While waiting for the bus in front of the Cathedral, Claudia and I were privy to a special ritual performed in front of our eyes. A medium sized group had gathered around a mostly naked man who was chugging beer out of a pierced can. Then he started spinning with his head on the can, the can on the ground. The crowd counted to 30. THEN he ran to a lamp post, turned around and ran back, Without vomiting. According to tradition, if a man has not married before he turns 30, he is punished all day long on his birthday eve. The man was still in his underwear when a nun walked passed. She didn't look. She was the only one that didn't look. Happy 30th Birthday, mystery man.
I don't suppose I've mentioned our sleeping arrangement yet. What appears to be a king size bed turns out, on further inspection, to be two single bed frames smashed up beside each other. Eloise is still climbing into our bed at night, but that should now be revised to say she is now climbing into my single bed with me every night. I can't Skype with anyone without being told that I look stressed or tired, or whatever sounds more polite than truthfully telling me I look like shit. One point I should make though is that while you're all middle-of-the-day-pretty, I've just half heartedly washed my face and am ready for bed. Time changes suck for your appearance.
We've made our first major purchase, a stroller with a "Buggy Board" attached. We found out early on that with no car and no television, we're going to have to explore German culture on foot. My suburban children were not amused. Claudia could not make it more than 50 metres before slumping her shoulders and sticking her tongue out to pant that she's too tired to go on.
Münster is the bicycle capital of Germany, and please do not think they just made this up for bragging rights. In the local dialect bikes are called Leezen, and they are everywhere. The sidewalk is divided in half by coloured bricks, grey for pedestrians and red for the Leeze. The girls will shout "Off the bike lane!!" if they see our foot wander into the red zone, and it's a good thing that they do. I didn't think it was possible for a bike bell to sound so agressive, but it is. I give it another week before Aaron or I are hit.
I just realized that when I said we have no television, that was a lie. We have a television, it's just very German. The only thing that makes even remote sense are the commercials for phone sex. I don't need a translator for this, but dear God, are they ever explicit. I don't know how there is a market for porn in this country when all one needs to do is turn on the tv past 9 pm. That little black dot over her vagina is not distracting anyone from the Bertha sized breasts flailing around.
BTW, all Aaron and I do at night is have a beer and play Bananagrams. I'm way too tired/stressed/looking-like-shit to even consider doing what is being advertised at 5 Euros a minute.
p.s. More to come on the nuances of German living. For now, here are some pictures from around town.
We went to Cologne last weekend with our friends, Clare and Reid. Besides the obligatory whiff of the original eau de Cologne, we visited the Dom Cathedral - with thousands of others. The Dom is quite symbolic to many Germans, as it was one of the few remaining buildings left standing in Cologne after Allied air raids in WW2, and as such it is a huge tourist draw.
The highlight was the Archaeological Zone where we were able to see the nearly-2000 year old ruins of a Roman Palace. And then we went through the old sewer! It's about 100 metres long and dark and not so scary, but the kids got a kick out of it. Eloise climbed onto one of the exhibits and got a stern lecture in German along the lines of "You poor child, why don't your parents love you enough to pay closer attention to you?" Or something like that. This brought her to tears.
We bid adieu to our friends and came back to Münster to try and settle in. This includes asking German computer guys at the University why our internet isn't working and eating in cafeterias where the french fries are too cold for even your two year old to enjoy. This is what European dreams are made of.
Enough complaining, here are some pretty pictures for your enjoyment.
Oh the tears that were shed. We said "see you later" to friends and family Monday and started our trip over to Germany around 8 that evening. The plane ride(s) were pretty good, until Claudia puked. All over her new travel sweater. The same sweater that Aaron and I argued about letting her wear on the plane. I wanted her to, because it was cute. He said No, because she would get it messy. Now I owe him something so vile that I'm hesitant to write it online. Not only do I have to acknowledge that he was right, I must admit I was wrong. Dear Aaron, you were right, and I was wrong. I'm sorry.
It's been raining here in Münster off and on since we arrived, so we've mostly been unpacking and settling into our surprisingly nice apartment. We did take two overtired, jet-lagged children to a restaurant last night and then promptly left because people were staring. We then went to ANOTHER restaurant where the speciality was that they didn't serve any chicken, only pork. We had a very enjoyable dinner among the Tuesday Night German Drunks, and Cute Aged Germans who played cards in the corner the whole evening. No one cared that there were cranky kids about, they even liked the cranky kids. One, Alfred, taught Eloise to blow out a flame from his lighter. We plan to go back often. It's wonderfully sketchy.
So although we haven't seen much of the town yet, I can report that it is indeed very pretty. Even the packaging on the butter is pretty. See?
There is a bakery next door that sells the most amazing pastries to enjoy with my morning coffee, which I have on the terrace off of our bedroom. Now if only I could bring my friends here to enjoy it with me. Anyone? I'm going to miss you.