a unique perspective on this crazy world

Posts tagged ‘germans’

let them eat cake! :)

I am typing this from the land of Marie Antoinette!  Sometimes one’s life really exceeds one’s expectations.  I am back in Paris – for the SECOND time in a single year.  The stuff of dreams in my childhood.

Back when I was climbing trees and hiding in wheat fields I ferociously hoped my adult life would be more dramatic and interesting.  But none of those prairie girl dreams could have ever prepared me for the astonishing reality it would become.

I will have to finish this after my late night Thursday shopping romp at Galeries Lafayette… but I am drinking free champagne as I type… apparently joining I Prefer is a great idea.  I highly recommend it!  And thus far, the Hotel Original Paris has exceeded my expectations.  I definitely recommend it.  Especially if you are traveling by train, as I was.  A few steps from the métro at Bastille.  From Gare L’Est or Gare du Nord, a piece of cake 🙂

http://www.hoteloriginalparis.com/

And, since we did reference cake, I guess I should provide the explanation…

It is one of those stories that did not have the happy ending I anticipated… but, maybe more importantly, really taught me about the complexities of life and how to embrace it and enjoy it.  As I think Joni Mitchell said, very poignantly, I’ve looked at love from both sides now.”

I think she said “life” but this story is about “love”… in all its complexity and messiness…

How we all take our weaknesses – and our strengths – and combine them with others into a mischung that is at all junctures part success and part failure but always human and engaging.

Yes, a bit philosophical… blame the free champagne the hotel supplied.  You gotta love it when someone knocks after check-in and you hesitantly open the door and he has an ice bucket and a small bottle of Lanson Rosé.  This is serious champagne!  Absolutely delicious 🙂

But the champagne is only a small part of the equation.  It is mostly fueled

my days in Deutschland

by the days I recently spent in Stuttgart.

Unless you are into Mercedes or Porsche, Stuttgart is likely not at the top of your list for a tourist destination.  But it is an industrial metropolis and part of the great Deutsch economic machinery.  Most people come to Stuttgart for work… but I was there for something more complicated.

The entire story is a bit too long and complicated for a blog post so we will cut to the chase and just say that the Germans are wonderfully hospitable and some German guy named Wolfgang wanted to repay my hospitality in Vancouver so I ended up on the Ammersee in Bavaria where I was reacquainted with the cute guy I had admired from afar at a company event earlier in the week… and – unlike normal people – I ended up marrying him and moving to Germany.

It’s a long and complicated story that may find its way into the blog at a later date.  But the purpose of my recent trip to Germany was to finalize our divorce.

There are not a lot of great divorce stories out there.  But not that many

it all started on a beach in Antigua…

people marry German engineers 😉

So very few people are trying to follow a conversation in a foreign language while joking with the lawyer just prior to going into a court room to get divorced.  It was ridiculously bureaucratic and very German.  Some lady named Doris is going to officially receive my divorce decree so it can be mailed to Canada without going through some complicated, expensive process.  The system isn’t designed for you to have it sent to your ex so he can pass it on to you…

The lawyer was highly entertaining.  Once we had finished in the court, he shook each of our hands and said, “you are free!”  And then we had to decide what to do.  We had already wandered the streets as I took photos of some of the cute German buildings before our court hearing.  So we had our plan set.

We went for cake!  If you have never been to Germany (or Austria) for cake, you should really put it on your bucket list.  It was one of my favourite parts of living in Germany.  Hot chocolate (a wonderful bitter version completely different to its North American cousin) and Eierlikor cream cake.  Like egg nog in a solid form.  Delicious.

It wasn’t really a celebration.  Just us hanging out and doing things that we knew worked.  Later that evening I took him for dinner at Olivo.  I am pretty sure the chef has at least one Michelin star.  It was one of those meals that will definitely make my top ten list.  Technically six courses… but with two pre-courses (the first with six separate little bites) and then a petit four course AND a truffle course.  We emerged feeling like the foie gras duck that had been part of our meal.

http://www.steigenberger.com/Stuttgart/restaurants/

And now I am in Paris.  With no regrets.  We both agreed a few months ago as we were working through the details that we would both do it all again – even knowing how it would turn out.

I’m not sure I’m made for marriage.  But getting married – and moving to a foreign country where I spoke possibly five words of the local language – added many wonderful dimensions to my life.  And completely changed its direction in countless ways.

It is impossible to know what would have happened had I not said “yes.”  But I know my life would have been a lot less inspired… and I would not have learned about kaffee und kuchen.  I didn’t get married for the cake… but there was a lot of sugar and cream in the whole adventure… literal and figurative…

Berlin is not Stuttgart!

So says my Time Out guide to Berlin.  Poor Stuttgart… it’s not so bad.  And Germans are Germans no matter where you go 🙂  Well, Helmut Kohl did declare that Germany was “not a land of immigration.”  If you do not speak German perfectly, they will look at you like you are speaking Swahili.  My Swahili definitely gets a better response 🙂

But my German is not all “weg”.  Last night I managed to order dinner without speaking any English until it was time for the “Rechnung”(bill).  The server was very pleasant and when he finally understood and pronounced the word, I realized – ah, my “ch” was off… spoken like a wimpy North American, not a true Deutsch.

This morning was more entertaining.  Ironically, I am here in the land of technology and I have an iMac in my room… but nothing works!  The hotel’s technology offerings are a disaster.  In Paris and Istanbul, it was seamless!  Oh, but would the Germans hate to hear that!

Getting on-line to post this blog was quite the ordeal.  The connection parameters are far too complicated, they are not intuitive and there are no instructions in the room – or even on the iMac.

So I was finally forced to call the front desk… we had the kind of classic argument you can only really have with a German… I was trying to get the password right… she kept saying ‘’i’’ like easy… I kept saying, “that doesn’t make sense in English.”  But she just thought I was a stupid foreigner who didn’t know English very well.  Luckily, I speak quite a lot of German and “i” sounds like “e” auf Deutsch so I tried it when the “i” didn’t work – and I am on-line!

I learned long ago that you have to be patient with the Germans – and leave your ego at home.  Most of them have egos for two so you can use some of their spare capacity.  I guess that’s what happens when people tell you are “the master race”.  But, once you get past the frosty exterior, most of them are wonderful people with a wicked sense of humour.

I just smile as they diss my Deutsch and we swap over to English.  I come from a country that prides itself on immigration so I enjoy listening to butchered English and trying to see if I can figure it out.

It is practically impossible for me to not be able to figure it out, no matter how bad it is… and here, auf Deutschland, long ago I learned how to speak a pigeon patois form of Englisch complete with a Deutsch accent.  It’s my little secret – they all think their English is so great because they sound just like me… but I am just messing with them 😉

Other than the technology, the hotel is very cool and pictures will be forthcoming…  It is true that Berlin is not Stuttgart and can’t wait to get outside and explore.  I am in the former East Berlin, in Mitte… last time I was here it was the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  And this was the neighborhood to be in… we’ll see what has changed in three years.  Ich bin nicht ein Berliner aber Ich liebe Berlin…

We will go back and catch up on the stories from Istanbul… where everyone was so supportive of my butchered Turkish… 😉

 

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