“Your Skin is Not Like Mine”

One day last week I stopped at a nearby travel agency. I wanted to see if they could find me a good deal for my upcoming trip to Italy.  I walked in and sat down in front of the other available agent as there was a gentleman occupying the other agent’s desk. I explained to the agent what I was looking for.

We chatted briefly before she got up to find a brochure.  I smiled at the gentleman sitting who was being helped by the other agent, and said “Hi”.  But he turned his head without responding. I started to get indignant because I was frustrated that Germans rarely speak back, after I greet them.  I had been told and forewarned about their temperament but thought surely they can’t all be that snobbish to not speak when spoken to.  I wanted to say hello to him again in an even louder voice than before just to ensure that he had heard me.  Surely he would respond this time.

My agent returned and I ultimately decided to ignore him. He left about 5 minutes later. And I left about 10 minutes  later.  As I’m crossing the street I see him approaching me on his bicycle.  He stops me and asks if I speak German. I replied “ein bisschen” “only a little”.  Then he asks if I spoke English, when he clearly heard me speaking English to the travel agent. But I responded positively. So he proceeded to ask me if I had time to talk over coffee.

In my mind I’m thinking “Is this the same guy who just snubbed me 20 minutes ago?”  Clearly, I was confused.  So I agreed to go to the cafe across the street.  As he locked up his bike he begins with the questions…

Him: Are you African?
Me: No
Him: Are you Haitian?
Me: No
Him: Are you Brazilian?
Me: No
Him: Dominican?
Me: I’m American
Him: Afro… American?

With every negative response I supplied him, he grew more and more confused. We sat down and I explained to him that I’m American, yes, African-American.  He then asks where my parents are from.  I said America so he proceeds to ask about my grandparents. Yup they’re American too.  I explained that at least 4 or 5 generations of my parents are all American.  But of course he follows that with “So where in Africa is your family originally from” I said to be honest I couldn’t tell you.  (I spared him the details of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, a little to heavy for me after work and over coffee at the cafe.)

Finally, it was my turn to ask the questions.  I found out that he was a Serbian living in Germany named Nicola. (It sounds really sexy when says it, compared to how it looks on the screen. )  Then I asked why he ignored me when I greeted him in the travel agency. His response was that it is atypical for Germans to speak to people they don’t know.  “But you’re not German”, I say.  And he gives me a sly smile.   He went on about how he doesn’t like German women, because they’re “hearts are cold” and his people i.e. the Serbs (is that even politically correct –the Serbs) are not like that.

I ordered a cappuccino and he ordered water.  And then we start talking about race, and color, and interracial relationships. He said it was an uncommon thing in Germany, but I disagree. I see a lot of black, mostly African, women with white, European men. Additionally, Germany has a huge U.S. military population and a great percentage of military families are biracial especially ones living overseas. So I see a lot of biracial couples and children here in Germany.  I have only seen one biracial couple where the woman was black here in Germany and the man was white.

I asked him if he had ever dated a black girl or an African girls to which he replied that he hadn’t but would like to. Adding that it’s not easy to meet them. I said for starters you can speak back, if they speak to you. He attempted to gauge my interest in dating white guys, I told him that I don’t discriminate.

He noticed the tattoo on my arm and touched it, asking if I had only one.  Then he rubbed my arm and hand, stating that “It’s so nice…your skin is beautiful, not like mine”.  As he’s rubbing his skin and rubbing mine trying to compare, I assure him that there really is no difference. But he rubbing, turned into a petting, so I removed my hand from the table. I’m nobody’s pet!

After paying for our beverages we left and began walking. He looked older but not too old, so I asked him his age.  His response was, “How old do I look?” Everyone knows that that response really means  “I’m older than I think you’ll care to entertain” OR “I’m younger than I want to share with you”.  I knew it was the former and he finally told me that he was 40-years old.  I told him my age, right before telling him that we needed to part ways. (I didn’t want him knowing where I lived, so I didn’t want to get too close to my house/neighborhood).   He asked for my number and I obliged but giving him the spelling of my name was a chore.  I spelled it in English AND in German and finally he got it right but not before pointing to signs that contained the letters in my name.  I guess I shouldn’t complain his English was way better than my German.

