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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.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 30th, 2010 07:22 pm (UTC)
Most Americans use all-season tires. Given the German attitude toward handling and driving safety, it would not surprise me at all if they used summer and winter tires. True summer tires have next to no grip on snow or ice.

Seasonal tires rule and more Americans should get them.
Nov. 30th, 2010 07:26 pm (UTC)
What an unpleasant chore to change your tires twice a year. Ugh. Where do you store them? Do you go to the tire shop, have them changed, and have the off season tires thrown in the back? Do you sell and repurchase tires twice a year? Where do Germans put the extra tires in their teeny little Euro-dwellings? I have so many questions about this...
Nov. 30th, 2010 08:50 pm (UTC)
It was absolutely normal to put on snow tires every winter when I was growing up in Philadelphia, 1970s. I think that was before all-weather radials became more common.
Nov. 30th, 2010 09:43 pm (UTC)
I have two sets of wheels, so changing summer for winter or back again is just wrench work. Previously I have gone to the tire shop, but starting this year I'll be doing it myself, as I finally have the tools.

I keep my off-season tires in the basement. At some point I'll probably want to reorganize the garage and store them there.

Being a Michigander I cannot speak to the intricacies of Euro-dwellings.
Dec. 1st, 2010 12:53 am (UTC)
In my shed or the basement. You keep your off-season tires for as long as the tread is good. Usually two to three seasons, depending on how hard they get used. I'm always shocked by how many people I know drive on bald tires. Scary!
Dec. 1st, 2010 12:50 am (UTC)
Exactly. I have summer tires and winter snow tires, so I do swap. I can't imagine driving on all-seasons anymore, but I know that's what most people do.
Dec. 1st, 2010 07:06 am (UTC)
Oh, crap, so I am going to die then? :)
Nov. 30th, 2010 07:23 pm (UTC)
LOL! I was struggling with the winter tire concept on Twitter. See, the Germans want you to be safe, and also to have alcohol with your meal. It all makes so much sense. Wish I could pop in for little parts of your trip. It sounds like a blast.
Nov. 30th, 2010 08:13 pm (UTC)
Noooo. Spaetzle is not mac and cheese. Spaeztle is a kind of noodle. Sometimes it's served with cheese, but more often with just butter, as a side dish.

I'm sorry you had such a miserable food experience. *offers hugs and self as translator for the next trip*
Dec. 1st, 2010 07:05 am (UTC)
Oh, you're right, it wasn't really mac and cheese, and it was quite tasty (and it was billed as spaetzle and cheese, so that's why there was cheese). Just too much of it! And too much the same song over and over.

Nov. 30th, 2010 08:49 pm (UTC)
There *is* snow in and around Rothenberg: here are pictures from Saturday, in Rothenberg and Stuttgart.
Dec. 1st, 2010 07:05 am (UTC)
But the roads are perfectly clear. I meant new snow.
Dec. 1st, 2010 07:09 am (UTC)
Is your German good enough to follow weather forecasts? I don't know about there, but here, not all that far away, there's posible snow predicted all week. None of it here is expected to be heavy snow however. But Rothenburg's higher.
Dec. 1st, 2010 02:11 am (UTC)
spatzle with cheese is just mac and cheese

They should have a lot more texture than pasta. They're awesome with paprikas.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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