Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Trip Report-Part Deux

The second day of my trip was a long one. I was up early because the plan was to meet in the lobby at 7am for our ride to the airport. The guy that I flew out with had arranged a car to go back and forth for our flight to Luxembourg. I ran through the restaurant for breakfast looking for a cup of coffee to go. No such thing over there, unless you are lucky enough to find a Starbucks. We decided we had a couple extra minutes for our 9am flight so I had some coffee and something small for breakfast and we ran out to get the car.

The driver was outside waiting for us in his brand new 7 series BMW. What a sweet ride. Whenever the traffic on the autobahn opened up, so did the car. Well, somewhat anyway. We were consistently at 175 km/hr with a couple touches of 180. Smooth as silk on the road too.

We got on our 1 hour flight to Luxembourg to find out that we had a stop on the way at a small airport in Saarbrucken. The countryside was beautiful but the airport was on the top of a mountain. We landed like we were hitting an aircraft carrier and let out half of the people on the little jet we were in. From there, it was a 15 minute flight to Luxembourg.

We grabbed a cab and were at the office in 5 minutes. The office was on a road that looked almost like an industrial park. Every building seemed new and every banking institution you can think of was represented. Unfortunately, it was pretty sterile looking and that was all I saw of this tiny country. We walked next door to have lunch, which was a German buffet. Mmm, meat, sauerkraut, potatoes. Btw, they spoke English here.

We met with some of the people in the office and were out of there at 5pm to catch our 6:30 flight. By the time we got back to the hotel, it was about 9:30pm and I was beat. I ended up eating at my hotel bar again because I knew Thursday was going to be a long day and the plan was a night out after work on Thursday anyway. I ate my trusty ribeye and was in the room by 10:30pm. Boo, boring I know.

The next morning we got to the office by 9am. We had a good meeting during the morning and went to lunch with 3 of the people from the office. Right across the street from the office was a Lowenbrau Biergarten. We got to sit outside and enjoy the weather. As we walked to our table, I noticed that everyone was drinking beer. I don’t mean like almost everyone, I mean EVERYONE.

The head of IT from that office was next to me and, of course, turns to me when the waitress gets there and asks what I am drinking. I paused in thought for a minute and he must have picked up on it because he said he was getting “Blah blah blah”. He explained that it was a drink that was a mixture of beer and lemonade. Said he knew we had a lot to cover in the afternoon and wanted to make sure he was alert. Phew, sounded great to me. We all actually got that. It was really pretty good. A little bit sweet, but for a drink with lunch, it did the trick. I ended up getting a bowl of sausage, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes for my meal. It was a bowl of 4 different types of sausage. Good stuff. Notice a theme?

We went back to the office and were actually busy all afternoon. We didn’t get out of there until about 5:30pm. That left us plenty of time, however, to pick up the requisite kid’s gifts and drink some beer.

One of the woman in the office gave us 2 maps. One to the toy store and one to a fair that was being held near our hotel. She said it was kind of like a “spring Oktoberfest”. Hey, sounded good to us. We made our way to the toy store, grabbed some gifts, dropped them back at the hotel and we were off to find the fair.

As we were walking down the last street toward the festival, we saw a big Ferris wheel. I wasn’t really expecting that I guess and as we got closer, I noticed that it was basically a big carnival with all the little food stands, games and kiddie rides. Since we had walked all the way over there, we figured we should walk through a little and see what else was up. We walked through some of the carts and there it was. The beer hall. We walked in and there was a band playing cheesey 80’s American rock songs, but the tables were pretty much filled with people drinking liters of beer. Sweet. We sat down and took it in. Luckily, as I said before, the word beer is universally understood in Germany, so we easily got a liter of the pilsner and took in the local scene. It was pretty cool because unless we were looking for it, we wouldn’t have ended up there. It was all locals having a good time.

After we finished up our beer, we decided to take off and go to the tourist trap, known as the Hofbrauhaus. We grabbed a cab and on the way, the cabbie told us to make sure we got the Maibok. Apparently, the Maibok is 7.5% alcohol vs the standard 5% of the pilsner. Cool, good advice right?

We walked in the place was packed. Much moreso than the festival had been. In looking around, you could tell it was a total tourist spot because just about every nationality was represented. In the middle of the place was the Oom Pah Pah band playing their traditional German tunes and everyone was sitting at long tables drinking out of their huge liter mugs. We looked around and decided to sit at a table that wasn’t too full. There was a German girl and a Japanese guy sitting there. They seemed friendly enough as we sat down and ordered our first beer. We told the waitress that we wanted the Maibok and she kind of hesitated. After she asked if we were sure, off she went.

