If you're looking for the funniest stuff, I suggest starting with the Steve, Don't Eat It Homage and then the travel category. You're on your own with the older posts that have yet to be categorized.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

German eins nul eins

I can highly recommend that you don't get Barron's German At A Glance phrase book which boasts "thousands of expressions you need to travel".

Here are some of the things you'll never need to know how to say on any trip to anywhere:

Schachmatt! [1] Unless you find yourself in a spontaneous chess match.
Ich habe eine Geschlechtskrankeit. [2] Unless you are in sales.
Ich vertrage keine Nusse. [3] Unless you are a manager.

Downtown is a short 15 minute ride on the Straßenbahn (street car). I'm happy to report it only took us an hour and a half to get there. After reviewing the map and deciding we needed tram 715 we waited a bit and hopped on when it arrived.

Me: Are we going the right way?
CW: I'm not sure.
Me: There's no map on the train that I see.
CW: No list of stops either...only the end of the line.

We also could not figure out how to get our tickets as there was no machine apparent. After hearing that my co-worker got fined 40 Swiss Francs last year for failing to have a 1 SFranc ride last year, I thought it wise to get off, figure out which way we need to go and how to get tickets. We jumped off at the next stop.

I walked over to someone waitting at the stop, opened my phrase book and pointed at "Wo kann ich eine Farhkarte kaufen?" (Where can I buy a ticket?) It seemed more likely she would know how to read than understand my butchering of her language. She immediately asked me a question in German {blink}. She pointed at something and spoke some more. Something about an automat (I didn't ask for food, I want a ticket!) and I should go to Strassen-something. I took the wisest strategy...I stared blankly. I held out a piece of paper which had our destination written on it. We walked over to the map and she pointed to the center and the station was close enough to sounding like what I thought she said. I thought that seemed pretty ridiculous to need to ride the tram without a ticket to a station further than we wanted to go (we found that station on the map) just to get a ticket. Her tram came (the 707) and she left. Everyone waiting at the stop got on except us.

We slowly deciphered (with no help from der phrase book) the signs at the stop. We had been on the right tram going the right way. Damn. Still we had no idea how to get tickets. We waited and another tram finally appeared. 707. We needed the 715. We checked the tables again.

CW: What time is it?
Me: 8:15
CW: The next 715 is, uh...The 715 stops running at 7:52.
Me: Scheiße

We then determined we could still get where we wanted but would need to take two trams. The first was the only tram still running on the line we were at...the 707, two of which had already passed.

We got the next one (8:32) and walked to the front to ask the driver the following question in my best German accent: "Ticket?" I said, holding up 2 Euros. He said something and mercifully pointed backward. We walked slowly toward the back of the tram looking for what was clearly a clevery disguised place to get tickets. Maybe a person? Maybe a machine? We were at the back of the tram when we found it. A machine. Un Automat! What the tickets said, we didn't know. We bought the ones that were 2 Euros as CW's manager had told him that's how much it cost to ride the tram. Then it dawned on me. The automat was not at the station that lady had pointed to. She was probably pointing to our destination (poorly but she was short and it was a high map). The automat was on the Straßenbahn! (ß is pronounced "ss") That's what she said. We got to our stop, switched trams and arrived at our destination near 9.

As we ate dinner in front of a restaurant, a clown was performing. By clown I mean a guy with a little white make-up and a red rubber nose. His act consisted of the following: hugging/grabbing people walking by, imitating people walking by (mainly those with sour expressions or "strange" walks) and jumping in front of every Asian person, holding his hands stiffly straight in a Karate pose and yelling "HeeeYaaaaah!" Yes in Germany, Asians are the new Jews and clowns are the new Nazis. I'll bet most of those Asians are staying in non-air conditioned hotels!

We did much better on the return. When we switched trams we got on the wrong direction. Luckily my CW was paying attention and after only 10 or so stops we go off, walked across the road and waited, for the last time for a tram cutting our 15 minute trip down to only 30 or so minutes!

[1] Checkmate!
[2] I have a venereal disease.
[3] I can't have any nuts.

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