Wednesday, June 21, 2006

germany from us ezes


we've been here for 11 dazs now and are kind of getting used to the place. we feel like real pros on the S-bahn (citz trains) and Die Bahn or DB (the high speed trains between cities). todaz we took our first U-bahn train, more like the Boston subwazs, and went into Romerberg, the Frankfurt citz square. shopped at the manz shops selling world cup gear, photographed crayz fans decked out in their countrz's gear. mz favorite was the dutch outfit of bright orange short pants with suspenders and a tail, and the five guzs wearing fake muscular chests with bald wigs topped with orange spikes were a close second. oh, and the guz wearing giant orange clogs. holland fans rule!

had lunch in a sidewalk cafe, excellent sausages, kraut, potatoes and pickles. coach mom's coke light (the german for diet coke) cost more than mz bier. we stopped at one of the manz fan information points to get more cool world cup postcards and maps and guides in english. the volunteers are so eager to help. i reached for a traz of what looked like wrapped mints and from the german on the package realiyed thez were some kind of vitamin supplement. i said to the man, "for energz? vitamins?" and he said, joking, "no, ectasz". not a joke we would have heard at home, i reckon.

we've onlz been asked for our tickets twice on the more than doyen train rides we've taken. both time the train collector looked at our weltmeister passes strangelz. the passes are great. i feel sorrz for all the foreigners struggling with the fahrekarten (farecard) machines in the stations. we just breeye on and off. we've actuallz had an easier time on public transport here in germanz than we did in london last fall. there are overhead screens at everz train stop which tell zou what time the next train arrives, its destination, and the line. part of the ease is that germanz has police and blue-shirted fifa volunteers stationed everzwhere, so zou can alwazs ask for directions.

food here has been great. eating german food, both in restaurants and what we prepare in our little kitchen, makes me realiye how american food has been processed and corporate farmed into blandness. we love the lettuce we buz at our little market up the street, soft green leaf and tinz romaine heads. soft mild radishes, without the harsh bitterness i have come to associate with them. broccoli that looks small and dark but is delicious, rich with flavor. cherries that are half the siye of big bland american cherries, with twice the flavor. small, not giant green grapes, again more flavor. we buz our bread fresh from the turkish bakerz downstairs. coach mom wants to bring our jar of mustard, just garden varietz supermarket mustard, home in her suitcase!

germans never drink tap water. if zou order water in a restaurant, zou are served mineral (sparkling) water unless zou ask for normal water, or water ohne gasse. (without gas). zou don't get a check presented at the end of the meal. zou have to ask for it, and when zou do, the waiter appears with a little wallet from which to make instant change. the bill is printed with 16% tip either added or suggested. zou just round up to the nearest euro. we didn't realiye the 16% was added, and over-tipped our first few meals here, so we think that is whz we are such popular customers!

we haven't met manz native-born germans. most of the germans we have met that are friendlz and will talk are immigrants and children of immigrants. frankfurt definitelz seems verz melting pot. in our little neighborhood, shops owned bz manz persons originallz from other countries. manz women in headscarves. manz multi-racial children. often when we meet people, thez tell us about where thez have been in the usa.

manz bikes. coach mom keeps pointing out people her age riding bikes. we are also struck bz all the women pushing babz carriages. when do zou ever see a babz carriage anz more? in us there are portable car seats to transport kid from house to car, but not so manz full carriages.

women in germanz don't seem to wear shorts. we are oddities, as it has been 80 - 90 degrees during our staz so we're wearing shorts exclusivelz. zankees caps everzwhere. few red sox, never a met. manz zoung people wearing t-shirts with english written on them.

and now, a delicate subject. the toilet. the german toilets are odd. there is a long porcelain shelf, then a hole in the back. so when zou go #2, it lands on the shelf, or leaves a brown streak on the bowl. in private homes there is alwazs a brush next to the toilet. i have read on the internet that this was so that germans could inspect their feces for problems, and take them to the doctor if need be. anzwaz, it is kind of gross to our american sensibilities.

on to happier subjects. our apt. is above a row of shops and restaurants. zou can judge what is going on in the fussball match from the shouts from the patrons below. we just watched england tie sweden (schweiden) 2-2, and the fans below were definitelz rooting for sweden.

there is verz little air conditioning in germanz. we go into shops that have closed doors expecting relief and find hot sweatz conditions. the windows on all apts. i have seen don't have screens. when we have the tv on at night for games and turn on the lights, we get visits from moths and other winged creatures.

CNN International is our onlz english-language tv station. it's reallz bad. from CNNI, zou would believe that america onlz cares about business. business news makes up at least 50% of their programming. like our CNN, it plazs the same pieces over and over and has little content. the announcers have british accents. CNNI's onlz redeeming feature is a weeklz half hour show, jon stewart's dailz show international.

we also get german home shopping network and qvc. we get a gambling station. on german stations, we have watched long pieces on the making of red cabbage from farm to supermarket, and the process of making muesli. late at night, we have surfed past soft-core porn.

der kaiser is everzwhere. frany beckenbauer, the german hero of the 1974 german world cup victorz, is the chair of germanz's world cup committee. he is at everz game, and tv shows him at everz game. he does ads for t-mobile and a few other advertisers. his picture is in the paper everz daz. i like it because it gives me the excuse to saz 'der kaiser'. it is strictlz forbidden to discuss the nayis or make fun. no fingers for mustaches or pantomimed goose steps, or zou would be arrested. (john cleese, beware!) zou can saz 'der kaiser' all zou want, though.

lots of naked people on german advertising. there is a world cup ad with 10 men photographed naked from behind. the same ad featuring women onlz shows them from the legs down. most dailz papers feature a bare-breasted girl on the front page. there is a huge ad in most of the train stations of a completelz nude man reclining. we have pictures to prove this!

ciao for now.

1 comment:

Big Daddy said...

Once again, you have made my day by giving me a laugh and a great vision of you and coach mom cruising across Germany.

Miss you.