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Friday, 16 April 2010

Travels With My Brother (Sketches)

Beautiful Munich

Sketch One:

Munich is a beautiful, exhilarating city of lively beer gardens, ornate buildings and churches, and of fascinating historical significance. It is a warm and friendly place and crowded with tourists and travelers, especially in the summer months. I like to think that as we sat, drinking our coffee at an outdoor cafe late at night with a waiter hovering over us wringing in hands in what appeared to be anxious despair, that we were of the chosen few...that Kelly and I were travelers. We took a Third Reich walking tour and murmured appreciatively at all the truly fascinating bits of history that we had never heard before. Imagine what happened in this particular square, this uninspiring building here, that beer garden, these streets and homes and lives. Imagine the grief this beautiful city has seen.

On our own walks through the city we came upon a statue of a giant warthog. It was impressive and in fact, it had the dubious honor of being the only thing on our entire trip that Kelly actually asked me to get his photograph with. The stuff precious memories are made of I suppose...

There was one instance in Munich that I wish I would have witnessed but I chose just the crucial moment to go off in search of a restroom leaving Kelly waiting on one of the narrow, one way streets in the downtown area. What he saw was a unique example of the horrors of road rage. Two tourists were ambling down this narrow cobblestone street, guidebook and bottled water in hand and at the same time a car was trying to make its way down the street as well. The car horn honked loudly. The tourists perhaps absorbed in their book didn't notice. The car stopped and an angry man got out and stomped his way over to the unsuspecting couple, yelling and gesturing and as the piece de resistance, the ultimate lesson that they should never dare do this again, he thrust out his hand, grabbed the man's water bottle and heaved it mightily into the air and stalked off back to his car. As the water bottle fell, lets imagine in slow motion, back to the ground and broke, water droplets flying every where, this poor couple stood open-mouthed and staring in wide eyed surprise. I'm sure that day they learned a lesson that will never leave them. :)

Sketch Two:

A sunny afternoon in Mainz. Relaxing on a bench in the beautiful old city. It's lunchtime and many business men and women are sitting outside, talking quietly and enjoying their break from work. All of a sudden a group of giggling children appear from nowhere armed with spray bottles and begin to shriek with delight as they spray these business people who react with quiet embarrassment as having been the center of such unwanted attention, eyes downward, ignoring these small hooligans. That was perhaps the best reaction. Kelly and I watched and snickered because well it was funny. And then with exceptionally bad judgment, I called over to them as they made their way around the city square spraying everyone in sight and asked them what they were doing and what was in the bottle. They came over to our bench and sprayed us both mercilessly as we laughingly protested and got up, edging our way backward, down yet another cobblestone alley, hands out in front of us to ward these little demons off. They followed us and I have to admit that they actually chased us out of the the city square while we laughed helplessly. It felt a little bit medieval.

Sketch Three:

Things that happen on trains. Most trains in Germany are sleek, fast, and among the most modern in the world. But occasionally for the more local journeys between smaller villages and towns, the more charming, old fashioned trains pull into the stations. On one such train, between Bacharach and Koblenz, we sat in an almost empty compartment. There was only us, an elderly man, and a group of people across from us. The group of people across from us opened the window as it was a stifling day and the breeze blew in fresh and clean. The elderly man became alarmed, sat up straight in his seat and began patting his hair frantically and glowering. Finally after no one took whatever hint this was intended to be, he marched over to the rebel window openers and demanded they shut the window all the while brushing his hair down and exclaiming that he couldn't possibly keep it neat with a breeze like that blowing in.

Sketch Four:

Trier is the oldest city in Germany and boasts some really incredible Roman ruins. We arrived on a seriously sweltering August day and set out to find these ruins. Now I'd been in Trier before but my sense of direction is sketchy at the best of times and I don't generally use maps. So we wandered. For hours actually. I began with a positive spirit "Roman ruins, can you imagine? How wonderful! I can't wait to see them! think of all the history here!" and as the hours stretch on and we seemed to be no closer, my mood changed " even want to see the Roman ruins because I'm starting to think I don't...I mean, what's so special about them anyway?" (Kelly was very patient and didn't complain I might add.) We walked a bit more. "Ok, look let's just go to our hostel because I can tell you one thing and it's that I don't want to see those ruins. Stupid Romans. Think they're so great. Forget it, let's go back."

