Friday, November 30, 2012

A recycling story

As I mentioned before, Germans take recycling super seriously. When I first came to my apartment my landlady explained the recycling/trash rules, but in the rush of other information, I totally forgot. Two weeks ago my upstairs neighbor, having noticed that I was doing it all wrong, offered to explain everything to me again. Here goes:

All waste material is split into one of seven categories: paper, plastic/metal, clear glass, brown glass, green glass, compost, and trash. You throw things in the trash only as a last resort - if something could possibly go into one of the other categories, it darn well should.

Plastic, metal, and the three glasses should be washed clean of food waste. If, for example, a glass jar has a label, that label should be removed and put into the paper container, because it is not glass. The washed-off food waste should join normal food waste in the compost containers.

Within my apartment building we have communal compost, plastic/metal, and trash bins into which our apartment's smaller versions should be emptied. The compost bin should not have any paper or plastic in it, so no putting food waste into bags to throw away. Compost and trash are picked up on alternating Monday mornings at 6am, so the appropriate bin should be dragged to the front of the building on Sunday night. If the bin is not dragged back into place by around noon the next day, the neighbors get irritated with the eyesore and tuck it away somewhere, leaving us a note detailing where to find it. Recycling is picked up every third Thursday at 6am, and must be put into special yellow bags that one can only get from city hall. If the recycling is not in the yellow bag, the recycling people will leave it.

The glass and paper go into color-coded neighborhood bins that live in the little parking lot next to the neighborhood park. Green glass goes in the green bin, clear glass goes in the white bin, brown glass goes in the brown bin, and paper goes in the blue bin. Some buildings have their own glass and paper bins that get picked up like trash and recycling, but we don't have that. I was chided for mistaking another building's paper bin as the place to put my paper. You only make that mistake once.

In addition, batteries must absolutely be recycling and only an antisocial Neanderthal wouldn't recycle them, but I've yet to find where one does this. I'll have to take them home to my local library's battery recycling bin, or risk being shunned by all upstanding Germans.

Let me tell you, I took notes on this little talk and made a schedule so as to not get anything wrong. They'll make a German of me yet.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A collection of smiles

#1: The buses here are often between two and five minutes late. This is very un-German, and I'm assured that the problem is unique to my city. Very reassuring. Despite (or maybe in response to) the lack of punctuality, German bus drivers have no interest in braking for a couple more seconds while you run onto the bus. Can you tell I have personal experience with this? Today, however, a bus driver waited for me. Thanks, nice bus driver.

#2: Fortunately or unfortunately, the lateness issue is only true of the buses. I've had a few issues with plumbing since moving in to my apartment, so this morning a repairperson was scheduled to come in at 8am. Not my idea, let me assure you. At 7:46am sharp my bell rang and it was the repair guy. This morning I was irritated, but in hindsight, German punctuality really does make my type-A self smile.

#3: Germans are obsessive about environmental cleanliness. Except for the smoking thing. Every trashcan is actually three trash cans: paper, plastic/metal/glass, and real trash, and these are very important - my first day in Germany a homeless man berated me for throwing something in the wrong bin. Sometime soon I'll tell you all the rules governing recycling and garbage for my apartment. It's a serious thing. In fact, most German cities have a dedicated team of people who wander around with bags and those little claw-on-stick tools picking up garbage. These people are dressed head-to-toe in reflective orange or yellow and seem to generally be burly forty-year-old men. Imagine my delight when I passed a toy shop today and saw one of these men happily playing with the "create a path for the marble" toy on display while his cart of garbage-collecting tools waited nearby.

#4: Starting next week I have a new school schedule, since there are more English classes than hours I'm allowed to work every week. This means I had to start saying goodbye (possibly temporary, possibly not) to a couple of my classes. One seventh-grade class greeted my announcement with a collective sad sigh and a round of applause.

