Things that I notice when I come visit the city of Karlsruhe.

There is the never ending construction still going on all over the city.

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This is the market square in the city centre where the construction is intense. The only good thing about the construction is the trains aren’t running where the work is being done. No chance of getting smushed there…

I always hear lots of the emergency vehicle sirens with their special hi-lo pitch that is distinctly European and much different to what I hear back home.

It does appear that Alfred Hitchcock could have filmed his cinema masterpiece “The Birds” right outside our hotel window. This is what I see every morning:

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This was pretty cool until I decided to open the window on our top floor hotel room. Suddenly I had a vision of a few hundred birds flying into the room. Didn’t want to end up like poor Tippi Hedren in the movie…

I always make a trip down to the local laundromat so on Monday I visited my favorite place, the Waschsalon down from our hotel. It’s a nice walk and I always meet interesting people there. And these days I don’t piss off the lady who runs the place. I always check the pockets of our clothes for tissue, etc. She, the one who rules, gave me really dirty looks when I somehow missed the tissue in the pocket of something the first time I was here. I still feel the eagle eye watching my every move. And even though I have been in this particular Waschsalon the last four trips I still get nervous. Well, you know. Everything is in German. I did okay with a little help from a nice gentleman that showed me how to divide up my detergent properly. I had forgotten that there are two divisions in the detergent container and stared at it for a few minutes before I decided I needed to enlist help. Not from the one who rules. It takes about an hour and one half to complete the wash and dry cycles so I brought along my new hobby. Crochet. Now don’t laugh- I am almost finished with my first attempt at a scarf though it is rather crooked since I forget to count my stitches in each row. My friend Ursula said to just call it a piece of modern art. I say it falls in the category of abstract. You have to use your imagination to realize it is a scarf. Kris says she will love it and wear it with pride.

Back to the Waschsalon story. I am sitting in my corner for about 10 minutes into my wash cycle and I notice a young man come in. He drops his backpack and stuff in front of the pay machine and stares at it as if it is an alien from another planet. Most of you know that my theory about talking to strangers is it can’t hurt to try so I thought to myself maybe he speaks English and I can help. You know, pay it forward for all the help I have received from kind locals in my travels. Well, the young man is French and all I can remember of my french class way back in 8th grade is “Merde.” The young man’s English is minimal so I pantomime what he needs to do using my few German words for the Waschsalon and English.

As the conversation came to an abrupt halt, it became clear that I needed to enlist the nice German gentleman’s help. Of course, the one who rules, watched all of us to make sure we didn’t leave any tissues in any pockets. Giggle.

The whole Waschsalon experience is always fun and I learned a lot from the young French man backpacking around Germany. My motto- don’t be afraid to talk to strangers in a foreign country. You just might enjoy yourself. And you will always learn something new.

Later that day after returning with my clean clothes to the hotel room, I walked down to the Ettlinger Tor shopping centre to find a SIM card for my phone. I also needed to visit the dm, it is a local store similar to Walgreens or CVS but much better with prices and selection. In the basement of the mall is REWE, a grocery store with good prices on classic/ naturelle water (you can also say no bubbles), a fantastic German yoghurt selection, and inexpensive German chocolate.

After I purchased what I needed I realized how hungry I was as it was 2pm and my breakfast was long gone. Last visit I had followed a group of students to the food court and discovered an Asian carryout with a daily deal on a noodle box for about 2 euros. Usually it is a nice mix of chicken and various vegetables. There are the various hot sauces and soy to add to your noodles on the counter so I purchased a takeout, stashed it my handy grocery bag I always pack when traveling and with all of my favorite German purchases I walked the many blocks back to the hotel.

When Kris and cohorts came back from their first day at Siemens Monday evening it was decided that room service sounded like the best option. We all give a thumbs up to the hamburger served at the Renaissance hotel in Karlsruhe. Almost as good as a burger from Texas.

The next day- Tuesday:

I decided to visit the grocery across the street. It is called the Scheck-In and I thought I might take pictures of some of the grocery items I always see there. After a few pictures into my visit I was told pictures were not allowed by a stern looking woman in the produce department. I think she is the daughter of she who rules at the Waschsalon. Her co-worker spoke English and gave me a tour though. Here are some of the pics I got away with:

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Beautiful tomatoes.

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Gorgeous berries and fresh rhubarb.

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Funky looking mushrooms that fascinated me. The guy in the produce department had fun practicing his English with me and told me how to cook them.

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Overall, the produce is just really nice.

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My lunch that I made for myself with my purchase from the Scheck-In. The people at the meat and cheese counters were very helpful and offered all kinds of stuff for me to sample. Good German Schinken and a local Käse makes a good sammy!

I didn’t do much else that afternoon except work on my modern art in the hotel room and read some of Stephen King’s “Doctor Sleep.”

That evening when the DOW/ Siemens gang returned from their work day we had a drink in the hotel bar and decided to head over to the Der Vogel for dinner. This is one of my favorite places in Karlsruhe not just because I am familiar with it from previous visits but because of the beer and local food items served. And during the day if I visit for lunch the friendly Stefan always greets me with a taste of the monthly beer style.

After we arrived at Der Vogel (Vogelbräu) and ordered our beer- bottom-fermented, malty, with a subtle smoke flavor,  our friend Eric (the favorite Dutchman) decided to try a hamburger from the menu. All of us- Kris, Eric, and me are always on the lookout for the best burger wherever we are visiting. Sadly to say, the burger did not meet the requirements for one of the best. Strange is how I would describe it and Eric would say more honestly (he is Dutch) that it was awful. I have to say that my noodles similar in taste to gnocchi covered with a mushroom sauce were delicious and I love the salads that are served in Germany. Kris ordered her usual schnitzel which is always tasty. A few of the other dishes ordered in our group were Käsespätzle (cheesy noodles), sausages with pretzels, and a daily special of turkey filet Hawaiian style. Everyone except for Eric enjoyed their meal.

Next we popped into an Irish pub, The Brayhead, situated next door to Der Vogel, to sample the beers that are brewed by the Der Vogel brewmaster. A stout and an ale were sampled by our group and we all agreed that the brews were quite tasty. Kris and I left the group at about 10pm as it was getting close to sleep time. Some of our group stayed behind and discovered to their great dismay at the end of the evening that the pub did not accept credit cards. Since none of them had any cash in hand one of them had to make a quick jog back to the hotel for euros. So for future reference, always carry some cash. I always do but alas I was asleep snug as a bug in a rug. All in all, it was a fun evening.

I think I have probably bored you enough for now so until next time-

Tschüss!

Till next time,

Karen