We went back, had a rest and then went out for a coffee late at night. On our way back, a mere five minutes away from our hostel, there rose before us, these brilliantly lit, massive ruins and well in all honesty, they were quite amazing after all. I guess that the Romans can think they're pretty great if they want...

We did have excellent luck though finding the Karl Marx Museum. Sadly neither of us bought a coffee cup or stone bust of the man though.

These are just a couple of sketches out of many from gallivanting in Germany with my brother. I hope you enjoyed them.

Bacharach, Germany

Kelly exploring the ruins of a castle on the Rhine

Me posing in the ruins of a German fortress (clearly not all ruins are "stupid", some are actually quite lovely and fascinating.;)


Janet said...

Thank you for posting these stories! Although why you called those children over is beyond me! LOL :o)

I really need to start writing all my stories down too because when we get older we're going to forget all these little details...

Colleen when we get together... sometime in the future... we need to sit down and make a book of all our adventures inter-railing :o)

Hey! You never answered my e-mail by the way...

Haircutgirl said...

This is great, Colleen!

I kept a diary when I my sister and I explored the UK in 2005, and I keep returning to it to laugh and go "oooohhh yeaaahhhh!" about some mis-remembered misadventure. It's funny how many small "capsule" moments make up a whole series of explorations like that. They are far more memorable than the actual sights (glorious though those may be!) and are the things I treasure most about that time.

Colleen said...

Janet, being the natural authority figure that I am, I assumed my questioning the children would make them see the error of their ways.:) I was wrong. It happens.:) I definitely think you should compile your travel adventure Janet, you would have a very rich and wonderful story there considering all the places you've been! I for one, would love to read it!! I'll answer your email this afternoon...I am terrible and i apologize.:)

Carmody I am so happy to hear from you!! That is such a treat!:) I absolutely agree, it is the capsule moments as you call them that make a trip...the things that strike you as funny or strange or the interesting people you encounter (of which there are MANY!!:) or even just the silly things you do or mistakes you make.:) I bet that journal is a treasure now. You and your sister (incidentally a Kelly too...not sure why I still find that funny:) must have had an amazing time exploring the UK...I would so love to do that someday. Take care and thanks for commenting, I love hearing from you!

Anonymous said...

Oh my, what can I say, but again thank you...those stories of you and Kelly in Europe, well fabulous really! I can only imagine what it would be like travelling with Kelly, his fountain of knowledge would not doubt come in very handy!? HA HA Fab ulous Colleen, Bravo Bravo Bravo! Judi Dudek

Colleen said...

Well, you'd think Judi but actually Kelly was grateful for my calm, practical spirit...I think he saw me like an unshakable pillar of strength and knowledge. ;)
No seriously it was a lot of fun traveling with Kelly! I was happy he could come see me for those few weeks, it was really nice for me.:)

Rebecca said...

Wow! What great experiences! (Was this your first time in Munich?) I've watched just enough movies to imagine some of your feelings as you touched history from a distance of years...

Well written and interesting, Colleen! I "envy" your travel experiences.

Anonymous said...

So funny, Colleen. Love it.

Colleen said...

Thank you very much Rebecca! Yes, Munich is a wonderful city, have you been there yourself? When I was 20 I lived in a city quite close to Munich for several months so while this wasn't my first time there, it was definitely very special to have a chance to explore it with my brother! (Though this is a while back now, in 2003, though it's hard for me to believe!:)

And thank you Marlies!! Now...if I were to write about my funniest and happiest times in Germany, there would be a lot of lovely stories to share from my time with you all!!:)

Kelly said...

Hi Colleen,

I thought Munich was so ugly.
There was way to many humans, and with them, noise. But I agree with you regarding the fascinating warthog.

Regarding Mainz, I have no idea why you would call over those little pissers.

While I don`t remember the elderly man and his hair, I do remember an old lady on a train, seemingly out of nowhere looking up at something, do an old lady scoff (at something only she could see) and go back to her reading. Do you remember that?

There were a lot of fun memories. I remember playing mini-golf and being kicked as well. And playing badminton, and being kicked as well.

Colleen said...

You did not find Munich ugly but you certainly did seem to get the crap kicked out of you a lot.
Yes, beautiful memories.:)
I do remember the scoffing woman on the train...wasn't it actually us she scoffed at?
At the risk of you making fun of me, I'm going to say that I am so glad we had the chance to travel together! Fun!:)