Of course he sent me a good morning text the following day, but managed to spell my name wrong.  I’ll never understand why people insist on spelling your name wrong when they send you a Facebook message or an email at work when my name is clearly in the address. It’s annoying as hell.

Subscribe to my blog and click here for Part II, the follow-up meeting with the Serbian.

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The Mainz Festival, The Speakeasy and Cooky’s Reloaded

Friday night I went to the Mainz festival by the river. (I’m a week behind on posting so this is from the previous Friday.)  I’ve learned that Germans like to have festivals for any reason. And I couldn’t begin to tell you the meaning behind this one besides just being another reason to eat and drink your choice of alcoholic beverage.  The Mainz festival was similar to a big carnival, complete with rides, local goods, and of course beer and wine. I was excited about the crepes, they were yummy and I was hoping it would help soak up some of the alcohol I had consumed.  When I realized that my tab was growing largely due to my choice of mixed drinks and my colleagues who choice wine and beer had minimal tabs, I quickly switched to wine.

German Culture Lesson 1:

Wine costs less than water in many cases. So hydrate well or you’ll find yourself dehydrated AND intoxicated very quickly. If you’re on a budget skip the hard liquor and opt for the beer or wine.

Later that night, closer to midnight, I headed out with another friend to hit the club scene.  We met up with one of his male friends who had stepped outside of the spot he was in to meet us and direct us back there.  This place was unmarked and blended easily into the neighborhood.  He rang the doorbell and we waited for about 5 minutes before someone came to the door to let us in.  There was a small group that had come and was waiting behind us to get in as well. Unfortunately, they weren’t allowed inside.  We met up with another female inside who was a really cool Kiwi.

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Surprisingly, the music didn’t bleed into the outside, so it was hard to tell what the vibe would be like inside, but it was definitely live inside.  It almost reminded me of a speakeasy from the way you were allowed or not allowed in. But the inside décor was nice as was the crowd.  The bartenders were very attentive to the patrons. They made unique drinks that were quite tasty and garnished with fresh fruits that I wasn’t quite able to identify.  This place was different than any place I had ever been but hoped to return again. I made sure to thank the bartenders as I was leaving, in hopes that they would remember me, should I return, and not get the treatment of the group they denied entry to. I think the name of the place is called “Popular”, and the guy who escorted us mentioned that he usually ended his night there instead of beginning it there, so I’m not sure if it’s more of an after-hours spot or even what time they close.  By the time we left we could hear the music spilling outside that we couldn’t before.

Ironically, we left after an hour or so and made our way over to Cooky’s.  This time however,  it was a decent crowd and the music was decent and I danced a bit. Although the music was mostly from the early 2000’s, it was still pretty good.

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Wine and Ass Man What?

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The weekend of  July 27 was spent sipping wine and exploring quaint towns in Hesse.  A few gal pals and I went up to the Frauensteiner Weinfest (Frauenstein Wine Festival).  It was smaller than what I had expected for a wine festival but it was interesting nonetheless. There were a handful of wineries represented from the area as well as a few food vendors and a barely there live band.  We met a super cute guy whose family owned one of the wineries represented at the festival.  He lives in Berlin and works for Lufthansa in the First Class Lounge and was very well traveled.  He had spent a few months in the states so his English was really good.

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The town was so cute, I took the shot below directly across from the festival. You can see a castle in the back.

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After flirting and a few glasses of wine later we decided to head over to another nearby town, Rüdesheim am Rhein and Assmannshausen.  The river is really nice and you can apparently take a lift over the town to the other side of the river, with a great view.

With a name like Assmannshausen, you’ll never forget it…

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Walking though the town was pretty fun too, it was rather warm out and we thought this restaurant had the right idea. And these fellas were more than happy to oblige my photo taking.

For dinner we stopped at traditional German Restaurant. It was too hot for heavy German food so I had a chicken salad and saved room for Gelato. Yum!

A few shots of me enjoying the scenery and trying not melt. It was literally between 96 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

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We continued walking around for a bit, luckily during the summer here it doesn’t get dark until about 9:45 or 10:00 PM.