#5: My landlady is an amateur DIY-er, even for jobs that maybe shouldn't be done by one's self, like electricity and plumbing. You can imagine, therefore, that prior to calling the repair guy mentioned in #2, she tried to fix my plumbing problems herself. On Saturday I got a knock on my door and she came in to try tightening the washer on my kitchen faucet. When that didn't work she took the whole faucet off the wall and went away to a hardware store to see if she could find a solution while I stood there somewhat dumbfounded. As it turns out, she did indeed fix both my dripping faucet and clogged shower drain. And no, hair in the drain was not the problem. Now I have a bitty plunger I'm only to use on the shower if it backs up again and a new washer on my faucet. Problems solved.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

It's a German thing

We're talking about jobs in my ninth-grade class, and on Tuesday started to describe the skills needed for different paths of employment. I asked the students to think of a job they may want to do in a few years, and make a little word map regarding the skills, positives, and negatives of that job. Then I wandered about as they did so and tried to translate the un-translatable jobs they wished to perform (turns out there's a general word for someone who works in an office). Happily, the teacher I'm assisting has a smartphone with a German-English dictionary.

I also chided some French exchange students who spoke no English and little German, because I thought they were just not doing their work. Oops. My actual students quickly corrected me. The struggles of only seeing a class once a week.

With word maps finished, we shared some of the attributes of their chosen jobs. The students told me about what was needed to be a nurse, engineer, banker, police officer, lawyer, and computer repairperson. I asked if anyone had picked a creative job, like interior designer, actor, musician, or even a museum guide. Please guess how many people raised their hands.

Got a number in your head?

Remember that number.

You'll want it in just a minute. Ready?

Zero. Not a single person in a class of thirty had chosen a profession in either the humanities or creative sectors. And this is a class of ninth-graders, with four more years to go before they have to take their big final exams. They weren't choosing their jobs, they weren't declaring anything, they were just picking something they might be interested in to write about for a classroom exercise and they all picked very practical, useful jobs. I was flabbergasted. I said so, and told them that an American classroom would definitely have included some aspiring actors, singers, artists, or communications majors. They looked at me with polite disbelief, as if I'd walked into the classroom wearing Princess Beatrice's hat from the royal wedding. I gave them the same look. It was a fascinating sociological clash.

Later, talking to a friend about this, she said that such a response is very typical for Germans. The students may have indeed cherished secret dreams of becoming the next big actor or actress, but these dreams are considered non-serious and possibly a bit shameful. Definitely they remain a secret. I told her about the American slogan that you can achieve anything you want, and she laughed at me. Germans don't say that, she said, because it isn't true. We don't tell our children they can do whatever they want because they can't.

Yikes. Part of me feels like German students miss out on something important by not hearing this message. Then again, Germany has one of the strongest economies in the world, along with one of the highest standards of living. I've not seen Germans unhappy with their lives, they just enjoy themselves outside of work. The concept of not loving your job - or at least not wanting to love it, in an ideal world - is entirely foreign to me.

On a totally different note, I found Hobbit-themed super-sweet fake chai at the grocery store. Did I buy it? You bet I did!

Tastiness, plus Elrond. Win-win.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

Today is an odd day to be in Germany. At home my family is preparing to eat Thanksgiving dinner, students have a half-week vacation, and stores are full-to-bursting with turkeys, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, and canned pumpkin. I can definitely find potatoes here in Germany but the rest of it is hard to come by, especially the gathering of family.

I'm fortunate enough to go home for Christmas, and I only have four weeks until my flight to the US, but that doesn't make Thanksgiving away from home any easier. There is something to be said for the food and the stomach pains after consuming it all, but Thanksgiving is about friends and family more than anything, and most of them aren't here.

So I feel a little sad today. But, happily, mostly I feel thankful - 'tis the season, after all - for what I have here. Therefore, a list:

1. I'm thankful for friends and neighbors, with whom I am going to have a little Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night. I'm not alone here, and that feels really good.
2. I'm thankful for my job and colleagues, many of whom not only asked after my emotional health with being away from home for this holiday, but have made my time in Germany a wonderful, worthwhile experience. I'm thankful for them today and every day.
3. I'm thankful to my friends and family back home, who have supported me through Skype, emails, and Facebook posts. I miss them, and I'm excited to see them at Christmas or next summer (depending on geography).
4. I'm thankful for my students, who listen to me even though I have no idea what I'm doing, and who provide me with enough funny stories to make my sides ache for weeks on end.
5. I'm thankful for the internet. It provides me with a link back home and hours of entertainment in English, when I just don't want to work so hard.
6. Rounding out this incomplete list, I'm thankful for the kind Germans who patiently help through their language and country. I've felt nothing but welcome since coming to Germany, even from total strangers who work in the cathedral treasury and compliment my German.

