German Bogans

Trip Start Oct 18, 2012
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Flag of Germany  , Baden-Württemberg,
Sunday, October 21, 2012

Howdy folks,

Not surprisingly, last night I had 11 hours sleep as I caught up on rest from the long haul day. We woke up late and had breakfast together downstairs before Steffie and I went out to go grocery shopping. Nearby is a shopping area with a few supermarkets and we went into ALDI. ALDI is a chain supermarket unlike any other I have been in and originated in Germany. It is much smaller than your regular supermarket and doesn't have shelves, but rather food is left in their packages and stacked on top of each other. You can only travel one way down the narrow isles and there isn't much of a selection, but rather the house brands. As everything is prepackaged it can be much cheaper, but lacks the soul of any other store. 

After shopping, we returned home for lunch. Ich habe Fleishsalat und Herring mit Brot gegessen. At least that is the extent of my German thusfar. Steffie owns a 1996 Renault Laguna and it is surprisingly well kept for its age. She thought that if I wanted to be independent that I should at least learn how to drive her manual transmission. That doesn't sound so hard, except when you realise that I have never driven a manual transmission in a left hand drive vehicle in a foreign country before! The signs are different, the streets are narrower and your right arm gets the workout.

We drove out to the local hockey arena carpark and Steffie let me get in the driver's seat. It has been many years since I have driven a manual car and although I drove the entire East Coast of Australia in one and rode a motorcycle, it still takes a bit of practice to get the shifting smoother. It wasn't so strange to shift with the right hand because I'm used to driving on the left hand side now after our roadtrip. Nevertheless it was good to get some practice.

Steffie drove home and we had an hour before we were going to leave for dinner. Every month, Steffie's mother has a big family dinner to catch up with her siblings and this month was at a Croatian Football Club in nearby Oftersheim. I wasn't as tired for dinner this time and had 2 hefe weizen biers. For dinner I had a local speciality: pork medalions with garlic sauce. They were good, but the garlic was overpowering. It was a bit hard to keep up with the conversation as my German isn't good yet so I spent more time entertaining the kids.

This morning, Steffie woke up with a sore throat and was coughing so she didn't want to do much. We had floated the idea of going to the Adler Mannheim hockey match until her father brought up that the DTM Final was in Hockenheim. I was still keen to go, but with Steffie out of the picture I had to find somebody else to drive me there. She called her brother Christian who agreed to take Steffie's nephew Sebastian and I along with Christian's daughter Leonie. They picked us up at 1pm and we drove quickly 20km south down to Hockenheim and managed to find a car park in the crowded and narrow streets.

Hockenheim is litterally a small town with a huge racetrack nearby. Motorsport is big business here with the track first opening some 80 years ago. Every second year they hold the German F1 Grand Prix and they have the opening and closing races of the DTM. DTM is the German version of the Australian V8 Supercars although with Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz instead of Holden and Ford. We joined the thousands of other Germans out to enjoy the warm weather and watch the race. I was a bit confused because I thought that the Hockenheimring was much longer and it turns out that a decade ago, the track was shortened drastically to appease the modern TV audiences. Nevertheless, it was good to be there and we had a great seat on the main straight directly across from pit row.

It was a bit hard to tell which drivers were in what position because the screens were far away and I didn't have a guide, but the racing was loud and fast. There weren't any major accidents and the drivers included ex F1 drivers Ralf Schumacher and David Coultard. The 42 lap race lasted just over an hour and was won by Canadian Bruno Spengler amidst a volley of fireworks. It was strange to hear the Canadian National Anthem in Germany and when interviewed his German was perfectly spoken! With all the fans racing down to the track to get a closer look, we went to have a look at the car displays at the back of the grandstand. There were just as many people out there taking a look at all the car porn from the three manufacturers with a few superbikes thrown in for good measure.

With so many people about, it took a while to get back onto the autobahn from the town. Christian dropped Basti off at his mother's house and then dropped me back home. Steffie was still in bed when I arrived having relaxed all day and her mother was out at the hockey. When they got home, we had an informal dinner and talked about the differences between geography, slang and culture. 

Hopefully I can enroll in my German course and start speaking properly! 
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