Tag Archives: Waiter

“Waiter waiter, there is an insect in my salad…

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Not him again, he’s in here every night!”

It’s true. I am back (in England that is). If you weren’t sure at first whether to believe the Twitter feeds, Facebook statuses and unofficial ‘sightings’ concerning my whereabouts, you can now rest assured; I am back! As of May 22nd I have been residing again in the U.K., and, by the looks of it, I’ve brought some tropical German weather with me. Life’s normalcy (the good normalcy) is slowly returning and the die-hard student habits (at one point almost eradicated through German work mentality) are gradually resurfacing. Sitting in my back garden with the laptop, basking in the May sunshine, the feeling of being home is indescribable. I have spent 8 fascinating months in Germany that I will never, ever forget, but boy, am I now glad to be home! Before I start looking forward however, let me update you lovely readers on the last 3 weeks at Gasthof Sternwhich were very, very busy.

My colleagues at the Gasthof always said that May was arguably the busiest month of the year in Göβweinstein, and to their credit they weren’t far off. To mark the arrival of May we witnessed the annual opening of the village’s outdoor swimming pool (not that I made it there!) and the re-instatement of the Riesenwindbeutel (a “cream puff” summery dessert) into Stern’s menu. Virtually every room in the hotel has been booked for a good few weeks now, meaning much longer opening hours, whilst thousands of Catholic pilgrims from different corners of Germany have steadily begun to make their ways towards the Fränkische Schweiz as part of their yearly pilgrimage. I’m going to be perfectly frank with you guys and say right now that I’m not too clued up on the history of German Catholicism, and, despite living on the edge of one of its focal points for almost one year, I didn’t make much effort to investigate the background behind German, Catholic pilgrimages. So, what I’m trying to say is, is that I can’t explain to you why there were a lot of pilgrims travelling through Göβweinstein this last month, rather I can tell you what goes on (as I was an eye-witness for a few weeks).

A start contrast to the horrors of the London Riots.

A good day out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a person who has lived his life in a rather modern and growingly secular country, watching hundreds of pilgrims marching through the streets of Göβweinstein with banners, flags, megaphones and numerous trumpets and other brass instruments came across as rather bizarre. Not that I’m not a religious person myself, it was just something that I’d never really witnessed before! Anyway, in a roundabout way, that’s what the pilgrims get up to in Göβweinstein throughout this month. There are about 5 or 6 set dates in May, all Feiertage (celebratory days), with special names like Fronleichnam and Goldener Sonntag, where thousands of these pilgrims meet in different villages within Franconian Switzerland, leading these processions. As I’ve already mentioned, there are a lot of trumpets and trombones involved, men dressed up in weird (medieval I think) outfits, religious banners being waved about, ancient hymns being sung in unison, and a guy for every procession of pilgrims reciting Christian texts through a loudspeaker. It’s a quite spectacular scene, and a very, very old tradition. There are a couple of catches however… Number one: The processions normally start around 5am. This, as you can imagine, for somebody who often finishes worked around 1am or even later, is very inconsiderate. Believe you me, the sound of trumpets (and sometimes very out of tune ones at that) waking you up, can be very irritating. Number two: The trumpet blowing, singing and marching goes on ALL. DAY. LONG. All you want to do during your break at times, is simply fall asleep. With a brass brand circling your house all day, that can be very hard to do.

So if it wasn’t the pilgrims keeping us busy at work, it was all the other guests who were visiting the region for climbing, biking, walking, or just general sight seeing. It’s definitely a lot more fun working when there’s more to do and more people around, even if it does mean longer hours! One of the busiest days I experienced, just days before I left to head home, was the 19th of May. Champions League FINAL day. Living in Bavaria, an hour and a half away from Munich, it’s hardly surprising that most people in these parts support Bayern Munich. And there was no way that people at the hotel (also big football fans), were going to miss the big match between Bayern and Chelsea, hence we set up a big projector screen in one of the suites which was reserved for just the football fans. It was a great atmosphere and a really interesting experiencing, serving all the fans their beer, trying to catch glimpses of the game myself. There was lots of banter, partly because quite a few of them knew that I was English already, and, rather unluckily, because they were so confident (almost to the point of arrogance!) that Bayern were going to win. The roar that erupted from the crowd when Mueller scored the first goal was almost deafening, and I almost dropped my tray of drinks with it. On the other hand, when Didier Drogba converted his penalty to win Chelsea the cup, the silence was surreal. Needless to say, as an English patriot, I was beaming with joy! ENGLAND 1, GERMANY 0.

Did England just beat Germany on penalties?! Oh dear!

