Thursday, March 09, 2006

Re-Post: Bielefeld Summary

Original posted on: June 16th, 2004

Coming out of Denmark and back into Germany was an immense relief. We could understand the prices, and liked the way we understood them. We could speak the language passably, which made us feel a lot more in control. (Travelling in a country where you don't know the language, at least for me, always makes me feel slightly out of place). Ed: I can't really agree with that sentiment anymore. Two months later, navigating Greece which featured a Cyrillic alphabet, everything felt quite normal. In fact when, at the end of our trip, we arrived in Scotland, heard everybody speaking English and used their oddly familiar looking money, it end up being discouraging, a reminder that we would have to head home soon and what that would be like. I can say though that being in Germany feels great, in that while everything is foreign you have the ability to pass as a native (which gives you a unique perspective).

At any rate, it felt good to be in Germany. So good in fact, that we decided to start making lots of impulse purchases. Here I get the "Sausage of the day" from a very commercialized looking food vendor, mostly for the picture and the surety that such an enterprise would be sued out of existence in America. I'm loving it, especially the upside down "M".

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Mäc Würstchen Walk-Thru

Arriving in Bielefeld, we were greeted warmly by Karl's family in Bielefeld, had a late night snack and then headed for bed. The next morning (it should be noted for our stay with Karl's family this usually refers to what most people would consider afternoon.... ahhh, sleeping in), we took care of business before pleasure and got some drinks. The store pictured here is like a Costco for beverages (especially the German kind, if you catch my drift). We then explored Bielefeld for awhile.

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Stocking up for the night

Later that night we decided to go kart racing. As they say, this isn't your grandmothers kart racing, or more accurately this isn't your North American kart racing. It's a whole lot faster and a whole lot more intense. In flash back I realized why, when taking the German exchange students kart racing in Canada, as their first activity here, they were quite obviously underwhelmed. On our tracks you can hold the gas pedal to the floor around the entire circuit, here that would send you flying into a wall at dangerously high speeds.

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Don't mess with Karl's cousins

Oli, the exchange student that had lived at our place and who had politely been put through our version of kart racing, joined us, since he lived in the area. As you can tell, this takes a lot out of you. It should be noted that at these speeds, kart racing takes a lot of skill, which I decidedly don't have. Regardless it was a blast.

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Oli and me

Afterwards we returned to the Zehn family residence (Karl's relatives) and chilled out on the terrace and took part in a bit of German culture courtesy of Jagermeister.

The next morning (see above definition for morning) we met up with Oli again and went to see Hermann's Denkmal. This statue roughly marks the farthest advance of the Romans before being forced back by Hermann and his like.

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Look like any other statues you know?

We also checked out the Externsteine, which are weirdly shaped really tall rocks in the middle of nowhere. Some legends have it that they were thrown down by God when Lucifer was banished from heaven. At any rate it's been used for various cultish practices throughout the centuries.

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The stones

After our sight seeing we stopped by in Oerlinghausen, where Oli (und die feinsten chicas) live, for some Turkish food. Turkish food is a mainstay for the Germans and that's just fine by me. Sitting on a bench, in what couldn't have been a more classic German village, we ate lahmacun (a rolled pizza style dish) and ayran (a slightly sour yogurt drink). These are the moments I love the most, relaxing on a beautiful day, watching people go about their business, enjoying a wonderful meal at my leisure. Later I got to see Oli's house and enjoy some excellent Russian Mennonite cooking.

The next morning (morning for real this time) we headed out on the Autobahn for Bremen. Despite going up to 220 km/h it felt like nothing. Probably due to how well the car was designed as well as the fact that everybody else was travelling that fast as well.

Bremen just happens to be the brewing location for Beck's beer, the beer favoured by the all the young people we hung out with. Never ones to turn away a learning experience, we decided to take the tour. Here we are at the mandatory end of every brewery tour. The part where you sample the product line. With us is Nicki's friend who studies in Bremen.

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Who saw this coming?

Here the famous statue in the city center. Karl and I rub the legs for good luck.

The statue
Der Stadt Musikant

After lunch we visited a concentration camp. Not a fun visit, but definitely something that should be seen once. Perhaps the most startling thing about the whole affair was the size, how mind numbingly vast the camp's layout was, for what was supposedly only a small camp. Coming from a German background, there is also no room to point fingers, just a sickening realization that humanity did this.

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Humbling

After returning home and in stark contrast, we enjoyed yet another fabulous meal and went out to a reggae party thrown by the local youth.

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Nicki and the DJs

The next morning we said our farewells. It was a great time. Thanks again family Zehn.

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Familie Zehn und Karl

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1 comment:

Theresa said...

about the language thing - I still always feel as an intruder if I not at least know some basic phrases in the language... But in Greece I felt weird, because people at the touristy places knew swedish... that is even worse! :D Then you're not much of a Livingstone anymore...