A little jaunt to Germany (Part 2)

I got up at the crack of dawn the next morning (or 10am, Linda-time). After a shower and breakfast, I threw on my coat – only to discover, to my dismay, that it looked as if I’d rolled around in my gyro the night before, rather then eaten it. A quick wipe, however, and I was good to go.

As promised, the day was sunny and warm. I meandered through the streets, mouthing various German words to myself, like ‘fach’ and ‘fahrt’, and smiling. To my astonishment, people actually smiled back. This would not have happened in Riga – I think they can deport you for this sort of behaviour. Maybe. I made my way to the windmill in Wallanlagen Park, which looked simply perfect against the clear blue sky.

It was then that I noticed something curious –

Yes, even the birds in Germany are organised!

Yes, even the birds in Germany are organised!

As it had been at least an hour since breakfast, I thought it was high time to find some cake. I investigated the restaurant in the windmill, but since I can’t afford to lose an arm and a leg, I settled for a café on the edge of the park. As it was such a nice day, I sat outside. When my cake arrived, it drew admiring comments from the two English blokes sitting at the next table, and we got chatting – mainly about how surprised we were that we were up at this ungodly hour on a Sunday.

It was every bit as good as it looked

It was every bit as good as it looked

Eventually, I said goodbye to the English guys and headed in the direction of the river. It seemed everyone else in Bremen had a similar idea as the promenade was full of shiny happy Germans.

Shiny happy Germans

Shiny happy Germans

Shiny happy Germans holding hands

Shiny happy Germans holding hands

This is something you don’t see in Latvia – older people holding hands, I mean. This is partly because couples here usually despise each other after a couple of years of wedded ‘bliss’ and partly due to the fact that the men here pop their stilettos a lot younger than the women. In Bremen, however, the oldies were out in force, holding hands, gazing into each other eyes, talking and laughing. I put it down to one simple fact – German women aren’t total headcases

I followed the length of the promenade and exited at the sign that said ‘Schnoor’. The Schnoor quarter is Bremen’s oldest district – a labyrinth of narrow lanes lined with tiny 15th and 16th century houses. It’s as small as it is cute so it didn’t take very long to wander around it in its entirety.

I thought I’d accidentally wandered back to Riga when I saw this guy though…

A German does a convincing impression of a Latvian

A German does a very convincing impression of a Latvian

Having done enough walking for the time being, I made my way back to the row of restaurants and bars that line the river. I wandered up and down for a bit, trying to find an empty table and, when a couple stood up, I scooted over and grabbed a chair. I ordered a nice bottle of wine as I figured I’d be there for a while. Sitting there, it seemed like everyone in Bremen knew each other – people stopped to hug, say hi, chat for a while, introduce friends, and then move on before the next batch arrived. As people-watching spots go, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Finally, I reluctantly dragged myself back to the hotel, taking a few more snaps as I went.

After a power nap, I headed back to the river, thinking that it would be a lively spot for dinner. I thought wrong – all the Germans had clearly had enough for one day and gone home. It was still very pretty though.

2014-02-23 22.36.56

I chose a restaurant and, of course, chose the sausage – after all, a girl can never have enough. Looking around, I noticed that the only other customers were the local chapter of Mensa. Feeling guilty that I was lowering the IQ level substantially, I stopped humming along to Enrique and put my smart face on. (I don’t think anyone was fooled.)

After dinner, having tried and failed to find a German bar with more than zero customers, I found my way back to Paddy’s which was hopping, even on a Sunday. To my surprise, there was an actual Irish person working behind the bar.

Her: Where are you from? 

Me: Dublin. You?

Her: Cork. 

Me: That’s where my mother’s from! What’s your name?

Her: (something in a Cork accent)

Me: What?

Her: (something that sounded like ‘hurley’)

Me: Charlie?

Her: No, SHIRLEY, as in Shirley Temple…

Finding it very funny that the only person I couldn’t understand in Germany was a fellow Irishwoman, we got chatting. She’d come to Bremen to be with her German girlfriend (who I met the following night and discovered that she’d been on the front page of an Irish newspaper and on the Pat Kenny show for being German and playing camogie). Unfortunately, Ireland is a bit behind the times when it comes to things like gay marriage so they’d decided to move back to Germany. Two nicer girls you couldn’t meet. I even got a lock-in – not bad for my second night in the country.

