Tag Archives: Wolves

Forest Chump (Part Two)

On New Year’s Eve, I was out of bed by 9 for breakfast. Much as I love being a “Continental European”, I will never get on board with the continental breakfast – especially not in the depths of winter. Someone else could have the slabs of cold meat and cheese. I was having cereal, raisin toast and a lovely big pot of tea.

Where's the bacon?
Where’s the bacon?

After that, it was back to my room to shower and psyche myself up for my first ever walk in the forest. I toyed with the idea of going full-on Latvian and wearing heels but the Germans might kick me out for that. Sensible footwear it was.

So damn cute.
So damn cute.

I’d seen people heading down a little lane opposite the hotel, so that was where I started. The skies were ominous but the walk was actually quite… pleasant. I’d pass the odd dog-walker every now and then and we’d exchange smiles and hellos but apart from that, it was was perfectly peaceful. And very tree-full.

Sexy German trees...
Sexy German trees…

After I’d been walking for a while (keeping an eye out for wolves, naturally), I stopped a likely-looking, Jack Wolfskin-clad German couple in very sensible shoes.

Me: Hello, my fellow forest nymphs. Is there a lake around here somewhere?

They gave me a rather dubious look up and down and were probably thinking, “What the hell is this Arschloch doing in a forest?”

Horst: Well, there IS a lake, but it’s around a 7km walk in that direction. 

My face must have dropped slightly, as his wife chimed in.

Hilda: But there’s a river around 400 metres that way. 

Me: Right, be on your way, my feisty forest faeries… 

I trotted off in the direction she’d pointed in, but I think maybe the famous German sense of humour was at play here.

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Are you a river?

Are you a river?
Are you a river?

I decided to follow a man out walking his dog and three-year-old for a bit. I figured that if there were wolves, they’d probably go for the mutt or the toddler first. This, however, got annoying fast as (what are the chances?) it turns out they were English speakers and the daughter couldn’t get the names of the Seven Dwarfs straight. Before I started yelling, “Bashful, Sneezy, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy and DOC!”, I needed to get my zen back. I climbed an embankment and did the unthinkable. Yes, it’s the photo the Latvians thought they’d never see…

It's me! Hugging a tree!
It’s me! Hugging a tree!

After sending the pic to a couple of people and enjoying the virtual “thuds” as they fell off their chairs, I sauntered back to the hotel, river-less, wolf-less but happy.

I enjoyed a quick red wine nap-cap and then went back to bed for a couple of hours. Turns out trees and fresh air are exhausting… When I woke up, I decided that there was no harm in being sociable for a while and hopped on a bus into Lübeck. The bus dropped me off outside a rather suspect-looking bar – you know the kind of place that you’re not sure if you’ll come out alive but you’ll probably have some good stories if you do? In short, perfect.

As I walked through the fug of smoke, every head in the place turned to look. At this point, it’s important not to show fear so I marched to the bar and asked the 80s hair-do behind it for a glass of wine. The man next to me immediately offered me a chair, shook my hand and introduced himself. In no time at all, we were gabbing away like old friends.

I thought the guy on the other side of me could be trouble as there seemed to be some tension between him and my new buddy – I would have ended up on my back on the floor if he’d lunged for him. But then, dream boat that I am, I got a toothless smile from the tattoo-covered trouble-maker and knew that I was going to be just fine. (In these kinds of situations, it’s always good to get the scariest-looking person on side.)

A guy came around selling roses and my new buddy bought me one. An hour later, he came around again, and my new buddy bought me a second one. Two white roses also appeared from somewhere else in the bar and soon I had a veritable garden in front of me.

Time to go
Time to go

After the drunkest man in the world accidentally smashed a pint glass on my jeans, it was time to head back to the hotel. Germany on New Year’s Eve is characterised by the sounds of rocket launchers and ambulance sirens so, rather than wait 50 minutes for the next bus, I got a taxi. I gave the cute Cypriot driver one of the roses and he almost teared up as it was the first time a woman had ever given him a flower.

Back in the room, I poured myself a glass of wine and settled in for some (probably) classic NYE entertainment, German style.

Yes, it was just as scary as it looks.
Yes, it was just as scary as it looks.

At midnight, I watched the supremely baffling German favourite “Dinner for One” and wished myself an excellent 2016. All in all, it was the perfect day.

The next morning, I woke up full of the joys and, after another walk in the forest, fairly skipped to the bus stop. I made my way to where I thought the bus to Berlin went from with a song in my heart and feeling all kinds of goodwill towards mankind.

Me: Tra la la la la are you going to Berlin la la la?

Random stranger: Can you speak in English?

Me: Sure! Is this where the Berlin bus goes from?

Random stranger: I am not ticket.

Me: Yeah, clearly the English thing is working out great for you.

And, just like that, I was back.

Until we meet again, trees.
Until we meet again, trees.

