Sunday, May 24, 2009

Flying Solo

I definitely prefer travelling with others but flying solo has its benefits.  Your schedule is yours to make, if you dislike a place there's no chance you'll need to stick around, and there is never any debate about seeing anything.  Those are the good parts.  The bad part is that you are alone, forced to initiate every conversation you want to have with anyone other than a waiter or store clerk.

This never bothered me much when I was younger.  And it hasn't bothered me too much this time around except for last night, at about 10:45 when I walked into a bar in Sachsenhausen for soul night, found it empty, and sat by myself in the corner for twenty minutes while I finished my beer.

Normally, I would have gone over and talked to the DJ, but I was already in a state.  Sachsenhausen is a big neighborhood on the south side of Frankfurt's river.  Along its main drag, the Schweizerstrasse, are big Apfelwein halls.  Apfelwein is a type of hard apple cider.  People drink it in groups, getting very loud and singing.  Looks like a great time.  Since the bar hosting the soul night was in the neighborhood, it seemed like a perfect time to try some apfelwein.

I realize that I could have worked my way into some group of Germans singing soccer songs - which I don't know and couldn't understand through their slurring - but it was the type of night when I didn't want to be with strangers.  I missed my wife.

So I went from apfelwein hall to apfelwein hall, looking for some open-looking group of people.  None to be found.  I decided to skip it and head to the bar for soul night.

Turns out that the bar was right next to part of Sachsenhausen called the Apfelwein Viertel (Applewine Quarter).  This is noted on my map by an odd-shaped orange area but the name is so small I didn't see it till I was on my way home.  The Viertel is a pedestrian zone, about five or six small blocks packed with people drinking and singing and busting the myth of uptight Germans.

Sometimes you're up for the introductory conversations - "where are you from?"; "yes, we can speak German," etc. - and sometimes you're not.  I was not in the mood for it last night.

That's when I reached the bar.  I'd expected a bar full of young people dancing but found a room with quiet speakers and one other guy who left two minutes after I got there.  I felt sorry for the DJ - you'd have no idea there was any kind of music in that bar if you didn't walk in and look around.  But after wandering around among happy, soccer song-singing Germans for an hour, I couldn't deal with it anymore.

Work starts tomorrow.  Finally.

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you. You can be super efficient while traveling--try going to an art museum (alte Pinakothek in Munich's a good one). You'll stop when you want and not when you don't.

    But the social aspect is the downside...I found ex-pat bars to be a good place to go. You don't get the insider experience, but it helps you deal a bit. Or that was my experience at least.