Sunday, October 25, 2015

EuroTrip 2015: Wedding (Part 4 of 5)

We essentially planned our entire trip to Europe around this wedding in Hanover on August 15.  We knew where we wanted to go in Germany, it was just a matter of putting them in order.  It was really just a game of Musical Destinations!

To get from the reunion destination to wedding location we took a ridiculously cheap train ride, like 15 Euros, half way across the country.  The train system in Germany is very perplexing to me.  First of all, everybody assumes "German efficiency" means trains run exactly on time and have razor sharp precision.  This is completely false, as out of the 9 trains I took during my 2 weeks the majority were late.  This makes connecting trains a stressful endeavor!  I'm impressed how well Germany has sold that lie to the world, because it is so pervasive and so false.

The second perplexing thing is the pricing system.  If you book well in advance prices are quite affordable.  Most trains that I took, whether the trip lasted one hour or five hours long, cost 19 Euros.  This locked me into specific trains at exact ("exact") times, which was not ideal, but the alternative was to wait until the day and pay 3 to 5 times more than that.  With $1 Aussie dollar buying a measly 65 Euro cents I was definitely budgetarily inclined whenever possible.

Only about half of the reunion guests were invited to the wedding, so our motley hungover crew set sail on our 3 hour journey hoping for some respite for our livers.  As if that stood a chance of happening.


Without saying a word this picture should be viewed in a British accent
and include the word 'dahling'
Germany's "BYOB anytime, anywhere" policy extends to trains, and when a party-bound group of fellow passengers offered to sell us some of their swill for cheap we could not pass up the opportunity.  We had a gay old time!

Literally.
Why yes, those are fully functioning zippered jeans.
The "wedding" was in fact a whole weekend of events.  The first being a Friday night backyard BBQ at the family home of the groom, Clemens.  We had just enough time after our low brow public transport booze cruise to get pretty for our high class backyard party.

I just wanted to showcase my fabulous romper here.
Looks awesome but is a bitch to go pee.
When the taxi dropped us off at the address we thought it was a bit peculiar that we were getting dropped off at an apartment block.  Turns out that whole apartment block was their house!  Niiiice.


Bride to the left, MC Balls to the right
We took it pretty easy at the BBQ.  We were more interested in the (catered!) gourmet burgers and cheese platter than free flowing booze because we had to save ourselves for the main event the next day.


The ceremony was all in German except for a part to say "Sorry, folks, this will all be in German", so not much to report there.

By various modes of transport we got from the church to the *daytime* reception venue.



Which just happened to be the family home - nay, estate - of the bride, Caecilie.




It was very lovely and fancy and very hot!  Seriously, I don't remember being this hot, ever.  And I live in Australia!  It could just be that I've forgotten what summer in Australia feels like, but at least we have air conditioning in Australia.  Nowhere in Germany does, which amplifies the heat.  OMG I thought I was going to die!

It was a lovely backyard garden party featuring the same catering staff as the night before.  These people are fancy enough to have waitstaff on speed dial!  Let me tell you what, this differs from the cold cut platter weddings of my homeland.  Verrrry different world.  I almost missed being in this picture because I was away at the dessert house.  A house!  For just desserts.

Edinburgh crew
When I said daytime reception venue that did imply there was, in fact, a separate *nighttime* reception venue.



This was the first wedding event not held on family real estate!  It was at a really nifty venue that was formerly a horse stable. 

I don't know if this is a German thing or a rich people thing or what, but I was impressed.  A few months before the wedding the bride's sister emailed us and asked us to make a contribution to the "wedding magazine" they were hiring a graphic designer to make.  The topic, we were told, was "Travel & Food" (as we would hear time and time again during the all-in-Germany speeches, reisen und speisen) but could be about anything really.  The final result blew all my expectations out of the water:


This was not a "magazine" this was a legit magazine!  Really, really well done.  Professional all the way.  This is my contribution to the magazine, and though it does not entirely meet the stated theme I am so ridiculously proud of it!

All Das Germans dress identical
I have less than zero graphic design skills (fun fact: Graphic Design is the only class in college that ever made me cry), so the fact that I can copy an H&M ad so precisely is a miracle onto itself.  The fact that I made it in Microsoft freaking Word is an even greater triumph, and it only took me 1.5 hours to complete (most of which was spent searching Google Images for the most perfect "checkered purple shirt" I could find)!  It is really cute, funny and inside joke-y, which I shan't bore you with the details, but rest assured I nailed it!  My ad got a full page and a mention on the front cover.  Perhaps I am in the wrong profession?

After the speeches and dinner one of my favorite wedding activities commenced:

Before
After
Photo booth!  After a few drinky drinks these get so much more fun than they were at the mall in junior high school (which, even then, was super fun).  Especially when there are props!




