Tourist!

Tourist selfie by Andreas in front of one of Bremerhaven’s many depressing monuments.20180716_100100

My Uncle refers to seasonal visitors as ‘Tourons’. I have been both a tourist and have lived in a tourist town. I don’t like either. I dislike the idea of standing out as someone who doesn’t belong and will be leaving soon. When I lived in a beach town we wrinkled our noses when we used this word.

When I’m in a new place I do my best (which is hard if you know me) not to stand out. I like to walk around as if I’ve always lived there. I’m uncomfortable as a stranger. Here, in Germany I could maybe pass as German, I’m sure there are some other Gingers around here somewhere? When I open my mouth however, I’m a goner. Even if I can say the word or sentence I need, the accent is way way off. Thus, I’ve been laying low and feeling self-conscious since we arrived.

This weekend Andreas’ parents visited from Neustadt, Germany which is east of here by about four hours. (Andreas says there are at least twenty towns in Germany with this name??) Even though they are German this town is new for them too. Since Andreas and I are the “locals” it was our job to show them around and find fun things to do. This forced us all to embrace being tourists.

Mutti knitting socks for Molly.20180714_20333020180715_111144Andreas and Vati catch up on Andreas’ latest research and photos.20180714_210628

Christa AKA Mutti loves adventure, travel and exercise, she is also an upcycling queen. Lothar AKA Vati keeps up pretty well. They’re in great shape at eighty-two and eighty-four. During the weekend we walked the few blocks to the water from our apartment and visited the Klimahaus (Climate Museum). https://www.klimahaus-bremerhaven.de/  At one point we were looking at another long set of stairs in the museum and I was concerned that they might be tired. I asked Christa if maybe Andreas should check things out and report back. She looked at me very concerned and said, “Do you have some trouble with the stairs?”……no ma’am, I’ll go first. Ha-ha

A brave Mutti walks above the fish.20180714_152337In the Heaven room20180714_153028

The view from the top of the museum.20180714_154801

The next day we joined a harbor cruise on the Weser Estuary to see life from the other side of the dike. In this town that means a tour of container ships and giant cranes. Yup, luckily, I couldn’t understand anything the tour guide guy was babbling on about and I had fun playing with my camera until the battery died.

IMG_1852Seasoned sailorsIMG_1873

That evening we went to our favorite (so far) local Irish bar to watch the last game of the World Cup. Nice job France and Pussy Riot! A few beers later and we were holding on to each other giggling down the street.

Vati hoping France wins20180715_184240

All in all, a very fun, touristy time with lovely people. I need to relax a little and let the good times roll, I’m going to be the tourist over and over again this year.

Silly people in the sun after a fun night.20180715_194032

Lucky, grateful and unpacked

Home base is a vital bit of the human experience. It feels and looks different to everyone on the planet. Without a base to relax in and turn off the outside noise, “being” can be stressful. Andreas and I were feeling this stress last week. We did a lot of preonline apartment research and we thought we had a place before we moved to Germany but the owner flaked. When we arrived last week, we found a good place with a view of the water in a beautiful building and thought, OK, this is the place. However, the rental company we were dealing with promised it to another person while we were looking at it. It took them two days of scheduling meetings to tell us this. The other apartments we looked at were tired, beat up and or in the middle of a rehab. Pergo is the flooring of choice for a quick rehab here. Pergo everywhere. Most places smelled funny or of smoke.

Andreas checking room dimensions with a nice Syrian kid who was showing us the apartment with the water view.20180711_102712-01

Last Thursday, the day we were to leave the Airbnb and were getting a little freaked out about the prospect of walking around Bremerhaven with our gear and bikes, we made an appointment to see a place around the corner. The outside of the building wasn’t beautiful and we were still crossing our fingers for the water view place.

A view from our balcony.20180710_171630-01.jpeg

“Don’t agree to anything,” I told Andreas, “Even if it’s good.” The owners of the apartment were very nice, a graphic design artist and an architect. Their children are product designers. The place was built in 1957, not much escaped bombing in this town during the second world war. The apartment is furnished, surprise, and not just “furnished” some of furniture is really well made. There is a small washing machine which is a HUGE plus. Just about everything we needed to move in was there. We are the first people to rent the place since the architect’s mother lived there.

Andreas figuring out the new kitchen making Sunday pancakes.20180708_083457-01.jpeg

The apartment is big. Two good size bedrooms, a living and dining room, kitchen, bathroom and a small balcony.

The living room.20180710_164904-01.jpeg

The bedroom had to be a color photo because I wanted to show the color of the wood. The landlords have since brought us another mattress.20180711_093412-01.jpeg

It’s grander than anything we were expecting to rent. There is also some basement space to store bikes. We are above a Turkish/ Italian restaurant that has closed for vacation until the end of August. Across the cobblestone street is China Restaurant est. 1963. We are a block away from the main shopping area and walking distance to the water and the city’s museums. While we were checking it out and getting to know the landlords I slipped Andreas a note saying, please say yes to this place, please!

It’s been a week since we were handed the keys. We found Ikea and I built a guest bed without too much cussing.

Guest room with the new Ikea bed20180710_172044-01

Very tired me after building the Ikea bed.20180706_190146-01

We’ve been picking up a few other things here and there but it’s been minimal. I don’t know what we would have done or how we would have afforded to furnish a place. We are learning the apartment’s tricks and nuances, have claimed our individual work spaces and found a decent radio station. The neighbor below is elderly and very nice and the neighbors above have a new baby and a two-year-old named Conan with Squiggy hair.

