October 20th, 2007

Blumenmädchen

Cabbage Days

The problem is that, with Holly as my guest, I find it very difficult to find the time to sit down for an hour or so to write an update, even though I have a lot to say. The Internet situation doesn’t help. We found an Internet Café, although I hesitate to call it that, since it’s more of a casino than a café. It’s open until 1am, which makes it a lot more convenient for evenings than the Stadt-Café, but there are problems. It tends to be quite hot and stuffy, so after a while you feel slightly ill, but it is also expensive: it’s the typical rate, but five euros for ninety minutes quickly builds up if those ninety minutes are every evening. I’d rather pay the thirty euros for the monthly access at the Hotspot in the Stadt-Café, which I’m going to have to do now, as it’s been a month already. I’m fed up with having to drag my laptop case across Eutin, and having my Internet time so restricted makes things difficult. I need to remember what I need the Internet for, and often, I’ll get home afterwards only to remember that I didn’t check, for example, when the last train from Kiel is. I tend to prioritise my LJ friends list over actually updating myself (or doing anything with Facebook). It’s easier when I have access at school, but still…it’d be far better to have Internet access in my own room. As it’s a holiday apartment, and not a ‘proper flat’, I need to talk it through with the family owners, but they seem about as clueless as I do. I might just end up getting a wireless modem from Vodafone…

As such, you don’t know anything that’s happened to me since I sat in an Internet Café in Lübeck on Tuesday. Well…we haven’t done all that much, to be honest. Wednesday was pretty much a washout, with enough rain to make leaving the Rosenhof an unattractive proposal, other than an umbrella-clad run to get some milk from the local shop. We planned to return to Lübeck on Thursday, but after going to the bank to sort out my missing PIN, we figured that we didn’t really give ourselves enough time, so we went and had a meal at the Brauhaus instead. At some point, we spent an evening watching TV (documentaries, on the whole). One programme from NDR is a travel-documentary from the Kamchatka peninsula in Siberia to Hokkaido in japan; a part of the world I find really beautiful. Another programme from MDR was a compilation of several short student films on the theme of ‘Ich’ (‘I’), all of which had radically different styles: it made some of the best television I’ve seen in a long time, funnily enough.

Then, on Friday, we returned to Lübeck. We managed to lose an hour in Saturn, trying to decide what CD to buy, and continually finding new ones to add to the dilemma (such as an album of Studio Ghibli themes performed on cello, or that Within Temptation album I never got round to buying last time). Eventually, we decided to decide later, and headed into Lübeck proper, where we found they had another event on. Three weeks ago, they had a band playing ‘Take Me Home Country Roads’ and ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ whilst people sat around, drank beer, and ate traditional sausages. It was called ‘Kartoffeltag’ (‘potato day’). This time, they had the same sausage stall, and the same stage, this time with a band that performed German songs in an eclectic style (‘Ooooooh, ‘s’ist so schön zwischen Hamburg und Kiel’). There were a few other stands as well, selling crepes, or cabbage soup. Indeed, this turned out to be ‘Kohltag’ or ‘cabbage day’. You have to love Northern Germany. We, incidentally, didn’t have anything cabbaged, but we did have some of the most delicious sausages we’ve ever had, including a fabulous Thüringer (Bratwurst) and a ‘Rauchwurst’ (‘smoke sausage’) which was surprisingly good. I had mine with mustard as well as ketchup…despite all this, I reckon I’ll go back to not touching mustard when I return to the UK.

It appeared to be market day as well, or otherwise, they simply had so many stalls that they filtered out along the main pedestrian streets in the centre of Lübeck. There was also a man sweeping up beer caps outside the town hall, surrounded by friends with cameras taking photos. Nothing unusual anymore; this makes the fifth time I’ve seen someone ‘sweep the steps of the town hall’ which is something traditionally done the day before a man gets married. My attention was soon caught by a jewellery stall, especially given how conscious I’ve been of my lack of pendants and the like as of late (I have some, but not with me). After much consideration, I went for a small silver ring with a small garnet set in it, as well as a shiny turquoise ring, and a silver butterfly pendant. I do like silver, far more than gold. Holly seemed to like them too.

Afterwards, we wandered down the street until we felt frozen enough in the cold to duck into a bright nearby shop doorway, which led to Christmas. I say that, not because the front of the huge discount-stuff shop was full of Christmassy things, but because of the mood of the place. I say mood…I prefer the German term ‘Stimmung’. Indeed, things felt very end-of-the-year from that point. It was dark outside, and cold outside, but against this were lights, warmth, colour, and people trying to keep warm. It’s…hard to get into words, but it’s a mood I associate with Bonfire Night, with Advent, and Christmas shopping. I was a little surprised that I felt it so early. Of course, we then went on to add to it, by buying crepes, and eating them whilst listening to the Kohltag band. Holly had a melted After-Eight crepe, which was richly minty, but I preferred my Nutella crepe, otherwise known as ‘hot chocolate goo’. With the combination of music, mood, new jewellery, good sausages, and hot sweet goo, I was feeling pretty floaty. Things weren’t quite as special after that: a liquorice stall had some misleading prices, and despite their liquorice being delicious, I did feel a little taken aback, especially when I realised I’d spent all the money in my Death Note (wallet), and had no means of getting more. We ducked briefly into a shoe shop to get warmth, and I lamented over a pair of boots that I somehow fell in love with, but which were too small for my feet, as pretty much all the boots were. Still, I felt proud that I’d actually looked over them: beforehand, I’d just have vaguely glanced at them and thought ‘if only’.

Between the hours of Seven and Eight, we returned to the part of Lübeck by the station, and found a cheap clothes store (aha, they do exist in Schleswig-Holstein1), and I selected a CD from Saturn just before they closed (the latest instalment of the ‘Masters of Chant’ series by Gregorian, whereby a group of professional Gregorian singers cover various songs in pure pentatonic style…this lastest volume has monklike versions of ‘Mad World’, ‘One of Us’, ‘Greensleeves’ and ‘Fix You’ amongst others). Good coffee from one of the station cafés, and hopping on the train back just before it left. The train was noisy and crowded, as the 20:03 to Kiel always is, but it wasn’t problematic, especially as we discovered that the ‘50% orange juice’ jellies I’d bought in Kiel actually did taste of oranges and not artificiality. So, yes, all in all, it was a good day.
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