Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Drausen und auf den Beinen


Despite the less than stellar weather we've had this spring, we've been out and about and on the move a lot. The German May is packed with holidays like Tag der Arbeit (or May Day, as I like to call it), Himmelfart (aka Ascension and here I need to add that the word ascension (especially in Spanish, but even in comely English) sounds like the ascent to heaven. Himmelfart sounds like a scabby disease: You wouldn't believe how bad my Himmelfart is these days....)) and Pfingesten (aka Pentecost), which turn into long weekends, perfect for escaping the city. I can be pretty grumpy about Berlin, but I will say that one of the best things about this place is how easy it is to get out of here without a car. (I'll let you draw your own conclusions as to what it means that my favorite thing about this place is how easy it is to get out of it.)


Anyway, to celebrate (or cure our) Himmelfart, we biked north to Usedom. Or tried. Things went pretty well for the first two days. The weather was unwaveringly gray and chilly, but the scenery was lovely (lots of canola fields and blossoming apple trees), and those of us about 20 years out of bike practice were really appreciating how flat things are between Berlin and the Baltic Sea. Because of the weather, we decided not to camp, but to stay in the hotel in whichever small town we ended up in at the end of the day. The first was the Hotel Panorama, which lived up to its name if you consider a construction site with a pink crane outside your window to be a panorama (defined by www.dictionary.com as: an unobstructed and wide view of an extensive area in all directions.) The food on the trip, aside from our picnic lunches, of course, was nothing to write home about, but the Panorama (which had some odd delusions of grandeur), did have a pretty decent breakfast spread, including pumpkin seed butter, which I'd never seen before (although pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil are typical products from this corner of Germany) and was quite good. We spend the second night in a totally unremarkable hotel in the town of Pasewalk and woke up to pouring rain. There was nothing to do but take the train back to Berlin (and the 10-minute bike ride to the train station was pretty miserable), where we discovered the best (by far) Doener Kebab in Berlin (and I wrote my Masters thesis on Doener, so I'm definitely qualified to make this proclamation), rented videos, and spent the rest of the weekend on the couch under a pile of blankets.

But you can't keep us down for long. Last weekend we headed out again, this time with a few friends, to camp-canoe in Müritz. Somehow, even though the weather was again mostly gray and chilly (and soggy at times), I still managed to get a little sunburn. I also managed to flip my very stable canoe and end up in the water, but that's another story. We did some very good picnicking and campfire cooking this trip, including a giant muffuletta sandwich, marinated sausages, and grilled asparagus. I also continued my crusade to persuade Germans of the absolute deliciousness of s'mores and I think I made some headway this trip, although I can't seem to get the Germans to understand that bar cookies are not all called brownies. They also seem to think I invented oatmeal chocolate chip bars.

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