I STILL don’t get it

The Germans have some weird habits, and after 10 months here I still can’t figure some of them out. Yes, it’s summer. And it’s quite hot. And there’s no air conditioning anywhere. But I, and the majority of the population of Germany still leave the house completely dressed, meaning shirt and pants of some sort. But there is a select group of somewhat overweight German men of ALL ages who do not feel compelled to wear a shirt in public. Now, I’ll grant that this is acceptable in certain circumstances, such as: near the beach, while engaged in sport, maybe when you have a body worth showing off. But the rest of us are just as tired of the hot weather and we manage to stay clothed; why are these men excused? I know that most German citizens feel the same way that I do because you see people giving underclothed men nasty looks all the time, particularly on subway trains when they’re forced to share personal space. I guess I’ll never know.

Tour de France

Tour de France

This was defiantely the coolest thing I’ve done in a while. I went to Karlsruhe to watch the end of the stage on Friday. The riders came through so fast that it was impossible to pick out any individual riders, just a blur of colors and helmets. It was over in about 3 seconds. But thrilling none the less because you knew they were racing to the finish line. A friend of mine had a party there Friday night, and a few of us spent the night on not-so-comfortable couches. I decided to get up early Saturday morning after a couple hours of sleep and try to go see the start of the 8th stage in Pforzheim (which by the way means ‘fart home’ in German). It was actually very worthwhile because I was able to get a spot right up against the barriers with a much better view, and the riders start of each day riding slowly as a large group until they leave the start town and start the real racing. So it was much easier to see what was going on and I was able to pick out Lance Armstrong, though I was having camera issues and didn’t get a picture of him.

3.5 weeks to go

I haven’t gotten anything done in the last 3 weeks, so it’s now time to seriously get down to work on papers for all of my classes which need to be turned in in the very near future. Many hours at the library and in front of the computer. Liz and I are going to see a concert in Wiesbaden on Saturday and I’m looking forward to that. The following Friday the Tour de France stage ends for the day in Karlsruhe and I have a friend studying there so it would be awesome if I can manage to go see that. And then there are one or two trips in the works, but probably not for a couple weeks because I need to get caught up on the school stuff. Oh well, plenty to look forward to. I leave Germany in less than 4 weeks; I can’t believe that. Has it really been 10 months already? I guess so.

oh no, how could i forget?!

I haven’t shared any crazy German(y) stories here for a while, but this one deserved to be told. Yesterday Dave and I were walking around in town heading from the main train station (a pretty bad part of town, and the red light district) to the Zeil, the main shopping and downtown area (a nice upscale area). Just before we got to the Zeil we saw some guy sort of limping/running on the other side of the street. He ran up to an expensive car with two well dressed men in it, one driving and the other getting into the passenger side with the door open. The limping guy started stabbing the man getting into the car with a knife so he took off down the street to get away and the dude with the knife disappeared. The driver got out to figure out where his friend had gone to but the whole time he looked totally nonchallant about the whole thing, as if it were nothing out of the ordinary. When the passenger came back you could see the knife wounds bleeding all over his back and shoulders.

This definitely takes the cake as far as knife fights. The one we saw in the train station months ago doesn’t even compare. It was almost like a Turkish mafia hit, by the dreaded cripple or something. Frankfurt’s full of excitement, as always.

too too hot

I don’t think I ever really appreciated the heat enough in Houston. Sure it gets hot, but for 3 months of the year we stay inside in the over-airconditioned houses and buildings. Rarely do we have to actually deal with the heat from morning to night. In other parts of the US and the world that is not the case. Such as Germany. I swear that the only place in town that is airconditioned to Houston standards is the Peek & Cloppburg department store. I’m tempted to spend all day “shopping” in that one store because that’s the only way to not feel like I’m melting. So basically, I hate hot weather, and no longer think it is tolerable. And I wish I were back in the most airconditioned city in the world; Houston.

