Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Christmas Tree & the waiter from Azerbaijan

Day 2 A Christmas Tree & the waiter from Azerbaijan

And we thought we’d escaped jet lag … wrong!  We both woke about 2am … obviously not the appropriate time for holidayers to be getting out of bed so I took my quilt out onto the lounge to read for a bit and made a cup of tea… coffee at 2am was probably not going to be a good idea.  I read for a bit and returned to sleep pretty soon.   Woke again about 7.15 and soon after, Lauren arrived with fresh bread rolls for breakfast.

Her dog walking duties called so I joined her on a half hour walk down to the Rhine and back.  She tried to tell me it wasn’t particularly exciting, but I did point out that I’d seen the mighty Mekong, iconic river of SE Asia, so why not the Rhine – Europe’s most famous waterway.  It was running high and fast and this seemed to be cause for concern since there had been no snow melt yet. 

The life of an au pair is a strange one, they work in a world of permanent split shifts, so her day can include breakfast duties with two small boys somewhere between 6 and 7.30, dog walking duties – early, middle of the day, late in the afternoon, night walks etc as well as assorted domestic chores – ny combination of the above - seemingly it’s a beck and call thing.

Today she was ‘off’ in the morning so we went in search of a Christmas tree and some internet.  Now before you all think – ‘stupid women, just get one of those internet stick things from the phone shop’ … my trusty little DET laptop doesn’t take them – the department of education (in their infinite wisdom) has decided that teaching staff cannot be trusted with additional programs, equipment and the USB modems are top of the list of ‘blocked’ devices.  The kids have probably already figured out how to bypass this on their laptops but alas, I have not so I need to find somewhere with wireless internet that I can access.

Off we went in search of internet access .. and it was not to be found at Maccas.  They have a wireless hotspot but it’s a sign up and pay for it variety.  Next stop a Christmas Decoration shop that was mouth-wateringly amazing.  I started my German xmas deco collection with considerable restraint! 

Next stop the supermarket for some more provisions .. do you have any idea what ‘coconut milk’ translates to in German or what the tin even looks like?  No, me either so we spent a while scouring the shelves for it.  Lauren is missing both red meat and any food more exciting than quiche (don’t get her started on the eating habits of her host family!) and will have a home cooked curry with us tomorrow night.  Provisions sorted… oh and much to her disgust, I found some tinsel … what’s a Christmas tree without tinsel!

Now for the tree.. no such thing as a cheap plastic tree, nor for that matter a table-top sized cut tree in the several Xmas Tree compounds we passed so we headed for the next best thing .. the German equivalent of Bunnings.  Sure enough we found a 1.3m tree al bagged (in a plastic mesh tube) ready to go for 9.99euro.  Tony carried it home on his shoulder and I so wish I had thought to take a photo!  Lauren’s going to get us a bucket/pot tomorrow so for now it is just lying all bound up on our loungeroom floor.  We asked her if the boys would like to come and help decorate it but it seems that German Xmas tree regulations forbid this.  The tree ‘appears’ magically decorated each Xmas Eve afternoon in your home – done by the ‘Christchild’ and asking the boys to help would be tantamount to telling them Santa doesn’t exist.

We have been invited for ‘drinks’ with Nadja and Christoff after dinner so we head off in search of dinner.  Search being the operative word, Worms is a lovely city, there are about a dozen shoe shops, 8 or 9 chemist shops, 6 perfume shops, 15 donor (kebab) stalls/stands/shops but it has this stunning lack of restaurants.  There are no ‘pubs’ as we know them serving food either.  We finally found a Greek restaurant where we thought we could recognise enough food items on their menu in the window to get a meal.

A very helpful little waiter stumbled through the menu in very broken English, but between us we managed to order.  Chatting (if that is any where close to an approximation of how the conversation went) with him it turns out we had Azerbaijani waiter, (who also spoke Russian and Croatian) serving in a Greek Restaurant in a Germany … you can’t get much stranger than that.

Oh but you can … lost somehow in translation, we had in fact been invited to dinner at Nadja & Christoff’s  and arrived to a fully laid and stocked table!  It turns out it didn’t matter too much and we enjoyed a night of laughs, and good company before calling it quite about 11pm when the need for sleep came crashing up on us again.

Tomorrow we’re going to Heidelberg.

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