Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mühlheim, Germany (part 2)

Around 11am I was heading back to the bus stop from the Mühlheim market to go back to the hotel when I saw a brewhouse. A man was sweeping up inside, Lynyrd Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama was on the radio - in English. I later learned most German radio is American music, in English, because it is very popular. With my phrasebook I asked if they were open and he said yes. I sat down and ordered a beer.

It was here I first noticed a trend that continued throughout Germany - whenever you enter somewhere you greet the entire bar.  "'Morgen!" was said so many times that I actually kind of miss it. For the most part, I kept silent as I observed and customers would come in with loud, boisterous stories that obviously expected responses at certain points. I must have seemed very rude as I kind of stared on, interested in the mannerisms but unresponsive because I had no clue.

After two beers here (the bartender was awkward and as I learned later, from Greece so he also struggled with German already) I hopped on a bus. Hello German Drama.

I sat in the front seat and the bus driver started chatting with me. He learned I did not speak German, and he did not speak any English. I got on a little bit with my phrasebook, "I'm having a good time," "I like the beer," and so on. Ten minutes later I went to leave the bus. He stopped me and I realized he was trying to ask me to meet him out later.

I attempted to politely decline but I think he took it as me misunderstanding his question. After three attempts I said maybe, but had no intention of going. Later on, at our meeting time, even if I had intended on going I would have been unable due to intox.

I got off the bus and headed to the local bar across from the hotel. The bartender looked like Billy Idol but was incredibly friendly. Again, no one spoke English. Two other patrons walked in, Hans, and another gentleman who spoke some English. I spent the afternoon joking and chatting with them - such a good time that Hans gave me his e-mail address and Billy Idol gave me the bar address to mail pictures to. After the English speaking gentleman helped me with the menu, I bought him a beer, which cost a whopping 1Euro. He said doing that in Germany is called "inviting someone for a drink".

Hans bought me a shot of Italian vodka and it was all downhill from there.

The English speaking man left to go to a bar next door, one that allowed smoking. Another thing I picked up was that many Germans smoke, "about 50%," according to the man at the bar. They sell cigarettes in vending machines on the road. I agreed to meet him there after I finished my drink. I finished my beer, left, and although it was only about 20 minutes later, he was already gone. So I met Mr. Casanova.

Casanova smelled good, was a smooth talker, and was dressed well. He bought me a shot within five minutes of my arrival. Soon I learned he had five kids - and he was young! I guess his Casanova skills worked well on others, too. I got a beer, and talked to him and all of his friends, all of whom were about my age. But they left early, which is probably a good thing, as it forced me to stop drinking for the day.

A hallway of mirrors and doors where, after you've had as many drinks as I had, is difficult to find the bathroom.

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