International travel is grueling. Nine hours, middle seat cramped, New Jersey-to-Lisbon, adjacent to a 300 lb. lady, a municipal landfill-in-waiting, who oozed garlic with every belch. A prayer to the Saint of Cabin Decompression, to allow the blessed oxygen mask drop from the ceiling, is lost in the din of ‘cockpit announcements’, all in Portuguese.
The TSA checkpoint exam, 3 second x-ray, one minute pat-down with a frown, assures traveler security. Never mind the tickling sensation during the upward pat, serving as a reminder of an annual upcoming prostate exam. The officer has the humor quotient of a fruit fly, does not offer to Mirandize me, nor, next in line, breathalyze Madam Newark.
This prelude, a welcome and highly anticipated bucket list event, with 16 fellow enthusiasts, also recently fondled by strangers, to a week of classic German cars.
Ahhh, Germany, the land of long words…where geschirrruckgabetablette = café tray.
Personal privacy, (and HIIPA regulations) will not allow me to divulge any or all information, including, but not limited to; names of fellow travelers, social security numbers, gender, prior felony arrests, outstanding traffic warrants, or bank transfer codes.
All of which I gathered, surreptitiously in just seven days….except for two hoosier attendees;
- In the despised category , “one on every tour”, the inconsiderate oversleeper who kept an entire bus delayed at the very first outing.
- A lady who, gaining unwanted attention, tripped on a guardrail while attempting a closer view of Hitler’s very own, 770K Grosser. Although the open air limo was armor plated with bulletproof glass, her shin was not. She survived the encounter, after the loss of blood; an attractive shade of wine, and bruises of silver blue. Reminiscent of Indiana, 1966.
For seven days, an amorphous mass, we moved together, clear bubbles in a mountain stream of minnows doing what else….?….looking at used cars. Okay, expensive used cars, but others will provide details and photographic evidence.
I found myself intrigued by the German people who, as you may know, speak a foreign language, nearly all wear black, and adhere to a national policy to smile less than twice weekly. The HQ receptionist at AMG, Claudia Barnickle, true to the code, when I requested a happy face.
Even this miniature fraulette, a five y/o fashion statement, awaiting the funicular ride to the scenic panorama of old Heidelberg who was whisked away, “Komm jetzt Süßer, der mann mag ein raubtiersein”, roughly, ‘come child, the man may be a predator’.
At a critical juncture, our bus driving genius, Fabio, a chain smoking Italian, facilitating a more convenient drop off for his affluent passengers, elected to ignore this sign : keine Busse erlaubt. You know it; black circle, diagonal red stripe, aged Prevost shadow in the background.
Alas, this was not Fabio’s day. An attractive gendarme verbally scolded the diesel interloper, wrote a costly citation, and warned him of impending loss of manhood. My 1:06 minute, you-tube video of the encounter was confiscated as it required parental guidance for anyone under the age of eighty. Fabio, smoking an Italian Marlboro, gagged as if he was gargling fish hooks.
The only remnant; photo/name badge of the arresting officer, Katrin Braun
An industrious Germany is reflected in its architecture; austere, lifeless, utilitarian, a mix of glass, steel, corrugated zinc siding……the personality of a section-8 Moscow housing complex. They do, however, make some beautiful cars, so why dress a courtyard with polished aluminum, dancing skateboarders ? Four stories high ?
The employment rate @ 97%, allows the unemployed to practice full-time graffiti art, which is everywhere. My suspicion, those 3% , at night, armed with Krylon® rattle cans in search of blank spaces, are working daytime for under-the-table cash in tattoo parlors.
And the maiden, you might ask…?… an attractive, on-duty nurse, seated in an aging MB ambulance in the Essen exhibition hall. She too, stoic, cool, non-talkative, had only a recorded voice. Lacking fluency in German, I was certain she wished to introduce me to her ride-flat sister, who was no doubt, inflatable.
On the inskirts of Stuttgart we passed the “Oh Lord, Car Lot”, all used Mercedes. A curious name, unless you were alive in1970, and listened to the final recording of Janis Joplin, 3 days before her death. Even though JJ drove a Porsche 356, her estate is likely receiving royalties from Daimler Benz.
Do not be misled. We were treated as visiting royalty at every venue. The coffee was served in dainty cups, like those from a child’s dollhouse, and quite tasty, although refills were measured with an eyedropper ( sir, one dropperful or two ?) At the center of excellence the luncheon was exquisite. The dessert, marinated berries, spelt stones and mango sorbet, yet nearly unnoticed, and untouched, tiered silver trays with the most delicious chocolates. Ever.
In contrast, a Techno parts vendor offered a version of pecan pie. Attractive, but 19 mm nuts fail to challenge French chocolates.
A brief visit in the kitchen with the chef to compliment him on the chocolate selection, his whispered confession, ‘they are not German, but La Maison du Chocolat®, from Paris.’ Full disclosure; in an effort to gain weight, this visitor consumed at least three cognac, and three caramel toffee truffles. While no one was looking.
If you questioned who was tardy to the bus, day one, please repeat this sentence, the only phrase learned all week; “Enschreitenblatten schalteniedlich verkehrsgesellschaft ? “
Loosely translated….”you don’t say ?”