Posted in April 2012

Grumpy Old Man

So remember that apartment place where the old man hung up on Alissa? Well, we figured out where it was located, and went to see it anyway. It was an open house, with a few couples wandering around. There were two places available to see, and we saw them both. They both sucked.

So yeah! We saw your apartments anyway, grumpy old man! And they SUCKED!

Oh, but back to the point of this post. We saw several apartments on Saturday. The first one was taken before we arrived. It was located in Süd (the southern region of Stuttgart), a very nice area. Even so, it was surprising that it was taken so quickly. We had high hopes for that one.

The second place was smack dab in the middle (Mitte region), and is also nice. Mitte has a more downtown feeling to it. The apartment was newly renovated, but it wasn’t very big. Alissa thinks it’s about as big as our New York apartment, but I think it’s pretty significantly smaller. Either way, it doesn’t leave much room for activities. The price is right though.

The next two places were waaaay out in Zuffenhausen. They both sucked.

We have a few days to decide if we want the apartment in Mitte. The only real downside (besides the size), is that it’s only going to be available on the 1st of July. That means we have to stay in our temporary place for two months, which isn’t ideal.

So the search goes on.

 

Stuttgarter Frühlingsfest!

Traditional Lederhose

Traditional Lederhose with Traditional Shirt

We woke on Sunday morning with a gleam in our eye: it was Carnival Day! You know how Germany is known for Oktoberfest (in Munich), or Volksfest (in Stuttgart) that happen around October? Well apparently, that’s just the start. There are also “Frühlingsfests”, which means “Springfest”, and they seem to take about the same format as the Fall carnivals. Though maybe there are a few less beer tents in the Spring version.

On the way, people who were clearly going to the carnival were getting on the train; girls dressed in traditional German dresses, and boys dressed in traditional lederhose. The girls were all cute. I’m going to get one of those dresses for Alissa. She’ll like that. Lederhose, on the other hand, are meant to look ridiculous. They are made of leather, and come with suspenders and a little … chest piece thing, to keep the suspenders from falling off, I suppose. And they have a strange flap of leather at the crotch, which makes it hard not to stare at men’s crotches. But since a shocking percentage of men wear these things, it makes you feel like perhaps you too, should be wearing them. Or at least some suspenders, for goodness sake! I can tell you right now, I’m not going back unless I’m sporting a pair of suspenders, and a checkered shirt. Because the shirt was the other part of the outfit that everyone agreed on. Red was the most popular, but I saw some other colors as well.

When our train reached the transfer point, we got off with everyone, and waited for our connection. A completely different train arrived, and everybody got on! Why is everybody getting on the wrong train? No time to think! Get on!

Turns out, the train reached the carnival just fine. We got off and wandered.

Frühlingsfest Carnival

Typical scene from Frühlingsfest

After a full loop, we didn’t see a beer tent. We saw some tents that looked right, but couldn’t find our way to the entrance. So we walked through the gigantic parking lot, hoping that the beer had been separated from the kids rides.

It was not.

So maybe we got off at the wrong stop. The best thing to do, then, is to head to the nearest U-bahn, and get off at the stop we originally intended. After many hours of walking in the wrong direction, we finally spotted a station, and headed back towards the city center. Two stops later, we transferred to a new train, and ended up in an area that looked pretty promising because many of the people in the crowd looked to be our age.

When we walked down the street and turned the corner, we walked smack into the exact same festival we had been at before. The festival apparently spans two or three subway stops, on two different lines. This time, however, we could see a beer tent. We walked directly there.

Beer Tent

Beer Tent (Full size! Click for large version.)

The atmosphere is one of loud singing and dancing. People get up on the tables and jump and stomp, bringing the very lightly reinforced benches to bend dangerously. I’ve never seen one break, but I constantly expect it to. The band sung mostly German songs, but threw in some classic American versions of “Sweet Caroline” and “Three Little Birds”. Every 15 minutes or so, they sang what I can only describe as “the cheers song”, where everyone yells “prost!” at each other and holds up their gigantic beer mugs.

And so we sang, drank a liter of beer each, and ate. We both had Leberknödel; Alissa’s was in dumpling soup form, and mine came with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes with gravy. Pretty darn good.

