Germany, day 6

As planed in the day before, we went to Munich. The day started early, as we didn’t book our way in the day before. So, there we went to the train station, to book our tickets and wait for the train.

When the train finnaly got on Munich, mum decided to got to the local Tourism Information Center to get some maps with things to see on the city. On the way to find it, we saw one of those see sight bus that do a tour on the city. So, as we had no idea of what to see in the city, we embarked it.

The tour itself was quite short, about 45 minutes, with a narrator with an English worst than mine. I lost plenty of the information he said, as I couldn’t get what the fuck he was saying. Anyway, we got some nice spots to go after the tour.

Our first choice was seeing the Marienplatz, some well known place in Munich (except for me). So, there we went. On the way to the park, we had to go through one of the three entrances that still exist. On the old times, Munich had a large wall all around the city, with three big entrances. As the city grew, the wall was demolished, but they left the entrances as a remainder of that time.

On the Marienplatz itself, there is a large cathedral there, with one of those clocks with puppets and stuff. Beautiful, but we couldn’t see them move (I think it was on repairs — or maybe we got in the wrong time).

Right after the park, there is the market, were you can find anything, from beer to souvenirs. I wasn’t in a good mood, but mum was somewhat out of herself and got plenty of eating-action there. Also, it was the first time I saw mom drinking beer. She also had some of those “hot-dogs” with the salsage going way out of the bread, some shrimp and a pretzel.

After she ate, I decided to take her to other of the portals, as she couldn’t see it when we were on the bus. This portal got my attention ’cause is covered with some plant that have red leafs on the autumn, so it looked like a live portal (if you get what I mean). After some walking we found the portal and took some pictures of it. Following the street under the portal, I could spot some church smashed between two other buildings. The first thought I had is that the city walls forced the buildings to be that way. Further following the street, we get back to Marienplatz.

As there wasn’t anything else we wanted to see (or enough time to see anything else and get the train), we moved to the station. We had planned taking the train at 16:14 to return to Stuttgart but, for our surprise, the tickets for that train were completely sold out, even we arriving at the train station one hour earlier. Fortunately, there was another train at 16:44, but we had to wait another half hour to return to Stuttgart.

On the way back, we found dad already on the hotel. He invited us to dinner, but I was so tired I couldn’t move anymore, and I wasn’t hungry, so… back to my room.

Germany, day 5

Losing our navigator, it was time to stay on the city. Mum had a map from the tourist information centre with a plan for people wanting to know the city by foot. So, there we went, walking in the city without need of trains or anything else.

So, following the plan, we meet some of the old buildings that weren’t on Koningstrass. The problem is that mom don’t like to follow plans she didn’t make, so after the third point marked on the map, she decided we should take another path; and, when we got on the other point, she decided to change the path again. So, in the end, we saw three important buildings, walked on some narrow streets and got on the other side of the Koningstrass again, only to walk back to the train station.

The reason we moved back to the train station is that my cousin was going back go Stuttgart to meet us again. So, second team reassembled, we decided to lunch.

Walking down the same narrow streets, we went on a legit German restaurant. The menu, completely in German, were strange enough to none of us find anything familiar. So, as complete nuts, each one choose a dish, even without finding out what it was. In the end, I got red meat with garlic and chucrute, my cousin got some pig and mom got fish. Ok, I’m cheating here: the first dish I asked for, the waiter said “moo” and pointed to his stomach.

After the lunch, it was time to buy my sister’s gift. We where looking for it in the previous day and found a jigsaw with more than 5000 pieces, as she asked. Also, I bought a gift for my honorary littler sister and mom gave a new jacket to my cousin, as a birthday gift; it was his choice, as winter is approaching and he didn’t have something to wear on the cold to come.

In the end of the day, we said goodbye to my cousin, as next day he would see Dream Theatre on Stuttgart and we had planned going to Munich.G

Germany, day 4

Another day with a “job”: I should follow my father again, this time acting as a cameraman. But that didn’t happen, as the factory where the new machine is didn’t get the wood needed to test the machine yet. So, a day of walk.

In the morning, we had to look for a new suitcase, as mine broke its zipper and now I needed a new one to keep my clothes. Mum also wanted a new suitcase, so the idea was to look for a new, bigger, suitcase for her and I would pick one of her suitcases and put mine inside, and then move her stuff to the new one. We did some walk on Koninstrass again, looking for the suitcase. After about three stores, mum decided which one she wanted and bought the new one. In one of them, I asked for a pair of gloves, as every time I asked if the weather would be cooler in Italy than Germany, the answer was yes. So, a new suitcase for mum and a new pair of gloves for me.

