Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bum, Bum, bum bumped my equipaje in the Metro

Buenos tardes and Hallo!

Greetings from destination #2…Wiesbaden, Germany!

After writing the never-ending blog from my last post I had about an hour to explore a little more of Madrid. I jetted down to the Palacio Real area and by chance ran into my friend from Peru, Ana Maria. We strolled the Plaza de Espana together and marveled at the statues of Cervantes and Don Quixote. After a quick snack- bocadillo de ensalada (half sandwich on white bread with a veggie-type salad inside,) -I headed off to the Metro with my luggage (now with one added bag that I bought and filled instantly.) At once, I realized on my first trip down a long flight of stairs that my bulging, luggage on wheels (that I had just received back the day before) was going to be a problem! By the third flight of bus-length stairs, I had officially named my bag, el Monstruo, the monster. A few nice gentleman, offered to carry it for me. Usually, I decline (I can carry my own luggage, thank you!) But as the sweat trickled down my forehead, I happily accepted their help. Then the escalators stopped working! And there I was, the crazed American turista stomping down the stairs with a stuffed backpack on my back, a big red bag over my shoulder, and el Monsturo clonking behind me. “Bum, bum, bum!”

I made it down and bought my ticket, and proceeded to wait for my line. The Metro did not come, and two announcements come over the loudspeaker. But the echo in the tunnel made the Spanish message impossible to understand so I waited. And waited. Finally it came, okay the messages had just been announcing that it was late. I got on my line, went to a stop about 10 minutes up, and then came right back to the stop that I’d left from. The train is not late! There’s a problem and it’s not going in my direction. Uh-oh. Using my talented map-reading skills (sarcasm,) I found another route and get off on Linea 6 and walk miles around circular underground tunnels with five thousand flights of stairs!!! “Bum, bum, bum!” said el Monstruo. Bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum!

Finally, hot and sweaty, I get to the next line. Take it to the airport. Realize I can’t read my ticket that Andrea booked for me cause it’s in German. Ask for help. Find my way to Terminal 2. Get told that I’m not in Terminal 2, I’m in Terminal 4! Take a shuttle all the way to Terminal 4. Check el Monstruo at the desk. Go to customs. Realize over two hours have past since I left. I ask a nice guy named Remco from the Netherlands (who happens to be a British Air pilot visiting his Spanish girlfriend,) what time it was. He says 2:10 and I think my flight is ready to leave! I have to take 4 more flights of escalators (minus the monster, at least,) another Metro-type subway to get to my gate. He tries to call ahead for me and tell them I’m late, but no one answers. I get out at my gate, and he says, “You better run!” So off I go—bumping through the terminal with a smaller monster on my back (my computer adaptor weights 5 pounds alone.) I feel like a freak (remember Quasimodo from Young Frankenstein?) cause I can’t run with the “bum, bum, bum” from the mochilla on my back. I’m dripping in sweat, dragging down the terminal. I get to my gate and see two attendants still at the desk. “Did I miss my flight?” I gasp. “Mas tarde. Mucho corriendo!” I say.

“No,” the attendant calmly says. “We don’t start boarding for another 10 minutes.”


I run to the bathroom, buy some jugo de durazno, and sit down to wait. At this point, I am starting to stink! Phe-yu!

That’s when it hits me.

It’s 2:20.

And my flight doesn’t leave until 3:10!!!

That’s what I get for not looking at my ticket again. Especially with my dysfunctional photographic memory issues! So to make an eternal story, short. I got on the plane no problem, and made it to Wiesbaden, even a bit early!

We’ve had a great time in Germany so far. Last night we shopped at the German grocery store and made a wonderful meal Cannelloni, salad, and olives. This morning Andrea took me to Mainz, a city about 20 minutes from here. A very cool town with cathedrals, palaces, cobblestone streets, brenzel (pretzel,) pastry and chocolate shops everywhere. And home to Guttenberg, the first inventor of the press 500 years ago .

