Sunday, July 24, 2011

Three nights in Germany

From England, we took a train to London, then to Paris through the Chunnel, because I've always wanted to do that. It was actually not a particularly interesting train ride. The part through the Chunnel was mostly just dark. You couldn't actually see any fishes swimming by or anything, as we were well under the English Channel, with tunnel walls made out of reinforced concrete, or some other such material. I think it would be much more interesting to build a thick glass tunnel straight through the English Channel, and send the train there. Perhaps it the track should spiral around a few times while it travels, upside down occasionally like at the amusement park, for the best views out the train window. That would be a very interesting ride, if a little bit nauseating.

Anyway, in Paris, we walked from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de l'Est, more quickly than anticipated, as the Chunnel train arrived a little later than expected: It had to be stopped, turned off, and then turned back on again somewhere in Northern France, due to an electrical problem. I didn't realize that the reset trick worked with passenger trains as well as computer operating systems. But there you have it.

We still arrived in plenty of time to catch our express train to Saarbrucken, Germany. Tim has friends who live in Saarbrucken: Jorg and Anja, with their two little girls ages 6 and 4. Actually, although they were originally Tim's friends, I now count them as my friends as well. Back when we were all childless and free, we toured Ireland together, and since then, we've kept track of births and Christmases and other events, stopping by to say hello whenever travel happens to take us withing a few hours distance of each other. Which is not very often.

But back to the record, Jorg and Anja speak English very well. Their girls speak only German. And I speak a handful of German sentences and an armful of French ones and mostly just English. And Jonathan, who is just older than their eldest, didn't know what German was until he was surrounded by it, at which point I realized I ought to teach him how to say please, thank you, and excuse me. However, in the end, he didn't even try communicating with language. By the end of our weekend together, die Kinder were all screaming happily and jumping off the furniture together. Mischief: the universal language.

For our weekend in Saarland, we ate extremely well. Jorg and Anja like to fill their lives with organic fruit and yogurt.

We visited a wild animal park near the university,

hiked a hill to see a boot made of stone (der Stiefel),

ate Spaghetti Eis,

and took a walk by the Saar.

We also learned the words for currant (Johannisbeere -- because Anja makes a mean currant jam), and ladybug (Marienkäfer -- say Maureen Kae-fuh), and little witch (Kleine Hexe).

We only spent three days with Jorg and Anja, which was not enough, but they have promised to come visit us within a few years.


Letterpress said...

There's a great food shop in Munich called Kafer, with ladybugs on all their mugs and dinnerware. It took me three times in the shop before I put two and two together. And now I have a Kafer Oktoberfest mug from which I drink hot cocoa (in October).

Malcolm Purcell said...

I think you're right. Children can play together no matter what language they speak. Love the picture of Jonathan and the little girl holding hands. So cute!