Huzzah! :)

Huzzah! 🙂

On Monday, I spent a very enjoyable day in Hamburg, but instead of boring you with another 1,000 words, I’ll tell you the point of this little jaunt instead. The idea behind it was basically to see if I could de-Latvianise myself and reintegrate into normal society. It appears that I can so, by the end of this year, Expat Eye on Latvia will be no more.

Following the leopard-print leggings through the airport was enough to bring tears to my eyes, and I don’t know how many more times I can do that to myself…

About BerLinda

Adjusting to life in Germany, after living in Latvia for four years. Should be easy, right?
This entry was posted in Expat, Humor, Humour, Latvian people, Love and Relationships, Old age, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

111 Responses to A little jaunt to Germany (Part 2)

  1. Damien Wijerathne says:

    Beautiful photos…

  2. When we went to Germany, beer was what we sought an hour after breakfast. Not cake. Where are your priorities?

  3. Cindi says:

    It sounds as if there’s an exciting few months ahead of you! I’ll enjoy experiencing Germany with you; please do keep blogging about your adventures!

    • Expat Eye says:

      Thanks! I am excited! And I will definitely keep blogging about it – I’m sure the Germans do some weird stuff too 😉

      • Noveerotaaja says:

        Noooo, you are going to move to Germany!? Who will be blogging about all the weird Latvian habits then? 😦

      • Expat Eye says:

        I think I’ve inspired a few others to start blogging about their lives here so you won’t be short of material! Can’t guarantee that they’ll be as AMAZING as my blog though… 😉

  4. nancytex2013 says:

    Your description of de-Latvianising yourself invoked images of a delousing. And that made me snort. Loudly.

    Linda, bid those leopard prints goodbye and get on the sausage train immediately!

  5. plianos says:

    Haha your post is like a “you know you’ve been in Latvia for too long…” post, where the next line is, “when Germans seem warm and fuzzy”

  6. well, wish your plans to come true. in that case you’d need to rename this blog to ‘expat eye on Germany’ and to spice things up smuggle something Latvian to Germany to keep things on a leotard side of the moon 😉

    • Expat Eye says:

      I’m not sure the Germans would let me in wearing leopard print. I wouldn’t blame them. I do know that they let people who are wearing it out though… 😉

  7. linnetmoss says:

    Love those very correkt German birds! Now if only the ones here would fall into line, our bird feeders would be efficiently utilized. But the American birds just don’t know how to queue up properly. And they throw seed everywhere.

  8. Jens L. says:

    So sad to hear about your decision, but you have my full support. Very inspiring post. Personally I would consider further south.

  9. What a wonderful trip! Your pictures remind me of the quaint Freiburg (a German town I fell in love with), although I must admit that your Germans seemed much nicer than the ones I encountered (…but maybe that’s in comparison to Latvians?). Love the organized German birds picture!! It reminds me of this fantastic image that I laughed about and referenced many a time with my German friend- http://bananaapple.soup.io/post/90231705/Chaos-German-style

  10. It sounds very much like you want to move to Germany. Is it official, or still in the mulling/planning phases? If you can get yourself locked into a bar I will definitely have to visit (my German could use some dusting off).

  11. barbedwords says:

    You’ve done a great job of selling Bremen, I really want to visit!

  12. June says:

    That’s the oddest looking bottle of Bulmers I’ve ever seen – was it the real deal? Sorry to hear you’re tiring of Latvia – just when I was getting used to the notion that there was a sane person and a glass (or two) of wine at the end of a 3 hour bus journey if things here got really bad! I like the job of picking a new spot, though – what fun. Enjoy!

    • Expat Eye says:

      Wow, you think I’m sane?! 😉 I might pop down to you for a glass before I go! Yep, the Bulmers was the real deal – it’s a while since I’d seen a bottle so I didn’t really notice anything strange 🙂

      • June says:

        Just googled it to get you a photo of Irish Bulmers and found that the one you had is actually from an English company of the same name, but not related. The English are damn good at cider, so I’m sure it was delicious.