First task finished, time to trip. We decided to go to Ludwigburg, were the new castle is located (the old one is in Stuttgart). We took a train to the city but, once there, we couldn’t see a sight of the castle. Asking a few people around, we found it, even if they didn’t speak a word of English.

One of the annoying things in Ludwigburg is the sign for walkers. They are everywhere, even on Stuttgart, but on Ludwigburg they also had sound signal, for people with sight-disability. The problem is that they sound exactly like those cheap radio-clocks with alarm sold on the streets. It is curious at first, then it get really really annoying at the third sign. Good for blind people, bad for people who could hear and see everything without problems.

In the front of the castle, there is a beautiful park, with a long walk followed by trees. At this time of the year, all the leafs where yellow and seemed a nice walk, but the temperature was dropping so fast we decided to walk in the castle soon. Also, as my father decided to take the train at 18:00, we had not long time, as we had to return to the hotel so he could pick his stuff before venturing forth.

Anyway, we had a lucky shot when we bought the tickets, as there was a trip around the castle with a guide, which provided nice information about everything around (and yes, she spoke English, so I could get some stuff about the history of the castle). The castle is surrounded by a large garden, which we could see from time to time from the windows. The story of the place is quite cool, and I got a nice idea of how the things worked at that time. Oh, and one of the things we could see from the windows is the Rapunzel’s tower (you know, the story about the girl with long hairs). I just don’t recall if the tower in the Ludwigburg castle is the one who gave the idea for the story or the other way around.

In the end, the temperature was very low. I liked it anyway, even being more could that anyone could think “nice”. Fortunately, I had my new gloves on, proving, once again, that I should follow my instincts.

In the end of the day, we said goodbye to my father, as he moved to another city to work.

Germany, day 3

The day started early, as we had to take the train at 08:00 in the the morning to get to Nurnberg, where dad would see the main Faber-Castell factory. I went with him as he didn’t speak a word of German (except for the already pointed “dankchen”) and I could understand English quite well. Mom decided to go with us, and while we where “working”, she would take a trip around the city.

To put some points here, my father is production manager in the Costa Rica unit of Faber-Castell and he had scheduled a talk with the general production manager, responsible to taking care of the production in all Faber-Castell units in the world. It was quite easy to understand what he was talking, maybe ’cause he talked very slowly and clearly. It was nice to feel useful here.

Unfortunately, they also decided to call a translator: the production manager of the cosmetic unit came, and she could speak German and Spanish, so I got somewhat useless in just a matter of seconds. I could enjoy the trip, at least.

The factory is quite large, with buildings as old as 100 years, the oldest with near 500 years. Old, but everything still is there, being used normally.

So, for the first time, I could see a whole line of the construction of a pencil, from the slab of wood to the complete pencil. Weird that my father does that and I had to come to Germany to see how is he work. Anyway, the whole process is quite amusing here, as great deal of the job is completely automated and there is only about 7 people to take care of the whole process (from slab, to add the mine, to paint, add the text… everything).

On the lunch, we ate with the other managers. Nothing impressive. My father asked for a spagetthi a carbonara and I ate a salad. The other guys asked for a German dish, which is nothing but ervillas and sausage. Almost everything here had sausage anyway. At the end, we were honoured by the presence of the Count Faber himself. Even being a count, he looks exactly like any other man. Only his suit was better.

So, after talking with the general production manager about new projects, we take the cab back to the station and took the train back to Stuttgart. Nothing fancy, nothing impressive in the day. Mom took pictures of her trip trough Nurnberg anyway. Maybe there could be some action tomorrow…

Germany, day 2

The day started a little bit rushed. Mom appeared on my door asking if everything was already packed, so we could search for a new hotel. All my stuff already was, so we moved everything to just one room and got out to look for another place to stay. My father would not join us as he had some work to do, so this was a morning of just two.

Fortunately, Stuttgart has a Tourist Information Centre on the other side of the train station, so all we had to do is cross the street and look for the door (the place is somewhat big, and you couldn’t see the door because the works on the front of it — they are tearing the side walk apart, not sure what for).

