Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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“Mainhattan”

For the final day of my brother’s visit, Jan, my brother, my friend K and I headed to Frankfurt am Main, or – as the Germans jokingly like to call it – Mainhattan (because it’s on the River Main and has “skyscrapers” – although nothing compared to the ones in the actual Manhattan, I’m sure!) Our first stop was the German Film Museum. My brother is a Film Studies graduate, so I thought he might enjoy this museum – and I was correct. He told me afterwards that it was nice to see all the equipment in “real life” rather than just as pictures in a text book! The first floor of the museum is all about the history of film and moving pictures, and there are various replica items that you can look through, try out, etc. Upstairs, there’s a bit about actual films with information about various techniques, music, etc. and some computers where you can edit a film sequence yourself or play with music. Finally, on the thrid floor, is a special exhibition, which was about surrealism when we were there. The entire museum was very interesting and we ended up actually having to rush the last floor because we’d booked somewhere else and were going to be late!

After the film museum, we had a booking for an English tour at the Frankfurt version of Dialog im Dunkeln (Dialogue in the Dark). Some of you might remember me writing about my experience with the one in Vienna (if not, you can read it here.) It seems Frankfurt is the original. Here’s a photo my brother took showing the various Dialogues around the world:

Dialog im Dunkeln

If there is one near you I can highly recommend it! I preferred our guide in Vienna, but the experience in Frankfurt was still interesting. Most of the obstacles, etc. were the same (there was even a “boat” at both), but one thing I found interesting in this one was the café at the end. In Vienna, it was just a bar, which we stood at and were served by our guide. Here, there were other people working behind the bar and once we’d purchased our drinks, we went and sat at a table, which meant finding our way over there in the dark and sitting down without spilling anything. We had hoped that with four of us booked on the tour we could go in alone, but alas a group of three had also booked an English tour, so we were seven. Not that that’s a problem, but with fewer people I think there might have been more opportunites to actually use our sticks without banging into someone!

By the time we were finished with Dialogue, we were hungry! We’d spotted a Vapianos near where we parked the car, so we decided to go there. For those who don’t know, Vapianos is a chain of Italian restaurants where the food is prepared fresh. Pasta is made in front of your eyes, while if you order pizza you receive a buzzer that goes off once your meal is ready. I chose a white pizza with courgetteand goat’s cheese, which was very nice. Then it was off to town to show my brother around a bit. We parked near the river, so that was our first stop.

You can totally see why it's "Mainhattan", right? ;-)

You can totally see why it’s “Mainhattan”, right? ;-)

After a looot of walking, we eventually ended up at the Römer (a mediaeval building that’s now City Hall) – probably the most photographed building in Frankfurt! Of course, I took more photos of it (and the square – Römerplatz), despite the fact that I’ve been there before. And why not? It’s the only part of Frankfurt city centre I actually really like ;-) By the way, the balcony on the Römer is usually where the German football team presents tmeselves when they come back from a competition, except this year they didn’t because the decision was made to have the “welcome back world champions!” celebration in Berlin instead. Random fact for you!

The Römer

The Römer

Römerplatz

Römerplatz

With the Römer done and all of us feeling pretty tired of walking (remember, we’d walked all around the musseum, too!) it was time to head back to the car and home. My brother needed to pack and I had work the next day, so we didn’t want to stay out too late!

And that concludes my series of posts about my brother’s visit. Next stop on my travels: Taiwan!


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A photo an hour: 13 September 2014

On Saturday, Janey from Is That You Darling? hosted the September edition of her monthly A Photo an Hour linkup. I was quite excited to take part this time as I had actual plans for the day. For once a photo an hour post that wouldn’t consist solely of me drinking endless cups of tea and maybe going food shopping! Naturally, I was in ;-) So here’s my day at the Wurstmarkt wine festival recorded in one photo per hour.

9 a.m. (I actually got up at 8:30 but forgot it was photo an hour day until after I’d showered). Deciding what to wear is difficult in the current changeable weather conditions!

clothing

10 a.m. Breakfast time! Tea is definitely needed.

Tea and toast

11 a.m. On the train with our tickets (actually, I have a Bahncard 100 so this isn’t my ticket)

Ticket

12 noon. Waiting for our second train to leave. Here’s a terrible picture of Neustadt train station.