If Martin and I ever get married someone ensure that this photo is prominently displayed at the wedding:


Most of all at weddings, more than photo booths or magazines, I love tasty drunk food.  Tasty, classy, drunk food!


Nothing but the best for us!


This was the fifteenth consecutive night of drinking for me.  More than two solid weeks!  I'm pretty sure that's never happened before and god help me it won't ever happen again.  After 2 nights of wedding festivities, 4 nights of reunion, 2 nights with Stefan & Sascha, 1 night of other wedding festivities and 6 nights of family time my liver was crying uncle.  No more booze!  Time to dry out!

Which was a.o.k. by me because I had some serious traveling to undertake.

Off to Deutsche Bahn for more delayed trains and on to more fabulous destinations!



Sunday, October 4, 2015

EuroTrip 2015: Edinburgh Reunion (Part 3 of 5)

Again I remind you it's been five years (half a decade!) since we started our Masters degrees in Edinburgh.  Five is a nice round number to have a reunion with all the fab people we became friends with, who I affectionately call Das German Friends.

For some reason most of Martin's classmates, at least the fun ones we cared to hang out with, were German.  There are a few notable exceptions, but the sheer number of fun Germans in his class will keep our social calendar occupied for the rest of our lives.

A disproportionate number of Das Germans Friends live in Cologne and Dusseldorf in the far west of the country, so naturally that is where we based our reunion activities.

And by "activities" I mean this:




My god can these Germans (and American, Dutch and Belgian as pictured above) drink.  It doesn't help our case that, on average, they are 5 years younger than us.  So when you think about it, we were that age when we lived in Edinburgh, and they were far younger.  But none of us can party like we used to!  Martin and I have the distinct pleasure of being over 30 while trying to keep up with these whipper snappers.

Though drinking, eating, drinking and more drinking were the main activities planned for the reunion we did get to see a bit of Cologne and Dusseldorf.  We saw the Cologne Dome, which is the big, ornate cathedral that has been under construction in some capacity for several hundred years:




It was the tallest building in the world for 4 years in the 1880's.  See, we learned stuff, we did more than drink!

Actually I just learned that off Wikipedia now and we pretty much did nothing but drink at the reunion.

This is Sabrina (napping, not passed out).
You will see more of her in the future.
Mostly we just walked around town, drink in hand, looking for our next beer garden but we did see a fair bit of the city along the way.  Pro tip: both Cologne and Dusseldorf aren't particularly scenic from a tourist perspective.  Like everywhere in Germany they got the shit bombed out of them in WWII (rightfully so), but some places have done a better job than others of rebuilding.  While these cities sound like awesome places to live they shouldn't be on your Must See travel itinerary of Germany.

Speaking of bombs, did you know that to this day they find un-detonated bombs from WWII and have to evacuate the area while a bomb squad defuses it?  I am fascinated by this!  I was going on and on about how this just happened in London, and Sabrina informed me she has had to be evacuated twice in the last few years for the exact same purpose!

A) How crappy were these bombs that they never exploded?!  Did they get them from a cereal box?  B) How has nobody noticed them sitting there for the past 70 years?!  These aren't in rural areas, these are major population centers where they're finding them.  The older I get the more I am digging WWII history, and this absolutely insane factoid stokes my interest in this fascinating time even more.  I can't help but wonder C) What happens if one of those ancient, undetected bombs actually does go off today?

We had a super fun pool party day planned at one of our friends house.  Well, it was his parents house...remember they are still "youths".  In addition to being young [and fun] our friends are, shall we say, not poor.  All it took to derail our best laid plans was one dead grandma, then the pool party was off.  Waaaaaaaah!

It was hotter than Hades in Germany that week so we needed a replacement waterside activity.  Dusseldorf is conveniently located on the Rhine river, so that was our postmortem Plan B.


Let's see, how do I put this in a non-snotty way?  Coming from Australia, home of world class beaches, the bank of the Rhine river was, umm, an adjustment.

Yes, an adjustment.  That's what this is:


The Rhine is a major shipping route so there were cargo ships going in both directions the whole afternoon.  Lovely ambiance!

This being Germany, we could drink as much as we want publicly and not get hassled by the fuzz.  Fancy beaches be damned, all we were looking for was a cool place near a body of water to drink, cool off and continue our shenanigans.


This was the largest gathering of Edinburgh alumni that we've had, and if I'm honest it will probably be the biggest one there ever will be.  People grow up, obligations increase, travel priorities shift.  We all know we can't completely relive our glory days in Edinburgh.

That's a sad thought, but I guess that's why you should enjoy things as they are happening!