The Tourist Centre is quite nice: you can get maps and information about hotels and, if you need, they can even check which hotels have vacancy and arrange the reservations, all in one place. That’s something every city should have. Also, one of the attendants is a Brazilian, living in Germany for 25 years. Quite small world, isn’t it?

New place till Saturday, it was time to walk the Konigstrass again. I promised mom an ice cream and we had to walk all the way till the end. There we finally get a taste of the winter: it was the first time since we arrived here in Europe that I had to use a sweater and jacket and still get cold. Don’t get it wrong: I love when it is cold, so it was nice wearing so much clothes, as in France all I got was a t-shirt and still sweat (and I hate sweating). And, even cold as it was, I got my ice-cream.

On the way back, we stopped at Starbucks to drink something hot. I asked for a White chocolate mocha and it was the best hot drink I ever had in my whole life till now. I still don’t get why there isn’t one Starbucks in Porto Alegre. Suckers.

Back to the new hotel. It isn’t as luxurious as our previous hotel, but is way more “sympathic”. There is something nice around, instead of all formality on Intercity hotel. If you are interested, it is the Pflieger Hotel, on Kriegerstrass (try saying that with a mouthful). Unfortunately, there isn’t a wireless connection here, as I had a not-sure-where-it-came-from on Ibis and the pay-to-use on Intercity, so I have no way to post pictures on the internet.

On the afternoon, we had to wait for my father, who was out to work. As we had about two hours of wait, we had a small walk again in the Koningstrass, just to check what we could eat later. On the train station, we waited for about 20 minutes before mom got freaked out again and decided to ask for information. As
coincidences always happen, when we where in the line, my father appeared. Not a long wait, after all.

Regrouped, we decided to go buy something to eat. From our previous investigations, there as a line of shops with sandwiches, bread and things to put on bread (pate, cheese, meat). Three shops, three different things to buy. After buying at least one thing from each, we headed to the hotel to eat. There, we find out we bought a little more than our stomachs could handle, and there was a lot to eat next night.

Tomorrow I will start paying my share: my father is going to see the main factory of Faber-Castell and this time there will be no one who talks any language he knows, so I’ll follow him and translate things in English to Portuguese. Time to put my knowledge at work.

Germany, day 1

After a weird night of sleep, it was time to see something familiar: Formula 1. Do you think the Brazilian narration sucks? You didn’t hear the German one. Man, the guys talk all the time, except when they decided to stop talking for 2 minutes, just to later talk over the team radios and interviews. Oh, and the tv station completely cuts the transmission when it is time for commercials: you can’t see anything that is happening, just like happens when they are playing some movie, except that the race doesn’t stop when the commercials are running.

Why the night was weird? There is a smell of cigarette smoke all over the bed sheets. First, I thought someone on the room smoked so much the smell decided to stay a little longer; later, I thought all the people on the laundry smoked; and, finally, I found out why they smell like that: I was one the shower and the water smell like smoke. Weird Germans.

We gathered together again and decided if we should wait for my cousin, who is living in Germany for about 3 months working as an intern on Mercedes-Benz or should go after him. It was 11:00 and we didn’t see him already, so we decided to go after him. First step, get in the city he is, near Stuttgart. This wasn’t difficult, as the train system is very similar to the one on France and my father got a lot of experience there. So, there we go to Sindelfingen.

The search for my sousing started simple, just to get confused near the end. After taking all the needed trains, it was time to take the bus. The problem is that there was about 8 stops on Sindelfingen and we had no idea which one would get us near the Mercedes building where he is. Time for… cab. Our driver didn’t speak a word of English and we didn’t speak a word of German (although my father learn how to speak “Dankchen” correctly and is saying it to everyone around). So he asked help for another cab driver and I swear to you, the way they were talking, it really looked like they were having a very hot discussion on how to get there, even with smiles in their faces. Weird Germans.

Once we got the the building were my cousin is, the problem was how to find him. I remembered one of his emails saying that the only way to get inside was using a key, which we don’t have, but I didn’t said that to my parents. That was a good choice, as they start asking help for everyone there, till someone took us to someone who speaks Spanish and them we found my cousin rooms. Mom got really out of herself once we saw him.

The day was kind of slow. Once my cousin joined the group, we decided to go to the Radio tower, were there is a restaurant at the top. Some more trains, some walking and there we were. The problem is that the tower is closed till November, for repairs. All that walk for nothing. We gathered in one small bar near the tower, were we eat “wuttz und katoflen” (sausage and potatoes). It was later for a lunch anyway and, once we finish, it was early for a dinner. So, heading back to the hotel.

