Friday, October 31, 2008


Can it be true? Do I actually have Internet? I can’t believe it. I’ve been waiting so long! Part of me feels intensely insecure about this, almost even sure that I’ll wake up tomorrow and it’ll be gone – in fact, this can’t be real. Before I randomly checked to see if my connection was working, I began this post a few hours ago...

"I’m revisiting a familiar feeling that I experienced when I first pieced together the lie that is Santa Claus, as I start to lose faith in my belief that I will get Internet in my apartment. It’s been a month and a half now, and the ISP keeps telling us it’ll work in another week, just like the bank kept telling me that I would most assuredly get my card, which didn’t actually happen until my fifth trip there. There’s always something else that they didn’t address in the first place, you know?

I also happened to have to live in an expensive but poorly maintained apartment owned by a negligent landlady who lives literally countries away – and the kicker is, there’s no way for us to turn on the heat ourselves. And - please pardon my crudeness - it’s getting so cold that I scald myself when I pee. Who picks an apartment that has no thermostat??? But I must admit that I can be a little prone to doing stupid things. My excuse is that sororityland fried 97% of my brain cells.

Another recent act of stupidity on my part: heading for Germany without knowing which terminal I was to leave from. Apparently Halloween is “a stupid (commercial) American tradition” according to Europeans, so instead of partying it up, I went to Germany instead. I checked in online the day before at a cyber café and didn’t remember to check the terminal. The next day, the day I was to leave, I was totally pressed for time, of course, because I left everything to the last minute. I just grabbed my bags and hopped onto a bus headed to the airport and it wasn’t until then that I realized I had no idea where I was going. So at the airport stop, I got off and just got onto the first terminal shuttle that came by, with the rationale that I’d have just enough time to switch terminals if it was the wrong one, but luckily and thankfully, it wasn’t.
Speaking of Germany – it was phenomenal! I love being in Germany! The temperature, the flora and the atmosphere are a little closer to Canada than France, I think, and I can almost imagine myself living there. Plus things seem to be cheaper there, for some reason. I totally meant to blog during my trip, but my gracious hosts just kept me so busy the entire time that I had no time to write or edit. Here’s a post I started on my third day there, which I just finished:

Good God, what could I have possibly done to deserve this?!

The Cosmos must really, really love me – as do my Auntie and Uncle, whom I am currently visiting in Bavaria. I am literally living in the lap of luxury right now. It’s a little ridiculous.

I’d planned my German trip about a month before, and I was really looking forward to perhaps some home-cooked food, some sight-seeing, and just mainly good, old-fashioned doting, home-style. When my Auntie informed me that they were paying for my ticket, I was incredibly touched. Then when she showed me our itinerary – a week of overnight trips in three different cities in southern Germany – I was totally overwhelmed.

I got a clearer picture when she came to the airport to whisk me off in her Audi convertible – they are 12 year old DINKS, after all (double income, no kids). But I mean, they were just so incredibly generous with me, financial situation aside, especially since this was the first time I’ve ever met them. The first day, Auntie took me around downtown Stuttgart while Uncle worked on a project in Münich. That night, we had a really nice Italian dinner at a family-style restaurant – it was the only menu on my trip that I was able to read, besides at Chinese restaurants. The next day, we drove to see Neuschwanstein Castle (going 210 on a speed limitless German highway in my Uncle's BMW SUV, which has all the cool features you can imagine); it’s Ludwig II’s (unfinished) breathtaking fairytale castle dedicated to Wagner’s works, and it’s one of the most photographed buildings in the country, although taking pictures of the inside is prohibited because all the walls and ceilings are frescoes. It’s on a hill, so we went up by a horse-drawn carriage, and we sat opposite the cutest family from the States, which totally broke my heart. The dad was gorgeous, the mom was beautiful, the children (almost three, and ten months old) were super sweet and super cute. They were actually picture-perfect. And the hot dad could speak four languages (English, Spanish, German and Mandarin). They must be really well off to be travelling as often and as long as they did – but then again, the dad was a Phi Beta Kappa honour student, so it’s no surprise.

Then, my Auntie and Uncle took me to this incredible resort called Schlossanger Alp Berghotel where we had dinner at their world-class restaurant. We had a different wine with four of the five courses and we ended the meal off with some 60 year old Luis Felipe brandy. That’s four bottles of wine and then some between the three of us in one meal. It was indescribably good – one of the best meals I ever had, and I really felt I made huge steps in my epicurean education. My Auntie had what my mum calls “floaty footsteps” by the end of the meal, but I was just really, really happy. Plus the hotel room shower was AMAZING. Best shower I’ve ever had the pleasure to use, because you could crank up the water until it hurts, plus it’s got this thing that you can put in the drain so that you can get an ankle-high foot soak going while you get clean. (The water heater for my current apartment isn’t quite enough for three people, you see.) And the water offered for drinking in the room is real, pure mountain water. I just wanted to stay there and forget about France already. The room was so comfortable, the service was really good – my only complaint is that there’s no wireless in the rooms – you have to go to the second floor of the lounge to use the Internet. But even so, I'm so, incredibly grateful that they took me there because it was beyond words.

The following day, we went to see Linderhof Palace, the one finished castle of Ludwig II, which was gorgeous. The history totally fascinates me – he was made king at just 18 years old and he basically just lived in his dreams all the time. He never married, and he really admired the absolute power of French kings. He also had a huge thing for Wagner. It was gorgeous, even if a bit small. I was a little disappointed that we couldn’t see the Venus Grotto were he used to watch performances from, though – from what I can see from pictures, it totally trumps Hugh Hefner’s.

The next three days were spent in Münich, which I love. We even went to a smallish Asian grocery store and had almost decent Chinese food! The shopping is fantastic in Marienplatz, except I’m dirt poor and have no money to spend, so I just watched Auntie and her best friend doin’ it up, ballah-style. Hey, if I can’t be the one shopping, I may as well be encouraging other people! It’s such a beautiful city, and the subway system is amazing. Oh, and I saw the Olympic park! The pool totally looks way bigger on the small screen.

Then, we drove back to Filderstadt, where Auntie and Uncle live. They are both such sweethearts - they're so happy even after 12 years of marriage and 16 being together. Between the two of them, the family I met on the way to Neuschwanstein, the couple who owns the gorgeous resort and the loving couple who owns the hotel we stayed at in Münich, I feel like I was surrounded by love stories in Germany. Then the night before I left, Uncle and I had some Camus Borderies XO (he's a huge fine alcohol junkie - showed me his stash like a kid showing off his toys the first night I met him), which was the best brandy I have ever, ever had. The weird thing is, it was supposed to rain when I was there, but it didn’t until the day before I left. Then it rained lightly when I got back to France, but then it started to pour when I got back into my apartment. Guess the Cosmos really are smiling down on me! :D"


Alexandra said...

Ooo I went to see Neuschwanstein too, except we hiked up the pathway so we could get the suspended bridge view. I was pretty disappointed we couldn't go up a more secret trail because there had been a rainslide that wiped out part of the path, but wow, was the view ever breathtaking!

Haha awww the Glockenspiel! Did you wait to hear Hanz (the rooster at the very top- we named him, or rather, the fat tire bike company so named him)? The poor thing sounds like he's dying, but it was our favourite part of it.

Xtine said...

I hiked up to the bridge, too! And you're right - it's a phenomenal view. In fact, my favourite picture from Germany was taken up there!

And no, I didn't hear the rooster - wish I did, though!