Once we got our beers, we started talking to our table mates a little. The story was something like the German girl was living with this Japanese guy in Japan in some cultural exchange program or something. She was teaching German in Japan. Didn’t know there was a big call for that, but whatever. They were both having a good time. We noticed that the guy was already well on his way and as he got more comfortable with us, he started entertaining us pretty good.

After pounding his mug a couple times with a nice loud “Mudder focker!”, then giggling like a little girl, we knew he had picked up a few English words. Of course, by that time were almost done with our first beer so we joined him in this little cheer. The next thing we knew, he was teaching us our first Japanese word. It came about because of a young lady at the table next to us who was wearing a nice low cut shirt. He started pulling the top of his shirt down and yelling out, “Sagoy!”

The German girl was nice enough to translate that into “Wow!” for us. Well naturally, “Sagoy!” was now the word of choice for us at the table.

Me and the guy I was with decided that some food was in order at this point and asked for a menu. Shockingly, the menu was in German. Luckily though, we had a German with us at that point.

Me: “What is this?”
German: “Sausage”
Me: “Hmm, what about this?”
German: “Peeg”
Me: “Huh?”
German: “Oink, Oink”
Me: “Ah”

I went with the pork. I guess I had been over sausaged at that point. Not the best idea in the world. I should have stayed safe because the pork wasn’t that good, plus it was served with some potato thing that was like a big dumpling and really squishy. Not so goot, and not anything close to something to sop us some of the booze I was putting down.

Shortly after we ate and I was well into my second Maibok, our Japanese friend started passing out at the table. Not to let that happen, our German lady friend decided she would just start smacking him in the face to wake him up. That got a big laugh out of a group at a table nearby and before you knew it, they were joining us at our table and the German girl and Japanese dude were out of there. He wasn’t going to make it any further.

It turned out that 2 of the group that joined us were from Atlanta and had met the guys they were with in Greece, and ran into them again in Germany. Apparently they were traveling across Europe for a while. Must be nice.

Anyway, I start to lose details with the beginning of my third Maibok, but suffice it to say that I made it back to the hotel around midnight that night, sans my camera. It was my old digital camera, so luckily it wasn’t something too valuable. Our good camera was at home for my son’s play (he did great and we watched the screening the night I got home, he was happy, phew), so I lucked out there. All I missed from the camera were a bunch of pictures of Smart cars, which I couldn’t get enough of for some reason, and of my drunk German and Japanese friends. Not a big loss overall. I had taken some pictures on the first day and uploaded them from the camera so I could at least prove I went.

Friday morning was my return flight. I woke up pretty early for some reason and went down to try and eat some breakfast. After I took about 4 advil, all I could eat was a pretzel (which are available all day, every day, sweet!) and drink some coffee and juice. Nothing else looked like it would stay down. Luckily, I had 4 hours before my flight home. By the time I got to the airport, I was fine and the flight home was pretty uneventful except that the internet service didn’t work.

One thing I noticed when I was checking out was how expensive everything was. I guess I didn’t pay as close attention, or I just couldn’t read the German, but man did I get boned. Of course, the company is paying so I don’t have to sweat it too much but check this out. I paid 130 euros for the hotel per night, which wasn’t too bad. When I checked in, they told me where breakfast was. Each morning, when I went in, they asked my room number and that was it. I barely ate 2 of the 3 days. Also, in my room, there was an Ethernet line for the laptop. When I plugged it in, I had service immediately. Not warning about a charge, so I just figured it was included anyway. A lot of places are doing that now, plus, if not, they usually have your browser directed to a page where you confirm the prices, etc.

Anyway, when I checked out I noticed that breakfast and the internet were on the bill for 21 euros each per day! Not to be cheap, but shit, that is about $28+ so it cost me about $170 for that stuff. Again, glad I’m not paying.

Anyway, that is about it. Nothing too exciting I guess. Sorry it was so long. I have a bunch of work to get to now. I also have to post about the charity tourney I played in this past weekend. I will give that a shot this afternoon. Have a good day.

3 Comments:

At 12:36 PM, Blogger Matt Silverthorn said...

The dumpling-like thing sounds like a Pirogi. I love those things. Sounds like a fun trip, especially since you didn't have to pay!

 
At 12:58 PM, Blogger iamhoff said...

Nice trip. If you make it to Vegas for the WPBT in July, we can go out for sausage! Sagoy! I'd love to go to Europe, and I'd love even more to do it on somebody else's dime. Bummer about the camera, but it sounds like it was quite the time! Welcome back man! I bet you forgot to bring back my nekkid chick, didn't you. Oh well. Just tell your company you need to go back for your camera, and pick her up then!

 
At 1:45 PM, Blogger FatBaldGuy said...

Beer/lemonade mix [in England and Australia it is beer and lemon-lime soda, like 7-Up, and they call 7-Up drinks lemonade anyway] is called shandy.

 

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