Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Erlangen Bergkirchweih - Day 1 - Travel stories, beer, a German's impression of Texans, and the guy who climbed the light pole (but doesn't remember)

Wow. Where to begin. This is a story you will never forget. Just keep reading, and I promise not to disappoint you. Steve and I were up until 1:00 AM packing and getting our house ready for our friends who were staying to house- and dog-sit. The alarm woke us up at 3 AM, but we ignored it until 3:30. We skipped breakfast (well, I had a banana), and hopped into the taxi at 4:25 AM, me in my glasses because I was intending to be back asleep very soon. Steve booked the 6 AM flight because his friend/coworker wanted to get to Germany early. In Aberdeen, we went through security and then outside across the pavement to board the plane. Upon finding our seats, Steve and I realized that we weren't sitting together. Our tickets said seats "C" and "D" so let's see, A, B, C, D? No, the seats were labeled A, C, D, E.... Did I miss something? Whatever. I sat by a guy who was reading his newspaper. As soon as we took off, the girl in front of him turned around, reached behind her seat, and shut his shade so she could lean back and sleep. He turned toward me, and we exchanged looks of disbelief.

"It would have been nice to have a least been asked." From there, we plunged into conversation.

Turns out, that particular guy has known my Sifu for over 25 years, and he teaches Karate in Aberdeen. It's a really small world. Needless to say, I didn't get any sleep on that plane ride because we were talking.

Anyway, after landing in Paris, we had to pass through airport security again and then get in line to ride a bus to the terminal. After a 5 minute bus ride, we walked though the doors to the building to find another line leading to a passport check. The lines never end at airports. On the plane to Germany, I ended up sitting behind Steve. At least I was by myself though so I didn't have to worry about sleeping next to a stranger where I may have dropped my head onto their shoulders!

We landed in Germany around noon. We followed several of our group members to the luggage claim to wait for them to get their luggage. Of course, one couple didn't get theirs. While we were waiting on them to finish at baggage claim, we went to the cash machine. You can use your debit card just about anywhere, regardless of country. Keep in mind that there will be fees, and you should tell your bank that you are going out of the country so that they don't put a hold on your account for fraud. After a €40 taxi ride, we checked in to the hotel where we discovered that after only 2.5 hours of sleep and restless naps on the planes, we were not allowed to check in until 3 PM. I think Steve's friend felt really bad then for pushing us all to take the early flight. We piled our luggage into storage and stumbled (sleepily, not drunk) to "the berg" which was literally across the street. 1 litre of beer and some currywurst made everything right in the world. Here is the link for the Erlangen Bergkirchweih.

Unfortunately (although FORTUNATELY for me... looking a mess) I didn't get many pictures on the first day. After eating, Steve and I went back to the hotel to check in and sleep. We woke and went looking for the group around 8:30 PM. The fair streets were packed. We had to shove our way through a few places. My shoulders were pushed inward by the sea of bodies, and I held my arm up to protect my face. People were packed around us jumping, drinking, dancing, smoking, and thus, swinging all types of hazardous items from arms and legs to mugs and cigarettes. Am I getting old? I got so tired of being shoved that at one point I just threw my elbow back into the person who was pushing me so hard that I could barely get my feet moving fast enough to keep me upright.


'Wait,' I thought, 'I recognize that voice.'  I turned around to find Steve staring back at me. Ooops. He was being pushed by a bigger guy who had some weight on Steve, so it was difficult (impossible?) for Steve to hold back to keep from shoving into me. All is well though. Steve was not hurt. :o) Anyway, we couldn't find nor get in touch with our group so we finally gave in to hunger instead. As we turned around, we saw the couple from the airport who had lost their luggage (and got it back that night at the hotel). We decided to hang out with them. We found a place that sold... tada! ... sausages and beer for dinner. Luckily we chose a place that had a covered seating area because it started to rain shortly after we got our food. That was it for us that night. We were tired and headed back to the hotel after eating.

We ran into people from our group at the hotel bar and decided another beer or two was possible. One of the guys in our group, we'll call him Pickle, stumbled in a bit later. He joined the conversation we were having with a German guy who was curious about Texas. The German guy wanted to know if everybody carried guns (as he walked bowlegged firing pretend guns into the air) and was part of a rodeo (to which he started pretending to ride a bucking bull).  We laughed and told him that while many people do have guns in Texas, no, we do not all have them, nor do we all participate in the rodeo. He found his and the German view of Texas, to which he blamed the tele, a very humorous topic. It was funny, but I couldn't help thinking, 'Man, they all think we are a mix between Walker Texas Ranger and a rodeo clown. They must think we are so ridiculous.'

Anyway, back to Pickle. When we met up with him the next afternoon, he had no idea that he had been in the hotel bar, did not remember our German friend, had apparently climbed a light pole to balance a beer stein on top, and had no idea how he got into his room because he had not properly checked in. His roommate handed him his key card the next morning (he had no key card on him). You'll have to learn more about that and the rest of the story tomorrow! Gute Nacht.

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