Alissa and our Leberknödel

Alissa and our Leberknödel

After Alissa got drunk, I carried her home. It was a pretty great day.

 

Stuttgarter Hofbräu Pilsner

Stuttgarter Hofbräu Pilsner

Stuttgarter Hofbräu Pilsner

Oh, no. No, this one was not impressive in any way.

Maybe I have to start drinking these with some fatty sausage and mustard.

 

Schwaben Bräu Das Echte

Schwaben Bräu Das Echte

Schwaben Bräu Das Echte

Is it disturbing anybody that my beer adventures are vastly boring? I really expected this to be a bit more fun. I think I may be judging based on the wrong criteria, because all the beer in a particular category (wheat, dark wheat, pilsner, etc) taste so similar, it’s too hard to really note the difference.

This beer was okay.

 

Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe Classic Export

Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe Classic Export

Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe Classic Export

I just didn’t like this one.

Schussenrieder Vollmond Beir

Schussenrieder Vollmond Beir

Schussenrieder Vollmond Beir

This was another ‘meh’ beer.

Deficient Pillows

After much testing and consideration, we’ve come to the conclusion that German pillows are just not properly designed. The first problem is that German pillows are gigantic squares, which lead to only one of two possible sleeping positions.

Deficient Pillow Size and Shape

Deficient Pillow Size and Shape

With Position A, your body is in a normal sleeping position, but your feet dangle off the end of the bed because you’ve wasted a meter of space above your head. Whereas Position B requires that you climb to the top of the pillow, and rest your body awkwardly on the entire thing. Neither are desirable.

Secondly, the stuffing is allowed to roam around freely. This creates the following example height (or firmness) map for any given day.

Height Map for Pillow

Your head will attempt to find the lowest section of pillow

Before going to bed, you have to shuffle all the padding into a uniform density. But it doesn’t really matter what you do here; by morning, your head will be in a valley.

The only way to fix this, to any reasonable degree, is to convert your German pillow to an American one.

German Pillow to American Pillow

Conversion of a German Pillow to a Faux American Pillow

This isn’t ideal, because it makes the pillow too thick. But at least now you can sleep.

 

Sky Dots

We went climbing at the local climbing gym yesterday evening, and it was dark when we came back. Did you know that Germany (or at least, Stuttgart), has a completely different sky than New York? For example, they have little white dots in the sky here. It’s really pretty. It’s as if the sky is filled with tiny airplanes that don’t move.

Strange.

 

Ich möchte die Wohnung sehen!

(I would like to see the apartment!)

I found two places in the newspaper, that looked promising. But I was too scared to call. So Alissa called. I’d transcribe the conversation, but I don’t remember it well enough. It went something like this:

“I’d like to see the apartment!”

“The apartment please”

“Where is the apartment?”

“Please speak slowly!”

“And the street?”

“Speak slowly please!”

“97, okay. Danke!”

The guy was impatient, so we took the phonetic spellings of the street, and tracked it down with Google Maps. Found it! Okay, now for the next one. I gave Alissa the number.

“That’s the same number I just called”.

“Uh oh.”

“Sorry Mr. Frustrated!” and she dialed again. The call ended when he told her it wasn’t available, and hung up on her.

Jerk.

The next day, empowered by noting that it couldn’t get much worse than being hung up on, I dialed another place. After some stumbling, I asked if he spoke English, and he did. Bam! Got ourselves a viewing! On to the next one!

This time, he didn’t speak any English, and I think he was trying to correct my German. It was also possible that the apartment was already rented. I couldn’t tell. We exchanged sentences, where I didn’t understand what was going on, and he couldn’t tell me what was going on. We both laughed, attempted to say “sorry”, and hung up.

At least he was nice.

 

This time, with Mushrooms!

Gewürfelter Schinken mit Champignons

Gewürfelter Schinken mit Champignons

Delicious. This one had a bit of a sourness to it too.

This next one isn’t really aspec; more like jellied ham, with chunks of ham floating around inside.

Jellied Ham with Ham Chunks

Jellied Ham with Ham Chunks

Held up to the light to show texture. It tasted fine, but I’m not buying it again.