        Yeh, I think you’re sane. Relatively speaking, that is! I still have 12 litres of my kick-ass damson wine in storage, so pop down any time you fancy! Do it as an investigative field trip – country Lithuanian’s versus city Latvians!

      • Expat Eye says:

        Now that sounds like an interesting field trip!

  13. I must admit, I quite like the sound of Bremen… sausages, beer and friendly people, what else do you need? And I look forward to seeing where you end up next!

  14. bevchen says:

    I almost choked on my breakfast at “shiny happy Germans holding hands”.

    Love that windmill! I think I need a trip to Bremen.

    There’s a girl from Northern Ireland working at my local Irish pub. Does that count? (Also, the owner is Irish – as are the owners of 2 of the other Irish pubs in town. The fourth one is owned by a German).

    I hope you’ll continue blogging from wherever you go next…

  15. Siiris says:

    I was the one who commented on your love handle post about you making me melancholic to Riga where I used to live and now I see you’ve visited Hamburg where I currently live 😀 Amazing coincidences of life! If you plan to go to Germany later too, I’m always happy to share tips and my process of de-latvianising myself 😉 Have a great weekend!

    • Expat Eye says:

      Thanks, same to you! I’m looking forward to seeing how my deLatvianisation goes 🙂 Hamburg seems like a really nice city as well – it would take a part 3 post though and I think everyone would get sick of me 🙂

  16. Nene says:

    Ooooooh, excited for you! Northern/Western Germs are waaaaaay friendlier than the Southies! Everybody thinks it’s the other way round. Where I live now, they told me it takes three generations for an “outsider” to become “integrated”…sigh… Don’t think I have that sort of time. 😉 If you’d come from Ireland straight to Germs, there would’ve also been some culture shock involved. They don’t call us whiny expats for nothing! 🙂

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha, yeah, I was thinking about that actually – coming from Ireland as opposed to LV! My German friend here had told me that Northerners were friendlier as well – but he’s from Hamburg so I wasn’t sure if he had to say that 🙂 Nice to have you back again!

      • Nene says:

        Aaaaah Hamburg – a fave of mine, well after Cologne and Luebeck! Anytime we’ve had a map (oldskool me!) in our hands in the North, somebody has galloped up to our side to help us. This has never happened to me, even being on the road as a tourist, in this part of the world. North and West are also good if you’re a “coast” kinda woman, you’re there in the blink of an eye!

      • Expat Eye says:

        Oh, I so want to go back already! 🙂

    • bevchen says:

      Really? I’ve always heard Northern Germans are cold/unfriendly til you get to know them wheile southerners are instantly friendly… unless their from Stuttgart. But where I live I take basically anything anyone says about Stuttgart with a rather large pinch of salt 😉

      My boyfriend is from the North, but I don’t think he considers himself a “true” northerner… doesn’t identify with his home village at all or speak with the local accent (and never has).

      • Nene says:

        That’s what lots of people think. I can only say my experience has been the complete opposite! Bevchen, think you’re in Karlsruhe (Badener)? I’m in deepest Schwaben, schaffe schaffe Häusle baue! %-§ Went out with a colleague not long after I’d arrived here, we got to talking about relationships and she told me about friends of hers who’d recently split up. Her deep, philosophical analysis of the situation: “Schade ums Häusle.” (It’s a pity about the house.)!! She’s now my go-to person for relationship advice 😉

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ah, I do love a good practical German 🙂

  17. Anna says:

    I promise to keep an eye on the leopard leggings after you desert your current homestead. So, where am I visiting you this fall?
    Ps – I just woke up in Saint Petersburg sooooo drunk

  18. I knew it! I knew there was more to this trip than just a little vacay. I can’t wait to hear winery you’ll be next, although you know I’m secretly hoping for Germany. I have to say, it doesn’t surprise me no one was out on Sunday night. Germans know how to party, but unless it’s a festival, I’ve only seen them living it up on Friday and Saturday nights. I’m so glad you had a lovely time!

    • Expat Eye says:

      Yeah, I’d love it to be Germany too, to be honest! I need to start looking at the work situation. Maybe Merkel needs an English teacher… 😉

      • Deanna Herrmann says:

        They always need English teachers here! I wish all the time that I had a certificate so I could do it.

