dameboudicca: (Bleach - Uryuu trär nål)
At the moment I am in Detmold (Germany), sitting in a hotel-bed. Last night I was in Belgium, deep in the foresty parts of the country - where the Bulge took place in the winter of 1944-45 (actually the hotel, the old rail-way hotel of Stoumont) was as far west as the Germans and their pansar got that time. We were staying on historical grounds - and the hotel had been somewhat renovated since that incident.

It's nice to be back in Germany, since Germany means I actually can talk to waiters, read signs, and pronounce names without it sounding terribly off. And get annoyed at very loud Americans (well, actually just one, his companion was extremely silent) who made fun of how terrible English the Germans and French and Dutch were speaking. If you then order your food in your own mother tongue, you have no right to complaint about the accent and wordings of those who actually take the trouble to speak in a foreign language. (It probably would not have bothered me if he hadn't been going on, and on, and on, about it. He actually spoke about it for close to 30 minutes - and then my dad and I left the restaurant. But he would admit to Swedes being rather good at English, since they talk such a tiny language that they have to - if he only knew he was sitting next to two of them, and that would mean we understood him perfectly.)

Changing languages has actually been quite challenging this time around. My German is okay, and my French is not - but I know my way around at least. And I discovered it was easier for me to read signs in Dutch than French. Tomorrow it's back to home, and the confusion of languages will hopefully stop. Or I will start saying 'merci' when someone holds the door for me.
dameboudicca: Blowing papers (Hoshi wa utau - Läsning)
They say you learn as long as you live (though, I want to know who "they" are - "they" seem to know an awful lot, to say the least). Here are a few examples from the last few days here in Normandy:

¤ Farmers demonstrating can make you get lost in a big city. At least if they are French (I have yet to see a Swedish farmer do that). Their aim was higher pay for their milk, and the method was (apart from going on the free-way with their gigantic tractors which are fast compared to what I'm used to, but not THAT fast) to build road-blocks of manure and old tires. Preferably in the middle of the city - we had a horrible time in Cherbourgh, trying to find the way around, which was impossible when you couldn't go to the city centre. And now and then they put their road-blocks on fire. The smoke was fascinating. The smell somewhat less so...

¤ You can find the most amazing salmon at a small restaurant in the middle of nowhere, in the only restaurant the village had to offer (which says quite a lot, when French villages tend to have a restaurant at every corner).

¤ Frenchmen have a thing for baguettes.

¤ You can't enter Bayeux cathedral without interrupting some kind of service. At least this time it wasn't a funeral but a baptism. It is after all a more cheerful event, and the other plus is that it was quite all right to walk around the church while they were at it. (The kid did not seem to appreciate the drama all that much though, even though the priest did his best to sound cheerful and fun!)

¤ My understanding of French when written is about ten times better than I thought it would be. And you can actually have some use for a French-Swedish dictionary from 1915 (what can I say - it was cheap, and it is small enough to fit my handbag, even though it contains three times as much as a usual tourist-dictionary, thanks to its small print).

¤ Entering a real, small Romanesque church in the French countryside can actually make me feel all warm and happy inside.

October 2011

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