Saturday, 30 October 2010

Ich liebe Europa

Yesterday we went to our 'local' for a few drinks to celebrate the visit of a former intern. I had a Weizenbier (wheat beer). It was very pleasant.

There were 7 of us at the table: 3 English, 1 Slovakian, 1 German/Korean and 2 Finns. 2 of the English people and the the German/Korean were discussing work in English. Me and the Slovakian were speaking about Berlin in German. The Finnish girls were speaking Finnish (so I don't know what they were talking about). Our Slovakian friend commented on the range of languages being spoken and added "Ich liebe Europa" (I love Europe).

Later, we were outside as the smokers had a smoking break. Me and the Finns started speaking Swedish, commenting that we should go dancing (and then other shoddy Swedish expressions). Two Germans were sat outside. And started speaking to us in Swedish. Jag älskar Europa.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Die Buchmesse

The book fair

First, an apology (excuse) for the sparse writing lately. It seems that one of two things is usually the case:

  • I haven't done very much so don't have much to write about
  • I have done a lot so haven't had time to write.
I will do my best to reform as of now.

Two weeks ago my sister came to visit (for my birthday). One of our planned activities was a visit to the book fair. It is apprently the largest in the world. 

On Thursday night we went to get a meal at a restaurant at the Römerberg. I had Frankfurters; Jess had Rindfleische mit Grüner Soße after I ordered her the wrong meal. She did like it though so it wasn't a problem. There was writing being projected on to the Römer and other buildings which looked quite cool. And there was a literature night happening in the Römer itself. So after we had had our meal we went to see what was happening. 

An author called Harald was being interviewd. He had written a book about a woman which spanned 40 years of German history and was written from the perspective of the men in her life. He then read some of the book aloud. Well, quite a lot of the book. The interviewer desperately wanted to ask more questions but tried her hardest to look interested and not interrupt. I did my best to interpret for Jess but the people at the EU make it look a lot easier than it is. 

On Saturday we had ticekts for the book fair. So we went to Westend to get the U-Bahn. We bought day tickets thinking we might go somewhere for dinner afterwards. As we got on the train I remembered our Buchmesse tickets also counted as day tickets. I was dismayed to say the least that we were each 6 Euros down due to this forgetfulness!

We got to the Messe and got throroughly confused. It was very big. We didn't know what was where or when things were on. We missed the talk by the Simpsons creator. There were lots of 'Cosplay' people dressed as manga characters and as video game characters and I am sure I saw some dressed as Pokemon characters. We walked through the 'Cosplay Center' where you could buy wigs and other items to perfect your costume. We did not buy any.

We managed to spend a lot of time getting lost in the French publishers area trying to find Sweden. It was definitely worth it when we found the "Bäbis" series of books. These are books about a baby, written in Swedish, aimed at small children. I enjoyed them immensely. "Bäbis tittut" (Peekaboo baby) was my favourite - I laughed out loud, and to the point of tears - though "Bäbis jobbar" (Working baby) was damn good too. I would like to offer my services as translator of these books into English as more people need to enjoy the comedy gold (though maybe they were funnier because they were in Swedish). 

We then sat outside on the sunny day and ate the pack ups I had so dutifully prepared. Salami and cheese bread rolls, apples, paprika crisps and Milky Way Crispy Rolls were the main components. They were delicious pack ups.

We then went to look round the media and film area, where a whole film was being shown before its release. It was a German film about a rich famous man whose sone was in hospital. We did not stay long enough to find out anymore. 

As we left the film screening we saw a large crowd amassed by the ARD stage. They were listening to (Nobel Laureate) Günther Grass! He was talking about his new book about the Brothers Grimm and how fairy tales are important to our lives. The actual Günther Grass! My lecturers will be so jealous!

We then realised it was nearly half past two and that meant time to go and see (Eurovision entrant) Roger Cicero being interviewed. He also has a book out. It is an autobiography. 

Eventually we also found the English speaking section. We had to get the shuttle bus. When we arrived our bags were searched which we blamed the Americans for; we also moaned a lot that we were being suspected as dodgy because we were entering the English-speaking area. Not cool Buchmesse, not cool. 