My cousin couldn’t stand still for too long, and decided to walk in the Konigstrass. I had nothing better to do, so I followed him. He pointed that there always was some of those “street spectacles” there, but there was none when we get there. On the end of the strass, there is an ice cream shop, so we decided to buy some and return to the hotel, as it was getting near the time we should meat my parents for dinner. And I must say, it is the best ice cream I eat in my whole life.

The dinner was on a steak-house near the hotel. Exactly when I decided to take red meat out of my life. Nice, huh? Anyway, I asked for a salad with turkey, only to find out that the meat here (as in France, as my father pointed) has very little to none taste. Weird. But the salad had a fabulous sauce, and it was worth eating everything.

The problems will pop up tomorrow: my parents asked for only two days on this hotel, as it was planned to move to Nuremberg, but they decided to change plans and now the hotel doesn’t have vacancy for more days. Well, time to walk again tomorrow, I think.

France, day 4

Our last day on Paris. We planed taking the train to Stuttgart at 10:44, so we didn’t have time to anything else, except the walk to the train station and eating the breakfast. Again, more Brazilians: a couple with kids, much like our team (except that my sister didn’t came with us and they had a fourth member). They would do a similar travel as us, except that they added Belgium before German.

Don’t think I’m kidding with the times here: all trains have the precise time of leave (well, unless they face any problems in the way to the station). If you get in Europe, all train times will be like this: 10:44, 08:07… and usually, they really leave the station at that time.

Finding our wagon on the station was hard: we got in one entrance, had to walk all the way down to see the time and gate of the leaving trains and walk all the way back as our gate was near the entrance we took at the first time.

The train travel was nice, even being a 4 hours trip. It didn’t get even near the physical exhaustion I got from the air plane flight. There wasn’t much to see around, only fields and fields and some forests and some more fields, and some lost city and more fields… you got the idea.

Arriving in Stuttgart was easy and our hotel is placed right into the station. I’m not kidding here: you don’t have to leave the station to get inside the hotel. We didn’t find my cousin, which is living here for sometime. I managed to sent him some emails about our arrival and hotel telephone and our rooms, in the hope of meeting him in the next day.

France, day 3

In the beginning of the day, more Brazilian sightings: there was an old couple in the hotel, eating their breakfast. After some talk, we find out that they were on France for undetermined time. Jealous, huh?

Big event of the day: Musee du Louvre. Yes, that’s right: the famous Louvre. Mom decided what we would see, while my dad decided he would stay outside. For some reason, I feel he doesn’t like to walk with me and my mom. Go figure.

Anyway, Louvre. Big. It was build in three different reigns and has several rooms with artwork from everywhere. Mom decided which works we would see: the Venus de Millo, the Monalisa and the Code of Hamurabi. So, there we walked. First, the Monalisa. Mom read the map in the wrong way and we walked all the way through one of the wings. Several sacred works, Jesus, Mary, the havens, you name it. One of the paintings that got my attention there was David with Golias head over a pedestal. It really stuck me ’cause David and Golias story tells a story about the weak beating up the strong, the good defeating the evil; there, David was holding Golias head as a trophy, as any evil person would do. To me, a reversal of papers.

One of the things to do when in the Louvre: walk to the middle of the room, look at the art in your front, look at the art in your left, look at the art in the right, look at the art at your back and look at the art over your head. There are several paintings in the hoof, and all of them are worth the pain in the neck.

So, wrong wing, time to walk back again. And there we walked half wing back, to get to the other wing. Several impressive paintings there, as Joana D’Arc and Freedom Leading the People. More walk and… there it was, the famous Monalisa. A large group of people was in front of it, but, after some waiting, we could see it. My opinion: it is not worth the walking and the waiting. And she is smiling, although mom told a story saying that she isn’t smiling, it is all a optical illusion. Whatever.

Brazilian sightings? Of course! There was a woman trying to take pictures of the Monalisa, only to get a harsh talk from one of the guards. When we were leaving the room, mom could hear a man talking to her in clearly Brazilian Portuguese: “But that’s the rules! They are everywhere!”. Not a nice sighting, but a sighting nonetheless.

Next stop: the Venus. Mom tried to get there on her previous visit and couldn’t find it. This time, with my help, she saw it, around several sculptures of heads of famous Greeks. Again, there was nothing impressive on it, in my opinion. The heads were somewhat more impressive than the Venus itself.

