Well folks, there’s a lot to say, and our limited internet connection has both delayed our saying it and made difficult the inclusion of accompanying photos, but here goes.
We’ve successfully exchanged saucisson for wurst and have spent the last almost-two-weeks in Deutchland. We began with a fabulous visit to Berlin where on our first night we ended up at a street-art infested alleyway concert and then a housing project party knocking back mexicanas (a spicy, bloody-mary-like shot) and losing babyfoot to a be-pierced couple with dyed black mohawks. For the rest of our stay, we were hosted by my former roommate in Washington DC, Julie, who moved to Berlin several years ago, has made a great life for herself here, and is now a newlywed! She and Oli shared their wonderful slanty-roofed apt in Neukölln with us, showed us around, and made it a great trip.
After all our art-gallery-ing in Paris, we both fell completely in love with Berlin’s street art, spent lots of time hanging out, eating, and drinking in parks (apparently, a very Germanic habit), walk walk walked the neighborhoods, and saw just enought of the sights, sounds, and smells of Berlin to make us both absolutely confident that we’ll be back. My favorite? The old airport-turned-park with rollerblading and kiteboarding on the runways and community garden plots where people build veggie gardens, lawn chairs, and kiddie playgrounds out of rubbish and scrap. J’s favorite? The street murals. We found an Asian grocery and thanked our hosts by cooking up a Japanese feast for some friends, which turned out to be a wonderful evening. The menu: miso soup, cucumber and wakame salad, tofu w/ pistachio and mint, miso-glazed eggplant, bulgogi-sauced tofu stirfry, sticky rice, and yogurt with fruit for dessert. Yumm.
We now find ourselves in Cunewalde, in Saxony, at the small farm of Peter and Mel, a wonderful older English couple with a vast history of rock climbing, teaching in the early computer era, mountaineering, archery, scouting, and medieval reinacting. The farm is a big house, a semi-collapsing barn, orchard, veg patch, 3 sheep, 1 horse, chickens, quail, ducks, bunnies, and 2 cats which I can’t tell apart.
A typical day:
- Up at 7a, quick bite
- Work at 7:30, anything from apples to pulling weeds to hefting power tools for some construction project or another to chopping wood (learning to change the dull chain on a chainsaw?) to taking horse Scooby for some exercise (J on horseback, me on the mountain bike. . . hmm)
- Breakfast at 10:30
- Break! Go walking, daytrip, or learn German? (Pronunciation, mostly. W is V, D is T, vowels with two dots mean add an E?)
- Afternoon chores for an hour or 2: animal chores (feeding bunnies! fending off attack geese! never a dull moment), finishing up morning jobs, or picking dinner
- 7p(ish) dinner, called tea. British couple, remember.
- Evening reading, movie, or hangout
- Generally in bed by 10 or 11
Meals are usually long, chatty affairs. During the day and on our day off, they’ve been playing tour guide a bit and taking us around the area including Bautzen (Stasi Prisons! Cool architecture!), Zittou (rock climbing!), and even a trip to Poland! We went to a medieval festival in Görlitz, Germany, which extended across the river into the Polish town which I’ll call Zgörlitziczz. We communicated with people whose German is as bad as ours (Svei bier und eine wurst, bitte!) and learn that everything is cheaper in Poland, so we buy ourselves some peanut butter.
Things we’ve eaten in Germany:
- Incredibly cheap beer
- Lots of Turkish food and kebaps
- Strange pickled fishes and quail eggs
- Blood sausage
- Delicious fresh veg and meats from Mel’s farm
- Lots of plums. Lots and lots of plums.