Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Italy vs Germany

Today I rode around the postcard perfect Passau. I realised that if I'm going to make a go at riding around Europe thing, I am going to have to get some front suspension for my bike. These cobble stones are really starting to jolt my entire body and cause head aches and the like. But you know.. I'm cycling Europe, so I should just suck it up. Nora informs me that I'm not the first person she has met that built a bike from scrap and rode it around Europe. She met some French guys who did it right here in Passau because they knew where to look. Tomorrow, Nora takes me there and shows me this student bike graveyard. Maybe I will get my new forks there.

I bought some Birkenstocks. I figure whilst I'm in Germany still and they are cheap (28 Euro), I should buy a pair. This is my first foray into the world of the 'mandal' (a man's sandal), but I think after riding about 80km yesterday in $4 thongs from Target, I think i deserve it. I popped over the border into Austria. It was a simple ride across a bridge about 200 metres from where I'm staying. The excitement of crossing into another country was dampened somewhat by the Neo-political landscape of the modern day Europe. No passport required. No fancy stamp given. No soldiers with Kalashnikovs. But it was a cool ride by the river Inn and I got to see where the river meets the Danube (it isn't blue). The university campus is set on the river and is surrounded by gorgeous forests.

I went back to the house but no one was there, so to kill time, I went into a cafe to get a coffee and this guy at the counter starts talking to me in German. I reply with the 'I don't speak German' whilst pointing to my kangaroo. He replies 'you are an Englishman?' I say no and then point to the Australian flag that I was given when I bought my shoes. 'So you are an Englishman'. I say no. I'm from Australia' and he starts talking to me in German, thinking that I said Austria. I correct him and he starts making aloof comments about visitors to his town i a rather camp voice much like Herr Wolf Lipp of League of Gentleman fame. Then he looks me up and down. Not in an aggressive masculine way, but more in a "I'm checking you out" way. He says 'why don't you join me in a drink?' cheersing the air in my direction and putting down the rest of his beer. I decline his offer and turn to wait for my coffee. He then turns away from and starts talking to himself (but loud enough so everyone hears). 'I am an English man, I stand still, I stand stiff'. He emphasised the last word with a long 'ffff' sound and a leer in my direction. I collect my coffee and leave. Are men like this to women? If so, I apologise.

So this Italy vs German game that is played tonight has got the locals all worked up. The whole town had this anticipation floating through the air, and riding past an Italian restaurant where the waiters were decked out in their nations colours you could feel their angst too. And it got me thinking about the relationship between Germany and Italy and how this might make choosing who to support tonight difficult.

Here's some examples:
Michael Schumacher (German) drives for Ferrari (Italy)
The Pope (German) lives and works in Rome (Italy)*
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (German poet) loved travelling to Italy
Kamps bakery (German) recently bought Roncardin (an Italian noodle company)

I'm sure there are more examples (and if you think of one, pop it in the comments), but where do people's alligences lie?


jo said...

Wow what an amazing time you are having. Keep safe

love jo

ElmoreGirl said...

"Italy would be nice"

Are you thinking of going there?

Eleanora Martinez said...

Hey . . so I hear on the grapevine that Italy beat Germany . . I how people reacted here when Australia defeated Japan I wonder what kind of reaction went down over in Germanland . . ?