      • Expat Eye says:

        I’m sure you could do a course there! Maybe when the bub is a little older 🙂

      • Deanna Herrmann says:

        Possibly but I don’t really understand it all. Seems like it’s a lot of work and money? Maybe I’ll just write a bestseller! Lol

      • Expat Eye says:

        Yeah, that’s the dream! I think the CELTA course is expensive (and reduces most people to tears) but once you have it, you can work anywhere – I did an Irish equivalent but thinking I might do the CELTA in Riga before I leave…

      • bevchen says:

        There are LOADS of language schools in Germany, some where students come to the place to be taught and others that send teachers into companies. Wall Street English is a big one (branches all over Germany) that does a bit of both. But there are about 4 or 5 other places teaching English that I can think of just in Karlsruhe (no idea how good any of them are though, I’ve only walked passed most of them).

      • Expat Eye says:

        I’ll make them good 🙂

  19. Daina says:

    Sounds like a very fun weekend! However, I must agree with some of the other comments – the general stereotype is that southern Germany is a more friendly place than northern Germany. Either way, I like Germany, but, then again, I am slightly biased due to the fact that I began learning German at age 5, spent 7th grade in Muenster, and a university semester in Giessen. 🙂

    On a different note, I don’t think Latvians will run out of crazy stuff…there are SO many things you still need to write about!! 🙂

    • Expat Eye says:

      I need to start learning it now – fach and fahrt won’t get me very far, I fear 🙂 I can’t wait to meet some Southern Germans if they’re even friendlier! I guess the friendliness order would go like Southern Germany – Northern Germany – most other countries – Latvia 🙂

  20. This Germany thing… it just has to happen. No two ways about it. Start packing.

  21. Anita says:

    Oh you are giving up on LV? How long have you been there? I lived there for eight years until a divorce and GFC forced me to leave. I miss the place as it was a real great party! (Sure at times it did my head in my doesn’t anywhere? (; I’m in Australia now)

    • Expat Eye says:

      I hear it’s very expensive there now! I lived there for a year back in 2006 (I think!). Loved it 🙂 Yeah, by the time I leave, it will have been around 4 years. I’m getting itchy feet – and I’m worried the Latvians will run out of crazy shit to do and I’ll run out of blog fodder 🙂

  22. CrazyCatLady says:

    You can’t leave Yummy Jānis!! Or not write, we love you!

  23. Ilzele says:

    After living in Bremen for 3 years and Hamburg for another 3 I have to say that your impression of the North Germans couldn’t be more different of their self-perception 😉 Most North Germans are keen to complain about how unsmiling the people are and even have a word for their stereotypical character – “hanseatisch” i.e. a little cold, unobtrusive and with a very dry sense of humor.
    After moving to Bremen from Riga I had to get used to two radically different things: on the one hand, e.g., the service people are pretty chatty and its easy to strike up a conversation. On the other hand, in my two years of intense study party life I didn’t meet a single local guy in a club or a bar. Me and my girlfriends were even making bets whether any of the guys checking us out would try to strike up a conversation. Many did but not a single local among them 🙂
    P.S. Your post made me miss Paddy’s!

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha, it’s a great little spot! Wow, I can’t believe Northern Germans think they’re unfriendly! Maybe I just got really lucky or something but everyone seemed so friendly! And so many guys – in comparison to Latvia! I said to one guy that it was hard to get used to there not being a solarium or a beauty salon every second building. He was like ‘Oh German guys hate that sort of woman’ – I fell in love with German men a little at that moment 🙂

      • Ilzele says:

        Haha that’s a North German thing, you’d fine a lot more solarium-tanned women down South 😉 As for unsmiling, you did visit Bremen on sunny days – it’s such a rare occurrence in the winter that people are happy by default. Seriously, I don’t think I know more sun-enjoying people than the North Germans. They’ll use every chance to sit outside in the sun even if it’s barely above freezing temperatures 😀

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha, yeah, it was only around 10 or 12 but everyone was outside! Such a lovely atmosphere!

  24. Kaufman's Kavalkade says:

    You got a lock-in with two lesbians? Sounds hot… Um, what does “lock-in” mean?

  25. What is that revolting looking drink in the last photo? Knorr chicken stockpot, jizz and pond water?

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