Tag Archives: Football

Adventures in Alsace (3)

One of the things you must do when in this part of the world is take a trip to Haut Koenigsbourg castle. The road up there is a bit of a roller coaster with sharp turns, steep drops and mad people hiking, cycling and jogging to the top. Having me singing “I’m on the top of the world looking down on creation…” at the top of my voice in your ear will make the whole experience even more enjoyable.

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg
Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg

We parked the car and walked to the castle, stopping to take photos every couple of seconds. The views over the Rhine Valley from this vantage point are nothing short of spectacular.

On the way back, we took a spin to Colmar but, it being Sunday, practically everything was shut due to the French doing whatever it is they do on a Sunday – or any other random day.

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Still, we had more important things to think about. Ireland and Germany were playing that afternoon and we had to hightail it back to Ribeauvillé to find somewhere to watch the matches. In Berlin, this wouldn’t have been a problem. Every bar, restaurant, café and even Döner stand has a TV set up so you don’t miss a minute of the action. The only place we could find that was showing it was Bar Streng, our saviour yet again.

Allez!
Allez!

We made it just in time for kick-off, ordered some wine and settled in for the afternoon. The French were out in full force to cheer on the home team and cries of “Allez les bleus!” rang out from every corner. I waited for a pause before loudly interjecting, “Allez les garçons en vert!!” After a brief stunned silence, the French took it in their stride and some good-natured banter sprang up. I guess they knew that the Irish were never going to be any real threat… Sure enough, they won it with relative ease and I didn’t have to take on a bar of angry French football fans. Phew.

If this had been Ireland or Germany, the bar would have been packed for hours afterwards, but the French cleared out tout de suite. In fact, by the time Germany kicked off, there was only me, Manfredas and one other guy left. Still, we didn’t need much company to enjoy watching Germany hammer Slovakia. At least one of my home teams was through.

Since the town was pretty dead, we picked up some takeaway and headed back to our little garden for a chilled evening of wine and conversation. I must be getting old.

The next morning, we found the one patisserie that was open – maybe the French had continued celebrating in their own homes? – and popped in for breakfast.

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I ordered a pain au chocolat and a cup of tea and Manfredas, a coffee and a couple of croissants. This was clearly too complicated for the girl behind the counter. She proceeded to painstakingly write everything down, longhand, then look up the prices for each item and add them up on her piece of paper, carrying the one wherever necessary. While it was a little embarrassing to watch, we got our order in the end.

Yum :)
Yum 🙂

On the agenda for our last day was a trip to Kaysersberg, another ridiculously pretty town not far away.

The French are pretty chilled about road safety
The French are pretty chilled about road safety

We passed through glorious countryside along the way and finally rolled into town about an hour later.

Pretty, pretty
Pretty, pretty

We spent a wonderful few hours strolling through the town, marvelling, yet again, that places like this still exist.

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Sadly, after some lunch, it was time to hit the road and head back to the airport. But, not without accomplishing one of my dreams along the way. Yes, we stopped in the baddest of all the BAD towns – Baden Baden.

BAD hotel :)
BAD hotel 🙂

The town itself is quite lovely but the crowning moment for me was this one:

BADASS!
BADASS!

Merriment achieved, it was time to head to the airport. Karlsruhe-Baden Baden is probably the only airport I’ve been to where there were no queues and you could practically sit on the runway while enjoying a last glass of wine.

Note the extraordinarily relaxed man in the hammock
Note the extraordinarily relaxed man in the hammock

Thankfully, this time round, our flight existed and we were soon airborne, waving goodbye to all of the prettiness below and wondering how we were ever going to readjust to being back in Berlin…

A bientôt!
A bientôt!

We coped.

Linda Nightingale to the Rescue

I am currently (or finally if you ask him) dating a German man. While it’s true that Germans aren’t known the world over for their romantic side, I feel that this is something that should be rectified.

A German man, or at least this German man, shows you in a thousand different ways how much you mean to him – and he does it in a way that doesn’t make me want to vomit.

