Friday, June 25, 2010

Socialist ice cubes.

Our day started off with about 3 hours of autobahn driving. Dad started off, getting us out of Bingen, and we switched over just past the Frankfurt airport. Not a word of a lie, less than 10km later, the construction started. And, rather than reduce an autobahn to 1 lane, the standard construction procedure around here is to keep two lanes, but make them only 2m wide. After a couple of hours hunched over the steering wheel, trying not to loose the side mirrors or get crushed by an 18 wheeler, I had enough and Dad and I switched driving again. And, wouldn’t you know it, there was only one more SHORT bit of similar construction. I always seem to do the driving through heavy traffic, commuter traffic, rain, and low gas. It’s AMAZING the way fate will smile on Dad and allow him to miss all the nasty bits of the drive.

Anyway, we got into Rothenburg around 11.30 and parked just outside the old city walls. We wandered into the town and around the marketplatz for a while, then started looking for a hotel. We found something at our second try – it’s a gastof that was probably 3 buildings originally, but is now a maze of corridors. We’re right next to one of the 3 churches in this section of town, only 3 minutes from the marketplatz and 2 second from the bluff that over-looks the valley bellow the city. It was a great find as the rooms are nice and the staff is amazingly accommodating.

After checking in, we went to go get the car and had to drive through the old city. Let me tell you, Rothenburn is PACKED with tourists. It’s considered a fairy-tale style city, so it’s a big stop for a lot of tours. We’ve been pretty lucky so far in terms of not meeting up with a lot of American tourists, but our luck ran out today. The town in packed with them. And they can’t seem to grasp the fact that the roadway are used by cars and aren’t just pedestrian walk ways. So, after mowing down a few of them, we got back to our hotel with the car where the owner/manager let us have her parking space. Such a nice lady.

From there, we headed out to the marketplatz for some lunch, and then decided to go our separate ways for the afternoon. Dad took a walk around the old city walls (which took him about an hour since they started off being so big and are still standing), while I did some shopping. Being such a busy tourist town, the shops really accommodate the spenders and I wandered in and out of shops for the afternoon. I also picked up some delicious balls of deep-fried cookies, which I had originally found in Fussen – there are 6 or 7 bakeries in a two-block radius that specialize in them, so I was really happy to see that my little pleasure was so popular here. On my shopping, I picked up a bag to replace my back-pack, which is now falling apart, some gifts and some postcards. Now that I’ve bought myself a sun hat (and, I can carry off a hat like no body’s business, I found out) I don’t mind the aimless wandering, which is good since we’re here in town tomorrow just to wander around and see some of the museums.

After my shopping, I went back to my rooms to relax for a few hours. Dad and I had planned to meet at 7 for dinner, and when I got downstairs, I found he was sitting out on the street in front of the gastof enjoying a beer (most of these places are also restaurants, and all restaurants here seem to have patio space). He was sitting in front of a table of 6 Americans and, as soon as I sat down, he announced he couldn’t stand listening to them anymore and we’d be going in to eat dinner. When I sat down, one of them (a dentist, I presumed) was explaining the process of a root canal. He was interrupted while the waitress brought out their food, but went right back to the nitty-gritty as soon as she walked away – and this is when my stomach turned and I agreed that we should go in.

All was not lost however, since there is a secondary patio space on the side of the building (right below my building) and we still got to enjoy the nice evening, with the light breeze and no humidity in the shade. Then Dad started filling me in on those obnoxious Americans:

His experience with them started off listening to them trying to interpret the menu and getting everything wrong. They then asked the waitress to explain to them the ‘potato cream soup.’ The waitress, how was very sweet and was running around like the Energizer bunny, was obviously getting fed up with the sillyness of their table and when asked to explain what the potato pancakes in the soup were like and if they were any good, she answered ‘Well, we’ve been eating them for years and they haven’t killed us.’ I think that’s why Dad left her the 5 Euro tip after our meal (prices here include gratuities).

Finally, they settled on food, but still had to order drinks. It was finally decided that they were just going to drink tap water, but only if they could get ice cubes with it. When the drinks came out, the waitress brought a bowl of ice cubes (since it’s not traditional here to serve ice with drinks). One of the older people at the table stated that it was the tradition to not traditional here to drink anything very hot or very cold as it wasn’t good for your health. Wrong, so wrong. Just because something doesn’t come with ice cubes, doesn’t mean all liquids are served tepid. And I don’t think anyone’s thought that extreme temperatures in drinks has been detrimental to health since the 18th century.

But here’s the kicker: when the bowl of ice cubes came out, one of the ladies at the table was heard to observe on their odd size and shape, to which a gentleman at the table commented: ‘Well, electricity is expensive in socialist countries, so they don’t have ice cube makers here. Instead, they only have little tiny ice boxes so they have to make their ice cubes smaller.’ So it turns out the next war American sensibilities will launch is against socialist ice cubes – be warned Germany.

Some people just refuse to experience something new while on vacation, and the number of obnoxious and oblivious American tourists prove that. We’re wandering around Rothernburg tomorrow, so it’ll be a slow start and a casual day. Hopefully the weather will stay nice!

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