In the English speaking  area we took free sweets from the Australians, free maps from the council of Europe, read some English as a foreign language textbooks and saw lots of new books by celebrities. Jess picked up a proof of Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook. We were going to cook pancakes. We bought the buttermilk but forgot syrup. The buttermilk is still in my fridge. 

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Wie heißt das noch mal?

What's that called again?

Today, I went to Rewe, my local Supermarkt. Amongst other things, I bought a swede. When I got to the till, the cashier couldn't remember what it was called. I said I had no idea of the German word. He asked the cashier on the next till "Rote Bete?" she suggested. Now I knew that means beetroot so I said I didn't think so. So he went to check.

He got back to the till and put it through as a 'Rote Bete'. I thought maybe I was mistaken. But when I got home I checked on the online dictionary. Rote Bete does mean beetroot! I hope I was not overcharged!

The German word for swede is Kohlrübe.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

A relaxing Saturday evening at the sauna

Yesterday was Saturday. I woke up around 10, went to the library to return my books and read Newsweek magazine. I went to H&M and spent 64 Euros, which I told myself was more than justified as some of it was workwear. Then I walked home.

When I got home my flatmate said she and my other flatmate were thinking of going to a sauna at the swimming baths on the number 50 bus route, would I like to come along? I said yes, my skin would enjoy the experience. Did I have a swimsuit? Yes I did, so that wasn't an issue either.

At 7pm sharp we left the flat, my flatmates with their rucksacks, me with my H&M carrier (I don't have a rucksack), containing swimsuits and towels. It felt like we were going on a school trip. Noone had packed any sandwiches. We were at the bus stop 10 minutes early (it was closer than we had expected) and then got on the bus towards Rebstockbad. We went past the Messe and out of town.

We got to the swimming baths and I realised I had not brought my student ID, meaning I lost out on a saving of 2 EUR. We got the complicated directions of how to go through the turnstiles and through another turnstile to the saunas.

In the changing rooms we were greeted by several naked Germans (pretty standard fare at a German swimming baths) and did our best to protect our modesty as we got changed. We went towards the saunas in our swimsuits and a towel-clad German lady told us it was 'ohne Bikini' (without swimsuits). We tried to explain we thought we would be ok in swimsuits but thanks for the advice.

So we went through and sat in the first sauna room (65 degrees). As we sat, a member of staff entered. We thought maybe she was doing maintenance or doing something to the heater or whatever. Then she said,
"I can see the looks on your faces, you know what I'm, going to say."
We had no idea what she was going to say.
"In this sauna we practise FKK."
Oh. FKK stands for 'Freie Körper Kulture', free body culture, or, more simply, nakedness. We asked why and she told us some Scheisse about sweat and bacteria and swimsuits and the wooden banches which sounded totally made up.

Also, my flatmates needed Badeschlappen (bathing shoes). I had flip flops already.

So we went back to the changing rooms and changed into our towels (which were allowed.) and my flatmates paid 2,50 EUR each for some lovely white plastic sandals to walk around the complex in. There were 11 rooms including 2 steam rooms, saunas at heats from 65-100 degrees Celsius and a 'snow room'. We tried out most of the rooms and tried to choose the ones containing the fewest naked Germans at any one time. In the 100 degrees sauna a Ukrainian engineer asked us if we were from the US and what did we think of Frankfurt and as we left the steam room (which was very full of middle aged naked German men) my flatmate heard one of them saying something about British girls. She wasn't too happy: she's Finnish.

We decided againt the cool dip in our birthday suits so perhaps we did not get the full benefit of the sauna experience. Though the snow room was a fair enough alternative. And after about an hour we decided to have a drink from the bar/cafe in the middle of the complex to cool down a little. My flatmates had shandy, I had an Apfelshorle.

After some more experience of the steam room, snow room and the 100 degrees sauna we decided to make a move. And time was ticking on, we only had a 2 hour ticket. So we got showered and changed and then got to the bus stop with 5 minutes to spare. We got home and watched 'The Longest Yard'.

Next time we might just go swimming instead.