 

 

 

 

The last few weeks then in Germany were busy, hectic, quick, but most of all, fun. There were lots of opportunities for me to go out with friends from work, which mainly consisted of heading to other restaurants for food and alcohol! The last two days were spent celebrating with friends and my newly acquired German family, having dinner round at people’s houses, and Stephan (the new boss) cooking the first BBQ of the year. It was such a nice send off from all of the Germans, and they genuinely convinced me that I am going to be missed there (despite not being half as strong or efficient as them!), so in a funny way that made me smile. I’m definitely going to miss all the Germans too, that is without doubt. I’ve spent virtually every day with most of my work colleagues; Christian, Stefan, Anka, because even on our days off we would normally hang out together. Family Vogl always treated me like a son, so it was touching saying goodbye to them, but I’m sure that it won’t be too long before they’re on the way to visit me in England. All in all, I’ve been treated like a true part of the team / family, and have learnt more during these 8 months than I probably have done in the two previous years at university (no offence intended!). I can’t wait to head back to Exeter soon, mind you :).

The journey back home was a bit lengthier than the normal trip, not that this was unexpected! I’d decided a few months back to take the train home rather than fly, mainly because I get all claustrophobic (with incredibly sweaty hands and armpits) on planes. By booking well in advance I’d saved myself an arm and a leg, so thank God for my mum nagging me to get it done. I took a taxi from Göβweinstein to Nuremberg, a train between Nuremberg and Frankfurt (approximately 2 hours), changed there and headed to Brussels, Belgium. I got a bit lost at this point when I changed in Brussels for the Eurostar, as I couldn’t read any of the signs (as they were in French), but after a brief moment of panic I found my way. After a short wait for the Eurostar to arrive, I boarded, headed for Lille in France, and then next stop was London St. Pancras! 8 hours later and I was back in England, with Grace and my Dad waiting to pick me up. My sister would have been there too, but for her train breaking down at Barking due to signal failure (that was when the penny dropped that I was truly back in England). After dinner at Pizza Express in London, we all headed back to Essex, where a big hug was in store from my sister and mum. Ahhhhhhh!

So yes, the year abroad is over. Fertig. I really, really can’t believe it! It feels like yesterday when I was sitting inside my house composing my first blog post, telling you guys what sort of a challenge I was about to embark upon, believing it was going to be the easiest year of my life ;). Man, how time flies and what lessons life can teach you in such a short space of time. I will NEVER forget these last 8 months.

The good news is, however, (apart from the fact that all my friends and family can see me again), is that I’m not going to simply stop writing this blog, take the site off-air, delete all living memory of the year-abroad. Oh no. I’ve decided that I’m going to keep on writing :). Why not eh! I lead a relatively interesting life (that’s if you don’t compare me to George Michael or Paul Gascoigne), I’ve still got a whole summer and final year of student life to tell you all about, and, besides, I enjoy writing this blog! So yes, it’s goodbye for a few days, but like I said, I’ll be back with more tales. Only this time, English tales.

Bye bye!

“Waiter waiter I can’t eat this meat, it’s crawling with maggots…

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Quick Sir, run to the other end of the table and grab it as it goes by!”

Thank goodness I’ve got a day off! Finally I can start working on my tan again (back home I’d start this process around January); the shorts are back on. Today I have been attempting to catch as many rays as possible in a bid to make up for all the days I’ve spent wearing trousers at work, neglecting my legs’ cries for sunlight. One factor behind this was the well and truly scorching weekend we’ve just experienced in Göβweinstein, with temperatures reaching around 30 degrees at points (35 degrees in long trousers). The hotel was absolutely jam-packed day and night, with most guests dining outside in the Biergarten. I can’t describe how painful our legs and feet were after that weekend, having been serving 4 days virtually non-stop! It seemed at points that the kitchen was open almost ‘all hours.’ Some guests did push it a bit far mind you, ordering roast duck at midnight to be eaten outside.

The terrace is almost always full now.

Spring cleaning before the guests arrive.

I always knew that my last couple of months at Gasthof Stern would be rather busy, and so it has turned out to be! But, funnily enough, the busier it has been the more fun we’ve had working (despite running around for hours on end). Easter was particularly brutal. Traffic in the village almost came to a complete standstill at points over the Easter week, as there were literally hundreds of bus loads of visitors travelling through Göβweinstein and the surrounding areas. The traditionally tranquil village turned temporarily into the Nürnburg Ring. Many buses would stop off in the afternoons in the village, the guests would have coffee and cake in the restaurant and then carry on with their travels. This was all indeed very pleasant, saying hello to the OAPS and helping them on their way, but I’ve got to admit that when 4 bus loads of OAPS turn up simultaneously, that it can be quite demanding! Due to the sublime weather we’ve had of late, all of the walkers, climbers, bikers and locals have come out of their shells, adding to business at the hotel. Things normally kick off around midday, with guests arriving for lunch, and carry on until around 1 or 2am. Hence, we’ve been very tired of late! I can’t complain though, it’s always lots of fun when the hotel is buzzing, and what with blues skies and the sun beating down, the village looks absolutely idyllic.

