Frühstück als kunstvolles Festmahl

A breakfast festival feast full of art.

How an Englishman living in Berlin described German breakfasts, according to Frankfurter Rundschau’s excerpt from the German translation of his English book about German culture.

“At weekend breakfasts, every square centimeter of the table is covered by an enormous assortment of cheeses, cold cuts, fruit, jams, honey, spreads and other things.” Fresh rolls from the corner bakery! Well-made croissants. Ripe tomatoes, herbs from the balcony, good yogurt, a warm soft-boiled egg to carefully dismantle in an egg cup, sometimes smoked salmon and inexpensive caviar. Excellent coffee.

(FROO shtook   olls   KOONST foal ess   FEST mall.)

Überwachungstour

Surveillance tour of Berlin.

A Danish artist and media conference organizer has created a Snowden-inspired bus tour in Berlin, taking visitors to historic sites of surveillance.

High points of the “Magical Secrecy Tour” include:
A guided tour of the Stasi museum and archive, a look at the outside of the giant new headquarters of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency (BND), Berlin’s Google office, the bridge where they used to exchange spies, the giant white golf ball listening stations atop the Teufelsberg (great views!) and some surprises.

(Ü bah VOCHH oongz TOO ah.)

Kaufen Sie jede Woche vier gute bequeme Pelze xy 12345467890

“Buy four good comfortable furs every week.”

A German version of the test sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

Still readable on telex printouts in 17 kilometers of underground Cold War bunkers built in the Eiffel region. The largest complex was built in the Ahr valley near Bonn as an underground city for the federal government to move to in case of nuclear war, in two former railroad tunnels, with room for several thousand people.

Some of the bunkers have been opened to visitors. There will be several guided tours this summer and in the summer of 2015, visiting the federal government’s complex, an underground communications center and a shelter built for North Rhine-Westphalia’s central bank.

(Cow fen   zee   YAY da   VOCHH ah   fear   GOOT ah   beck VEM ah   PELTS ah.)

Nicht rauchen

“No smoking.”

The only sign I saw 20th-century Germans disobey.

The post-W.W.II history of how cigarettes were marketed to Germans might contain some answers. 20th-century German cigarette ads were a bit of a puzzle to this nonsmoking foreigner. I never grokked the feelings of rebellion and addiction that might be being felt by German smokers. After trying to understand their tobacco brands’ ubiquitous billboards for years, I decided the ads seemed to say somehow that smoking was the social equivalent of smiling and making friends, that it signified you were socially approachable. An extreme was the Gauloises ads, showing relaxed, bien-dans-sa-peau Frenchmen smoking outdoors in a tree-shaded piazza in good weather, while wearing pyjamas in public.

(Nichh t   r-r-r OW! chh en.)

Physikgesäubert vs. chemiegesäubert

“Cleaned by physics vs. cleaned by chemistry.” In the late 1990’s, to this tourist, it appeared that U.S. appliances were designed so that ever-more-sophisticated soaps and/or soap marketing would get laundry clean, while German appliances were designed to use physics to get laundry clean. The latter had gotten so good at it that for years they’d been competing by promising not cleaner clothes but to reduce the electricity and especially water required to do a load of wash.

The fabrics in clothing sold in 1990’s Germany were much higher quality than the kleenex clothes sold in the U.S.A.: thicker, stronger, less likely to wrinkle. At the time I thought this was because German consumers complained before purchases more, both to each other and to the stores*, but perhaps it was also due to post-purchase complaining after clothes designed to be worn twice and soap-laundered dissatisfied chatty consumers rather egregiously when worn four times and agitation-laundered.

In both countries, water in rural creeks and rivers formed persistent foam that did look like soap bubbles, originally white but turning yellow with dust as it was carried downstream. But friends said this was caused not by household soaps but by artificial fertilizers in runoff from farmers’ fields.

(Fizz EEK geh ZOY bat   vair seuss   chhem EE geh ZOY bat.)

*   “Are you trying to verarsch me with that see-through, pilly, short-fiber cotton?”

Miniatur-Wunderland

“Miniature Wonderland,” a flabbergastingly extensive, ambitious, complex, technically impressive and beautiful model train exhibit in Hamburg. They recreated the Swiss Alps, the Frankfurt Airport, a floating Scandinavian cruise ship, Las Vegas and Florida. There are dozens or perhaps hundreds of tiny jokes to hunt for. The sun rises and sets every fifteen minutes, with lights coming on in all the little villages. Visitors can watch the Wunderland artist-engineers at work in their glass cubicles, while they can watch you enjoying the show.

(Min ee ah TOUR   VOON da lond.)

Reiseberichte, Reisebeschreibungen

“Travel reports,” “travel descriptions.” Travelogues, books and stories that share a wanderer’s experiences, discoveries, places and times.

From a recent travel article in Spiegel-Online:

“Iran has sensational sights to go and see. The monuments to the poets, the gardens in Shiraz, the oasis idylls of Yazd, the mosques in Isfahan, all were on my itinerary. But then I kept meeting so many wonderful people, whose stories were much more interesting than those narrated by historic stone walls.”

(WRY zeh beh RICK teh,   WRY zeh beh SHRY boong en.)

“Wissen, wie es war”

“To know what it was like.” Motto for the twentieth anniversary of the museum for the Stasi documents, the files and systems of the East German secret police, that were saved from destruction, reconstructed despite destruction, archived, read, evaluated, reread and shown to visitors from all over the world.

The decision to preserve the files was not as obvious now as it may seem in retrospect. Some well-meaning West German deciders wondered if finishing the Stasi’s destruction of the files might not be a benison to the Stasi’s victims, in the extremely short term. Fortunately for victims, for voters who in the decades since might otherwise have elected candidates with an “inoffizielle Mitarbeiter” (“unofficial coworker,” “unofficial employee”) past, for people living in police states who are making plans about what to do when the dictatorship falls, and for people living in potential police states, the documents were not destroyed, systems were developed to work with them while preserving privacy for the innocent, and the people at these archives are happy to share what they’ve learned with visitors.

(VISS en   vee   ess   vahr.)

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