on the move with qings, Spring 15 travel blog

the girls greet nippy penguin, Faye already hands back

I smell fish

it's around here somewhere

goat in a barrow

local german truck food, that is corn, pickle, red kidney beans...?pretty good!

Seen at airport store and a business man with scooter bag. If...

at home with briggie... about to enjoy sak gumbo...YUM!

We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay with Briggie, who definitely has the gift of hospitality. As always, she treats us like royalty, yet we feel right at home like we were just here last week. Oh, yes, that's right, time accelerates when you are old. German fruestuk consists of hard rolls and salami, ham like prosciutto, liverwurst, or even yogurt and preserves, or this fantastic stuff called mett/not meat which is fleisch, which is ground beef with garlic. Now I finally understand my granny's penchant for raw ground beef/mince on an open face sandwich. First, one butters the bread, but even I tend to draw the line there and conserve some calories. I have eaten way more than my fair share of raw herring, giving me a tendency to occasionally bark like a happy sea lion. Except with onion breath.

Quality of life seems really good here. Here's a first for us: The dollar has virtually achieved parity with the euro which has surprised us every time we buy groceries (that's it?!) or...rent a car. Every store has a real bakery attached, it seems. Bikes are everywhere. No helmets, but bikes are everywhere. Briggie commutes by bike to work. The bike path scheme is very progressive. I love this.

Spargel, the white asparagus is sold from farm-stands and trailers throughout town like fireworks down south. They have these resplendent, scarlet headed pheasants more reminiscent of peacocks than game-birds and even giant hare which box like kangaroos, I am told. Something I need to see.

The birthday girls enjoyed the zoo. (I would say here that it is very unfair that they are 9 now, but as I must always say, there is no such thing as fair. Why? WHY?! Although they did enjoy a fantastic Briggie German cherry cream cake yum. yum. YUM.) Goat marauders were fairly aggressive, plundering the food bin as soon as our coinage produced it. This required some anti-goat tactics and elbows in order to feed the wee ones. Also encountered a nippy penguin perhaps perturbed by being rejected by his clan...or perhaps incited by my breath. Sigh.

In any event, the girls got up close to hopefully somewhat ameliorate the

penguin ripoff they suffered in the previous blog. Or not.

For some ignorant reason, I am only starting to realize how small Germany actually is, similar to the size of New Mexico, I think because I usually take the train around. So the irony is that as much of a powerhouse Germany was early last century, and after all the post war machinations. rearrangements, etc, Germany turns out rules the world anyway as the leader in the EU. No matter how many people China has. Or India. For now, at least. This boggles my mind (ok, who said it doesn't take much). You have to be some clever people to churn out that much influence from a country the size of a state. Not sure Germany meant to sign on for that much responsibility of, say, Greece, (but I am thinking perhaps they could sell a few islands, to, ...UAE? Can?) but it will be interesting to see how it all settles out. If. For now, the Euro has saved much wear and tear with converting currencies for 8 or 9 countries. It's almost like cheating now, but ....she who converts least (currency) wins. Diversion alert: Montenegro uses the Euro, but its not part of the EU. It is debating whether or not to join. They only decided to become independent by the narrowest of margins, say 1-2%. So small, no military to speak of, but then you just trade your allegiance from Yugoslavia to Serbia-Montenegro to...EU? Tough one.

I notice that many German houses tend to have these roll down security shades that are put down at night. That is one way to let your neighbors know not to ring your doorbell! Which brings to mind the bible story about persistently knocking on your shuttered up neighbor's door at night for flour to make bread for surprise guests until he finally opens up to give you some...so you will just stop knocking? I have to wonder if this practice (the shuttering) is a holdover from Roman times. In fact, nearby, there is the field where Herman repelled, no, routed the Romans. Clearly they had no idea what they were up against, or the Romans were believing their own press that they could take the Germanic tribes who had the distinct homecourt advantage. They used local knowledge of conditions like wetlands and fog, the Romans were outwitted. Ah, hubris, it was a bad idea to try it, as if they didn't have enough territory throughout Europe. At this point, perhaps the seeds were planted for the Lombards to open the proverbial can of whoopa on the Romans some centuries later. Turnabout being fairplay, and all.

I have been enjoying the Mercedes wagon and drove Briggie back to Dusseldorf for an airport pickup of Katarina's friend and then we drove up to Hamburg to catch our flight out. Briggie gets to bring the car back to Fritz who still thinks one cannot just spontaneously rent a car without notice. So what happens if the train spontaneously decides to strike? Canst you then rent a car on the spot? Just askin!

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