Recently I had a very funny experience. Petra’s little sister Sophie had asked me whether I could go one morning into the local school, and help one of the classes practice English. I basically had to stand in front of a class for approximately two hours whilst a group of hyperactive, neurotic and spotty 14 year-olds fired questions at me from all angles and subsequently laugh at every answer I gave (regardless of how seriously I said it). I’m really not sure how much of what I said they understood, but they certainly seemed to find it all quite funny (even if the answer I gave was simply “yes”). I didn’t know whether I was putting up a good show or just making myself look stupid! One thing that did strike me however was the amount of times that I was asked (predominantly by boys), whether I’d seen film ‘x’ or film  ‘y’, which were always films about the peculiar theme that is “English football hooligans”. Three different boys asked me within the two hours whether I’d seen three separate films, all of which are about hooliganism in England. This left me for hours thinking; how have these young German teenagers come across these sorts of movies? And more importantly, why are they so interested in them?! Of all of the classic British films that you can enjoy, how and why would a German teenager watch a film like Green Street?!

English hooliganism is popular amongst German teenagers it seems!

I’ve got to say that Grace and me were treated like royalty when she came to see me a few weeks back. Our own room in the hotel, room service from Florian when we least expected it, bottles of champagne, the whole shabang. On one evening Heike and Bernd arranged that a whole suite in the restaurant (candle lit and all!) was reserved for Grace and me, whilst Ingo concocted one of his finest dishes for us. It was truly lovely! Christian said that I’d really earned it, and that the whole Stern team wanted to use the weekend as a way of saying thank you for my hard work and that they’re very proud of me. All of which made me feel very happy! It was a great weekend with Grace obviously, and, like always, I can’t wait to be seeing her again once I’m home for good in 3 weeks :).

So, I’ve got three weeks left of hard work before I finally return home to England for good. Time has passed quickly, yet I’ve learnt and experienced so much. There are a few more things that I’d like to do here before I start getting all reminiscent however, which includes visiting the local Freibad (outdoor swimming pool), which had its official opening for the year 2012 yesterday. The hotel has a Ruhetag on Thursday, hence I think I’ll try and get all the guys together and arrange a trip!

“Waiter waiter, are there snails on the menu…?

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Yes Sir, they must have escaped from the kitchen!”

“Have you ever heard the expression: Walk a mile in my shoes, and then judge me? And then write your own books.” – Ann Rule.

One thing is certain about my last pair of work shoes: You wouldn’t have wanted to have worn them yourselves! Sadly, a bit like an elderly lady who reaches 99 but passes away shortly before her 100th birthday, my last pair of work shoes finally pegged out in the 8th  and final month of my year abroad. I really did believe that they would see me through the last 4 weeks here in Germany, but alas. They served me well, they fought the good fight. By the end they were well and truly in tatters. Once you’ve finished reading this latest blog instalment you can then judge accordingly: Was this simply an infamous matter of student laziness, poorness and stinginess, all poured into one, or more nobly, one young man’s valiant attempt at environmental consciousness?

Here are the three main reasons which finally convinced me that I should finally hang up these pair of boots.

1) My shoes were a colour which they originally were not.

Poor, pale shoes.

My shoes were made for walking, and that’s what they have done. Through sunshine and rain, inside and outside of the hotel, up and down stairs, for walking, dancing and running, these shoes have been with me the whole way. Strand by strand, after a couple of months the exterior material of my shoes began to wear / rub off. At first it didn’t look so bad, because I could cover up the bare bits with dark coloured mud, which convinced older people that my shoes were still black. Nowadays however, the shoes resemble two black and white cats (cats that you wear on your feet).

2) On a rainy day there was only a 10% chance that my feet would stay dry throughout.

Thin-looking, tired shoe. Poor shoe.

Of late I’d been feeling shorter than ever (is 5 foot 7 that bad?!). I’d come to the conclusion, that the reason behind this was that the soles of my shoes were wearing a bit thin. In fact, there weren’t any soles at all. The penny dropped, however, when I walked through the shallowest puddle ever for approximately 0.5 seconds. My feet were absolutely DRENCHED! If I’d have walked through that puddle bare foot, then I reckon they’d have come out less wet. I looked down to the soles of my shoes, and all I could see were my socks. My shoe soles were gone. Grounded into the earth below my feet over the last 7 months.


3) My boss ordered me to buy new shoes.

I think that I’d been living in denial for quite some time. I knew that the shoes were gone, I’d just failed to accept it. My new boss Lisa brought it up yesterday as a half joke / indirect order. She said, “Kit, you know that there’s a shoe shop across the road that does discounts for everybody that works at Gasthof Stern?”

Judge me as you will, the shoes served me well and I gave them every chance that I could!