Thursday, June 29, 2006

A thousand words

Paul and Alex in Hamburg watching a game.

Schanzenviertel, Hamburg, World Cup fever

Some crazy fans after the Australian: Japan game.

Paul and I being tourists in front of the Town Hall in Hamburg.

Paul stuck in a revolving door.

The coolest siblings in the world.

The helpful notice at the railway stations in Hamburg and Kiel... and the reason I have a job.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Kiel Week poisoning

I can't wait until the Kiel Week has been the refrain from every single person I have met in Kiel so far, oh you'll love the Kiel Week they said, irritatingly adding an uneccesary definite article wantonly, even the English speakers (I have even caught myself doing it), it's great, it's international, it's the only time of the year when the city is really full of life and there's lots happening.

Ha. So on Friday night I go to the International Market at the Town Hall Square, which boasted many admittedly quite cool stands from countries like Finnland, the Czech Republic, Mexico and so on, but which also has an Australian stand which sold Fosters, barbeques prawns on a stick, strawberries and cream and some little sandwiches which looked decidedly Danish to me. Oh, and Akubras and Blunstone boots, as well as many hilarious road signs like beware crocodile, world's best nan and so on. And I bought a crepe, my second of the week actually, and I'm pretty sure it made me sick. My feeling has been confirmed by all the people who have said, oh yeah that often happens, by the way we forgot to tell you don't eat anything at the Kiel Week. Especially near the end. Ha.

The upshot of all this whinging is that I got to watch Australia lose, lying on my coayh feeling like I was going to vomit. Strangely though, I feel kind of relieved (not about wanting to vomit). Being ardently nationalistic felt a little like watching myself through glass, it just didn't feel right. Especially when the last game I watched was with a bunch of other Aussie screaming abuse at the screen everytime anything didn't go their way. It was a bit of an eye-opener. Sure, I'm more sypathetic to sports fans now, but I'm still pretty sure I don't want to be one. Not more than once every four years anyway.

It's actually a week of goodbyes this week. Patricia left yesterday for a new job in Munich and Mat's leaving on Thursday. It's terribly sad. I can't quite believe I've been here with him for just under a year. I look back on my first weeks here and it seems like a million years away.

Mat and I went on a last bike ride and found this cool pond in the middle of a big park not twenty minutes from here. There were hundreds of people jogging (alright, maybe twenty), people riding horses and the sound of aircraft overhead but it was still nice and peaceful. I just hope I can keep my adventuring spirit alive when he's gone.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

What a lovely way to burn

I got yelled at for crossing on the red today. A nasty old man called me the equivalent of a bloody idiot as I was rushing across the road to grab Paul from a bus as he got off at the main train station. He was about to leave after hanging out with me for a week, I hadn't slept well, it was hot and sticky, Australia lost against Brazil, it was a highly emotional moment and I was not in the mood in the slightest. I told the grumpy old bastard I didn't understand and I was sorry (why do I persist in this annoying anglo habit. I'm not bloody sorry and I'd do it again) and he cut me off and called me nasty names. So I snapped thank you in German in an extremely pissed off voice and he was so surpised he shut up. Honestly. Although it's kind of lame that even when I'm being rude it's just saying a nice word in a nasty way.

Awwww it was nice to have my little brother here for a week. Despite the unseasonal heatwave, the lack of privacy and the craziness of the World Cup and Kiel Week and the resulting sleeplessness, it was lovely. I only wish we could have done more together. Next time.

I have finally made a decision and agreed to the job at my dodgy company and thrown caution to the winds. Who needs it. Especially when I can always bludge off Simon who looks like he has a lot of work up his sleeve, while I won't have much for another two months. Which is great, because it's finally really summer here and all I feel like doing is lying around, possibly trying to do some exercise and enjoying a little time for me. Maybe I'll think about doing some cheap travelling. All I want now is to sleep for a week but unfortunately I still have some work to do this week, along with a few very important games to watch, and of course some time consuming large amounts of beer, bread and (sigh) cheese.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Summer breeze

Did I mention that it's finally summer in north Germany? Yesterday was the first day you could go swimming in the pool in Hamburg, and Kiel too, and last week I didn't see the darkness for seven days straight- it's just light all the time. The twillight goes for about an hour and begins at ten. Everyone says it could last a week, it could last for only days, so I should enjoy it. But the weirdest thing is how much it reminds me of home, without all the insects, and how much Germany doesn't seem that different when you don't have to put on ten layers of clothing and you can walk around in thongs. The biggest difference is how mad everyone goes when the sun comes out, which I now completely understand, and how everyone wants to be brown so wears their bikins at the park. Oh, and how when you say, but skin cancer...? everyone looks at you as though you are out of your mind. Which is fair enough.


I have to say it- I'm enjoying the soccer. I went overseas to try to escape the sport-mad, ignore everything else vibe that we've got going and I end up screaming and pumping my fist in the air when Australia comes back from the dead with three goals in the last eight minutes. Call it the German disease, call it homesickness, I can't resist. It's just too damn exciting.

The game yesterday was just fantastic- I'd just met up with Paul and Alex and was pretty wound-up about seeing them and then the game looked like it was going to be all over for Australia. Actually, up until then I hadn't really cared much either way, and was sure the Aussies were going to lose, but then my students made a few smart remarks about losers and for some reason I got a little defensive... I didn't say anything of course but I have to admit that when Australia won a little voice in my head said: hah!

We were sitting in a tent in a big park in Hamburg with about eight die-hard German men sitting behind us, who were thrilled whenever anything was happening, and who I think were more annoyed with us than anything else when we spent most of the game chatting. Martin, my cousin, was biting his knuckles in frustration (in a show of family loyalty he was supporting Australia) and when the first goal got through he was devestated. It all looked pretty bleak.

But then, just as the coverage was starting to show footage of the Australian crowd looking utterly unimpressed, it all began to happen, and I found myself swept up in this incredible rush of joy and, weirdly enough, pride. Now I understand why people watch sport, it really is a substitute for an emotional life. When the siren went we were all overcome. It was beautiful.

Then the Czech Republic beat the US and my perfect soccer day with my brother was complete.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Piccies for Mum

A recent weekend to Berlin, a visit to the new Jewish Memorial, me drinking a Berliner Weisser and a cool building Matt liked enough to photograph.

And me steering a sailing ship of a colleague from the technical school. I was so seasick afterwards.