Saturday, November 03, 2007

Thursday 25th October 2007 - off to Kiel

Mama has called me the strike breaker - I had no problems again, with all my trains. Just lucky I guess - the news is full of stranded commuters - though it has been done for maximum effect and it's a lot of the subway users in Hamburg and Berlin that have been really badly effected. Since I arrived right in the middle of Knud's nap time, I took a taxi to Vera's.

OMFG - talk about a DUMB taxi driver. Now far be it for me to appear racist, since it only sounds racist and isn't meant as anything other than - if you live somewhere - learn the bloody language (like I did), but my taxi driver's lack of language skills was worrying to say the least. Marc and Vera live in Flensburger Strasse - which shouldn't be hard, since Flensburg is probably the last big city before you hop over the border to Denmark. So when Mohammed (and no, that was his name, not me being rude about his heritage) went for his Tom Tom (which I was greatful he had, since he asked me where the street was - like I'd have clue 1), I was watching carefully to make sure he wasn't about to take me on a 2 hour taxi ride to another city. Luckily he did press Kiel first, then go to type in the name of the street. Now these Tom Toms are great - and I can't wait to get one - since I have no sense of direction and any time I need to go over the other side of the river, I feel blessed if I can find the suburb, let alone a specific place within that suburb; but you do need to have more than 2 brain cells to use one. My lovely driver couldn't spell - a bit disturbing, as I pointed out, Flensburg isn't an unknown quantity in these parts, but then he mis-spelled it several times and each time he needed to start again (I refuse to believe that there is no button to just delete the last letter typed in, that would be silly), he couldn't remember how to spell it. I had to spell it every time. So here's me (about to turn the bloody thing towards me and just type it in for him), trying not to be sarcastic (and anyone who knows me, KNOWS how hard I was biting down on my tongue), trying to spell this street name for him. I speak German, and if I believe everyone I speak to, I speak it well, and pretty much without an accent, but saying the letters is not my forte in German. Trying to distinguish between i and e for me is not that easy. So I'm going slowly, and enunciating my letters, making damn sure I saying the E right (and I know I did), but he couldn't get it. Naturally enough I start getting paranoid about how I say my letters, and wondering how to say it better/clearer, and then he finally got it.

The great thing about him having to use his Tom Tom is that I knew he was taking me the shortest way and I wasn't about to be ripped off. The sadder thing is that him getting the directions where to go, was just the start of the nightmare! We drive on the left side of the road, the (mainland) Europeans on the right. I'm not altogether sure he was aware of that though. Breaking at any point other than the last minute also didn't seem to be something he considered a good idea. And by last minute, that's not just me being a nervy passenger (which I freely admit to being), but he literally breaked so hard, I was thrown forward in my seat, nearly cracking my head on the dash nearly every time, except for the one time when I actually DID smack my head on the dash. Amazingly enough, I didn't say anything. It actually didn't cross my mind. I just wanted to get there - preferably in one piece and get out of his car and run away. I shouldn't have tipped him (in Germany it's not obligatory, but it's nice if you do), but I thought the 90 cent (Euro cents) I let him keep (to round it up to 10 Euros), might help him train for a different job and stop scaring the tourists! I don't know, maybe camels stop more gently than ancient Opels. Whoops, now that was a bit nasty. I'll take my cream in the non diet variety on THAT one!

I did feel so much better about my German though, when he's trying to make small talk with me and comments that Australia has a lot of "hoosta" (spelt phonetically). I'm thinking, WTF is he talking about. So I ask him politely what he meant, so he says, you know, 'hoosta', lots of sand. So the groschen (10 pfennigs in the old money) drops that he means "wuste" (said voosta), so I say that; "ah, wuste" and say yes. So he than corrects me and says, hoosta. I thought - you know what dude, don't get me started, you've probably lived here for 10 years and don't know how to spell Flensburg, so you're going to lose, I don't need the arguement while I'm still riding shotgun in your death-mobile. So I sat that, feeling smug about my language skills and said nothing.

Having arrived in one piece - and being ever so grateful for it, Vera and I had some lunch and killed time until Knud woke up. Knud had his swimming lesson this afternoon, so I walked down to the local shops and bought stuff to make dinner with - Potato Bake, Chicken breast fillets done in sweet paprika and lime.... yum...

Dinner turned out well we sat around talking this evening. I know this week will be full of early nights and early mornings, with a 2 year old to take into account...

1 comment:

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