Tomorrow or the day after I'll be back with crazy stories, but for now, thanks y'all.

Postscript: okay, one funny story - in explaining the concept of Thanksgiving to one class, one of my students asked "but who are you thanking?" and I explained that for some people it's God or a god, and others are just generally thankful. "I understand with the church and God" he said, "but if you aren't go to church, I don't think it's very good to thank, because you thank yourself. It's like bragging."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Monday I took a day trip to the Roman town of Trier. Trier is Germany's oldest city with possibly the highest concentration of churches I've ever seen (and I live in the Midwest). It was very pretty. Take a quick tour with me?

Porta Nigra (Black Gate)

Christmas Market, regrettably not yet open

Trier Cathedral, including a relics room

Liebfrauenkirche - Church of Our Lady

Church of St. Gandold

Basilica of St. Castor/main Protestant church, built by the Romans
 As you can see, it started off a gray day and became more sunny as time went on. As you can see, the sheer number of churches is rather startling, to the point that I have some pictures of churches and no names to put with them. The ones here are the main group.

I enjoyed lunch at a counter in Trier and window-shopped at a number of different places, nearly all of which were far too expensive for me. I was sorely tempted by a wool shop - I was thrilled to find yarn and knitting needles last week, and special yarn would be fun to play with. I resisted the impulse.

See?!? Pretty wool shop. Possibly has a cat? Wool shops at home do.
There's also a smattering of Rococo over-eagerness. Seriously, pink and curliques?

The imperial baths, where I sunbathed happily for nearly an hour.
On the way home. Clearly I'm living a charmed life.
It was really a lovely visit. I hope to make more day trips as time goes on, and will be sure to keep you all in the loop as I do. Where to next? Not sure. I would like to visit bigger cities like Frankfurt, but bigger cities and I never get along well, so we'll see about that.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Loan words and false friends

German and English have been intertwined ever since English was created out of a mix of German and Latin/French a long time ago. English words derived from German include: good (from gut, pronounced "goot"), pretzel (from Bretzel), waltz (from walzen, meaning "to roll or dance"), angst (from Angst, pronounced with a short "a" sound), and bratwurst (from Bratwurst, a kind of sausage). And that's just the tip of the iceberg. If my high school Latin teacher is to be believed, something like 40% of English words have Germanic roots.

Today we see a reversal in the relationship between German and English, with German taking a number of English words and pronouncing them slightly different. These are called loan words, as they are taken whole-hog from another language. Thus,

email = das Email
to flirt = flirten
to babysit = babysitten
camera = die Kamera
alcohol = der Alkohol
computer = der Computer
laptop = der/das Laptop
camping = das Camping
bestseller = der Bestseller
club = der Klub
tip = der Tipp (as in advice)
sexy = sexy

Most of these words also have an official German word (camera is actually der Fotoapparat), but everyone uses the English term to the point that my seventh grade students could not translate der Fotoapparat when they saw it in their book. A similar example is traffic jam, which is technically "die Verkehrsstauung," but the native German who taught me the word noted that everyone just uses "der Traffic Jam" and many younger people wouldn't recognize the German word anymore. Many technology words are English loan words, as are words related to romance and relationships - the examples of flirting and sexy above.

By comparison, here is the entire list of German loan words I can think of:

kindergarten = literally a garden for children or a space for children. The German is der Kindergarten.
zeitgeist = literally the ghost of the time. The German is der Zeitgeist.
schadenfreude = literally pleasure at harm. The German is die Schadenfreude.

That's it. Of course with English's roots in German, it's not as if we didn't steal a major chunk of our language hundreds of years back, so that feels better. It is a little odd to note how few modern German loan words we use, however, when the Germans use so many English words.

There are also some German words that sound like English words but mean something totally different.

das Gift = poison
der Schmuck = jewelry
der Arzt = medical doctor
bekommen = to get or receive (one of my students wants to work with "women who become babies")
der Chef = boss, CEO
das Gymnasium = secondary school, high school
komisch = strange or odd - "funny strange" instead of "funny haha"
das Mobbing = bullying
die Pension = bed and breakfast-type hotel

And I can assure you, both my students and I make mistakes with both loan words and false friends on a regular basis. It has become something of a running joke that whenever I can't think of the German word for something, the word is the English term in a German pronunciation. Except when it's not, on occasion, so I can't let my guard down.

