10 Things that are different in Germany compared to the US

10 Things that are different in Germany compared to the US

1) You can’t name your kid Blanket In Germany, the local Stadsamt can veto the name of your child if the proposed name doesn’t reflect the sex of the child or if it may endanger the well-being of the child. So sadly little Espn and his sister Yoga will probably not be getting their birth certificates in Germany. Then again, Helmut, Mechtchild and Waltraut will pass with flying colors, so maybe it’s better to skip the approval process entirely. 2) Animal sounds In Germany, animals may look the same and even sound the same to you, but the “Ol’ McDonald had a farm” song sounds completely different. A rooster doesn’t say “Cockle a doodle doo”, to a German they say “kikiriki”. Whaaa? Oh and as a bonus, Germans don’t say “Ouch” or “Ow” when they get hurt, they say “Aua” (pronounced like “Ow-wah”). To an American, it’s very weird. 3) Time commitment to Hobbies Germany is a land of regulation. It’s not so easy to just pick up a hobby like it is in the US. Want to play golf? You need to take lessons, get a handicap and join a club. Public courses are few and far between and most of them require a proof of handicap card anyways. You have to invest a lot of time in your hobby of choice, so it is my experience that Germans are usually very good at their free time diversions. Whether it be singing in a barber shop quartet, horseback riding or having an awesome mustache, the time commitment for your favorite hobby is no laughing matter. 4) American Pop culture references are...
Five ways to piss off a Pilgrim

Five ways to piss off a Pilgrim

PEREGRINO is the Spanish word for pilgrim, often referring specifically to anyone who walks to Santiago de Compostela in North-West Spain. Every year the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) iscompleted by around 200,000 blistered and sore, soul-searching Peregrinos. They walk 20 to 40 kilometers a day, go to sleep at 10 pm, wake up at dawn, and through the course of walking 800km, develop a certain type of openness and honesty along the way. So tread lightly on their exposed souls! 1) Tell him “How hard can it be? You’re just walking. ”Oh the dagger! First of all it’s not just walking. Walking 25 kilometers a day for 30 days while carrying a 10 kg backpack can turn your feet to ground beef. Furthermore, your hips and knees are at particular risk for damage and inflamation. But even if we ignore the physical toil, the mental challenge is enough to give a potential pilgrim pause. For a month, your living and sleeping quarters are shared with up to 50 people in the Municipal Albergues, meaning you have a serious lack of privacy. Yet that may matter little to others who carry on like they were at home, farting and screwing with the social decency of a rabbit. And then there is the Meseta (plains), between Burgos and Leon, where it’s as flat and interesting as a piece of plywood. Here boredom can worm its way inside your tired pilgrim mind. You may even start to sing, because, damn its boring. I don’t know the words to a single full song, but that didn’t stop me from butchering about 60 of them, from Bohemian Rhapsody to Warren G’s...

16th Day: Fromista to Calzadilla de la Cueza

As I walked out of the albegue in Fromista, I tasted the remnants of the sweet roll I had eaten 15 minutes earlier on my two week old beard. It’s not a great beard, but I am beginning to become proud of it, patches and all. I hit the streets of Fromista at 8am, about a half hour after daybreak, and started snapping photos. I’m glad I did, because after the 5 kilometer trek to the Hamlet of Poblicion de Campos, it started raining and didn’t stop. I continued on by myself first to Villarmentero then to Villalcazar de Sigria and then to Carrion de las Condes, my last stop before a 17 kilometer flat stretch of Meseta (plateau). Up until Carrion, there were towns every 5 k, which broke up the monotony. However, during the flat 17 k strech to Calzadilla, I was left to my own devices, which was only my brain since my cell phone battery was dead. I know it sounds a little weird, but after the first 8 kilometers, I started singing. I started with Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and slowly made my way to Warren G’s regulators. I don’t think I know the lyrics to one complete song, so most of the times I made up lyrics or just switched to another one after singing the chorus. After exhausting my limited supply of song lyrics, I was left with little other recourse but to actually think. For the last two hours of the hike I let my mind drift. Normally when I’m by myself, I check Facebook, turn on the t.v. or read. It...

6th Day: Estella to Los Arcos

I’m getting quite good at breaking into Albergues. After walking 1km I realized I had forgot my dorky, red walking poles inside the communal room of the Municipal Albergue in Estella. I noticed the last two pilgrims leaving as I approached. At most Albegues the door locks automatically behind the last pilgrim. Sure enough, the door didn’t budge and no one answered my knock. I climbed over the fence in the back as I did two days ago in Puente lá Reina, opened the back door, grabed my poles and exited the front door as it locked behind me. I hastily jogged down the roads of Estella to make up the time I had lost going back to get my poles. I met Rachel and Marcus (the English group minus Helen who left for England yesterday) 10 minutes before Bodega Irache. The vineyard provides free wine from a tap and I filled up two 50 cl bottles with free wine. We then made our way to Villamayor de Monjardin and then on to Los Arcos. After getting separated from Rachel and Marcus, I met Daria, from Italy, and Paula, from Brazil. They also are starting a travel blog so we talked shop for three hours on the Camino, until I made my final stop in Los Arcos and they continued on to Torre de Rio. After arriving at Casa de la Abuela in Los Arcos (the municpal refugio is closed until April 1st), I met the most interesting pilgrim of the trip so far. He reminded me of the Dos Equis guy, only with a mustache instead of a...