Fake Irish on a hill...

Last Saturday was "Jani" (Midsummer Fest), and while the suggested (and prepared for...) meeting up and co-celebrating it with the others here (who are, decidedly, definitely NOT Latvian :p ) fell through (more healthy vegetables and fruits for me, suckers), I was able to attend an Irish festival/concert thing not far from Landau. Tutoring family's mother invited me, and after a quick stop to see the last of the Germany-Sweden game, we headed off to Madenburg. I didn't understand at first, but Madenburg isn't a city in itself, but is a Burg (mini-castle? it's not really big enough to be a full-blown castle) above Eschbach.

Eschbach is a little crazy historical city, built in the mid 1200's and has a population of around 700. Not a lot of time to look at the city, though. After parking the car halfway up the mountain it took a 15 minute hike to get to Madenburg. The most amazing part of the entire thing was that this is a historical place, it's ancient (1100's), and they host events here once or twice a year. There are no guard rails, the steps, which are original, stone and very worn down, have no handrails. It's a touristy deathtrap, if you compare it to what they do with historical stuff in the U.S. I loved it :) The view from Madenburg is also spectacular. You can see where Landau is, and the beginning of Karlsruhe. Everything looks so close together from way up high, like the next city is just a few steps away.

The band, Skye, was made up of three fake Irish Germans. Which means that they sounded pretty Irish. I recognized maybe three out of all of the songs they played. Unfortunately they were kind of pushed into a corner of the Burg, so the sound didn't carry too well. There was food, drink, and a lot of people. A lot a lot. According to Tutoring mother, there have never been that many people at the fest. There was also a nice bonfire, so I even though I spent my Latvian holiday with a bunch of Germans, they had the right elements, and I was alright with all of it.

The thing started around 7 and we left around 11.30, stopped by Tutoring families house (with the other 3 people who went with us), interrupted the boys' night of pizza and TV, and had tiramisu and espresso. By the time I was dropped off it was around 12.30, so I hunkered down with my homemade cheese and some of the veggies and beer I had bought, and amused myself with latvian music and whatever I had in my room (computer, books... that's about it) until 4 A.M., by which point I was so incredibly bored that there was nothing else to do BUT go to sleep. I missed sunrise by an hour or so, but it's the best I've done in years.

All views from within Madenburg, except for this last one, which is a shot of what the world beneath Madenburg looks like. The city in the very back center on the horizon is Landau.

Madenburg bonfire

My cheese!

A lonely celebration!

**Note: if you're interested in how the WM scene is in Germany, read Andi's blog, because her boyfriend is crazy into WM, and has sucked her into the system. Link on the right!


Baroque Incident

In light of the fact that my Berlin photos finally worked like I wanted them to, I'll take a short moment to explain the Baroque incident.

During my mother's visit, she, Sonia and I went one evening to Baroque, a very fancily decorated restaurant that (probably) has the best crepes in the entire city. There is one waiter there who is strange. He speaks (or at least speaks parts of) several languages, and comes off as somewhat uppity. We ordered our crepes and tea; banana-schoko w/ ice cream crepe for me, banana-schoko for my mom, and sugar-cinnamon for Sonia. The waiter confirmed the orders and left. We got our tea, everything's going good, a waitress (the dumb one who has screwed up my order and other people's orders on many previous occasions) comes over with a crepe and introduces it, all I hear being "....-schoko mit Eis?" I immediately raise my hand because I was the only one who ordered a crepe that included a combination of chocolate and ice cream. I get the crepe, she leaves, and I look at the crepe, realizing only after a few seconds that there is a lack of banana. There are no bananas.

Okay, so, I tell Sonia and my mother, we decide there has been a mistake, and we flag down the first waiter (I will from now on refer to him as such). I tell him in a friendly manner that I ordered a banana-schoko crepe and got a schoko-only crepe. However, because I was hungry, I would still eat the crepe in front of me, but would not pay for the banana-schoko. He looks at me for a few seconds and then says (in German but now translated), rather aggressively, "So what's the problem?" I repeat: wrong crepe, but I'll still eat it (therefore saving them the ingredients and time needed to make a new, correct crepe), but that I would pay for what I got, not what I ordered. Still in nice, passive manner.

Normally, waiters would be thankful for the customer's understanding and willingness to eat what was given them. This guy wasn't. He says, still aggressively "So what do you want me to do? We can make you a new one. What do you want?" I (once again) repeat that that won't be necessary. He gets pissy and walks away with a huff and a roll of his eyes, then turns half way toward us and says (rather loudly, I might add), that "Okay, so my colleague made a mistake; SHE'S ONLY HUMAN."

