My goal for Monday was to just relax. I had a late breakfast and went up to my room to write postcards to almost everyone. When I left my room at noon, I expected to check out some shops and then grab a bite to eat. A stroll around town and I found that I was encountering something I hadn´t yet in the larger cities I had been in -- every shop was closed between noon and 3PM. So I made my way to a place on the market place called "Bei Josef".
Instead of finding food, I found a group of men gathered around one table talking it up. I took a seat at this table and they asked who I was. When I asked them to speak a little more slowly, they assumed I was from Holland. I introduced myself and ordered a Schlösser Alt. I haven´t had a Schlösser Alt in 20 years when I was in Hameln and it was as good as I remember.
Pretty soon another older man came in and asked who I was. When I introduced myself as from California, he switched to English and started to tell me about his trip to the US -- Los Angeles, Utah, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas (he saw Sigfried and Roy) and San Francisco. He really, really wanted to practice his English and I figured it would give me a chance to get in some local good graces.
And how. Pretty soon we reintroduced ourselves. Paul then introduced me to his best friend Hans-Conrad and I met Karola, the red-faced, red-haired, stout barmaid and her husband Uwe. It was Hans-Conrad´s birthday and he was buying rounds for everyone. That included me after a bit. Then Josef himself came in and I was introduced again. Luckily, Josef was hip on the idea that I wanted to practice *my* German and was willing to speak only German to me. Another round on Hans-Conrad and a further round on Josef and it was a good way to spend an windy Fall afternoon. This is what I had hoped to find at least a little of while I was here.
As Paul and Hans-Conrad packed up in a taxi, I made my way to some shops. In the bookstore, I found several books on the town of Lennep and the area including one written for young teens (just a little above my readign abiliy in German so it will be good practice). Then I dropped into what I thought was a toy store, but it turned out to be a second hand shop. Better still, they had a pair of jeans in my size.
Cheap jeans have been a small but important goal since I arrived in Germany. I didn´t bring any as I figured they would take too long to dry and weigh to much traveling. However, everyone in Germany is wearing jeans and I have been feelign like a sore thumb. Particularly in my black slacks which seems to draw assumptions that I am orthodox Jewish including at least one sing-song cat-call of "Juden! Juden" by some stupid little boys. Anyway, they are classic overdone European style jeans for a mere 2,50€! So I´ll see how many stares I draw wearing them in Köln.
How could it be better? Discovering the local Aldi for cheap ready to eat meals (did I mention these are like a German Trader Joe´s) and finding a Döner place open on Sunday. I´ll do a whole post about Döner-Kabap sometime.