and told them it was on my way, so I’d take them there.

Looking back, I should have made shifty-eyes, told them hurriedly to “follow me”, and scurried off, staying close to the edges of buildings.

If you need to ask where I was taking them, you probably haven’t paid too much attention, if any at all, to the previous posts. I told them about Café am Markt (C.a.M.), the best café in the city, and the woman told me I didn’t sound like a local.

Looking back, I should have made shifty-eyes, cleared my throat, and drawled “I knooow noot vaaat youuu arrrre meeaning.”

I explained I was an exchange student from the U.S., and that they had found the right person to ask about breakfast, in my opinion not only because I speak English, but because I know where to bring people to feed. (Note: have been reading too many books and articles about and for my Vampires in Literature and Film course.) They explained that they were from Scotland but now lived in Strasbourg, and were on their way to the (Hahn) airport to catch a flight back to… where else?... Scotland for a week’s vacation. In general they seemed slightly relieved to have found someone who spoke fluent English, but their relief then seemed to wane as we were going through the city centre. I say this because the husband looked around and wondered out loud if they’d be able to find their way back to the car afterwards. I briefly explained the make-up of the main streets → | | | ← (three large streets parallel to one another) and told them that as long as they headed back the way we came, they’d hit the right street and find their car.

Looking back, I should have made shifty-eyes, giggled darkly, rubbed my hands over one another, and quickened my pace.

We made our way through the Wochenmarkt (=market every Tuesday and Saturday), I was asked if I had been to Scotland, to which I proudly replied that I had, summing up the time spent in the UK with “About a week in Oban, visit to the Islands Mull, Staffa, Iona, some time in the Lake District – stuff like that.” The woman asked if there was a University in the city, I said yes, told her where it was, and then we arrived at C.a.M. I pointed out a table where they could sit (they were lucky to get one of the larger tables – Saturday early afternoons are usually packed), and started to the back of the café to get something to go (heck, if I’m going to go all the way in the building I might as well get something while I’m there, no?). The woman asked if I was staying as well, and I said rather easily that no, I wasn’t – I was just getting something to go and then I had to be off back home (my speaker cord was burning a hole through my backpack; I also had 10 eggs at the top of my pack I wanted to see home safely). I went to the three workers there, among them our literal laugh-out-loud man and possible owner of the café, and told them I had brought them some customers who were originally from Scotland. Our friend did the “worship” bow a few times, and then asked me what people ate in Scotland. I said bread in fat, eggs in fat, and fat. I also explained how they had stopped me, asked if I spoke English, asked where they could get breakfast, and how I knew immediately to bring them to C.a.M. A nice chuckle, that scenario. Then I took my coffee and left.

On the way home I realized that I probably should have stayed and talked to the nice couple from Scotland. I could have asked them how long they had been living in Strasbourg, why they had moved there, how they like it, and so on. They would have asked me about the University, about the life of an exchange student, possibly about other countries I had visited. We would have laughed a bit more about RyanAir, elaborating the topic we had briefly touched on during the walk to the café. They would have finished their breakfast, me my coffee, they would have thanked me once more for the help, I would have wished them a safe flight, and we would have gone our separate ways. The whole event might have lasted no longer than an hour, and yet I brought them to their destination and said goodbye to them like it was just another good deed well done.

I thought about how I had experienced no desire or sudden urge to sit and talk with a nice couple that also spoke fluent English and to share opinions of living in a foreign country, nor did I want to get away from them as fast as possible. I acted the part of a nice civilian, helping out some tourists, and then turned to the local Germans to chat briefly with them as well. It was odd, very odd indeed, to handle the ordeal with the feeling of delivering a note from one teacher to another in middle school. I helped tourists like it was a second nature.

By the way, my new speaker cord works, and my music is good ‘n’ loud. :))))


My First Real German Party

Last Wednesday night most of us (us = ERASMUS kids) headed out to the University’s “Atriumfete.” By day the Atrium serves as a mini-maze-center to the University’s main classroom building and has a cement sitting/standing structure thing in the middle, many pillars, and four main classroom branches (with convenient color-coded doorframes to each individual department. Ex: yellow has mainly psychology and geography classrooms.) By night the Atrium can be turned into a party zone with a dance pit lined with edges to stand and dance on. I missed the first Atrium party at the beginning of the semester and was glad I decided to go to this one. Some things on the Atrium party, however…

There was an insane amount of people when we arrived. Like everyone decided to go at 10:15 because “no one else will do that!” We waited in what I dubbed a “Wartedrache” (usually it’s Warteschlange = “waiting snake” = line/queue) because it was massive, 4-5 people wide with people butting in at every angle, and a standard pat-down right before you get in to pay. Ah, yes, we have to pay to get into almost every party here. Kind of smart, on their part. All drinks €1,50 after that (at least at the tables I saw). I experimented and brought my Flachmann with me, and had it confiscated even though there was nothing in it. What was I going to do, smuggle drink out of the party? I finally convinced one of the security guards that it was better for me to write down my name (he said it was unnecessary because no one else would be bringing a Flachmann – did I miss a memo?) because it was not a cheap toy. He commented that my name was pretty and asked where I was from. I said the U.S., but that I was Latvian. And then what does he say? “Alright, Kaija, well have a good time in the party! You can pay over there. Have fun, bye bye!” Let me add that up to that point we had been speaking German and he did not show any sign of having any clue I wasn’t German.

Note: many people, upon finding out that you can speak English, are more than thrilled to show off their skills to you, no matter how bad they are. It’s better to NOT say you’re from the U.S., unless you know for a fact that it will make the situation you’re in much easier for you. In my case, it didn’t.