Words, they really do trip you up.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Kids say the darnest things

A roundup of student quotes from the last two weeks:

In a seventh grade class, we’re trying to get the past and future tenses of “I must/had to go to the store” - “yesterday I had to go to the store,” for example:
Teacher: Can anyone tell me?
Student 1: Must.
Teacher: No, that’s present tense.
Student 2: Have must.
Teacher: Not quite.
Student 2: Ohhhhhhh, had must.
Teacher: No.
Student 3: Needn’t.

Talking about Hurricane Sandy in a tenth grade class:
Me: And did you talk about some of the reasons why Hurricane Sandy happened? Big, dangerous storms like that are not typical in that area of the United States.
Student: I heard on the news that some people think it was the hand of Allah striking down America.
Me: Yeah, there are definitely some crazy people with really crazy theories out there.
Student: Ah, good. I wasn’t sure if they were crazy or if all Americans were crazy.
Me: Well…

Talking about must/need/ought/have to:
Teacher: Does anyone know the answer to number two?
Student: He ought have to go there.
Teacher: Close, we don’t want the infinitive of go…
Student: He have ought to go there.
Teacher: Remember we’re working with the verb right now.
Student: He ought went there.

Discussing job interview success, comparing a picture of a colorfully, sloppily dressed and clearly bored woman with one of a professionally dressed eager-looking woman:
Teacher: So, if you were hiring someone, which one would you choose?
Student: Well, possibly you would want the woman on the left [the colorful/sloppy one] for a creative job like working at a gay bar.

 Student is giving a presentation:
Student: So in Depo Sausitee [sic] we can see that-
Teacher: Pardon, in what?
Student: Depo Sausitee.
Teacher: Do you mean "Dead Poet Society"?
Student: Yes. Depo Sausitee.

Student is reading instructions aloud:
Student: It is wery impotent to look at the pictures first.
Me: Very important.
Student: Wery important.
Me: Vvvvvvery.
Student: Wwwwwery

Monday, November 12, 2012

St. Martin's Day

St. Martin's Day was yesterday, November 11. In largely-Catholic southern Germany, where I live, it's a real live holiday; no way was I going to miss this little slice of German-ness.

Friday evening I met up with a friend a few blocks from my apartment. Because of daylight savings it was already dark, but per German custom, everyone under the age of ten had a little lantern they'd made at school. These lanterns mostly reminded me of the pinatas I made in fourth and fifth grade by gluing a bunch of tissue paper over a balloon and then popping the balloon. In a nod to the modern era, the lanterns are largely lit with little electric lights instead of candles, significantly reducing the episodes of children crying as their art projects go up in flames.

Quick storytime: for anyone who doesn't know, St. Martin of Tours was a fourth-century Roman soldier. One day, riding into a city, he saw a beggar freezing by the side of the road. Possessing a very warm Roman cavalry cloak, St. Martin ripped it in half and gave one half to the beggar. That night he dreamed that Jesus came to him wrapped in the ripped cloak and said to a bunch of angels "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptized; he has clad me." According to the bastion of information Wikipedia, Martin became a Christian and then served in the army for two more years, before determining that his faith did not allow him to fight. (Be still my pacifist heart!)* He was charged and jailed for cowardice, and volunteered to go unarmed in front of the troops to prove this wasn't true. Before he had the chance, though, the other army sued for peace and he was let go. Eventually he became a bishop and a hermit, possibly not in that order.   Now German Catholics celebrate his day.

Unfortunately my camera does not do well at all after dark, so what follows is a series of very blurry photos. Let me explain.

No, it is too much. Let me sum up.

People with lanterns and torches. It's ART.
There's St. Martin riding his horse. You can see the horse's legs if you squint.
Here's looking back at all the people parading along with torches and lanterns.

There's the bonfire at which we eventually arrived.
There's the firetruck on hand to make sure the bonfire stayed where it was.

