This is the perfect place for a pit-stop - one thing i did manage this morning was to extend my stay till Friday, when i head to Bremen. Hamburg will have to wait. The hotel is cheap and the city is eminently walkable. Within 10 minutes i have a supermarket, restaurants, bars, shopping malls, a movie theater and quite possibly the most beautiful castle i have ever seen. It's not huge, but it's real fairytale stuff - perched on its own little island with a chapel and a cave and an orangerie and gold roof and wow. The rest of the old town is quite nice too, all cobbledy roads and curly alleys. I guess whoever bombed this city actually aimed properly for a change.
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I ordered a local dish that i thought was going to be sausages and mashed potato, but it turned out the "sausage" was ground-up-God-knows-what. I have a vague memory of Oma making something like this, with all kinds of pork offal or something. I think it's one of those old German comfort foods, which actually is perfect for me right now. Just as long as i don't think about what's in it. This morning i paid for breakfast at the hotel and was amazed to see steak tartare sitting there right next to the salami. In my state i definitely wasn't game to try spreading it on my roll.
The story leading up to my hangover was peculiar. After my walk yesterday i decided to check out a "Mexican" restaurant i'd seen earlier. I really wasn't expecting much, given Mexican food pretty much sucks everywhere north of California, but thought it might be good for a joke. It turned out to be a chain restaurant, one that perfectly captured the essence of an American strip mall restaurant, right down to the huge menus full of bland dishes - exactly the thing i did not expect to find in Europe, and definitely not the amusing or quirky experience i was hoping for. I ordered a gin fizz and proceeded to wait over 20 minutes for it to arrive - it was happy hour, and the bartenders were robotically churning out ridiculous drinks with half a freakin fruit salad sticking out the top. God forbid they prepare a simple mix drink for a lone diner out-of-order. When it came i immediately ordered another, knowing how damn long it'd take. The waiters must've been trained in America, because the moment i finished my stale nachos appetizer they started coming by every 2 seconds to ask if i needed anything else, which just pissed me off even more. I paid and left to find something to improve my spirits.
What i should have done is grab a kebab on the way back to the hotel, but instead i went to a cocktail bar i had heard about online. My current yardstick for a bar is to ask for a daiquiri and see if they know what i'm talking about. This guy did. And much like in Amsterdam, i was the one ordering cocktails while most of the other customers just sipped local beer. A far sight from the pretentious cocktail bars in Canada and Australia where they look down their nose at you until you prove your worth by ordering a Manhattan or some shit. Interestingly, it turned out the bartender had just gotten back from backpacking in Australia. Like me, he thinks the grass is greener and had the ulterior motive of finding a job. Sadly he was unsuccessful - instead he'll be starting a "serious job" at a firm in Düsseldorf in a few weeks. He said Köln is beautiful, which surprised me because my parents used to say the Ruhrgebiet was just one big factory. We laughed together when we figured out he had had a mai-tai in my favorite Thai restaurant in Melbourne. And now here we are, all the way around the world, not in Berlin, not in Amsterdam, but in small-town Schwerin. Awesome.
I mentioned to him how special it felt for me to be able to have a drink in East Germany. I guess my voice started to crack or i teared up or something because he said "it's okay, it really wasn't so bad for us, we didn't know any better back then". I guess i am feeling now something similar to what the West Germans felt in 1990 - i had moved to New Zealand by then and all of this was happening in another universe. Everyone here has processed it and moved on, but my emotions have been frozen for 27 years. It's really hard to explain. Everyone knows about the Berlin Wall, but there was actually a wall complete with watch towers and search lights and armed guards all the way along the border, not 2 hours from where i lived. Where did it go? I didn't want to push him with questions, especially not being German myself. So we talked about house music instead, and i ordered more cocktails.
The last two he warned me about. I guess i was drinking too fast because everything suddenly hit me halfway through the last drink. And it's still hitting me now, almost 20 hours later. Farrrk.
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I just spent an hour sightseeing in a local supermarket. I don't know why, but visiting grocery stores is one of my favorite things to do on vacation. I love all the different packaging and different foods and all those delightful things people take for granted when they live in a place. They've already started with the Christmas shit, which isn't bad because Christmas here means stollen (a heavy fruitcake topped with icing sugar). It also means pfeffernüsse and a bunch of other goodies - i really hope i'm still here when the season gets into full swing. I walked out of the store with 3 rolls, 2 apples, a punnet of blackberries, some cheese, salami, dark chocolate, a huge bottle of water and a half bottle of pinot grigio. It cost me 10 euros. The most expensive full-size bottle of wine was 7 euros. This is retarded. Fuck overpriced Vienna. And Holland. I gotta get on airbnb and find a longer term stay in one of these small German towns so i can nest, rest, maybe write some music.
In any case, tonight i am going to have a picnic and watch movies until i fall asleep. Tomorrow's another day...