Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Sporthalle, the Metronom, and Bison Grass

We had a great weekend.
On Friday, Brian and I headed up to Hamburg to see The Black Keys in concert. We went with Sonja and stayed with her, since Tom was in Sweden and missed out on the fun. Is this a concert I would have gone to in the Twin Cities? Probably I would have heard about it and said to myself, "that sounds like a great show, I should look into getting tickets," but would not have actually done it. Since they are in touring in Germany, though, I was somehow more motivated. The concert was at the Sporthalle, which is a sports arena but not a huge one. (Minnesotans, picture the Roy Wilkins auditorium. It's about that size). The show was loud, there was dancing, and all of Hamburg's aspiring hipsters were in attendance. It was a lot of fun.

When I say we headed to Hamburg, I mean that we took the train. I love travelling by train. To get to Hamburg, Bremen, Hannover, or anywhere else in the state of Niedersachsen, you can buy a Niedersachsen ticket. For two people, it's 25 euros and you can ride for the whole day on public transportation and the regional trains, which are called the Metronom. As it's name might suggest, the Metronom is not any sort of bullet train. It makes a lot of stops but gets you where you need to go. The other trains are the S bahn, which is the local commuter train, then there is the IC inter-city train, and the ICE inter-city express. I grew up taking commuter trains into Chicago from home, and in St Paul, we could hear the freight trains roll past and make our furniture vibrate a little every day.  But the trains in Germany are a little different. There are tons of them, they go everywhere, and they are almost always on time. It's so civilized too - no taking your shoes off, no security lines, no arriving an hour early and getting bumped from your seat because Lufthansa says you didn't pay enough for your ticket (not that that has happened to me...). You just show up and hop on. You don't need to bring a map or worry about how to get there.

We came back from Hamburg on Saturday and got ready for Polish night at my friend Kaska's house. Kaska is actually from Poland and last week she actually spent 6 hours making something like120 pierogis. There was beet soup with dumplings, the pierogi, and of course the vodka. There were three flavors but the best one was called Bison Grass. It had a long blade of grass in it, sort of like the worm in tequila but not as gross. I didn't know that European buffalo existed, but Kaska and Wikipedia have taught me that they do. And apparently you can make vodka out of the grass they eat.

So it was a really fun weekend. Sometimes I am shocked that we have a social life here. I figured that would happen eventually but would take a lot longer. I was emotionally prepared for it to be just me and Brian hanging out on our own for a while. It's not that we know more people here than in St Paul, but the people we know are more available, they want to go out more, and they don't have as many other commitments. It's not that Germans are that way. The only actual Germans we are friends with are significant others of our expat friends. I think part of it is that no one we know here has their parents and cousins and siblings around,  or their best friends from third grade, and they all want to put an effort into making it fun to live here.

Today it's Monday and I am back to general housewifery. I've already done as much substitute teaching as I'm allowed to for this month, and there is cleaning and studying German and grocery shopping to do. And I should probably follow up on that complaint letter I sent to Lufthansa.

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About Me

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Thanks for coming to my blog. It started as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, and now has become an ongoing project. I'm an American living in Germany and trying to travel whenever I can. I write about my experiences as an expatriate (the interesting ones and the embarrassing ones), and about my travels. There are some recurring characters in this blog, particularly my husband Brian and several of our friends. The title comes from the idea that living in a foreign country means making a lot of mistakes. So the things you used to do easily you now have to try over and over again. Hopefully, like me, you can laugh at how idiotic it feels. If you have happened upon my blog, then welcome. Knowing that people are reading what I write makes me keep going. Feel free to write comments or suggestions for future posts.