Sonia, my mother and I sit in stunned silence. The women at the next table over are looking at us and whispering. The three of us uncomfortably shrug it off and keep on with our talking, still not able to understand what just happened. How can he talk to a customer like that, especially when I wasn't even being rude or difficult?

A few minutes later, Mr. Jerkface (as I will now call him) literally charges at the table with his little computer-pad thing and says "See, now look here, what you are eating now is, in fact, what she" he points to my mom "ordered. You are eating HER crepe." The three of us look at him, eyes wide, and I say calmly, "No, because she ordered a banana-schoko crepe. Without ice cream." Silence for a few seconds, and then Mr. Jerkface once again spins away in a huff of anger and says loudly, "Forget it. Just forget it." After this I felt sick to my stomach -- seriously, and wasn't able to finish my crepe. No one has EVER spoken to me like that before, not in a public place, not ever. And I, as I saw it, had done nothing to deserve such a blast of rage.

Oddly enough, when he brought the other two crepes, he handed Sonia hers and called her "mademoiselle", and wished my mom "guten appetite". When he came to take the plates away he once again called Sonia mademoiselle, and asked my mother how her crepe had been. After the second incident, Mr. Jerkface was polite enough to Sonia and my mom, but didn't look me in the eye for the rest of our stay, not even when I paid for the three of us. Possibly he realized that he had been mistaken from the beginning. Maybe he felt like an idiot after accusing me of screwing things up, when it is in fact his job to keep things in order.

I was willing to overlook the first outburst, and just leave the restaurant if he ended up being my waiter, or ask for another one. But after the second outburst... I'm never going back. Which is a pity, because it's a really nice place with good crepes, and it's open until 3 A.M. I've also recently learned that I'm not the only one who has had attitude from him; and that includes friends of ours who have lived in Landau, or the surrounding area, for years.

So don't support the pretty restaurant that hires jerks. Wait to get your crepe fill from the cool guys who set up shop at the festivals and fairs.

The end.


Berlin pictures + one random comment

On the way to the library this morning, I saw a guy whose skin was even paler than mine. I immediately felt better.

Now for Berlin:

Sony Center

Bombed-or-something church we never went in to

Crazy fountain with all kinds of sculpture things attatched to it

Statue in the round-about

A piece of The Wall in Potsdamer Platz (former "dead-zone")

Another crazy sculpture in the midst of a bike race

Native fire-breathing dragon-lizzard of Berlin. Dangerous creatures, but have rather bad aim

Brandenburger Tor, surrounded by stupid gates and WM junk. Not to come down on WM, but do you HAVE to surround the Tor with it?

Checkpoint Charlie

The Old National Art Museum. One of many museums we hit up that day.

Inside of the new Berlin Hbf. 5 stories, chaotic, but not a single baggage locker in sight! (truthfully, they exist, but are still under construction. Still stupid.)

The original Nefertiti bust, located in the Altes Museum

Schloss Charlottenburg. 4 hours of combi-touring, and at almost every staff member we talked to asked what we were doing Saturday. At first we thought they wanted to hang out with us, but it turns out there was a concert scheduled to take place in the castle hall.

The original Rodin "Thinker" sculpture

The view from our top-floor room in the youth hostel - I could sit and watch the trains come in and the idiots crossing the intersection. I mean that literally - people do some stupid stuff.

One of six or seven gigantic sculptures that are on display during WM. Others included a stack of books, a giant pill, soccer cleats, a car, and a cluster of flags

A very trippy site for a Jewish monument. These blocks were all different heights, and formed a kind of garden thing. I saw one set of parents lose their kid for 10 minutes before he showed up again. It's a very involving momument...

We had to get our travel money SOMEHOW, shoo'!

Upon our return in Landau. No more trips...please...


...Elaborating NOW!

Last Sunday to this past Wednesday Sonia and I decided semi-last-minute to take the 5.5 hour train ride to Berlin. Reason being, of all cities in Germany, it would be the most shameful if, after having lived here for 10 months, we hadn’t even made it to Berlin. We left at 7.23 in the morning, and had *luckily* only to change trains once. We went south through Karlsruhe and then back north to Berlin. On the way to Karlsruhe the train was filled with young business men/office working types who had apparently spent their Saturday night out celebrating and were on the way back home. Pleasant.