I was really in awe of this early, printed material. Of course, I saw four of the original Gutenberg bibles from 1452. The process was extremely technical and advanced for this time, and other printing processes existed in other parts of the world even earlier. The printed word was such a revelation, changing our world forever. It’s incredible to think how we changed as people. How information and knowledge spread faster than it ever had. What would have happened to our intellectual evolution if man had not achieved the unthinkable? It was his creativity and persistence that truly transformed the world.

It honors me to see this work in person. The dedication and craftsmanship that went into these books is astounding. Books were revered the way they should be. Afterward, we stopped by the Gutenberg print-making shop and Frank, a technical draftsman by trade, demonstrated the process for me. I was able to choose the plates for my prints and he painted and ran them through the press. Very cool to watch them come to life as a finished print. Seeing him make prints first-hand truly gave me an appreciation for how hard people in the 15-16th centuries worked to disseminate information and art for the masses-- for many reasons. This special shop was run by volunteers--students, adults currently out of work, or those with disabilities.

Before the rain hit hard, I did get to explore St. Christopher’s Church built in 1292-1325 but destroyed in World War Two. As I sat there, the pigeons flapped across the courtyard. It was the only sound I heard as it echoed off the stone walls. Time seemed to stand still, almost like I’d been transported back in time to the war, or maybe even a second into the future where people were no more. The pigeons sat there, watching me. Watching us, as if to say, “War? We know better. Do you?” I often feel like other creatures know much more than us, yet they surround us silently, like guardians. It was a very surreal moment that lasted just a second. The magic of the old and new.

When the storm hit, we escaped into a café where we ate apple strudel and tea. Then we were able to visit St. Martin’s Cathedral. In front, the oldest German Renaissance fountain. Built in 975, it has been through fire and destruction, and rebuilt many times.
Today in Maines, there was an open-air market with flowers, vegetables, fruit. I purchased some gourmet olives (feta, onions, and dill! Dan you would have LOVED these!)

On our way home, we stopped by Andrea’s friends beautiful, multi-leveled home (over 100 years old!) Katia and Thomas run their own business on one level of the house and were so welcoming (I checked email and ate schneckchen, fruity pastries! Yum!)

For dinner tonight, we ate at an awesome Italian restaurant called Vapiano with two of Andrea’s friends-Sibylle, who works for the American Chamber of Commerce here in Frankfurt, and Patsy, who runs a graphic design business. It was so much fun to connect with them, talk about life and politics. You truly discover that the connections run deep—regardless of culture, country, or background. (Go Obama, go!)

After dinner, we visited a beautiful park, Kurpark in downtown Wiesbaden that holds an artistic celebration of sorts called Lightsite. All throughout the park, artists have different presentations all relating to art. Some political. Some funky. Some abstract. The air was heavy and our breath formed puffs of white fog as we exhaled. But it was beautiful and enlightening to be out with such amazing women!

Now I am sitting here writing and it’s almost 3 am. I’ve buddied up with one of Andrea’s cats. She is completely like a dog, following us around and constantly inquiring about love or play. She is an adorable black and white patched cat with a great, big belly. She has a German name, but I call her pansa” for short. She is sitting here now on the table inches away from me, purring and bringing peace and calmness into my heart.

Another encuentro de cuentos.

Dankeschön and te amo!


CC said...

Hey CC!

I couldn't help laughing about "el Monstro." Sounds like a scene from Seinfield! I am glad there were nice people to help you. I can't wait to see all the photos you took so far! How cool that must have been to see your friend, Ana Maria and be able to explore and share every moment together. I'll be returning to your blog for more stories!

Eunice said...

So I'm finally reading your blogs and what an adventure you are having! I'm so excited for you and can't wait to read more excerpts of your journey. Y'know the most amazing and exciting things happen when we really DON'T expect it...I found myself laughing quietly (I'm at work) ha well as getting a bit emotional when you describe the beauty of your surroundings. You are such an incredible writer LO! Your descriptions of the places, sights, smells, people you meet are so vivid! Thank you for taking us on this journey with you. I await to read more excerpt of your oh so fabulous journey!
love eu!