October 4th, 2007


Unity. Diversity. Cappuccino.

I hereby declare that Niederegger Marzipan Cappuccinos are fabulous. I still feel suspicious of powdered cappuccinos after the artificial-tasting variety you get in the UK, but these are rich enough to cast aside such doubts. I expect nothing less from Niederegger, of course.

So…Tag der deutschen Einheit, Germany’s national day. How did I spend it? Well, I spent a lot of time in bed. I spent a lot of time watching television. However, I also spent a lot of time walking kilometer after kilometer with a heavy laptop bag, complete with laptop, around my shoulders.

I woke up at 11. Not quite sure how that happened, I figured it would be about 8. I had woken up briefly at around 4:30am though, which has actually been happening quite a lot lately. I’ll tend to fall asleep, often in my clothes, at about 11pm and wake up feeling dehydrated and sweaty (owing to said clothes) in the middle of the night. It’s fine when I stay up until after midnight, though, which leaves me feeling a little confused as how staying up later can actually get me more sleep. I still need to get up early to get ready for school though, and whilst that’s at 9am, I still have two years of studenthood to shake off.

So, yes, I awoke at 11, and wondered what to do. In the end, I put the kettle on, made myself a strong coffee, and ate some liqourice sweets as I’d run out of chocolate muesli and the shops are all shut for the Feiertag. I then turned on the television to see if anything was happening. ZDF were showing the festivities from Schwerin, or at least, the formal ones inside the city theatre, where several important politicians made speeches, one after the other. The lesser-known channel Phoenix were showing something a lot more attention-grabbing, though (not that I didn’t watch the speeches until I felt I’d heard enough to not be ignorant). Phoenix were putting on a Deutschlandtour, and going from federal state to federal state, covering each Bundesland for between 80 and 120 minutes, although how they did this varied. Most of Hamburg’s segment was taken up by a documentary on the life in the Harbour (one of the world’s biggest), but Niedersachsen’s entry was made up of several reports from across the region, intertwined with interviews with figures ranging from the state’s president to the Harvest Queen.

All of which I found pretty interesting. Germany is a large and diverse land (yes, I know it’s tiny compared to the US or so forth, but I’m not speaking relatively here). For someone wanting to know more about the country, such programmes are eye-opening. Quite aside from the cultural side, though, I just love travel programmes in general, provided they’re not the package-tour kind. Germany has 17 federal states, however, so the programme took a long time, or rather, is taking a long time, because they had to stop at 9pm after Nordrhein-Westfalen, which is only the 9th state alphabetically. My Great Aunt’s home state, the state I’m currently living in, and Holly’s state, are the last three respectively, so I shall still be watching this programme tomorrow if they have indeed split it into two days.

When they moved from Hamburg to Hessen, I left my room. It was gone 3pm by this point, and although I’d washed up the various plies of cutlery and crockery in the kitchen, as well as had lunch, I still felt as if I wasn’t spending the day properly. I thus figured I’d go on a walk, but as I also planned to use the Internet at the Stadt-café, I took my laptop with me, adding a hefty weight around my shoulders. My planned walk would take me North of Eutin, to the other side of the village Fissau to that which I’d visited yesterday in my quest to circumnavigate the small Fissauer Bucht of the Grosser Eutiner See. I went the wrong way, however, and ended up walking through woodland past a police compound, and then getting lost in the garden of a care home (seriously, it was a maze, and there was only one exit other to that I’d come in from). When I finally did reach the Kellersee (Cellar Lake) at Fissau, I was too exhausted to go along the lake to the viewpoint I’d marked on the area map. I was also aware of the time, and so I didn’t stop at the various cafes and restaurants along the lakeside, other than to take photos of the lake, which is bigger than the one I’ve posted photos of from Eutin, and the lakeside.

Instead, I headed for Eutin, planning to take the same wandering footpath I had taken the previous evening. Fissau, however, is diabolically built, and I actually ended up spending quarter of an hour wandering around a cul-de-sac, surrounded by large and rich houses, and desperately looking for a way to get across the hill to the part of Fissau with the church. I eventually had to give up and go back the way I’d come, take a different sidestreet from the lakeside, and then reached the church, which tolled its bell five times at me. By the time I reached the old, ultra-rural part of Fissau where the Eutin footpath starts, my shoulders were really aching. It was still at least another kilometer along the footpath to Eutin, but it was easier walking, as it was both a familiar and an interesting route to take.

I got to the Stadt-Café at about half past five, leaving me little time to use the Internet, but I had a cappuccino anyway (“Not an apple juice as well?” asked the serving girl, who knows me too well by this point. “Not today” I replied). 6pm came all too soon, and I left the café to find everywhere closed, even the ice-café from which I usually buy a small ice-cream for the way back, so I decided, somewhat masochistically, to take the long way home, and explored the North-West part of Eutin. I got home a little past 7, with my shoulders and feet both complaining heavily. So I put on some noodles, and continued with the television, somewhat surprised that since I’d left my room, they’d only covered Hessen and two-thirds of Mecklenberg-Vorpommern.

The evening’s entertainment included another few hours of the Phoenix Deutschlandtour (Niedersachsen and Nordrhein-Westfalen), as well as a programme on NDR (Nord Deutsche Rundfunk, North German Broadcasting) featuring several incredibly-cheesy folk songs, with names like ‘The Land of Lighthouses’ and ‘The Northern Mood’. I actually quite liked the latter, actually. On ZDF was a music awards show, showcasing several different acts from several different genres. Roger Cicero sang, as did Silbermond, and the amusing Tokio Hotel, who are somewhat of a phenomenon over here, as proven by the hordes of fangirls screaming so loud that the host had to tell them to be quiet so Roger Cicero could actually sing, and with their banners reading ‘You are so sexy’ and so on. I caught both major news programmes (ARD and ZDF) so I knew what had happened today other than my feet growing increasingly battered, and I finished the evening with a NRD programme which highlighted the other events in Schwerin apart from the speeches, making it seem so much fun (and such an experience) that I wish I’d taken the 2 hour trip to join them. I’ll go to Schwerin at some point (especially as it’s on the way from here to my Great Aunt’s), but it won’t be the same without the festival, with representatives from all the German federal states, allowing you to have Bavarian white sausage, followed by Saarland crepes and washed down with white beer from Berlin.

It’s a day of unity, but it was clear to me how diverse this country really is. As I said in my essay in the first year, it’s possible to speak of Germany as one land, or as two lands, or as thousands of lands. There are differences between East and West, but there are deeper differences between North and South. Even in one state, there can be massive differences (Niedersachsen stretches from the isolated island communities of East Friesia across the large heathland of the Luenerburger Heide and the historic city of Hannover to the forests and clear streams of the Harz mountains). Bremen, the smallest federal state, is made of up of just two cities, and both of those cities think of the other as very different. However, despite all this, they’re all German. Unity through Variety. Diversity is stronger than Monotony.

So, for an update that started with cappuccinos, and which covered lighthouse folk music, confusing village layouts, and sleep patterns, it actually ended on a pretty serious note. Maybe that’s because I finished my cappuccino…