Monday, September 12, 2011

Night market and climbing every mountain. Or one.

My previous post was written during our nice siesta, so there was still some Samstag to go. Pirate Pianist and I set off for the next suburb over (which, by the way, is clearly marked out with signs telling you when you are entering and leaving the suburb), where many of the roads were closed and filled with stalls (one of which sold a larhe array of dentist equipment. Disturbing) and tables and rides with flasjing lights.

There was a band on every corner, and music coming from every pub, and many many people and lots of beer. We got a crepe each, which came on a wafer so that you had an edible plate, and wandered down the streets goggling at the stalls. I was very tempted by the gingerbread hearts hanging in many stalls, but after all the bakery food I'd had that day I couldn't imagine eating it.

That didn't stop us when we got to the popcorn stall, however. PP had just been complaining about the lack of salted popcorn in cinemas (apparently it's all caramelised) when a scent wafted throught the air. We turned to each other and said, in unison, 'I smell popcorn!'. So there was nothing for it but to sample the popcorn.

There were also steaks frying in the largest frying pan I have ever seen, and candyfloss and more beer. The stars were coming out now, and the streets were becoming quite crowded. We listened to a few of the bands as we went past, then made our way back to PP's flat.

Pirate Pianist's plan for the next morning was to climb the hill on the other side of the bridge. We left earlyish and caught a bus to the bridge, walked across and started up the hill. On the way we passed the Institute of Theoretical Physics, lots of huge houses and an old Mini parked on the hill with chocks under its wheels to stop it rolling away.

Soon we were up in the trees, though. About halfway up there was a path off to the side, and a tower at the end of it, complete with slit windows to shoot arrows out of. On closer inspection, the tower only dated from 1901, but you could climb up a staircase hugging the inside wall and emerge amongst the chestnut trees at the top. We could see some of the town, but mostly the plains and the nuclear power station PP pointed out to me.

The trip back down the stairs of the tower was fine as long as you didn't look down, or consider how much weight the banister could hold. We returned to the main track and I felt like I was in Hansel and Gretel, walking the track through the forest. Maybe I shouldn't have menntioned this to PP, because soon after we took a wrong turning and didn't actually have time to reach the summit, which was our goal. We did see a treehouse, though, and tried to figure out who might have built it, and lots of black/blue beetles.

We got back on the right track and found a viewing platform, a gazebo jutting out from the hill. The view was spectacular - the sun had just burnt away all the clouds and the valley and plains below were hazy and sunlit. From this distance, you could almost imagine you were looking down on an actual medieval town, without the cars and bicycles and buildings of the twenty-first century.

On the way down we stopped for an icecream in a garden with stone walls and lots of little lizards scampering in the sun, and then by the time we reached the bottom we thought we deserved lunch.

PP knew an Irish pub where we could order in English, so we sat in a booth and looked through the menu. I wanted a coffee, but a cold one, so I asked if they could do an iced coffee even though it wasn't on the menu. The bar guy was really good and made his 'coffee experiment', and when we ordered a hamburger cut in half it arrived on two plates with separate helpings of salad and chips!

I was scared of missing the bus, but we got back to the station in good time and said goodbye. PP and I next plan to meet in Peru or International Waters, where we will perform the Sailor Dance (Pirate Pianist, by the way, is the lovely person who originally taught me the Sailor Dance).

There weren't any roadworks on the Autobahn on the way back, which I was extremely grateful for, and I managed to score a window seat again. This was definitely worth it, because I managed to see some dikes as well as fields of wind turbines in the middle of the English Channel! I'd known wind turbines existed, but I hadn't realised there were entire fields of them, sitting among the waves and spinning madly. It was an incredible site.

Then we were back to the patchwork British fields (which are a lot more higgledy piggledy than German or Kiwi patchwork fields) and landing at Stansted. When we got to passport control, I'd never been so glad to have a Non-EU/UK passport in my life. The EU/UK line was approximately one hundred times longer (this is not an exaggeration), and the only wating I had to do was while I was writing my arrival card.

All in all, it was an awesome weekend. I'd love to go back to Germany, and I am only fifty minutes away so I shall. I should probably learn some more German before I go...

Guten tag!

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