November 30th, 2010

if I were me

back in Germany

I was supposed to go to Munich today and spend the day there before training to Frankfurt tomorrow, but when I really started thinking about walking a 3/4s of a mile from the train station to my hotel with my giant suitcase in the slush and the cold, I thought, "You know what would be great? If I just rented a car and went back to Rothenburg ob der Tauber and got that place out of my system. I really didn't get to stay long enough last time."

I don't think I'll regret missing Munich simply from a logistical point of view--I'm not backpacking through Europe here, and pretending like I am was a huge disconnect. Of course, from a "when am I going to be in Munich again?" point of view, I'm a little sad, but all things considered, it's far more worth my while to be in Rothenburg.

Germany is restful compared to Romania. Or maybe the phrase is actually "more like America." I'm sure it is. On the other hand, it is not as nice because it's colder and snowier. In point of fact, when I went to pick up my car today at the airport (which I reserved before I left Germany, which is when I made the decision about my last day in Germany), they said, "Oh, we don't have any cars with winter tires, so it will be a two hour wait."

Uhm, what?

I went to a few other counters, and everyone was out of winter tires. What the hell were they doing, one might wonder? After having a rather lengthy conversation with my original reservation holder again, I asked what the difference between summer and winter tires was, you know, from an American's standpoint. Because quite frankly, I live in a snowy state, and I don't swap out my tires seasonally. The counter person didn't really know, but she assured me that the summer tires were completely not up to the task of any sort of snow, while I'm standing there wondering if the difference is snow tires and regular tires, and growing more frustrated and doing everything I can not to show I'm frustrated, because obviously, this is just stupid, not evil, that they have these absurd(ish) rules about tires and yet the rental companies are not swapping tires as cars come in when the season turns.

Finally, once I agreed that I wasn't going to Austria--because it's illegal to drive with summer tires in Austria now--and once I discussed the predicted amounts of precipitation and made my peace with God, I took a summer-tire car, and headed out of the freaking airport. There's a 20% chance of snow tomorrow until I get to Frankfurt, where it goes up to 40%; then I'm in for the night and there's an overnight chance of 70% ish... and then I have to drive 5 minutes to the airport the following morning. I'll risk it. Let's hope these are not all famous last words, eh?

So, frustrations aside, I have a mint green something. A Corsa? I don't know. It's more fancy than I'm used to, with all these 1 touch controls, and a hugging seat, but it's okay. I kind of liked the crappy little thing I was driving before better.


Just got back from dinner. Verdict: spatzle with cheese is just mac and cheese. German food names are exotic sounding lies. Lies! And you know what schnitzle is? The foulest lie: it's veal.

Anyway, the waitress was concerned that I wasn't having beer or wine with dinner. This is not the first time I've frustrated and confused my waitstaff this trip, but frankly, drinking alone is not something I want to do in a foreign country; I'm a social drinker at best, and take no real joy out of beer or wine on its own merits 85% of the time, so trying new beers or wines is actually more like torture than fun.

But I did want some gluhwein after dinner, but the waitress misunderstood/misheard/thought I was crazy, and brought me what I suspect was a Riesling with my spatzle. Also, my plate of food was enormous, was nothing like anything I'd gotten in Germany before, and certainly nothing like what I'd gotten in Romania. It was even gigantic for America. I ate about a third of it (salad and spatzle) before having to cry wimp and getting it taken away.

In the meantime, I had discovered that the Christmas carol playing in the restaurant--which I had enjoyed at first, and was at least partially a round of "Gaudete" plus something else mixed with it--was on infinite repeat.

Plus, half way through the glass of wine, I remember that, appearances aside, I'm a lightweight in the realm of alcohol. The world started to blur around me. I started humming along to the "Gaudete" parts of the song, then outright singing them, before remembering where I was, and just cramming more spatzle into my mouth. "Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus, oh, crap, I'm singing. Again."

So, as I confronted this enormous plate of food--and let me just say, eating a third of what was presented was like winning a food challenge, and I was not picking at the food--and the endless loop of music and my own inability to process alcohol like a normal person, I began to consider that I was in Jolly German Christmas Hell. Especially when the waitress came by to ask me for the third time how I liked the spatzle.

Fortunately, at that point, I realized I had to stop eating and just get away from the music. Which I did.


The only other thing to note about today is that at 6:30 AM Romania time, I locked the night manager out of his hotel. He had carried my luggage down to my cab, you see, and left the door ajar; I so helpfully closed it. As I was closing it, but too late to stop: "No, no, don't close it!" But it was done. "I don't have a key," he said. (WHY? I didn't say.) He stopped and stared. "It's all right," he said. And then, "OH, GOD!" under his breath. I expressed concern. "No, it's all right, I can call," he said philosophically, and waved my cab over.

Me and that hotel's main entrance: doomed from the start.