Neustadt Weinstraße

1 p.m. Made it! Now to have a walk around and see what food’s on offer.

Wurstmarkt

2 p.m. Food eaten (wild boar Bratwurst and wild boar Saumagen with potato salad – yum!), now for my first glass of wine. Mindful of the long day of wine drinking ahead of us, I went for Schorle (spritzer).

Weinschorle

3 p.m. Selecting my next wine – in the Weindorf area, they have proper menus (and table decorations – notice the plant under the menu)

Wine list

4 p.m. Still drinking Weinschorle in the same tent, so to avoid taking the same photo again (it was a different wine, but it looked the same!) I went with a a selfie in my friend’s sock monkey hat.

Sock monkey selfie

5 p.m. Time to try some different wines in the slightly less posh area – no cushions on the seats here!

Wurstmarkt 2014

6 p.m. Entertainment! A mini “marching band” was playing next to the wine hut thingy we were in.

Wurstmarkt

7 p.m. On to another hut for some different wines. Hmm, what to choose?

Wine list

8 p.m. Moooore wine! Going down nicely ;-)

Wine

9 p.m. Off back to the train station. We came across this fountain on the way.

Fountain

10 p.m. We had to change trains twice on the way home, this photo was taken on train number 2.

Train

10:20 p.m. Bonus photo! We changed trains for the second time in Winden, where we were reunited with the model geese we discovered there last year. Here I am getting reacquainted with my goosey friend ;-)

Goose

11 p.m. We arrived back in Karlsruhe to find this going on at the train station. I have no idea what it was all about! (I’ve blurred out some faces because German privacy laws are strict and I’m paranoid about being punished.)

dancers

And that’s my final photo. By midnight, Jan and I were already tucked up in bed with our glasses of water, a fun day having been had by all. The Wurstmarkt in Bad Dürkheim is the world’s largest wine festival. In 2014, it’s on for one final weekend – from 18-21 September. If you’re in the area, get yourself down there. You won’t regret it!

You can see what the other participants in the linkup got up to on this day by going to Jane’s blog post.


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A day in the Black Forest

After a day in Strasbourg and a day in Basel, on the Friday of my brother’s visit, we decided to just relax. After a lie in, we made crumpets for brunch, went out for a round of mini golf then, in the evening, my friend came over and we watched How to Train Your Dragon as I hadn’t seen it before and said friend had asked me to go to the cinema with her the following week to see the second one. Saturday was back to day trips! Having been to two different countries, I thought it was about time to see some of the local(ish) area, so we headed off into the Schwarzwald. Our first stop was Neuenbürg, or rather the castle above the town.

Black Forest

Looking down from Neunbürg castle

When we arrived, the castle museum in the main building wasn’t open yet, so we went and had a look at the ruins of the “Hinterburg” (literally “back or behind castle), an older building that was presumably used before the present-day castle was built. My photos of it are terrible! Sorry about that…

Once we’d finished exploring the ruins, we decided to head for the restaurant for a coffee while we waited for the museum to open. Once we were brought menus, we decided that, actually, we might as well have lunch since it was already after 12. We each chose to have a Pfanno – a speciality of the restaurant that’s somewhere between a pancake, a pizza and an omlette. It has too much egg to really be a pancake, and it tastes a lot like an omlette, but itthe savoury ones looked kind of like a pizza with the toppings. I went for the tuna version while my brother went for a sweet version with apple and cinnamon. Jan had the Elsass style one (not pictured), which basically had traditional Flammkuchen style topping – bacon, onions and creme fraiche. They were tasty, but very filling! I couldn’t actually finish mine.

By the time we’d finished eating the museum was open and it was also starting to rain (the only time we had bad weather throughout my brother’s stay!), so inside was a good place to be! The museum begins with a retelling of a fairycalled “Das kalte Herz” (The Cold Heart). To go with the stories, there are wood carvings and light sillhouettes of the various characters. My brother was given a set of headphones so he could listen to the story in English. It was kind of a weird thing to find in a castle museum, but somehow cute.

The remainder of the museum had general stuff about the castle and local area. At the end was an exhibition of architects collected from people living in the town, including old games. I took the following picture because the sign amused me:

Schloss Neunbürg

All the things in that particular display case had to do with the railway. For those who don’t read German, the sign says “No smoking and no spitting on the floor.” Hahaha.

