Monday, October 15, 2007

I can Has Volksfest? No, you can't has Volksfest.

Yesterday was fun... I met up with Sarah and Peguy at breakfast, and then we decided to go into Stuttgart to catch the last day of Volksfest. (by the by, the Stuttgart Volksfest, pronounced "folk's fest", is second only to the Munich Oktoberfest as far as German beer-fests go.) There were five of us: Sarah, Peguy, Peguy's boyfriend Niel, and Brandon and me. We met up in the lobby, rode to the train station together, and then took the S-Bahn into downtown Stuttgart. And that was an experience in itself... You have to get tickets at an automated machine, then validate said tickets at another automated machine, and have them available should someone come by to check your ticket. That doesn't happen very often, so you can get away with not buying a ticket sometimes, but there's a 40 euro fine if you get caught. Personally, I'd rather just buy the ticket, but that's neither here nor there.

Anyway, using the train system was far less complicated than it could have been because Bran had done it before and he schooled the rest of us. He also knew just where to get off, and where to go once out of the train. Yay Brandon! (I suppose there is something to be said for sending someone ahead to do recon...) Brandon steered us successfully out of the train station and through the Stuttgart Stadmitte (downtown) to where the Volksfest was held. Unfortunately, we were missing one Volksfest. In the square where there should have been a maze of tents, tables and booths, there were only a few strolling people and precisely one fat pigeon. It was quite a disappointment, but since we were there, we decided to make the bast of it and have a good time anyway. We strolled around, goofing off and taking pictures until we found an open restaurant (it is mandatory that stores be closed for business on Sundays, and there aren't many restaurants open on Sundays either). There were 2 or 3 in a row on this one little side street, so we chose one that looked promising and sat at one of their outdoor tables. The waiter was prompt, but spoke a grand total of only 6 words in English, so ordering was interesting. And the menu...! There was an English translation, but there were things like crocodile, ostrich and zebra on the menu. How weird is that? None of us was terribly courageous; Sarah and I both got kase spatzle (think mac & cheese, but much, much better), Peguy got spaghetti, Neil got a chicken salad and Bran chose faloffel. I can't speak for anyone else, but the food was delicious (all of us were drinking hefeweizen). It was a blast! There were none of the awkward silences or groping for conversation that often mark the interactions between people that don't know each other well. Rather, the conversation flowed easily and all of us were laughing more than anything else. The best part, though, is that Brandon seems to like these people just as much as I do, which means that I'm not the only one with new friends. :)

After lunch (we must have sat there for at least 2 hours) we headed back through downtown toward the train station, but when we got there, Brandon took us to an elevator instead of to the trains. He'd mentioned something about going up in a tower, but we all thought he was joking until he hit the elevator button. So up we went, to the top of this tower that turned out to be an observation point for the city. It was awesome! You could see all of Stuttgart from there, and there were little signs on each wall with a key to identify each of the buildings visible from that side. We took a few more pictures (I didn't have my camera, unfortunately I'm out of charged batteries, but Sarah promised to make sure that I have copies of all of hers), then headed for home.

It's strange, that my home is currently a room at the Sindelfingen Marriott... But home it is, for now anyway, and that's where we went. Poor Sarah had a killer headache that had come on at the end of lunch, so she went on up to her room, but the rest of us stayed downstairs at the bar and the merriment continued for another couple of hours. :) I tell you, I am going to miss the bar regulars and the bar staff when we have to leave, though I will certainly be glad to have my own place again.

And speaking of which, Bran and I have another appointment with the housing office on Wednesday, so cross your fingers for us. Hopefully, they won't still be mad about the appointment that we missed last week, and hopefully we will soon be able to get on with the business of moving into our own place.

PS: If you think that I had a momentary lapse in my grasp of English grammar when writing my title for this post, then you obviously haven't been introduced to ICHC. Oh, and I would suggest that you start at page one. :) (warning: there are some mature captions....)

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