I wish I had a unifying theme for this post, but I really don't. Other than: I'm in Europe. Here are a few stories that I'll share via blog so Nate doesn't have to hear me repeat them when I get back next week. . .
I walked into the Haagen-Dazs and in my best Spanish, asked for a chocolate ice cream cone. As with most of the Spanish people I've encountered in the service and foodservice industries, this guy spoke English and replied to me in English, as if he was embarassed at my attempt at the foreign language. But how did he know that I was an English speaker?
Clue #1: I over-do it. Comparative example:
Me (in Barcelona, in translation): "Excuse me, sir, please. I would like chocolate."
Me (at the South Bend Chocolate Company in Indianapolis, in English): "Chocolate."
Clue #2: I try to order way over at the side of the ice cream shop, down toward the end of the ice cream case. Since the scooper is typically centered, this requires an awkward movement for the scooper. But this spot is where I'm out of earshot of other store patrons. No comparative example can be achieved in written form.
Clue #3: I have a bad accent.
He handed me the cone and asked, "Vote for Obama, Hillary or McCain?"
I replied, "How did you know I was American?" This guy knew I spoke English, but I could have been British, right? As much as I try to look and play local, I think I'm as American as they come. So we ended up talking a little about politics, and it's nothing new to say how surprised I was that this Spanish guy knew so much about the American election. But this guy was 17 or 18.
I just arrived in Barcelona via Frankfurt, where I was visiting a college friend, Jens. Jens was a fraternity brother of both Nate and mine, and we keep in semi-contact that grants us just enough permission to call each other up when we're in town in our respective cities. Or in my case, to stay at his house for three days when I'm in Germany.
On Sunday, Jens and I went to cheer on his friend, Fabian, in an adult soccer league. Afterwards, we drove Fabian home, and Fabian asked me what were some differences between the US and Germany. Here's what I came up with:
Pork: the German word for pork is spelled a lot like "swine." Germans eat a lot of pork, and German restaurants feature a lot of different types of pork on their menus. Especially since the word "swine" is unappetizing, I steered clear of this menu item. I told Fabian that in Germany, it's chicken that's the "other white meat." He didn't get the joke.
Hatchbacks: because of space constraints (streets are small) and gas prices (they're at almost $10/gallon. . .), most Germans drive hatchbacks. [I'd insert a joke about hatchbacks here, but this just makes sense].
Screens for Windows: at least in Frankfurt, every house had their windows open without concerns for bugs and mosquitoes flying in. Jens' dad explained that their climate isn't good for mosquitoes, but he anticipates that the climate change is going to affect that.
I hope Europe brings me some sort of ironic or sarcastic realization that will drive my next themed blogpost, but this will have to do.
Any suggestions from you, loyal reader, on hotspots to visit whilst in Barcelona?