By the time we left the castle, it was raining pretty heavily, so our original plan of a possible work in the woods was out. Instead, we headed to Hirsau in the Calw region because I had read there was an Abbey museum there. Museum = indoors! Unfortunately, there was no English information in the museum so I ended up translating things for my brother! The first 2 floors were about the church that the museum is located in and the abbey/life of the monks, then there was a floor with information about Hirsau and the surrounding area, including an album of old photos. Once we’d finished with the museum, it had stopped raining and we were able to head over to the ruins of the abbey itself.

Outside the little chapel (the Lady Chapel), there was a tonne of rose petals on the ground. Since there was no rose bush to be seen, I can only assume somebody had married in the chapel that day and had rose petals strewn on them. What a gorgeous setting to get married! Shame about the awful weather.

I had seen on Facebook that The Seán Treacy Band, who have been mentioned on this blog before, were playing in a village called Schömberg, also not far from Calw, so we decided to finish our day by going to see them perform. The village was having its Glückswoche (happiness/luck week) and there was a mini festival going on. We ate spiralled potatoes on sticks, sausages (my brother) and pork steaks (me), had a few drinks and watched the first half of the band’s performance before heading back to Karlsruhe for the night.


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Overheard on the train

On the way to work this morning, I sat near a girl of about 11-12 and (presumably) her mother. The kid was reading out quiz questions from little cards. I was actually trying to sleep, but just before we arrived out our destination, I couldn’t help but overhear the following (the conversation was in German, but I’ve translated for you):

Daughter (reading from a card): Who did Mary Shelley create?

Mother: Mary Shelley?

Daughter: Yeah, I’ve never heard of her either. But here are the options: A) Frankenstein’s Monster B) (Something I don’t remember) C) Harry Potter

Mother: Wellll… I know it wasn’t Harry Potter…

The daughter then proceeded to read the answer and a brief explanation of who Mary Shelley was from the back of the card. I meanwhile, sat contemplating what exactly it is they teach in German schools. Fancy not knowing who Mary Shelley was! ;-)


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Cocktails at KofferRaum

(Apologies in advance for the quality of some of the photos in this post… my camera appears to be failing on me, and now utterly refuses to focus on anything at all!)

As I mentioned in my last post, Friday was the 8-year anniversary of me moving to Karlsruhe! When Jan suggested going out for a drink that night, I don’t think he was intending it as a celebration of that fact, but I’ll take any excuse ;-) Most of our friends were busy or out of town, so it ended up being Jan, K and I. We decided to go to KofferRaum – a popular cocktail bar in town – and by some miracle we actually got in! I think this was our fourth try… every other time it was completely full, and we were either told “not tonight” or “maybe try again in an hour?”. This time we got lucky… with only three of us, we were able to squish into a little corner by the bar. We were positioned next to a little “window” (well, gap in the wall), where you could see through to behind the wall, so of course my first act was to take a photo of the alcohol next to us.

The Union Jack bottle contains Beefeater gin infused with saffron

The Union Jack bottle contains Beefeater gin infused with saffron

Fun fact: Kofferraum is German for the booto (trunk) of a car. It is made up of the two words Koffer, meaning suitcase, and Raum, meaning room or space. Jan told me the owner of the bar’s surname is Koffer, so there’s a bit of a play on words going on there. And there were suitcases standing at various points in the room, obviously ;-)

I don’t actually remember the names of any of the cocktails we had, but here’s a photo of Jan’s and my first ones. Mine is on the right… I remember it contained run and passionfruit juice, but that’s it. It tasted very nice though.

cocktails

I also had to take a photo of the top of my friend’s first drink because I’m a sucker for cutsey things and her apple slices had tiny hearts cut into them. All together now… “awww!”

How cute?

How cute?

Later, Jan decided he felt a bit peckish and ordered some food. At the other cocktail bar we like, the snacks include nachos… but nothing so common for KofferRaum ;-) He ordered some Italian sausage with parmesan, and this is what arrived:

KofferRaum

And very tasty it was, too!

The cocktails at KofferRaum are more expensive than at other places in Karlsruhe (between €8 and €11 euros each), but they are all made using the very best alcohol and things like fresh herbs (my second cocktail contained a large sprig of fresh sage), so you get what you pay for. The waiters also come around with free cucumber-infused tap water for all guests… usually unheard of in Germany!

