German is a funny language. Not funny haha, just peculiar. It has a lilt and tempo similar to English and many of the words sound quite similar. It's sort of like English with extra phlegm. But as similar as it might sound, we find ourselves completely unable to understand a single word. I mean a single word. And forget about reading it. The Germans often use more letters in a single word than we use in a paragraph. By the time one gets to pronouncing the final syllable, he has doubtless forgotten the 15 or so that preceeded it. I'm frankly shocked that the Allies were able to break German military codes during the war. Even uncoded the langauage seems just impossible.
|German for "supercallafragalistic . . ."|
In the morning we go downstairs to the hotel's buffet breakfast, an elaborate offering that puts the typical Italian hotel breakfast buffet to shame. Plates of cheeses segragated by firmness (hard cheese, soft cheese - how odd a classification system, why not by shades of white?), countless muesli and other cereals, eggs (5 and 8 minute boiled eggs, scrambled), breads and pot after pot of jams, and a whole host of sausages and wursts. What is striking is that for all the breadth of choices, the quantity of each selection is fairly small because the typical European seems to take a small portion of a few things from the typical breakfast bar. Put a board with five small wedges of cheese on an American breakfast buffet and the typical American would take the board back to his table and inhale the entire selection, washing it down with a pound of bacon for good measure.
And how odd is this? It seems that every single guest who comes to breakfast is named Morgan. Or at least that is how the hostess addresses each of them. Perhaps she is just bad with names.
* * *Speaking of names, as we check out from the hotel on the way to the Mercedes factory I chat up the receptionist who checked us in the day before and who recommended our lunch spot - Ochs'n Willi. I tell her how much we enjoyed the meal and ask her what Ochs'n Willi means. She replies that Ochs'n has something to do with meat or ox and that Willi is simply a name. Beefsteak Charlie's so to speak. Meet Steamboat Willy's German cousin - Oxtail Willi.
|No tittering, please.|
* * *
But grammar and linguistics are far from our mind as our taxi turns off the highway, about a half hour from Stuttgart, in the town of Sindelfingen, home of the Mercedes Benz factory. We pay for the taxi with a voucher provided to us by Mercedes (pretty much everything we have done for the first day is included in the Eurepean Delivery progam - taxi vouchers, hotel, lunch at the fctory) and are dropped off at the entrance to the Customer Center. It is an enormous modern glass building where Mercedes owners take delivery of their new cars and others assemble for the popular Mercedes factory tour. Today we are here for both.
We have arrived with untold cubic meters of luggage, but Mercedes seems prepared for this. Just inside the front door is a luggage deposit and there are airport style luggage carts to help shuttle the mountain of baggage. The expansive lobby is well marked with a check in area and within minutes our luggage is gone and we are seated in front of a hyper-efficient German woman who will process our paperwork and plan our day's itinerary.
|Lunch at the Benz Factory|
This part of the story goes quickly, partly because the road is good and there is not much traffic, partly because we arrive in what seems to be the blink of an eye. We are advised to take it easy on the transmission for the first one thousand kilometers and we do so, because we are able to hit 160 km/hr (100 mph) without breaking a sweat on the tachometer. It is so smooth and effortless and fast that I nearly expect to see us break into hyperspeed, like in Star Wars, with the stars momentarily standing still before becoming a blur of motion as we rocket through time and space. To be on the safe side, I look to the passenger seat and am happy to see Suzy rather than Chewbaka.
We arrive in Munich and our efficient German GPS matron guides us to our hotel, warning us that we cannot drive to the front door (pedestrian only zone). It is my birthday and we have booked the best room in this boutique hotel, with plans to dine at a local tavern by the name of Andechser am Dom, recommended to us by a friend back home. But more on all of that tomorrow. In the meantime the new car will have plenty of time to recover in a parking garage, as we spend the day wandering around Munich on foot, eating schnitzel and drinking beer.
Bill and Suzy