Sunday, November 12, 2006

Back In America

Well, I'm back from Europe, and spending the grey, rainy, windy Sunday reacting to the remaining shifts in my bioclock. Why is it that, regardless of where I am, I feel this need to crash at 4 PM?

The flight back was only mildly hellish, as Heathrow lived down to its already-established reputation, and British Airways planes, I am convinced, see a mechanic the way typical Brits see a dentist. Here's a note to BA - it is considered poor customer service when the cabin electronics keep going out - it makes them wonder about the electronics that are keeping the plane aloft are functioning OK - a small thing that one thinks about when one is over Baffin Island.

The work in Germany, disregarding the bad fortune with the computer, went very well. I have to really say nice things about the place they put me up - the Astor in Dusseldorf. Nice rooms, great breakfast, quiet location, great staff. The hotel is done in what they refer to as "Scottish-African" design, which means tartan rugs, red walls and omnipresent photos of zebras. It sounds strange, but it was a very effective - If I had to spend a week-plus in an American hotel, I would have been tossing TVs out the window. But the Astor was such a nice place (along with a staff that was English-friendly) that it made it very survivable.

And yes, my encounters in Germany were generally with people that were smarter than I was - in that they could speak two languages and I was confined to English. To make matters more strange, my genetic makeup makes me look "typically German", with the exception that almost every German I met was in better shape than I was. As a result of this, other German tourists asked me for directions, with whacky results.

As for general Germanic stereotypes, I can say that the natives of Dusseldorf, at least, are in better shape than I am, dress better (the town is a fashion center), walk or bike everywhere (the roads are good, but there is no place to park), smoke (but I think the European brands are milder than American ciggies - they are much more tolerable), are dog-friendly, and wear scarves better than either Americans or Brits. Oh yeah, the whole Leiderhose-wearing, ompah-band beerfests? They blame the Bavarians for that impression, sort of the way Yanks blame Texans for that whole Yah-hoo Cowboy thing. They do, however, have good beer in North-Rhine Westphalia.

On the other hand, I am delighted to be back in the States, with my wife, my cats, my hot tub, my waterbed and plumbing that I don't have to guess about.

More later.