September 30th, 2007

Fishy Circumstances

Home from the road

We accidentally went to the Netherlands two days ago. We'd planned our two weeks of driving vacation around the continent to include four countries - France, Luxembourg, Germany, and Belgium. We were in Aachen (Germany), seat of Charlemagne's empire, and heading for Ghent (Belgium), hotbed of late medieval wool trade. The GPS unit directed us to the most efficacious route between the two cities, and - lo and behold - we found ourselves driving through thirty miles of the Netherlands en route from one to the other.

This is one of the truly fabulous consequences of the Schengen area. It's possible to end up in another country by accident, no passports involved.

C. drove the whole time, UK car on continental roads. Despite driving on an unaccustomed side of the road, he astonished both of us by making absolutely no mistakes about which side of the road he was driving on. We figure he'll be overdue for one if we ever do another continental road trip.

My biggest moment of relief: checking in to the last hotel and confirming I'd made all the hotel arrangements for all the correct nights.

We had some really good places to stay on this trip, including the decadent B&B near Amiens, complete with dinner and good company; one night on a houseboat-hotel in Ghent; one night in a hotel which only opened a week-and-a-half before we stayed there, newly-built (and thus hardly anyone else was staying there); and one night of complete luxury in a countryside chateau with really, really good food and service. Also, this was the trip built around me winning free lunch in the French countryside in the Menu for Hope raffle back in January. (More on many of these things in the near future.)

P.S. Pretty much all my online time on this trip went to my students, so I will never know what urgent things happened to my f'list in the past fortnight unless you let me know.
Vanitas desk

Hotel Poetry

The Ramada Hotel in Friedrichroda won my heart by providing its entire hotel directory of services in rhyming couplets. It did this not just in German, but in English too, in a part of Germany which sees mostly German tourists. There was something like twelve pages of rhymes. I loved them so much that I typed up nearly all the English ones (except for a few more dull ones) and a few of the German ones for comparison.

No author was ascribed. It was obviously local effort, not a Ramada policy (much as it would be nifty if it were otherwise), as the directory described that particular hotel's services, amenities, timetables, and prices.

Friedrichroda is a small town in the Thuringian forest, an excellent base for inexpensive accomodation and the best hiking trails I have seen in my entire life. The area even has Germany's only remaining countryside tram service, offering regular transport between the major towns and villages of the region for better access. Perhaps it's this tranquility which inspired the unknown author to put such effort, cleverness, and whimsy into writing in rhyme.


You came with your pet - your cat or dog
No problems - it's welcome around the clock
Eight Euros per night - these rates you can read
And you have to put your dog on the lead.
Entry to the restaurant is granted only to guests with two feet
For beings on numerous paws
Sorry! The doors are closed.

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