***I tried to post this yesterday, but the Internet, she hates me. Fingers crossed.***
I’m at the hotel here in Munich, and I have no Internet connection. Hopefully, I can post this at some point.
Today, I managed to haul my two huge suitcases (what was I thinking again?) to the Book Fair and to the dtv stand where I had one last interview. It was with Daisuki, a German manga magazine, and I had the pleasure of spending an hour with Anne and Bella, answering their wonderful questions on love, friendship, Gemma & Co., the color pink, manga, comics, music, and lots of other stuff. There was a lot of laughing. They apologized for their tape recorder, which they said was ancient. I apologized in advance for the fact that I tend to talk a lot, in a non-linear fashion, and very, very fast. Long story short: I used up their tape halfway through the interview. But we had fun, and I promised to answer the other questions by email so poor Anne wouldn’t get a hand cramp trying to follow my motormouth.
After that, Thomas Zirnbauer—the Bavarian Knight in Shining Armor of dtv™–insisted on pulling one of my suitcases everywhere we went, even though he had his own, because this is how he rolls. (no pun intended.) So Thomas continued to spoil me and we went to the train station, where you will be pleased to hear that I bought shampoo. Huzzah!
We settle into our seats in an actual compartment with a sliding door—the kind that say, “Hey! You’re in Europe!” I had just finished a horror short story before I left New York that involves train travel in Europe (that’s not the horror part, although I have some stories…), so it was really cool to sit in the compartment and think, Huh, I just wrote about this. The scenery was beautiful. Rolling green hills. Red-roofed houses dotting the countryside. Gothic spires jutting up like swords from the tops of old churches. Vineyards sloping down the hills to the south. Rivers cutting through. And then the more modern influence as we approached Munich. I wanted to take pictures, but sadly, I discovered that although I remembered to bring my charger for the camera battery, the European adapter I bought for my computer plug doesn’t work for anything else. Can’t my adapter, um, adapt? So now I have a camera with an ailing battery and no way to charge it. Argh. I’ll have to see if there’s a place to buy an adapter somewhere.
Thomas had a very nice archeology book on an important battle that took place between the Romans and the Germanic tribes roughly two thousand years ago. He told me about the battle, about the myths surrounding it, and about how the archeologists have had very little actual evidence to go on in reconstructing the truth of it. What can I say? He’s a gentleman and a scholar. Sometimes I like to pretend that Thomas is my own personal secret service officer because it feels a little that way, though I haven’t asked him if he would be willing to take a bullet for me. I have the idea the answer is no. But it will a very polite no.
Once I got to my hotel in Munich, I went for dinner at a traditional Bavarian restaurant down the street. Using my horrible German (and relying on the waitress’s much better English and sense of pity) I got a booth. “Today is a special day in Bavaria,” the waitress tells me. “We have a special Bavarian dish. Goose with dumplings and cabbage.” She seems very proud, and I can tell it’s a really special meal, and even though the many offerings of fried potatoes are calling my name, I decide that I’m in Bavaria and I am going to eat like a Bavarian. Bring on the special! Now, the thing is, goose is a lot like duck, and I don’t really like duck. Also, I don’t really like dumplings. Or pickled cabbage. I mean, I don’t hate them, but they’re not my first choice. But I don’t want to disappoint the waitress with my silly American ordering, and I can’t stop thinking, “But you’re in Bavaria, woman! Go for it!”
Once I get past the digging under the roasted skin aspect of it, the goose is quite good. The dumplings are tasty, and if I don’t think about their dumplingness, I’m good. (It’s a texture thing.) The pickled cabbage is excellent. An older couple comes in, and we share a table because the place is packed. I blush with embarrassment, because, once again, I don’t know the language. I smile, pull out my phrase book, and say, “I’m sorry, I don’t speak German” in the worst German probably ever. But astonishingly, they thank me for trying. They are lawyers who are originally from Italy but who have lived in Germany for nearly thirty years. They are also accomplished musicians and teachers as well, and we find some common ground in music. (I mention that I am traveling on to Leipzig, which is where Bach lived—my mother is a Bach freak—and they talk about its world-famous orchestra.)
Then Claudia says, “Today is a special day. It is the Bavarian equivalent of your Thanksgiving.” Ahhh! “That is why everyone is out with their families.” The week is called Kirche-vie (sp? I’m guessing…), which literally translated means, “Church blessing.” I just happen to be in Bavaria during Bavarian Thanksgiving. Cool. Claudia and her husband, whose name, I believe, was Falco (unless I am confusing him with a German New Wave novelty singer of the 1980’s—“Don’t turn around/uh-oh/Der Kommissar’s in town/Uh-OH!”), help me with my German during our shared meal. Falco mostly laughs at me, as well he should. They are very interested in our election. EVERYONE is interested in our election; I am asked about it everywhere I go. And I can only think of what Eddie Izzard said when I saw him in concert this summer: “Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to travel again, America? To have the world say, ‘We’ve missed you. Welcome back.’”
We share dessert—Apfelkerchul—which consists of baked apples encased in fried dough sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and topped with ice cream that I swear is about 110% cream. Like it should be a Class C misdemeanor at the very least. I resist the urge to lick the plate. Claudia and Falco have another engagement, and so we say Auf Wiedersehen and I walk back to my hotel.
But I had wanted to tell you about the manga kids. Apparently, if you dress up as manga characters, you can get into the book fair for free. So there were tons of teens walking around dressed as their favorite manga characters, and I saw what I would call steampunk kids walking around, too. Lots of elaborate costumes. I did manage a few pics before my camera went kaput. When I get back to NYC, I hope to upload them with a link for you.
I’d best get to bed. I have to get up at the insane hour of 6:00 a.m. for two school visits, a lunch, and a reading, and I don’t want to be a total zombie.