One thing I told my students last year was they’d be really confused sometimes while travelling. This was one of my “mommy lectures” – inspired by one of my students’ memoirs about getting off a bus at the wrong time. He was on a MegaBus to Penn State and didn’t know the Grand Old State stop consisted of a pit stop at the local Wal-Mart. He was expecting the columns of Old Main and the roar of the fight song. Instead he got a drop-off on the side of the road and a long walk back to campus.
I’ve been on subways in many cities. The common denominator among them: you buy a ticket or card of some sort, then stick the ticket or slide the card at a turnstile. Not in Germany. You just buy a ticket and get on the train. No turnstile. It’s just you and the honor system. It’s just you and the honor system until the uniform brigade shows up in your subway car and asks to see your ticket. Pat and I saw one lady get busted. I think they wrote her a ticket. Sounds like a reality show in the making: U-Bahn-ers Gone Rogue…. in dirndls.
Speaking of the U-Bahn (subway), there was one station we couldn’t get out of. Sure, I’ve been confused inside many subway stations. Sometimes the underground mazes go on forever. But Pat and I just wanted to get out. We found the Ausgang (exit) sign and started walking. We ended up near a bunch of S-Bahn (above ground) train tracks. No exit in sight. We finally found an exit at the very back of the station. Of course this was near the parking lot of a grocery store we’d been looking for all day. A store called Kauf-something. And – that grocery store was still nowhere to be found (sign but no store). At that point we just had to figure out how to get back to the hotel and Pat just had to pee in the bushes.
We’ve seen lots of cars on the autobahn that you don’t see at home: the Frenchie cars like Citroen, Renault, and Peugeot. For some reason, the Peugeot logo looks like an awkward lion walking like Frankenstein. Of course there are loads of Mercedes, Audis, Porsches, and BMWs. If I were someone who really cared about cars I’d be in a constant state of drool. Me? I see an American car with some odd name and say “A Chevy Matiz?! A Ford Mondeo? Where in hell did they come from? Where are all the Honda Accords?” Well, I can tell you. They ain’t on the autobahn.
As we are driving we are listening to lots of German radio. I do remember this from when I lived here: lots of American music mixed with German stuff. And for some unknown reason, they love them some Shania Twain. Don’t get me wrong. I love me some Shania Twain too, but it’s just odd. Perhaps it’s because she owns a chunk of Switzerland and it’s just next door?
Well, at least today I didn’t use the men’s bathroom. Man, I feel like a woman.