Forest Chump (Part One)

Every New Year’s, for as long as I can remember, has been pretty much the same. Different faces, different cities, sure, but the usual partying til the wee hours and then feeling like shite for the next three days. This year, however, I came up with the rather loony idea that if I start 2016 off in a slightly different way, maybe it will be a different sort of year…

This was when I decided to do something a bit Latvian odd, and booked myself a room in a hotel in the middle of a forest in Northern Germany.

As an afterthought, I sent my German friend, Simone, a message:

Me: What are the chances of me being eaten by wolves in a forest in Northern Germany?

(No reply)

Me: Or bears?

Simone: Zero to miniscule.

Me: Oh, OK, good. Just thought I’d check…

And so, armed with my deep knowledge of wildlife, forests, survival skills and all things “nature”, I boarded a bus for Lübeck. I figured I’d be seeing enough trees when I got there so I slept for most of the four-hour journey.

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Welcome to Lübeck!

I was ravenous by the time the bus pulled into the station, so I took a couple of half-hearted photos but was really on the hunt for food. After wolfing (haha) down a sandwich and a cup of tea, I was feeling more human and ready to check out the delights Lübeck has to offer.

As with most German cities, it’s ridiculously pretty and well-maintained. If only all of its residents could get with the programme…

Well, it IS closer to the Baltics...
Well, it IS closer to the Baltics…

The promised blue skies didn’t materialise and it was bloody cold but I wandered around taking in the sights anyway. I was rewarded with what every woman is looking for – a horny little devil…

I'm horny, horny, horny, horny...
I’m horny, horny, horny, horny…

And this one wasn’t all mouth and no trousers either. No, he had a great back story. It seems that when the first stones of St. Mary’s Church were being laid, the devil thought that it was going to be a wine bar, so he enthusiastically joined in with the building project. (Can’t say I blame him.)

But one day, the devil realised what the building was actually going to be and flew into a rage. (Can’t say I blame him there, either.) He picked up a huge boulder and was about to smash the place to pieces when one daring local told him to leave it alone; they’d build him a wine bar across the street instead. The devil was very happy with this so he dropped the boulder and has been sitting there happily ever since. I don’t know if he ever made it to the wine bar…

As I was half-frozen at this stage, I decided a far quicker way to see the sights would be to go up to the viewing tower at St. Peter’s Church and kill all the birds with one stone. (In a figurative sense. I love wildlife.)

Niederegger
The best marzipan in the world

Thankfully, with all of the other tourists crammed into Niederegger Marzipan Café, I made it to the top in no time. It was COLD.

My new look. I call it "The Trump".
My new look. I call it “The Trump”.

For some reason, being truly frozen for a short time instead of gradually frozen over a longer period of time made sense to me. The views were pretty spectacular as well.

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After a quick glass of wine at a cute little bar, I got on what I hoped was the right bus. It was already dark when I got off at what I hoped was the right stop.

Yep, looks about right.
Yep, looks about right.

I tripped over a twig 2.5 seconds after getting off the bus and thought, “YES!! This the rustic, outdoorsy, solitary existence I was looking for!” Then, thankfully, I found the hotel because it was a little scary out there, all alone in the dark…

Adorable, no?
Adorable, no?

The hotel has been in the Grotkopp (yes, that is their real name) family’s hands for generations, and Mrs Grotkopp greeted me like I was her long-lost grand-daughter. There was hand-holding and chuckling, chatting about the weather and my Trump “do”, and I wondered what I’d done to deserve such royal treatment. Then I remembered. She’s German. They’re nice.

It was quite possibly the quickest check-in I’ve ever experienced. I was given my key card, told where to go, and that was it. My room was cosy and well-equipped, had working wifi, typical German beds and no poo shelf. Perfect.

Still funny :)
Still funny 

After spending a few minutes scrolling through the usual dreck everyone posts on Facebook around New Year’s, I decided I’d earned a nap. In trying to find the switch on the bedside lamp, I accidentally touched the base of it. Like magic, it came on.

Me: Ooh.

So I touched it again. It got brighter.

Me: Ooooh.

So I touched it again. It got brighter still.

Me: OoohOooh…

Clearly I should not be left on my own for extended periods of time.
Clearly I should not be left on my own for extended periods of time.

After a very satisfying snooze, it was time to go hunting and foraging for food. But luckily, this is Germany and therefore civilised, so there was an inviting little Italian place down the road.

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As usual, I was the last to leave, so the Italian owner came over for a chat at the end of the night. He didn’t speak a word of English but we still managed to have a fine old chinwag about the breakdown of society and how nobody had the staying power to really make a relationship work these days. Incidentally, he was on wife number three, a Ukrainian, with three kids in total, one from each wife. People never cease to amuse me…

And what better way to start the New Year than on a cliff-hanger. Stay tuned for part two – there will be trees, oh yes, there will be trees. BUT spoiler alert: I lived.

Happy New Year everyone!