Category Archives: Germany

SUMMARY / STATISTICS for Africa

I was very well prepared for this trip and I used every item I brought with me with the exception of various medication, luckily I didn’t get sick. In Ethiopia there was one night I befriended the porcelain throne because of a bad street samosa, and two nights of extreme tissue usage due to a cold, but other than that I was lucky. Here’s a list of things that I found the most useful and another of items I should have brought.

 

 

MOST USEFUL:

 

 

– Head torch – no doubt about it
– Deuce wrist watch – a spontaneous $20 airport purchase, a waterproof rubber watch
– silk liner – used instead of the sleeping bag when it was warm, and as bug protection in hotels
– clothing line
– alarm clock (many early starts)
– ziploc bags – for anything from protecting my passport from water to bagging snacks to preventing soap leakage etc
– travel towel – lightweight, quick dry
– adapters – my shitty camera needed daily charging
– a hat and sun glasses
– baby wipes and hand sanitizer – especially in Ethiopia where you eat with your hands but don’t get napkins (or toilet paper)
– cheap sowing kit – surprise success for more people than just me

 

 

WHAT I SHOULD HAVE BROUGHT:

 

– binoculars – I forgot the small pair I have and really needed it for the game drives

– rubber bands – no particular reason, just useful to have
– a coat hanger – maybe if foldable ones exist? For drying individual clothes/towels in the tent overnight
– string – again, just a good thing to have. My zipper pulls broke, and I could have used the string also to tie my mosquito net to ceilings (with tape)
– many more extra batteries – the head torch being the main offender
– pocket knife – for the bottle opener and a tiny screwdriver
– small tupperware container – to keep soft fruit from spoiling on days I carried it in my bag
– tote bag – to only take the items I really needed into the shower/tent/laundromat etc.

 

 

ITEMS I BOUGHT ON THIS TRIP:

 

– sarong – for the pools, also used as a do-rag in places where I had to cover my hair
– fizzy bottle cleaner
– shampoo & shower gel – I couldn’t bring this for the entire time
– heel balm and pumice stone – skin gets dry out there and my old pumice couldn’t keep up
– a power strip / extension cord that accepts multi plugs – everyone wants to charge all their electronics at the same time and there will ultimately only be one outlet
– felt marker – to identify my water bottle from others
– duct tape – to tape my mosquito net to ceilings with a thin string, to attach adapters to loose outlets, to catch bed bugs in a hotel…
– iodine and band aid – I had run out of medical wipes and I didn’t have my band aids on me when I cut myself in the street once
– happy pants – airy pieces of cotton, perfect for hot weather in non-muslim countries
– a blanket – cause it was cheap and pretty
– more clothing items (tshirts and skirts) at the end of the trip – because I was sick of wearing the same stuff and also because I was no longer overlanding. Clothes and habits change when hotels and public transport are involved rather than tents and a truck

 

 

ITEMS NOT USED (-though I would bring most of them again)

 

– money belt – stuff was safe on the truck and in hotels
– sterilizer pen for water – we had treated water on the truck and elsewhere I bought bottles
– soap/shampoo/laundry soap strips – they didn’t work at all, total BS
– waterproof rain cover for my big bag – we never hiked in the rain etc.
– 99% of my meds – which was a good thing!
– condoms – …sigh…

 

 

 

COUNTRIES VISITED:
Germany 2x
Quatar – if you count the airport
South Africa 2x
Mozambique 2x
Swaziland
Namibia
Botswana
Zambia
Zimbabwe
Malawi
Tanzania
Kenya
Ethiopia
North Sudan
Egypt
Morocco
Spain
England

Airports (ES/DE)

I flew home (as in the motherland) today, but via Palma de Mallorca. Mallorca is often regarded as Germany’s 17th county and it shows. There were more Germans here than at Frankfurt airport. All food menus were in German and you could eat at ‘Warsteiner’, a snack bar named after the beer brand that is served along with German food. A happy meal consists of Bratwurst and a beer. Welcome home.
Peoplewatching was spectacular. And the decoration on tables consisted of a huge sangria bucket complete with long straws. After the plane landed the passengers were clapping. At least it wasn’t the funny party plane atmosphere that I had expected.

Did I mention that Germany is cold?

Kraut has shed her winter coat (Mainz, DE)

…and has checked in to her flight at Frankfurt airport. Her luggage still weighs exactly 20kg – the same as when she left New York with some winter clothes in the bag that are no longer there.

 

It’s about bloody time (Mainz, DE)

I have arrived at the last day *at last*, ’bout friggin’ time! One more night and I can finally get on a plane and find out what it’s like to live out of a backpack for 6 months. With 3 pairs of pants, 3 long sleeved shirts, one dress and 2 short sleeved shirts – some of which will currently not fit so well.  Yesterday I was doing the last minute charging of electronic devices I probably won’t use on the plane anyway and I discovered that I had forgotten to bring the travel charger for my old camera (I brought 2 cameras because the newer one doesn’t hold charge well). I couldn’t believe it, after all the planning. It was probably due to the fact that I had bought this ‘travelpod’ device which lets you charge 6 electronic things at the same time through tiny adapters and one plug. Very nifty, except for the fact that Sony stuff is never compatible and that many cameras come with a special charger anyway. My mother tried to talk me into taking her camera with her, the newer model of the same brand, but I declined after I noticed that her travel charger also needed another cable which would then have to be converted from a European outlet to an American outlet and finally to an African one… Again, what did we do 10 years ago before ipods, laptops, phones and all that other stuff? I would have snapped 10 pictures of the same thing in hopes that one worked out and I would have checked into an internet cafe every couple of days or so. Now I feel like I’m carrying hundreds of dollars in electronical value with me, along with more valuables that are supposed to make these devices even more portable, and also the old fashioned backups for them in case any of them fail regardless.