Coat check €0,50. Dropping our coats off was simple. Getting them back was a whole different thing.

Party itself, very cool. Lots of blinky lights, lost of loud music, lots of people, and more attractive German guys that I have seen in one place in the 4+ months I’ve been here. Where have they been hiding?! During one bathroom break Ula and I were talking – in English – and attracted the attention of a few girls who then proceeded to beat us up for being foreigners.

But not really.

They were excited, no – elated, to hear English. Where have they been? We’re everywhere! One of them has spent either a couple of months or a couple of years (total?) in the U.S., and has a fairly decent accent. I thought she sounded like someone who was really from the U.S. but was just a little drunk (certain letters/words slurred, etc.). I told her this, and she agreed, adding that she had had a drink. The second girl had just returned 10 days ago from a semester in Australia, and expressed something close to relief that she could hear English again. The third girl… I have no clue about her, but she also spoke English. They commented my German was really good – I found it easier to talk to them in German than in English.

About the music… when we first got there the music was pretty good (Fettes Brot’s “Emanuela”, hahaha, I KNOW THE WORDS!), Greenday, and the standard U.S. party rap music. Then they slipped into the oldies: Music from “Grease”, and several other songs whose words I kind of know, but never can remember who sings them or what the song titles are. Oldies central. For well over an hour or so. Then suddenly it was 1 A.M., then 2 A.M., and then the blinky lights turned off, and the florescent ones came on (is this what people refer to as “drunk lights?”), signaling that it was almost over. We headed out to the coat check and WHA-BAM! we’re stuck in a literal smush-fest of people for over an hour, waiting impatiently while some people pushed, others pushed back (I belonged to that group – thanks, mosh-pit experiences!), while still others were crushed and started to panic and had to leave the line. I had my hands by my face, my elbow in some guy’s kidney (he kept pushing my elbow away, but it snapped back to his kidney every time because, hey, it had nowhere else to go! he deserved it, however, because he had weaseled his way in front of us 15 minutes before and was not going to get anyone’s sympathy), maintained a semi-sedated (it was warm in the mass and I was tired) chant of “Ich bin verdammt klein und kann nicht atmen!” (= I’m damned short and can’t breathe!”), and assured the guy next to me that I knew it wasn’t his fault we were being pushed. Then it got interesting because the security guards linked arms (dead serious, they linked arms for this next move) and pushed us all backwards, then seemed slightly annoyed that the mass decided to push back. You’d have thought that we were waiting in line to buy concert tickets or to high-five the Pope or something.

We finally got our coats and Efi and I went to wait for the others. I also went to retrieve my Flachmann. I did so, and then was told by the security guard woman that I “could leave now.” I told her we were waiting for some others, and she more or less said something like “you have your flask, you can go wait outside.” We were outside. I asked Efi if she would like to wait outside with me. We looked to the left of the guards where there was a metal fence less than two meters away that apparently separated “inside” from “outside”. Efi said, “I don’t know if I can. It’s kind of far.” True, Efi. And it might be cold. But we went outside. Then there was a guy fighting with the guards – he maintained that he had been doing nothing but “waiting for his (girl)friend” and “where did my bratwurst go?” He seemed more upset about his food being lost in the struggle than being forced to go “outside”. I would be, too. Bratwurst is good stuff. And it’s a harsh world outside.

Lesson/Tip: Go to at least one of the Atrium parties, know that you can’t bring anything that is/looks like it could at some point contain alcohol, be prepared to keep your coat with you the whole night or wait until the line dies down, and don’t do anything to piss the security guards off.


More about Bread

French people (specifically Hanane) know where to find the best bread-stuff foods. Case in point: Hanane gave me a large slice of what is basically cherry... okay, so I knew the English word for it a few days ago, but it's gone now. Cherry crumble cake? Almost had it, lost it again. CHERRY COBBLER! (Note: your ability to think in simple English language terms suffers severely while studying abroad.)

So a large slice of cherry cobbler was presented to me. The slice was a about a foot long, if not slightly more, and amazing. Some of the cherries had pits, but that just confirmed how "real" it was. The next day Joanna and I went on a search for the cobbler, and I had to call Hanane to ask her where she got it. Cobbler was found and eaten, everyone was happy.

Yesterday Hanane brought some chocolate bread and honey bread for us to eat after she and Ula guinea-pigged my home made Chinese vegetables and noodles. The noodles and veg; good. The sweet bread; also good. Hanane wins again!

Tip: As mentioned before, for the (in my opinion) best Brötchen (bread rolls), croissant stuff, bread loaves, etc., and for the best price, go to the Discount Bäker on the main street (Markt Strasse). For the best cherry cobbler and other cobbler delights (don't buy their bread, because it's expensive and doesn't taste special. The Discount Bäker stuff is better), go to the bakery on König Strasse that wraps its stuff in red and yellow paper, and that has Berliner pastries in capuccino cups in the front window (it sounds like a rather lengthy description, but when Hanane told me this feature I knew immediately which bakery she was referring to, and used the description when relaying the information to Joanna -- she knew which bakery it was, too, after hearing the cup bit). For the best sweet breads, go to Mini Mal, but not the small one on König Strasse, but the big one that's on...the street after Nordring and before the Discount Bäker. It's across the street from a gas station. I've seen it once, and have yet to be there.

This has been a very random and useless post to you all (unless you're planning on coming to Landau to buy bread stuffs), but at least it's something. The next post will be, for real, about train tickets.