Well, well, well. Here I am in Germany. I’m sitting on the bed of our teeny hotel room with EuroNews on mute with the gigantic rwindow swung open over the middle of the room like a massive glass door. Windows don’t have screens here–at least this one doesn’t. And I can look out over the small hotel parking lot toward the Warno River and a long row of apartment buildings with flowery balconies.
It’s very sunny today–could only be sunny to me though since I’m used to the Oregon Coast cloudiness. But it’s sunny here in a way that’s different than in the U.S. Well, different than any U.S. place other than Kechekan, Alaska–which is apparently where we are latitudinally here in Rostock.
The sun doesn’t go down till after ten and by 6 am, it feels like the sky is as bright as it should be at noon. It’s lovely to be soaking up so much sunshine after my Oregonian 3-year dearth, but it also is the sign of a more portentious doom. If it is light for so long here during the summer…then it must be equally as dark in the winter. I’ve heard rumors that, at the Winter Solstice, the sky is midnight-dark by 3:30 pm.
But so goes life on the Baltic, I suppose. It sounds like all the darkness is generally battled with a two-month long Christmas Market–where the town squares are filled everyday with booths selling warm sausages on fresh bread, nutcrackers, apple cakes, chesnuts on open fires, and Christmas trees. You gotta do something when there are only 6 hours of daylight, I suppose.
I figure, if we move here, I’ll just drown my potential winter woes in a cup of hot chocolate from the Schokoladerie across the street on the riverfront here. I haven’t had one, but apparently they take a whole dark chocolate bar, melt it, mix it with 3.5% milk, then float another chocolate bar on top, cover it in whipped cream, and then top it with chocolate shavings. Isn’t that INSANE?
It’s insane. I took a sip of 3.5% milk at breakfast our first day here and it was like drinking cream. Imagine eating cereal with heavy whipping cream and that would be about right. I’m starting to suspect that 3.5% is the “normal” here. Also, cheese. Also, herbed butter. Also, mayonaise. Also, herbed mayonaise. Also, potatoes. Also, giant french fries filled with herbed cream cheese served with a dipping sauce of herbed yogurt-sour-cream-stuff.
Also, you might as well order juice because water costs you 2 euro each.
What else have I noticed? Hm….
The light switches are just flat panels the size of credit cards. When you flush the toilet, you press a panel to start and then to stop the flushing. Nutella is still the greatest toast-spread ever created. Drinks only come in tiny, tiny cups. Apparently, Germans don’t really associate drinks with eating meals. Drinks are just a nice side to a meal, but not necessary.
There are about .2 obese people in this entire German district. Most women look like Twiggy or Twiggy’s mom. The men can often be generally larger–but only when they’re older and it looks more like they are line-backers rather than pudgy. I cannot figure this out. I mean, it’s 3.5% milk for heaven’s sake! Everything comes with cheese–melty, gooey cheese all over. Cheese or cream or butter or fried. How is this possible?!
One hint: Bikes. Bikes everywhere. Silent and deadly bikes that sneak up behind you and don’t have warning bells.
Another hint: Walking. Walking everywhere.
Another hint: Meals are more expensive proportional to income. Also, portions are smaller (I think… They aren’t THAT much smaller though).
Anyway, it’s a mystery.
A mystery sort of like how a sandwich made up of some sort of wheat bun, boiled eggs, raw salt-cured ham, and a mysterious mayo-like herbed saucy substance actually ended up tasting amazing.
A mystery sort of like, “How is it possible for this building to have been built in 1450 and still have people living in it?”
A mystery sort of like, “How could we live here for 1900 euro/month?”
These are the mysteries of the universe right now.
Apparently it’s possible to live here for 1900 euro a month, not because everything is amazingly inexpensive but rather because everyone else is living here for about the same. So, it isn’t that we’d be poor–it would be that everyone is poor and so there is no stigma. I guess… So they say…
And, it’s also notable that I can eat a ginormous pita-gyro-thing for 3 euro. Let me tell you, if I was buying something that huge and tasty in the U.S. it would probably cost 13 bucks.
This is really, really long. But I’m just giving you the low down.
I bought strawberries from one of the daily, outdoor markets. They are called “Erdbeeren.” I like “strawberry” better. I got a carton of them, about twice the size of a typical American strawberry carton, for 1.95 euro. They were amazing. Most of them were still attached to their stems. And they were all small and soft and sweet and RED. Not hard, pale, and gigantic like at home. I remembered how much I liked strawberries–I ate the whole carton in one sitting.
I’ve also noticed that meat is a little more expensive, but it looks so very, very different. The butcher stalls in the market mostly have red meat and it’s all very, very RED. The ground beef is BRIGHT red, fresh looking. You get your chickens whole–sometimes you can get skinless breasts separate, but it’s rare. There are more kinds of sausage than I know what to do with though.
In every market there is always more than one flower/plant stall and more than one …oh…how to describe it…’Fancy Mediterranian Food” stall. The latter have 20 kinds of olives, pickled everything, herbed white beans, something that looks vaguely like hummus…
The streets here in the city are all sorts of pastel colors:
There’s a big church–St. Mary’s church that has the most gigantic and rococo-baroque organ I could possibly imagine. It also has a cuckoo-clock contraption which, on the hour, trots the twelve apostles out in front of a little Jesus who then points at the last one (Judas). Then, as all the rest go back into the clock through the other door, the door slams in front of Judas so he can’t return. Let that be a lesson to you.
It’s also really windy here.
And only gets to 70 degrees in the summer.
And I have to go now because I’m getting hungry. I will probably go eat something fried with cheese and chocolate melted over the top with a side of herbed anything-you-like and no drink.
/stream of consciousness post