Anyway, turns out I did not forget to pack the charger, I had just hidden it well. I hadn’t unpacked my bag at all since I didn’t need any of the stuff so I just didn’t see it.

My malaria tablets have kicked in, while I am still due for the hot flashes I experienced the last time I took them the bad dreams have definitely started. I only notice them because I rarely dream but now it’s on. The past two nights I woke up every two hours after some crazy scenario. The most memorable ones were being called out by my boss for leaving an office party early (!) (- it’s true, I would have done that with that specific crowd back in the day. In the dream I was really upset because this situation was so ridiculous and when I woke up it took me a few minutes to get over it as well until I realized that I have long left those peabrains behind) and checking in on my sub-tenant while he wasn’t there only to find that he a.) collects large amounts of huge dust bunnies and b.) had furnished my apartment with really nice stuff that I would even like to keep once he’s gone.

I was woken up at 5.30pm by the snow plower as it turns out that we had some overnight snow as well. As a result I’m tired and cranky once again, not to mention stuffed from lunch – I had to have a doner kebap, a must for every visit. In fact I have been permanently stuffed from all the meals here, I’m just not used to the carb based food anymore. That, and fixed meal times…

Tonight I will stay in as a friend of mine cancelled our plans. My parents will be happy. I am ready for this part of the trip to be over with. I don’t need constant stimulation but sitting around here can get a bit boring as well. There’s absolutely nothing on tv. I’ve seen all the interesting movies in the US already. It’s too cold to do anything else. i cannot read a book in English when people talk in German around me. And drinking a beer at home is not the same as drinking a beer in your local pub…  Tomorrow at this time I will finally be en route to Doha in Qatar!

 

 

 

2 more nights until… (Mainz, DE)

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Authentic Asian food two days in a row (Mainz, DE)

Sunday night we went to a new Asian restaurant in the Industrial part of the suburb we live in. (There are two jokes in that sentence). When I say suburb I mean neighborhood really. Germany is too densely populated that we could call it a suburb but I used the word to illustrate how ridiculous it is that there is a.) its own industrial park and b.) an Asian restaurant within both.Either way I’m convinced that the ‘well known sushi chef’ was thrilled to have been relocated from Munich where he had ‘previously worked in an upscale restaurant’. It can’t get better than working next to a bowling alley and a carpet design warehouse in beautiful Mainz-Bretzenheim, right next to the Autobahn.

The restaurant was huge. 340 seats and an additional two private rooms with 70 more seats in each. And it was crowded! I’ve been to China 5 times and to Japan and Vietnam once and I can say that the food was pretty authentic. Generally I find that Asian food in Europe is different, that’s obviously because we don’t have many Asian immigrants so the food is Europeanized. Usually you get richer noodle dishes or less fish, more sweet and sour sauces, that sort of thing. In comparison the Asian food in New York is almost the same as it is in Asia, although you will get less undefinable substances. In this restaurant the European touch was added by serving fries and a dessert menu that consisted of M&Ms and gummy bears for the kids, and various flavors of ice cream only found in supermarkets for the fat population.

Obviously I did not taste the entire menu, the reason I could make the above observation of culinary accuracy is because this was also a buffet. And here is where worlds collided. Germany meets Vegas (/Atlantic City/…Ikea?) meets Asia. You had the classic freeloader type of people who piled as much food as possible on a plate regardless of hunger, knowledge about what it was or the fact that there were people in line behind them. I almost followed a person to his table just to see him eat an entire bowl of wasabi paste. Also, they talked in the local dialect. I wish I could describe this better. On Facebook I posted a picture of 4 people dressed in oriental hats and blinking buttons, these guys must have come from a carnival party (it’s carnival in Germany, for many weeks! We are funny people, in so many ways) but there was no indication that they were enjoying themselves, not even while eating. Anyway, it was priceless, the entire experience. I am glad to see this restaurant booming but I pity the staff for having to put up with this audience.

On Monday I ran a bunch of errands, one of them was getting the car radio replaced because it simply stopped working right before I attempted my longish trip home from my friend Sandra. I had to sing to myself for almost 3 hours, it was rather horrific. The good news is that this radio problem seems to be common with this type of car so the replacement was free and I could spend the money on chocolate.

In the afternoon I once again visited my grandmother in the hospital. Fun with old people, I will spare you the rest.

And finally in the evening we had more authentic Chinese food, this time cooked by my long time friend MaRui whom my other friend Berthold fell in love with when she was our videographer (camera woman) on our second trip to China in 1998, and consequently married and moved to a real suburb (!) in Germany. They have two kids so we usually visit them rather than go out, and each time we do MaRui makes us dine like kings. I’m back in August, I can’t wait…

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The kids were asleep already, they had ignored the German pleas to brush their teeth for the longest time but when MaRui switched to Chinese there were no more discussions…   who said German is a commanding language?

Ludwigsburg, Remseck, old memories and more good food (DE)

Not far from Heidi, 13 kilometers in fact 🙂 , my friend Sandra took residence a while back. I know Sandra from 3 out of my 5 trips to China and as part of the evening we watched an old film of us roaming that country and causing mayhem, mostly drunk at the time (The worst revelations from 1998 were the fact that I was much much fatter then and I had a haircut someone should have prohibited. I will spare the details).

Sandra’s boyfriend Jens cooked for us and endured hours of giggly memories, what a trooper.

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