I said before that I hate train children. For the last two hours or so of the trip, a group of four (two little girls and their mothers); the kids were loud. One of the little girls, presumably a bit older than her friend, was unbearably and obnoxiously loud. She was one of those kids (unfortunately I’m positive that I was exactly like this at times until the age of…10? Sorry Mom, sorry Dad…) who just doesn’t know when to shut it. Or when to keep the voice down. Orgenerallynerak, when not to be a child other people tend to dislike. She spent her time laughing too loudly, saying her stomach was full of vegetables, poking the other girl with food, and slapping playing cards down on the table like it was her job. Then there was the running up and down the aisle and playing hide-and-go-loud-seek. The thing that strikes me now, is that neither of the two mothers attempted to sedate their children in any way. Sure, maybe they’re used to it. Maybe they did it on purpose so that the rest of the immediate world would suffer as much as they do on a daily basis. Whatever their plan… common courtesy – you’re in an enclosed space with minimal fresh air, and people who have been on the train much longer than you. You think they would know to tell the kids “Inside voices!”

But then again, in complete contrast, there was a mother who quite viciously shook her son and scolded him for (apparently) teasing his (older) brother. Violently shaking your kid in a public place vs. not telling your kid to sit down and shut their mouths: shaking wins as far as bad parenting goes.

Was I ever shaken? Don’t remember. But the memory loss is probably a result of falling on my head a few times.

By the time we got to Berlin I had a headache to the point of being sick to my stomach. Damn kids. (Note: I saw enough cute kids during the stay in Berlin to save me from any potedespisingld-dispising that may have been a result of the trip)

Our hostel was right across the street from the Berlin Zoo-Garten Bhf, which was convenient, and kind of endearing, because mornings I could hear "Meine Damen und Herren auf Gleis 2..." And the stairs to the hostel are across a set of stairs that lead to "World of Sex", the sex shop that accompanies the Berlin Erotik Museum. No, we did not end up going there. Mostly because our 3-Day Museum ticket didn't cover it. ZOOM!

Short nap after arrival -- we were the first people to check in from our room of 12 people. The other people only showed face after 12 A.M. or so when Sonia and I came back from the movie theater and turned the light on eight sleeping Koreans. I know they were Korean because when they weren't there I looked at the name tags on their backpacks. Hey -- I just wanted to know what I was dealing with.

Before the movie we walked around the area, had Hagen Daaz (how German, no!?), and....looked at stuff. It was Sunday evening, everything but ice cream and coffee shops is closed (no complaints from me), so we walked. Then we saw Date Movie, and that wasn't too exciting, and then we went back to the hostel and woke up the Korean roommates.

The rest of the time was spent booking it everywhere just to get to the museums we wanted to see (Alte National Museum, Alte Museum, GemäGuggenheim, Gouggenheim [don't know how it's spelled, so I'll fix it later], etc.). We took a boat tour and listened to 60 minutes of history and bad jokes about the surrounding buildings. We also walked to Charlottenburg (one of many parts of Berlin) and checked out the castle there. One plus about most museums and historical touristy things in Berlin: you pay for the ticket, and you get the audio guide for your visit FREE OF CHARGE. I loved it, even with the sometimkitschynfully kitchy statements, or such questions as "Are you now back in the Silver room? Good! Now, if you turn left..." Nice deal.

Berlin ended up being a lot less frightening than I had thought it would be. I imagined it, I supposed, to be like London, only 10 times bigger. But I never once felt like I was in danger, never once feared for my pocket book. Great! Berlin is, in some ways, like London, but it's much more spread out. In Landau, "everything" lies more or lessrestaurantswo resaurants, Leo's and Baroque (if I haven't mentioned anything about the Baroque fiasco, DON'T EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER GO TO BAROQUE. At most pop in to see the interior and how it's designed, but don't become a customer), and then inner Landau stops. In Berlin, Sonia and I were amazed - and a bit confused on the inside - at how Berlin just kept going. And going, and going...Every street had something to see or do, and it was nice. I would have liked to spend more time in Berlin, but maybe only by a few days, because I get the feeling that, once I had seen all of the Museums and such, I'd be done with it. Then it would almost be like every other big city I've been to. But it's definitely visit-worthy.

For the next post I'll put up photos from Berlin. Until then...!


Berlin Blurb

Berlin is an 11 hour round-trip train ride from Landau. And I hate train children.

Further details Monday!