Thursday, November 25, 2010

More Adventures in Germany

  1. Yesterday we went to see the Drachenfels. The Topologist mentioned that you could get there by train. What he meant was that you could take the train to Konigswinter and then walk 5 kilometers straight uphill in the cold to get to the ruins. This distinction was not made clear at the time that the trip was being planned. Unlike in the United States, apparently when a tourist attraction in Germany is closed and a maintenance crew is working on fixing it up for next season, you can still go there. You just need to walk around the crew and cut through the middle of the construction. However, all of the restaurants and the Reptile Zoo will be closed.

  2. When we stopped at the grocery store the other day, I decided to look for dishwasher salt. They sell the 1.2 kg box of the fancy, name brand dishwasher salt for €1.29 and the 2kg box of the store brand for €0.99. So I bought a box. (The 1.2kg of the name brand because I want only what is best for my handmade German dishwasher that is stainless steel on both the outside and the inside.) The only store at home that sells dishwasher salt charges $14 plus tax for the same exact item that I bought for €1.29. Since it's kind of heavy, I'm going to put it in my carry-on. We'll see what TSA thinks about a 1.2kg box of NaCl.

  3. After several days here I realized that there is probably an iPhone app that translates from German to English, so I checked the app store (while using the free wifi at Starbucks -- where the filterkaffee does not come in decaf, so I had to go with the grande decaf americano, as faux Italian is the lingua franca of coffee with free wifi) and bought a German dictionary app for $1.99. Now I have a better sense of what I am eating. Today I had goose stuffed with prunes with an apple-red-cabbage chutney and a potato dumpling. Also, today I splurged and used a little bit over 1MB of the 3G wireless; I bought the 50MB international data plan from AT&T before I left. This means that today I can go get coffee somewhere that doesn't sell Lebkuchen Kaffeefrappuchino to go with its free wifi.

  4. My email is piling up because all of my "personal" email accounts are on my phone, which can only do internet via 3G (limited because of AT&T's expensive international data plans) or wifi (limited by the number of Eierflip lattes one is willing to drink). I have my "work laptop" with me, and it can do ethernet at the Max Planck Institute -- which is where I am now, not attending the talk on graph homology that is happening at this very minute. Tea is soon, and I have to decide whether to drink the free filterkaffee with mediocre cookies here or whether I should go somewhere else for coffee and possibly find some sort of mohn pastry or something with pistazienmarzipan

  5. I might go to Cologne tomorrow. The Topologist says that it is easy to get there by train. I must ask a follow-up to see if there is also an uphill hike involved.