(Written 10/14/2016) My plan today was/is to take it a little bit easier. The Team USA dinner was last night, and I am feeling it.
It was great to see my mom “in her element,” so to speak. People knew her. She knew people. They talked about fencing and other things. I ate some kind of fish called “Dorscht,” which tasted fresh, and chicken, which tasted like fish. I also had some very good scwarzbier and some less good weissbier. One had notes of coffee and chocolate. The other had notes of cough syrup and licorice.
This morning I hit a few shops to get things for the kids that I would be able to pack into my suitcase. Then I spent far too long looking for a bakery where I could sit down and write this.
I am going to try to find some time to reflect today. Travel generates ideas. Not all of them have to do with the trip itself. There are some things I think Germany does well, but I thought that before I traveled here (e.g. a minimum wage that is a living wage). There are some smaller cultural differences that I have noticed, but deserve little more than a mention.
Eye contact: In the states, it is not “weird” to make eye contact with someone on the street. This is sometimes followed by a nod, which says, “I see you, and neither one of us is going to mug each other.” In Germany, nobody has made eye contact with me when I have passed them.
Blowing noses: People here blow their noses like my mom. I got made fun of when I was a kid of blowing my nose in such a way that you could hear it. It was a small horn sound. The tendency in the States is to do non-vocalized nose-blowing. The reverse is true here.
Sex: Germany is more open about sex than we are in the states. In many cases this means cruder, but there is also something about this sexual openness that I respect. I’m not saying we should stock dildo-shaped lollipops in our Hallmark stores, but Germany does have a lower rate of teen pregnancy than we do in the U.S. So they are doing something right.
Graffiti: There is a lot of it. I saw it in Berlin. I see it in Stralsund. I wonder why that is.
Police: I have seen two police officers since I have been here. Three if you count customs. I wonder what the crime rates are.
Time-warp: People read newspapers here. There are small bookstores. In some ways, traveling here has been like stepping into a version of the U.S. where the Internet is just not as prominent.
Mom competes tomorrow.