Monday, July 23, 2012

To Hameln and Beyond!


On Saturday morning I woke up around 5:45 AM and decided to get up even though my alarm wasn't set to go off for another 15 minutes.

I began throwing things in my back pack, rain coat, umbrella, water, fruit for lunch, my wallet, a shopping bag, etc. and went to have breakfast in the kitchen. I grabbed a yogurt and ate it while looking out the window. I saw Marc walking with his suitcase and he waved goodbye.

I was running early, as usual, so I decided to watch a TED talk (this one I found particularly interesting) before I left then I gathered my things finally and hopped on my bike and went to the train station.

Of course, I was early, like I always am so I sat on the platform and waited for the train to arrive. It was time for me to leave so I hopped on the train, grabbed a seat and went back to my reading. It was no time at all the announcer came over the speaker to say that the next stop was Hameln and the exit would be on the left side in the direction of travel.

I got off the train, went out the doors and was greeted by a large bus station. I walked past it and found a statue of a rat with a bus map painted on it and then I found signs directing me everywhere. I started by walking into the city.

Surprisingly, everything was really easy to find. My first find was this statue in the city. It was in front of the headquarters for the News Paper for the town and a passerby asked me if I wanted my picture taken in front of it. I said no, but only because the guy was giving off a creepy vibe.

I continued walking deeper into the city and found the Museum but it wouldn't be open until 11 AM so I kept walking. Once I found the rats painted on the sidewalk, it was a breeze to find anything. The city was covered in these things and if you followed them, it was a walking path to see the sights associated with the Rattenfänger von Hameln.

I there were also larger than life rats throughout the city, I mean, I understand that this is what the city is known for "and all that jazz", but, some of them were just weird. Like this one, in front of a pharmacy. All I could think is that this guy had a serious drug addiction. Am I right? It's even as if it just broke out of prison with those stripes, I mean, rats are color blind, aren't they? It's almost black and white stripes.

Since nearly everything else was closed, I went looking for churches, I mean, those are always open, right? Wrong, the churches didn't open until noon. Wait, really? Great. I went in search of something to do and I found a market (yes! score!) and walked around a bit, I didn't find anything I couldn't live without though so all I did was look. Next to the market was a garden / park thing and I wandered around there for a while to see the flowers of all types. I found a bench and had my lunch which I packed in my bag. Yum! I only ate fruit so I was feeling energized and I packed some water too.

Around ten the stores began opening up so I looked in some of them. I found a store that sold different types of alcohol, homemade ones too. The best part of the store was all the free samples. I'm sure you don't need to ask, but in case you do, yes, I tried every alcohol they had. I even bought a bottle for whiskey for a friend in the U.S. I was very tempted to buy this bottle of Absinth labeled "Rat Poison" but they wanted about 8 euros for 100 ml and it wasn't the best I've had, I mean, look at the color.

The next store I found was like an art gallery with clothing for sale. "This shop had clothing for sale but you had to custom order it because an artist paints a picture then paints / dyes clothing (most often pants) to match." How cool is that? I didn't even want to know how much they wanted for the clothing though.

When I left the store, I went into the main church in the town and explore. It seemed much larger from the outside. Luckily, when I went in someone went upstairs to practice on the organ so I stayed and listened for a while. According to a plaque inside the door, "This church, at the end of the second world war was destroyed, because of excited claims from the citizens of the city, in collaboration with the community members, and aid the city, the church was rebuilt in the years 1957/59. - Church Board" So much history!

I found another church but this one was different. It had this weird Amnesty International interactive exhibit in it. I think it was for kids, but of course, I played for a while too.

I went towards the river next where I found the Rattenfänger - Halle, a performance hall in the town and attached to the hall is Grimm's Restaurant Cafe. Wow, the Brothers Grimm are huge here! I guess that makes sense though! They were German academics, linguists, cultural researchers, and authors who together collected folklore (Wikipedia).
By this time, the museum was open so I went in. It cost me 4 euros for entrance and pictures weren't allowed, oops, I took a lot. Shh! The museum was interesting because it covered the history of the town and the story of the pied piper as well as the churches history there. (Germany is a VERY catholic country.) One of the things I will remember the most about the museum was this play though. It was really weird and told the story of the pied piper but it was like... Machines and imagery and... Just weird. I only took a very short video and it was on my phone so sorry about quality and the length. The whole thing was 12 minutes long and this is only about 30 seconds or less of that time.

On the third floor of the museum, they had these blocks that allowed you to see what life was like in the "old days" and they had weights written on them and the equivalent on them. I could do up to 40 kg (a sack of potatoes), but the larger ones were just too much!
After the museum, I went in search of dinner. I stopped at a Dönner and bought some food. I think it's all the Turkish guys who like me, but the guy who made my food asked me if he would have my phone number and asked if I was coming back to the town. I told him I didn't have a phone and I probably wouldn't be back. Man, I'm such a heart breaker.
I went back home at that point and while I was on the train, I read some of my book and it only felt like ten minutes, I had arrived back in Paderborn. Woah. Where did time go?

Of course, there was a party that night to celebrate someone going away so I relaxed a bit and eventually went upstairs to the party. Lots of beer later, I went back to my room for the night and slept like a baby.


Sunday was nothing. It was an inside kind of day, I spent a lot of time reading and writing. Cooked some dinner and wet to sleep around 5 PM. Yeah, that's right, I had about 13 hours of sleep last night!


The daughter of the assistant of the CEO started working with us today. I was told we need to be on our best behavior, though, I don't think we're ever not on our best behavior. Humorously, her name is also Katharina.

I spent most of the morning working on finding imagery for the presentation I'm working on. It's hard to find things to put into it though. I guess Dominik might have ideas for it. But I can't really tell what they are since he's gone for vacation for two weeks.

Francesco is also on vacation for the next three weeks. What will I do? I guess the summer is the slow point for most of the automotive industry (though, we're not entirely automotive we do supply to the automotive industry at least a bit) but most companies shut down during the summer at some point.

Also, in Germany, employees have much more vacation time. While in America, when beginning work at a new company, you may be lucky to get two weeks of vacation a year, in Germany it is more common to have a mandatory three weeks of vacation for all employees and over time, you get more time. 

Not to mention there is a card swipe system in place at Benteler. When you arrive at work, you have to swipe the card and when you leave and come back from lunch you swipe it. And finally, when you leave for the day, you need to swipe out. You're only expected to work 35 hours a week (in my case) and maybe 40 hours a week (for full time employees). Anything that you work above and beyond that is considered "Hoch Zeit" or high time (as a direct translation) and can be accumulated and used as vacation or to leave early on a Friday or something. Not that they're all that strict on hours with me.

Getting home today I went shopping for something for dinner and came home to write. Hmm. I feel as if I'm getting boring. Well, next weekend is the beginning of Libori (a big, catholic, celebration in Paderborn) and the schedule is online now. Lots of music, food, shopping, etc. I think there's even fireworks at the end!

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