Sunday, February 19, 2012

I Finally Bought Batteries and Thus Have Some Photos! And Some Stories.

    Why hello, dear friends! Happy Sunday to you! It is rather a rather dreary and uninspiring day here; yesterday was gorgeous and practically spring-y, but today we've returned to the wet and cold that is winter in Germany. Fortunately the cold snap seems to have ended, and though not by any stretch of the imagination warm, the forecast for the next ten days is at least entirely positive. It's snowy and wet outside, so I've holed myself up in the nearest Starbucks (don't scoff; it's warm and cheap and open on Sundays and has free wifi!) with my computer, Harry Potter und die Kammer des Schreckens, and a large mug of tea.

     Starbucks in Europe is practically a clone of that in America, with the exception of one cool thing: if you say you're eating/drinking there, they give you a real coffee mug! In assorted tall, grande, and venti sizes, of course. Okay, it's not really that exciting, but it definitely gives it a feeling of homeyness!

     Anyway, as bleh (yes, that is a real descriptive word. Shhhh!) as today is, yesterday outdid itself in gorgeousness. The sun was out, the sky was bluer than blue, and the temperature was a whopping 45 degrees Fahrenheit! (Yes, up 50 degrees from some parts of last week!) Sadly, as the weekends (and presence of two very energetic and ready-to-play children upstairs) turn me into somewhat of a recluse in the mornings, I didn't proceed out into the world until about 3, and since my room's in the basement, I didn't even realize how lovely it was outside! Fortunately the sun has obliged since December by staying up later, so I took a bus ride into the eastern train station, a tram in a few stops, then walked the rest of the way into town along the river, only stopping to take some pictures and buy a couple of krapfen (Fasching's nearly over, after all!).

Walk to the bus stop

Families enjoying the day with their sleds

Bayrischer Landtag

Isar River 

Isar and Maximilliansbrücke

Icy riverbank

St Lukas Kirche

Rathaus dressed up for Fasching

    The day concluded with a couple of hours in Hugendubel's (Barnes and Noble's German sister) and a lovely meal at my favorite Indian restaurant with a friend! Quite a lovely Saturday.

    Interesting side note: German newspaper holder machiney things (do they have a specific name? The kind that stands on a street and you put money in to open it up and get a paper) aren't locked. You can open them without paying. Everyone is aware of this. And you know what? Like 90% of people still pay. How crazy is that? This country is ridiculous. 

     Okay, bathroom run. Cross your fingers no one steals my computer. If the rest of this blog is written in a voice (or language) other than mine, you'll know the worst has happened! 


    Phew. Success. Someone was running out the door with it when I returned, but I beat them up and we're set for the post-bathroom-break part of the blog.

    A note on bathrooms: Not all of them cost money here, which I have trickily figured out. You just have to know the right ones to go to. Bathrooms in restaurants and coffee shops (and Starbucks) frequently have a bathroom attendant whose job it is to change toilet paper, wipe off sinks, et cetera. Though not required, it's generally expected to tip these women (not sexist, it's always been a woman, in my experience). But how much? Do you actually have to? This occasionally necessitates a run back from the bathroom to grab my coin purse. And how much is enough? 20 cents seems cheap. 50 seems like too much. Oh, the dilemmas. 
    Also, a word to the wise: the American habit of never referring to a restroom as what it's actually for (unless, I suppose, you're in some really hick town where they call it the shitter or something equally charming) is a purely American habit. If you ask someone where the bathroom is, they won't know. Same with restroom, WC, ladies' room. It's called a toilet. You're welcome.

    So let's back up a couple days more. As you may recall, we are currently in Faschingszeit: the six-ish days leading up to Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. The true big day of Fasching is Faschingsdienstag, Faschings Tuesday (so the German Pancake/Shrove/Fat Tuesday / Mardi Gras). But the celebrations begin the Thursday before Fasching with Weiberfasching (wives' Fasching), a day that in traditional Fasching hot spots (the cities in the Rhineland) gives women permission to cut off the tie of any men they might encounter. Celebrations continue all weekend, culminating in wild celebrations on Monday (Rosinmontag) and Tuesday, with the Dance of the Market Women in the open air market in the city center. 