If you’d like to go to KofferRaum on a weekend, I highly recommend turning up early otherwise you will not find a place to sit! (And it’s not the kind of place where you can just stand anywhere). You’ll find Hirschstraße 17 (south of Europaplatz) and they’re open from 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Be warned, the cocktails are all quite strong, but at that price you’ll probably be wanting to pace yourself anyway!


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The best (or worst?) of Denglish

Denglish, according to Wikpedia, is a term “used in all German-speaking countries to refer to the increasingly strong influx of English or pseudo-English vocabulary into German.” In its simplest form, Denglish involves replacing some German words with their English equivalents, so someone might say “Ich habe die Files gedownloadet” instead of “Ich habe die Dateien heruntergeladen”. Here, there are perfectly good German words, the speaker just chooses not to use them for some reason.

In other cases, either an English word has replaced the original German to such an extent that most people don’t even know the real German word any more or there never was a German word in the fist place (e.g. der Browser for an Internet broswer) – usually this occurs with new technology that exists in an English-speaking country before it ever comes to Germany. Sometimes (as with the technologies), Denglish involves real English words, used in their correct context. Other times the words Germans use may sound English, but nobody really knows where they came from… or English words have been taken and used in an entirely different context. Mostly, this practice is harmless (although it can get confusing when a German starts speaking to an English native speaker using Denglish words!), but sometimes this practice of insisting on using English words at all costs can be very, very amusing. Here are some Denglish words and phrases that you may hear if you happen to find yourself in Germany…

Handy
We’ll start with the most common. In German, a Handy (pronounced Hendy) is a mobile phone. While a small, portable phone is admittedly pretty handy, I’ve no idea how the phrase came about! I have, however, been asked in English “Do you have a handy?”. Needless to say, if I didn’t actually speak German I would have had no idea what they wanted! And just to make things even more confusing, the Swiss don’t use the word Handy! (Their word for mobile phone is Natel).

Beamer
This was one of the first Denglish words I heard when I came to Germany, and I had no idea what they were talking about. From the context, it was clear that they didn’t mean a car which would be spelled Beemer anyway), but what did they mean? After being shown the object in question, it all became clear. A Beamer is a projector! I suppose it does beam images onto a screen, so it makes sense in a way…

Despite the scary sounding name, it won't ACTUALLY peel all your skin off...

Despite the scary sounding name, it won’t ACTUALLY peel all your skin off…

Peeling
Nope, not what you do with an orange. Shower scrub or body scrub. I really, really hope this doesn’t do what it says on the tin…

die City
To English speakers, a city is a large town… London, Paris, Rome, Sydney… all cities. (Well, in certain circles London is The City, but that’s irrelevant here). Not so in Germany… here “die City” is merely part of a large town. The bit that we would call the city centre, or down town. So don’t be confused if you see signs pointing you towards “City” when you think you’ve already entered the city you were aiming for. It’s just the Germans messing with English again! (For fairness’ sake, I should add that lots of places do still use the German words Zentrum (centre) or Stadtmitte (town/city centre) on their official signs.)

"Public viewing" at the 2014 world cup final... I promise there were no bodies in sight!

“Public viewing” at the 2014 world cup final… I promise there were no bodies in sight!

Public Viewing
While Germans used to get together to watch sporting events “auf Großleinwand” (on a big screen), in recent years the term Public Viewing has become more popular. This year, Karlsruhe even had Public Viewing at the football stadium for Germany matches! The only problem is that, in British English at least, public viewing traditionally refers to the practice of leaving a deceased person in an open coffin during the wake, so that the public could come and have alook/pay their last respects (this is also known as lying in state and was done when the Queen Mother died, for example).

Bodybag
This one technically goes back to a brand name, but I had to include it because it’s just too amusing! I’m sure well all know that an English body bag is something used for storing and transporting corpses. In Germany, meanwhile, since the mid-90s the term Bodybag has been used to refer to a type of bag that’s worn on the back with a strap going diagonally across the front. (A messenger bag is a type of “Bodybag”, but I’ve also seen some that look like a backpack but with only one strap). Somebody at whichever company started this trend obviously didn’t do their research properly…

There are, of course, other Denglish expressions, but these are the only ones I’m going to go into for now. If you have a favourite Denglish expression (or even something similar in another language) please feel free to let me know in the comments!

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