It’s becoming home base. It feels safe, comfortable and there’s plenty of privacy. We feel incredibly lucky and are very aware how first world our stressors, problems and luck are.

Ich bin ein Ausländer in Fishtown.

Leaving Philadelphia last Sunday around 8:30pm east coast time, we arrived at our Airbnb in Bremerhaven, Germany twenty-two hours later. We flew first to Hamburg via Iceland and Denmark then onto two trains to Bremerhaven. We were supposed to fly direct from Iceland to Hamburg, but that flight was canceled. On our new boarding passes we noticed that we were to be seated in row three on the plane connecting Copenhagen to Hamburg. Oh boy, a first-class upgrade to compensate for a cancelled flight and two hours on hold with Iceland Air?! Nope, no first class on a small, back loading, screaming-baby-having, propeller plane. Silly us.

Andreas chose an Airbnb in the neighborhood where he was hoping to find an apartment. It was cohabited by three students which turned into seven? on game night. Game night happened on their tiny kitchen table Tuesday night. We were invited but declined. They laughed non-stop until 12:30 am when they started blowing up an air mattress. “Is this too loud,” they asked sleep deprived me stepping over them to get to the bathroom, while they, seated at the table, were all brushing their teeth simultaneously. “Everything is too loud,” I said with a smile as nicely as I could since one of them will be working at the same place as Andreas.

Andreas at the kitchen table in our Airbnb20180704_133440

We spent most of our week apartment hunting in the area and then started looking further out considering bicycling distance. Andreas decided that we needed bikes right away and finally settled on a decent rebuilt pair from a nice Ukrainian dude he met on eBay. After seeing some pretty beat up apartments we lucked upon a wonderful flat (more about it later) and spent Friday and Saturday collecting essentials. By the way, even though they SAY they deliver, the Ikea in Bremerhaven does NOT. Also, shopping with someone who doesn’t like things made out of plastic is no fun in that store. Shopping at the farmer’s market went a little better the next day. Andreas gave me the job of keeping him from buying too much, I failed and we loaded two heavy backpacks for the bike ride home. Andreas also likes to flirt with older saleswomen and we got some incredible deals in a local department store thanks to his charming self.

Bikes parked in our Airbnb room20180704_221946

Today, Sunday, the stores are closed and we’re trying to take it easy. We went for a windy bike ride to the Weser Estuary and to our local café where we spent too much on a coffee in search of Wi-Fi. Our proudest moment of the day was figuring out the washing machine with all of the buttons and instructions in German. I am incredibly grateful to be on this adventure with Andreas who is fluent in the language and the culture and is very patient with my bewildered assimilation.

WiFi and coffee. What’s up with the tiny coffee cups, Germany?20180708_132056   Biking along the estuary on a Sunday with the other tourists.20180708_114647   The shopping center near our apartment on a Sunday when every thing is closed20180708_164419

 

 

Exploding Whale Beach

Searching for a place to sleep on the Oregon Coast, Andreas discovered Exploding Whale Beach Camp as an Airbnb destination a few weeks ago. He was not going to show me at first, because he thought it was a strange listing. [He must not know me very well yet.] Yes, a whale was exploded violently :

boom

Our “room” was a 1965 Airstream trailer parked a block or so from the dunes. The walk to the beach was an adventure of its own and a little tricky to find. Our host told us to look for a small A-frame house across from a geodesic dome to find a Hobbit trail. Okay…Hobbit trail, what does this look like?

We walked up and down the street for a few minutes before we noticed a small dark hole in the bushes. The bushes stretched for a quarter of a mile through a hollow depression between ridges of dunes before reaching the beach. Here and there the trail descended sharply into a very dark, small passageway a couple of feet wide and five feet tall at the highest. Passing a snakey looking marsh, we climbed the last sandy dune before descending onto the beach littered with driftwood of all shapes and sizes.

A few kite flyers and dog walkers inhabited the wide, windy, beach. We discovered a Velella Velella which we were able to identify thanks to my smart Facebook friends who quickly warned us not to touch it, because it looked like a poisonous jellyfish called a”Portuguese man o’war.”

sea creature

Returning home after a few hours, we pushed back through the Hobbit Trail to the Airstream for a poorly planned dinner of bread, salami and cheese. We did remember a bottle of wine and wine glasses, though so all was well. We spent a peaceful night falling asleep to a light rain dancing on the metal roof.

IMG_1702

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/19702554

“Imagine,” a Corvallis coffee shop.

Fake brick wall (or is it?), wooden floors and an assortment of comfortable chairs. Chair twins are carefully placed on opposite sides of the room for that “balanced” look.

The man across from me has lips I want to draw and a Superman chin.

The woman next to him, Indian?, has perfectly applied cat eye makeup.

An older man with a fancy, twist of a man bun sits next to me, although the room has plenty of unoccupied seats, making me nervous and more comfortable at the same time. “Yes, I’m dressed!,” he says exasperated to his phone, “I’m having coffee, aren’t I?”

The coffee is good, maybe even a little richer than that. Too many fancy choices so I mix them together, as I do with most food/ drink stuffs. Taste the rainbow.

I’ve been sitting here over caffeinated for a long time. I’d like to get up, move about or leave, but being part of the moment and enjoying this space with its college paintings and beautiful women unobserved is holding me in place. Relax..you’re on vacation.. is this what people do?

Also, Andreas just opened a book.

Imagine coffee shop Corvallis

I