Mein Zweites zu Hause

Trip Start Aug 09, 2009
Trip End Oct 23, 2009

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Flag of Germany  , Schleswig-Holstein,
Monday, September 14, 2009

I said goodbye to an amazing few days in Poland and have moved on to Germany to visit my German family. This is the part of Germany where I lived so it's like my second home, or zweites zu Hause. The northern part of Germany is far off the beaten path and if your travels ever take you to this part of the world, I fully recommend Schleswig-Holstein. This is a province between the North and Baltic Seas and where I am is on a windswept peninsula called Ostholstein that sticks out into the Baltic. And when I say windswept, I mean it blows like a hurricane constantly.  By straight line distance we are actually closer to Copenhagen than Hamburg.

This is Germany at it's best...farmland, good people, and pretty cities such as Lübeck. It is so far from Germany of lederhosen, sausage and Bavaria that Americans know and love, and I like it that way. Let's keep this area our little secret so the masses don't ever find it. I even ran into some old friends from my high school here and that was such a great surprise to be able to say a quick hello.  People here tend to stay here their whole lives and not move away.

As I was getting ready to leave Poland earlier another cruise ship rolled in and poor Gdansk succumbed to yet another invasion of tourists. So there I was minding my own business in the Old Town while eavesdropping on six of New York's (or Jersey's) finest. Do you know the grandma on Everyone Love's Raymond? Yep, that's the one...Marie. Big, loud, outspoken, etc.

Well, these six old bitties were carbon copies of Marie in every way and I listened to them bitch about everything...the bus parked too far from the Old Town, the weather was rainy and cold, their feet hurt, they were hungry, breakfast on the ship was awful. You get the picture!! What really piqued my awareness and interest was when the larger of the six actually said, "These Polish people are so stupid. No one speaks English here. How the hell am I suposed to eat here, huh?" Did it ever occur to you that you are not in an English speaking country? Huh?

Without missing a beat, her friend with those black square sunglasses that wrap around the regular glasses said in thick New Jerseyese, "I don't know, Phyllis, ask that idiot standing over there." Guess who that idiot happened to be? Yep, you guessed I just smiled and waited with bated breath for her to approach me with whatever her touristical needs were.

"Excuse me, do you speak English?" she demanded. Borrowing from the train station lady yesterday I just said, "If I must." Trust me Mrs. Train Station Ticket Booth Lady, I feel your pain if these people are bugging you day in and day out. I forgive you for being so rude to me! No, really. I understand you know. I really do.

So New Jersey's finest said, "Oh good. DO... YOU... KNOW... IF... THERE... IS... FOOD... IN... THIS... CITY?" No lady, this is 1946 Gdansk where people are starving amidst bombed out rubble. I just told her, "Yes." and didn't elaborate any further. She asked the wrong question...not where she could eat, just if there was food. I was looking forward to screwing with these old hefers.

She made a face I can't even describe and then proceeded to wonder if I could recommend somewhere that wasn't heavy Polish food. No, she actually didn't ask...she shouted it again because evidently she needed to make sure I understood exactly what her needs were (along with anyone else in the area). Yes, I had the perfect recommendation for her and her ilk and I told her, "Of course. McDonalds. Train Station. Straight Ahead 800 meters."

As if I couldn't understand them, one of the fab six said, "Come on. These people are unbelievable. Let's find someone else who knows what the hell they are talking about." So I just told the polyester pantsuit queen, "I'm sorry. You called me an idiot before asking for my help. Enjoy Gdansk." I don't think it ever occurred to them that I was an American, too. They were prime examples of the type of tacky American tourists I run into from time to time and is it any wonder people frown upon us? Nice going ladies.

Now do you see why places like Albania and El Salvador appeal to me? I haven them all to myself. I have to wonder. Why do some people travel long distances to see new places but just complain about that which they have come to see? I travel to experience things that are different and would be disappointed if everything were exactly like back home.

I left Gdansk behind and flew Wizzair to Lübeck, Germany and the flight was great for $14 one way including taxes and fees. It is definitely about twenty steps above the Ryanair experience and the seats actually recline and have some padding. I am glad to see that Wizzair has dumped their unfortunate advertising that used to state that now everyone can take a wizz in Europe.

I am just going to chill out here in Germany, enjoy some great food and company,and most of all relax because I am finally somewhere I completely know the language and customs. No fumbling around here! But then again, that is most of the fun of traveling and I enjoy winging it and seeing if there will be a decent outcome or not.

The next few days I will be traveling with a friend to Wales and Northern Ireland and I hope I can find some stuff that is halfway interesting there. I promise I will be venturing off the beaten path soon enough though when I wind my way across the Mediterranean Sea, the Balkans again and then the Middle East.
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