Here's an idea of all the people present. Several hundred, at least.
 After the twenty-minute procession through my neighborhood, we ended up at the park across the street from my apartment and hung out for a while. Sausages were on sale, though I didn't feel like one. The children got free St. Martin-shaped doughnut things. I was too tall to pass for a child. I did, however, try out a St. Martin's roll/bread/pastry thing at a bakery earlier in the week. It was a sweet-ish, eggy bread, kind of like challah or brioche, sometimes with raisins. Very tasty.

* Further evidence of St. Martin being awesome: while a bishop he apparently temporarily convinced the emperor not to kill the members of a sect deemed heretical, because as Christian he was against violence. Of course after the left the imperial presence, the emperor forgot about that and beheaded the Pricillianists anyways. But still, go St. Martin and your peaceful convictions!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

How to Build a Bed

Imagine the "How to Train Your Dragon" soundtrack playing in the background of this whole post, because a) it was on for the whole bed-building process and b) everything is more epic with the proper music choices. You may also substitute the "Lord of the Rings" or "Pirates of the Caribbean" soundtracks if you prefer.

Last week my Mom came for a visit. It was really fun to show someone else around the places I've gotten to know and try new things with her - for example, we discovered a new part of the old city and ate at a simply fabulous Italian restaurant. She flew in Saturday morning, slept most of Sunday, and went with me to IKEA on Monday morning. Why IKEA, you ask? Because I really need furniture. See, I arrived in Germany in early September and spent the first two weeks living in my contact teacher's guest room. My attempts to find a nice shared apartment close to the main train station ran up against the propensity of every German under the age of thirty to smoke like a trucker, and so I temporarily moved into a one-room apartment in one of the city's "suburbs" while continuing to look for a permanent place to stay.

A dozen apartment-viewing appointments later, I was ready to move in to any non-smoking apartment that would take me. Some prospective apartmentmates lit up in the living room while we were chatting. Seriously. I don't breathe well around cigarette smoke, so the lack of it was quickly becoming my only criteria for an apartment. By the time we got to early November, the settler in me gave the rest of me an ultimatum: find a place within a week, or decide to stay where I was. I chose the latter. Up until now I'd been sleeping on a camping mattress borrowed from my landlady, with the expectation that I would move out in a few weeks and didn't care to carry a bed from one living space to another. With the decision to stay, it was time to find something slightly more elevated than my foam pad. And while I've struggled to find some things here in the past, I knew that IKEA was the place to go for furniture.

Mom and I caught the appropriate bus out to a gigantic warehouse of a store, typical in the States but very unusual in Germany. Once there we weighed the merits of a bed versus a couch-convertible-bed and estimated the size of the furniture versus the size of my room. In the end, we left with a single bed frame, a mattress tightly rolled up into a compressed cylinder, a bunch of 2x4s to use as a foundation for the mattress, and a "clothes valet" meant to hold the next day's outfit. I meant to use the last one as a bitty closet, since I don't have enough space for a normal wardrobe setup.

I had presumed that, lacking a car to carry off these purchases, we'd take advantage of IKEA's shipping services. Mom's "old bones" protested the idea of waiting for a comfortable bed and we wrestled all the components on to the bus instead. Regrettably I only had my cell phone to take a picture of that spectacle. One box was seven or eight feet tall, while my mattress roll was too thick to carry under one arm. We'd briefly considered the idea of buying an IKEA rolling dolly for ten euros, before remembering that I had nowhere to put a dolly for the next seven months. So with frequent stops and some huffing and puffing, we got the furniture components on to Bus #1. Bus #2 was a little more complicated, as it runs on the normal commuting route between the center of the city and my area of "suburb," but several nice people helped us to hold the pieces for the short ride. Home at last, we took out the instructions and discovered that IKEA is fabulous. Their furniture is designed to have all components in the package, including the tools necessary to put them together. No need for extra screw drivers, nails, hammers, or pliers. It's a beautiful thing for a temporary guest like me.

The boxes, minus the mattress

See, for a rolled-up mattress, you gotta unroll it first.
 Maximum fluffiness is apparently achieved after three days. Mattresses, you can't rush them. I can report that mine feels no different now than it did last week Monday.

The mattress waiting to fluff. With instructions.

Frame, built.

Slats, laid down.

Not-quite-fluffed mattress, placed.

Sheets, put on.