Last stop: the code of Hamurabi. That was a tricky one to find, so tricky that we couldn’t find it. But we had to walk a long way just to find out that we couldn’t find it. We ended up on an atrium, build with marble. Beautiful. When I get fucking rich, I would build a house around a marble atrium. Also, we could check the Napoleon III’s apartment. Nice way to find out how they hanged around at that time. So we gave up looking for the code.

At that time, my legs were hurting quite bad, my shoes weren’t a good choice to make. We took the train again and moved to Invalite, a hospital where the tomb of Napoleon (the first) was. Still today, the hospital works and people with physical deficiencies still go there. But the place were the tomb is is really impressive. There is a golden dome at the top and you can see it shine from almost any point near. The tomb itself is not impressive, so do not waste 7.50 euros to get inside it. The outside, with its garden is way more beautiful than the inside.

Our next stop was La Fayete. It is a big store, spawning for three huge buildings, like a big mall split in three. There I got my birthday gift, as mom promised before the trip. My choice: some new tennis, as my shoes was killing me. The new ones are way better, I can promise you. I can walk again. :)

France, day 2

After a nice night sleeping on a comfortable bed (instead of the hard seat of an airplane), we where ready for the new day. Our first stop: the Eiffel Tower. My father didn’t want to go there and my mother chickened out on the door. So, it was a one person only (except for all those strangers on the elevator with me) ride to the top, to the very top of the highest metal building in the city. So, there I was. Amazingly, my fear of heights didn’t kick up, so there I was, on the top of the tower, and was pretty amazed by what I could see. The view is something to take your breath away: the old city still there, looking like it was 100 years ago and, far away, the new buildings, much more higher, looking out of place.

Here, I little personal advice: do not do that. Plan your vacations to see the Eiffel Tower as the last thing, not in the middle of it. Everything else will look so unamazing without a reason.

So, next step, the Arc du Triumph. It is beautiful but, as I said before, I saw the Eiffel Tower previously, so I thought it won’t amaze me more than I already was. So we decided to lunch on the Champs Elysee, only to sit right next to a couple from Ceara. Brazilians will take over the world, by the numbers.

On our walk through the Champs Elysee, we got inside some stores, namely the Peugeot store, where they were presenting a prototype model, the Mecedez-Benz store, where we could see the new top-of-line, the Mercedez McLaren, the Swatch stores, were I could find the watch I wanted in the first place, for a price almost the same I paid for my current watch, and, finally, we got inside the Virgin store. My mother told me it was enormous, but I thought it was smaller than the size she told me, and they didn’t have the CD I was looking for, but I managed to buy the DVD of the CD (region free), so… whatever. I also could spot the full collection of Pink Floyd CDs, but it was a little too late to buy them (mom was already at the cashier). So I left the not-so-big-as-mom-told-me store with “Edguy – Superheroes” DVD and “Bryan Adams – Room Service” CD.

Next stop: Musee d’Orsay. This museum was once a train station and you can see the big clock on it. The decision to go there came a little from me, as I would like to see a painting I see everytime I go on my psychologist, a painting by Renoir. d’Orsay is not very big (if you compare it with the Louvre), but the main hall is really breath-taking: it is huge, several statues around the stairs and a large large large entrance. Really really large, really really beautiful. We walked only thought part of the museum, most the impressionist part. Unfortunately, the Renoir I see every time wasn’t there, but I saw the artwork of Pissaro and is quite impressive too. Van Gogh and Monet didn’t get enough to impress me.

On the leaving, my father asked my mom if she cried again. That came as a relief to me, as I though I was the only one who almost cried there. Yes, that’s right: there are some paintings so beautiful, with a message so strong that can make you cry (well, if the message really touches you).

Last stop, a request from my mother: the Madeleine. It is some old church she wanted to see. It has a beautiful front, but not enough to make me get inside. Mom, as religious as she is, wanted to get inside and there she went. One of the things that got my attention was a small painting in the ground near the church, with the sayings “Will you marry me?”. Talk about being desperate.

Last walk of the day: the Opera house. As everything else, a huge building but we couldn’t get inside, as it was closing. We sited in one of the bars near it and drunk the most expensive coca-cola anyone could drink (around 6 euros, if my memory still works).

All the walking made my feet really hurt, so I was quite pleasured to get to the hotel and put my legs over the bed