     My kiddies have celebrated by dressing up in costumes every day for kindergarten. (I heard moms at the kindergarten complaining about the Fasching theme--they're frustrated with silly themes that require costumes that won't be worn again. Pretty sure none of my Halloween costumes ever made it out of the house on a day other than the one for which they were intended...oops!). Cliona's costumes, unsurprisingly, have consisted of a blue princess, a pink princess, and a red princess. Kilian has branched out a little more and was a wizard the first day, a knight the second, and I think tomorrow the plan is idea, actually. I'll tell you when I remember. 

Face painting that was waaaay too hard to get off. 

Pretty pretty princess!

Princess girls

    The city is dressed up for Fasching too! (Even in addition to the Krapfen!)

Lamppole in city center

    Though as an American I really have no comprehension of how to celebrate Fasching like a German (well, I could probably figure it out, but shelling out 100 euros as an entrance fee to a masquerade ball seems a little excessive. Especially on my salary.), my friends and I gave it a try Friday night. A friend's birthday celebration gave us a minor excuse to put on costumes and paint the town (okay, not the second part. Only a little). I confess I was not in the costume spirit, and Scrooge-ily rejected all offers to find me one, until someone brilliant suggested I paint on a mustache. Why this appealed so much, I don't know, but I rose to the challenge. Or rather, someone armed with eyeliner and better makeup-applying skills than I did. I make a great canvas. 

Costume completed.
Twinsie Frenchmen
"That ain't no Diet Coke." --Leigh Stephenson

    Another German fact, especially relevant to above photo: In Germany, you can get beer everywhere. There is no such thing as a restaurant that doesn't have beer. Seriously. Case in point: see above. When our tram was shown not to arrive for another 17 minutes, we took off to the Burger King across the street and purchased a couple of Burger Beers. In Burger King cups. Love. Amazingly enough, the type of beer was Miller Lite. What?

    Anyway, the night progressed fairly standardly, with some more beers, cupcakes, and other random things (that was all, actually; I just need three to avoid reconfiguring my grammar), eventually progressing into a dance party, which eventually progressed into a snowball fight, an attempted trip to a club that was thwarted by a group of passing Germans who promised knowledge of a karaoke bar. I stayed along for the ride until seeing the outside of the bar (spending the walk in cheery German conversation with a fellow who had grown up in Seattle), then seeing the time, wended my way sadly back to the subway station with Leigh in tow.

Saddened at the state of my mustache and rose. I think I was channeling a mime at this point.

  An uneventful U-bahn ride later, I arrived at my home station, only to find not only no bus awaiting for me, but no mention anywhere of when it would arrive. The thrifty lass that I am, I stubbornly refused to pay eight euros for a taxi ride and instead walked the 2.5 miles home in the snow and ice (only falling once! My knee is bruised.). Okay, maybe a taxi would've been a good idea. But whatever. I made it! 

    Today has been quiet and peaceful (if totally lazy). Tomorrow I seem to have off, so fingers crossed a plan to dash down to Schliersee and play in the snow with Leigh for the day works out! 

    Last Tuesday I again got the chance to work at the English kindergarten. I feel bad for being so happy about it, as it only happens with one of the teacher's son gets sick, but oh well. It's surprisingly less stressful than I would have thought, and the kids are super sweet and fun and (much to my surprise) adore me. It's also put me at 200 euros OVER budget for this month--a welcome addition! Hopefully now I will be able to register for another language class.     

    My family has officially picked their new au pair, which is a little weird to think about. Granted, I'm not leaving anytime soon, but it's still funny to think the time is coming--I sometimes still feel like I just got here! The end of February will mark my six-months-in-Munich-iversary. I feel like I've done pretty well in six months--I know my way around, know how to say pretty much anything I want to, am fully confident with public transportation, and can even find my way home in the wee hours of the morning after too many beers. This month has been a little lonesome, especially with Nate back in the States for grad school auditions and thus not having him around to talk to very much (six hours is an awful time difference), but I'm getting through it and having some fun regardless. In a week and a half I take off to Sofia for about five days to greet him on his return to Europe, so there's that to look forward to. And in the meantime, I'm doing my best to find adventures and have fun!  

No comments:

Post a Comment