Saturday, June 12, 2010

Spargel, spargel, spargel

It means “asparagus”. Bonn is in high spargel season, and it's everywhere. My strongest first impression of Bonn comes from walking through the vegetable market hearing gravelly voices calling, “Spargel, spargel, zwei kilos drei euros!” The spargel that's available, by the way, is fat white asparagus, unlike any I've seen. Hannah claims that in the US white asparagus is generally considered a luxury. All of the restaurants are serving it; some are even announcing a “Spargelfest” and have their entire placards advertising dishes based on spargel (usually with hollandaise sauce). Hannah and I have invested in our own spargel and plan to cook it tomorrow. More on that when it happens.

First things first (or second, since I seem to have allotted first place to the supreme pleasure of the word “spargel”, spoken either aloud or internally). So, first things second, and we left for Germany late Thursday afternoon. All aboard Aer Lingus, where the uniforms are the color of clover and the planes are named after Irish saints (Hannah noticed this in Dublin). It was a relatively short flight from JFK to Dublin—only about five hours of air time. Once the taxiing and waiting on the runway time was factored in, about seven hours on the plane. So there wasn't a lot of time for sleeping. I watched Shutter Island up through dinnertime. (It is a good movie, which I would recommend for anyone who likes drama with a dose of suspense and just a tinge of horror, without really being horror-genre. Also for anyone who thinks that Leo DiCaprio and Ben Kingsley sounds like a good pairing. Once again Martin Scorcese proves his love for Leo.) After that, I tried sleeping for a while but was awake again after about a half-hour. Tuned in to “Big Bang Theory” (which I only ever watch on planes, but do so whenever possible) and “Mad Men” (which I had heard many good things about, but not seen before). Enough about in-flight entertainment…

How could we tell we were in Ireland from inside the Dublin airport? All the Jameson whiskey in all of the stores. One entire hallway was covered with it, the way one might see a string of windows showcasing diamond necklaces in the chic part of the mall. Also the fact that all of the clothes in the shops were green. Bright green. The same color as Aer Lingus uniforms. And we were reminded that Ireland uses the euro instead of the pound for currency, which was fortunate since we had euros on hand. Got some proper coffee. That was the reminder that we were in Europe, and happily were going to be in Europe for some time.

It wasn't a long layover in Dublin, and we were shortly on the way to Frankfurt. A couple of days ago, when I was checking the weather for packing purposes, I learned that this region gets a lot of rainfall in the summer, so it wasn't too much of a surprise when we got on the plane that it was announced thunderstorms in Frankfurt were delaying our departure. The pilot came on several times and explained how she was arguing with the Frankfurt airport control to push up our push off time as much as possible. This was great for two reasons. One, our pilot was a woman! Neither Hannah nor I recalled that happening in some time. (Additionally, I think I heard her say the co-pilot was a “Sir”. Sometimes it seems too bad we don't have knights in the US. Or royalty, for that matter, as I read a opinion columnist recently suggesting we have a titular king and queen who could take care of the photo-ops while the president takes care of actually fixing things. But I digress…) Two, our pilot was totally taking on the entire Frankfurt air system! Well, that's what it sounded like to us, anyway. We might have been a bit punchy at that point. I spent most of the time between landing and taking off in Dublin pestering Hannah with my chipperness, and promptly slept over all of England and France (and Belgium, perhaps?).

The Frankfurt airport has a train station attached, so after some wandering about and getting (English) directions from a friendly official, we ended up at the Fernbahnhof with tickets to Bonn. The train was punctual, and once we got on, we discovered it was stuffy and un-airconditioned. This would have been much less tolerable had there not been a team of young, drunk, male athletes who sang the entire trip. The times they sang in English was to wish happy birthday (twice) to their teammate Markos, and when they broke into John Denver's “Country Roads, Take Me Home” (which was a little surreal). Most of their singing was words they made up to short tunes they knew. Most memorable was when a women's soccer team boarded the train and the guys sang “Jetzt kommen die Frauen! Oh oh-oh-oh-oh!” The two teams proceeded to have singing competitions at each other. The men's team won, I think, but they also failed to capture as much attention from the women as they would have liked.

Once we got off the train, we only took a couple of wrong turns in getting to the apartment where we're staying. Our apartment is just north of the Marktplatz, which is full of fruit and vegetable stands. There is a large pedestrian section of town with cobbled roads lined with all sorts of shops and biergartens. There will be more to tell about the town once we've seen more and gotten more familiar with it. But I just want you to know, we have great access to a lot of spargel merchants.

1 comment:

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