Look, a it's a real bed! I call it Pinocchio.
Except seriously, Pinocchio is a really creepy film. The cat is cute and I do love Jiminy Cricket, but the island of boys turning into donkeys was the stuff of my nightmares. Along with Ursula. Ursula is scary.

That whole setup took maybe a half-hour or forty minutes, which I found pretty good for first-time IKEA furniture assemblers. Within another ten minutes we had my closet all set up too.

We're so good at this game.
And yes, I have a Hawaiian-print skirt. It was, in fact, my first skirt since about age seven that was shorter than my ankles. Ah, youth. Now I am happy to report that I live within the realm of "somewhere around the knee" for all my skirts and dresses, though I've never tried a miniskirt before. I think my thighs might get stage fright. They're rather shy that way.

With the addition of a toaster oven provided by one of my colleagues and a monthlong bus/train ticket, it's like I really live here! Such a nice feeling. I also bought a rug for the bathroom.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Traveling Tale

I spent the past weekend with my great-grandmother’s family in a town near the city of Worms. This same Worms played a starring role in a certain Diet with Martin Luther, for anyone who knows their Reformation history.

It's also the site of the German epic "Die Nibelungen" featuring, you guessed it, dragons!
Getting to the town was somewhat complicated. I was supposed to take a train to Mainz, switch trains, then take a second train to Worms, where my cousins would pick me up. Regrettably this smooth plan hit an unexpected bump: train delays.

Before I came to Germany I thought all German public transport, like all Germans, ran on time. Having taken the bus and train for a few weeks, I can assure you this is not true. I’ve been on the frustrated receiving end of trains running five or ten minutes late, and my bus always seems to be a few minutes behind in the mornings. Despite these minor issues, I’m impressed with the transport system in Germany. On Saturday morning as I stood yawning in the main train station, however, I heard the unfortunate news that my first train was going to be around thirty minutes late. Those of us waiting for that particular conveyance stood shivering in the little strip of sunlight on the platform and waited. When the train finally did arrive and we boarded, the conductor came on over the loudspeaker and apologized for being thirty-two minutes late. Very specific.

Unluckily, my planned layover in Mainz was only thirteen minutes, meaning that I missed my second train. The schedule on Platform 5 informed me that the next train was leaving in a half-hour from Platform 6. My hot chocolate and I waited on Platform 6 while trains to other places came and went and the half hour had passed. No train to Worms.

With some trepidation I checked the train schedule on Platform 6 only to find that it said my train would leave from Platform 5. Keep in mind these schedules are printed out on paper, so it’s not as if they update electronically every time there’s a change. I went to wait on Platform 5 and attempted to call my cousins to apologize for running so late. Wrong number.

I finally arrived in Worms ninety minutes late to find my ride, quite logically, nowhere to be seen. After some forlorn wandering around the city I found the bus station, where a nice driver pointed out the proper bus and told me it would leave in two hours.

It's a happenin' place
Germany tends to shut down by Saturday afternoon and stay shut down through Sunday, except for churches and restaurants. By 4:50p when I got to Worms, all the cafes were closed for the weekend. I sat in Burger King sipping hot chocolate for the better part of my two hour wait.

From there everything went pretty well. I got to the proper address with little trouble and my family insisted it hadn’t inconvenienced them at all to wait for over an hour and return home without me. Sunday morning they fed me a big German breakfast with jam made by one cousin from the fruit of another cousin’s garden. In the afternoon we went back to Worms for the Almond Festival Day, which has nothing to do with almonds.

"Reserved for women," found spanning the first fifteen-ish spots in a parking garage.

Various women's organizations set up food stalls. I had pumpkins soup.

You could also buy cars here. I have no idea what kind of business they did.
The Almond Festival reminded me of state fairs in the States, only without the 4-H farm animals and world’s largest pumpkin competitors. We saw lots of food for sale and munched on some candied nuts.

My cousin's dog Nala

A quintessential German village picture. Notice the church spire.

Chickens. Their attending rooster woke me up at 6am both mornings.

Beautiful fall color!
Sunday night we had a lovely family dinner with fresh roasted chestnuts (delicious), bread/meat/cheese, and local wine from another cousin. Monday we corrected phone numbers and I caught the noon train back to my apartment. It was such a nice visit, and now I know I can handle my travel plans going all wrong with the help of Burger King and friendly bus drivers.