These little Germantic gestures include things like:

  • getting up at crackofdawn o’clock to drive me halfway across the city to a morning lesson when I’m running late
  • having a thermos of black tea with milk waiting in the car to soothe the savage beast
  • doing the midnight run to the petrol station when we run out of wine
  • having a word with a security guard at a concert to see if I could stand over by the exit so that I might see something other than the backs of tall Germans’ heads – it actually worked
  • buying me little gifts, not because it’s a special occasion but simply because he thinks I’ll get a kick out of them
The Terrible German Language by Mark Twain
The Terrible German Language by Mark Twain
  • He also bought me the rather entertaining Travel Pussy, which shows how well he knows me…
  • He listens to my bizarre questions about his mother tongue and claims to find them “endearing”

Anyway, I could go on but that’s probably enough for now. The point is, he does so much for me that when he injured his leg playing football, I felt that this was my chance to do something for him so I offered to move in and play nurse for a week or so.

Regular readers will know that I’m hardly the most tender soul on the planet but well, what was the worst that could happen? My mother told me to wish Manfredas luck in between disbelieving snorts of laughter, and I told his next-door neighbour to call 112 if she heard screaming coming from the apartment. We were all set.

The second I moved in, I felt at home. This was partly to do with the fact that he’d previously bought me slippers that said “Home” on them. I quickly unpacked my bits and bobs and put them away in the drawers and spaces that he’d cleared for me. If he was horrified by the lack of neatness, he didn’t say anything.

We had decided from the get-go that we would speak more German. Ostensibly, this was to improve my fluency but I think he was secretly hoping for the entertainment value. Naturally, I didn’t disappoint.

Me: I just need to brush my hair. 

Manfredas: Ha ha ha ha! 

Me: What? What did I say? 

Manfredas: Bah hahahaha! 

Me: Oh wait. I know. Breast, right? I said that I need to breast my hair… 

(Bürsten – to brush, Brüste – breasts)

Me: What’s “to score” in German? 

Manfredas: Schießen.

Me: But that’s “to shoot”.

Manfredas: It’s the same in German. 

Me: But isn’t there another word for “to score”? 

Manfredas: Erzielen.

Me: And “Ziel” means “goal”, right? 

Manfredas: Yes.

Me: So… in German, you goal it in the goal? 

Manfredas: Sigh. 

Me: GOAL IT! GOAL IT IN THE GOAL! Ha ha haha! Anyway, es ist nicht vorbei bis die dicke Frau singt… (it ain’t over til the fat lady sings)

Manfredas: NEIN! That doesn’t work in German. 

Me: Oh well. It was worth a goal I guess…

Amazingly, he didn’t kick me out and, as the days progressed, we slipped into a nice routine. I’d go out to work, popping back home whenever I could, and picking up any supplies we needed along the way.

Every morning, I’d get out of the shower to find that he’d laid out everything I’d need to make breakfast, including a fresh pot of tea.

German planning
German planning

Every evening, I’d come home to find my washing done and a delicious meal underway. Pasta bake, pork tenderloin, roast chicken, burgers barbequed on the balcony… I started to wonder who was taking care of whom. Still, I wasn’t complaining.

How to hang your washing, German-style
How to hang your washing, German-style

We’d spend most evenings out on the balcony, chatting, drinking wine and making up stories about the neighbours. I’m convinced one guy, who Manfredas dubs “The Constant Gardener”, is actually out there to be closer to the all the bodies he’s got buried under the lawn (but that’s just me).

Berlin sky at night
Berlin sky at night

Regrettably,  Manfredas’s leg got a little better every day so, after 9 days, I moved back to my own place. Yup, it’s back to toasted sandwiches and beans on toast for me. I’m not sure I was any better as a nurse than I am in the kitchen, but if it’s true that laughter is the best medicine, then maybe I helped a little after all.

OK, it’s time to breast my hair before bed…