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We saw a big group singing as they proceeded into Bollesje which seemed to have a prisoner’s theme with wardrobe and all. There’s a holding cell inside the restaurant and it seems like it would be a fun place for bachelor party, which I imagine they get a ton of.  Here are some flicks:

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My First Castle

Blogging is difficult when you spend your time Living Out Loud.  But better late than never …right!

A view from the garden.
A view from the garden.

My world-wind weekend ended with my first Castle visit. A new friend offered to take me to see my first castle. So of course I happily obliged. We drove about an hour from Frankfurt to the city of Heidelberg. The drive there was very scenic and beautiful. The scenery is much like what I imagine the French countryside looks like. I guess I never imagined the German countryside to be so beautiful.

Upon arriving in the city and parking, we walked up a few steep cobblestone hills. And I’m so glad I happened to bring my “walking sandals” with me. I didn’t initially know what we’d be doing that day and had just purchased sandals made for walking, although they’re ugly, they do a good job.

We visited the garden outside of the castle first. It was a great day and the view was amazing. I left my camera home, stupidly, but my phone took surprisingly nice pictures. We enjoyed the views for a while before heading over to the castle.

Unfortunately, the castle was closed until 11pm for a performance. So we were only able to take pictures of the outside. That just means I have to come back.

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My First Week Abroad

Guess who moved overseas?  MEEEE! That’s who.  Yup, I’m always traveling somewhere, so this is sort of an extension of that passion.  Only this will be a slightly new experience for me.  I’ve never lived anywhere outside of the United States for more than four months.

So where am I?  Deutschland or Germany as most people say.  It was a lot of work preparing for this new chapter… visas, packing, housing etc. But I survived and without too many headaches.

I’ve visited Germany for a short time earlier this year and it was super cold and snowy but ultimately I pressed forward with my decision to move here.

Anyway, I arrived to Frankfurt on a beautiful summer day.  My first week in Frankfurt was pretty good. I didn’t have jet lag and was able to score a few things from various stores in the not-too-distant area. I got a TV, some groceries, (I swear the bread will be the death of me, but it’s so delicious) and some household items like cleaning supplies and toilet paper.  Once I get cable and internet I’ll be all set.

In addition to shopping all day, I was invited to hang out on Saturday night with an acquaintance I’ve known for a few years and a small group of others. I had an amazing time and the guys were all really fun characters.

Starting the night at O’Reileys near the train station downtown was good. I had a chicken club which would have been better if they didn’t use Miracle Whip or the mayo substitute.  Even better was that they had Magner’s Cider beer on tap. WINNING! I’m not a real beer drinker so I’ll chose Cider beer, wine, or mixed liquor whenever I’m out. I hear Apple wine is really big in Germany so I’m dying to try it.

After dinner we took a cab to the Sachsenhausen area near the Hooters. Let me tell you, that was like nothing I had ever expected to see in Frankfurt.  It was like a huge party where you feel like you know half the crowd.  I can only compare it to a combination of D.C’s U-Street corridor combined with Philadelphia’s South Street and Baltimore’s Power Plant Live but with mostly outdoor seating, cheap drinks, and hookah with huge groups of people. I don’t even know if that’s an accurate description but it’s all I can come up with for now.

Apparently, the guys we went with had become favorites of one of the cocktail waitresses at the first spot.  So we got awesome treatment and really great drinks for a good price. We bar hopped for a while, taking shots here and there. It always seemed that the bartenders would capitalize or magnify our “Americaness”…I know that isn’t really a word but our shots were red, white, and blue. Although they were quite good. And our drinks were “American-sized”.  I guess “when in Germany do as the…Americans?”

It’s Europe so cigarette smoking is widely acceptable and sometimes expected; luckily my hair didn’t smell like smoke the next day.

Most memorable was the ridiculous number of bridal and grooms party’s strolling through Sachsenhausen, selling kisses, hugs, adult toys, and everything in between. Apparently, the proceeds go to the bride or to offset the cost of the wedding.  I won’t say which of these treasures I indulged in but it was a good time.

I wasn’t ready to go but one of the ladies was.  The night started at about 6:30 and ended at about 1:30 AM.

I think my first weekend in Germany was a success.

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