Aside from the lousy weather, things are going quite well in Frankfurt these days. Last weekend I went to Erfurt for a couple days. An old east German city that suffered very little damage in the war, I’ve wanted to visit it for a long time. So I was excited to have a chance to go, but because of the timing with other stuff going on I didn’t actually see much of the city. The only time I spent walking around in Erfurt was after midnight so it was dark, and there was a huge festival going on all weekend so even then mostly all you could see were people and food stands. A little disappointing, but the weekend was a blast getting to see all the other German-American club students for probably the last time.

I feel like I haven’t gone to class a whole lot in the last couple weeks, and it’s probably true. But I need to get in gear to start writing papers like crazy because they’re all going to be due around the beginning of July, and that’s coming right up. Ok, I’m going now to make french toast for brunch. But when I think about how hot it is that becomes much less appealing. Maybe I’ll have watermelon instead.

countdown time

The last few weeks have been pretty busy, or so it seems. I was in Prague for a few days and now have a new understanding and appreciation/hatred for the obnoxious American tourist. But the city is fascinating in a way that only Prague can be, and I made it to the airport in time for my flight despite the crazy hail storm and the non-functional transportation. This last weekend I went to another German-American Clubs seminar, this time in Tübingen. That is perhaps the quintecential German city. Tübingen is a small historical university town with a peaceful river on which there are gondolas, in one of the greenest and prettiest parts of Germany. Seems like a wonderful place to study for a year; I’m jealous of the kid who was placed there.

The best news I’ve had in a while was finding out that while I was in Prague that the parents of the Moroccan guy next door moved out and went back to Morocco. Apparently they were on a two month vacation…in Frankfurt… But that means the floor no longer smells constantly of onions and there’s no slamming of doors all day and all night long.

I promise I am going to get a haircut tomorrow. It’s long overdue. And I also promise I’m going to get started on some of the million papers and presentations I need to do. Right. I’ll try to put up pictures of various things soon, but that’ll only work if I’m able to log in which seems to be impossible more often than not.

experiment time

So my dad convinced me to try to plant some of the basil I bought at the market place yesterday. He says it sprouts really easily and then I’ll have a fresh basil plant. I’m not sure how successful this will be and my room smells like basil now. Not so bad at the moment, but I can see myself getting sick of it before too long. We shall see what happens. The next plant issue is what to do with all of my plants when I leave in a couple months. I’m not sure if anyone will want them, or if I should just leave them in the park to fend for themselves.

It’s amazing how quickly things can turn around. What started off as a pretty terrible week suddenly seems much much better. And I get to hang out with my dad for the afternoon tomorrow as well, which I’m looking forward to. Now if I can just manage to get a sushi dinner out of it life will be perfect…

cell phone, hiking

Alright, I admit, I can be very irresponsible. And it seems that I’ve had more moments of irresponsibility recently than usual. I realized yesterday that somewhere during my crazy night out on Saturday I managed to lose my cell phone. I rarely use it and it’s mostly a hassle so I’m not terribly distraught over this, but it’s still annoying. The phone did have moments of being very useful.

Thanks to Roman, who usually is a pretty frustrating human being, I now know how to get to the Taunus- the forested hill region just outside of Frankfurt. I’ve been trying to figure it out for months, and he made the mistake of trying to talk me into going up there with him and telling me how to take the train to get there. The next day I woke up to find out that classes were cancelled for a national holiday and decided to use my suddenly free day to do some hiking. It also somehow turned out to be a day with beautiful weather so it was perfect. I chose a trail and set off and before too long managed to lose the marked trail I had been following and end up on an unmarked trail. I had no map and no idea where I was going so when I came across a marked trail with people on it I decided to just pick a direction and follow it to the end, wherever that may be. Luckily the trail came out of the forest not too far from where I had started, though I didn’t realize it at the time. But there was a bus stop on the road so I took the bus to somewhere it met up with the train and was on my way back to Frankfurt. It was a very enjoyable afternoon despite, or perhaps because of, getting lost and I’m very much looking forward to going back, hopefully with a map.