April, Come She Will

Here are all of the photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/73MmHnH4QEHKCX3d9

Wednesday April 20th was Mallika’s last craft night before heading home to California, so Amber, Karis and I met her at “Vegangster,” a local restaurant in the KTV neighborhood where we got some delicious vegan fast food and ate it by the harbor. Before long, I had to sadly bid farewell to our newest craft night member and board the ferry, with many promises to stay in touch.

Maggie arrived late on Thursday the 21st of April, since her schedule is Monday-Wednesday, so she decided to make a long weekend of her visit to Rostock. We caught up (having not seen each other since Norway) and then were in bed before too long, since I did have class the next day (but only one period.)

Friday afternoon was composed of quite a bit of research for the following day’s adventures on the Darß peninsula. The logistics were more complicated than expected, once we strung together the trains and buses and bike rental options it was going to involve a lot of inconvenient waiting, unfortunately.

We also made some beet-based veggie burgers in preparation for the evening of grilling and having a bonfire. As the time for Mara’s train arrival approached, the sunny day lured Maggie and I out and we devised a plan in which we would take my bike and the two of us would walk to Dierkow Kreuz to meet Mara’s tram and surprise her before she got on the bus.

It was a lovely and slightly hilarious walk since I was actually walking and Maggie was riding my bike, except we had been too lazy to lower the seat, so she could barely reach the pedals. This meant she could hardly complete their rotation with her tippy toes while sitting on the seat. Before she figured out that she could in fact reach, she was doing these ridiculous little quarter turns at the very top of the pedal’s arc… it was pretty funny and I won’t be able to adequately describe it, but luckily I don't have to because there is a video:

How Maggie has to pedal when we don't lower the seat on my bike for her

Suffice it to say that, with all of these shenanigans her speed was only slightly faster than I could walk anyway. Why was only one of us biking, you may be wondering? Well we didn’t have enough bikes for Mara once we met her (and no way to get one to her if we did) but Maggie didn’t feel like paying for a bus ticket back home from Dierkow Kreuz. So naturally the solution was that we would walk/bike there together and then I (with my Monatskarte, allowing me unlimited rides for the month) could ride back with Mara, and Maggie could bike back at a normal speed. Well. As normal as possible on a bike not adjusted for her…if necessity is the mother of invention then maybe cheapness is the mother of adventure?

We timed it almost perfectly. We saw the bus (with Mara on it) pulling away from the station just as we pulled up. So we called Mara and explained the situation. She ended up waiting for us at back home at Kirchenplatz. So now we were in a pickle. We could either send Maggie back on the bike while I waited 20 minutes for the next bus, or else… double bike.

I had never done this before but we did manage! The first strategy was me on the seat, wearing Maggie’s backpack so that she could stand in front of me on the pedals. It worked ok, but I got quite an ab workout after a while trying to lean back and also stick my legs out in front of me in a V for balance. After a while we switched and Maggie sat on the little bit over the back wheel meant for a rear basket. That was rather lopsided obviously, but we managed for a while until the bumpy gravel proved a bit much on her poor tailbone. When we switched back again, I figured out how to sit further back on the seat and curl my legs back on either side of the back wheel more like a normal motorcycle passenger.

We did not attempt the steeper hill up from the river, and instead I (rather gracefully I might add, our teamwork was impeccable) disembarked and walked on as Maggie rode ahead to meet the by now rather confused Mara. She had waited at Kirchenplatz and was therefore bewildered to see the next 45 bus come by, stop and not drop off any Maggie or Kate.

We all made it at last however, and I’m mostly just sad our hurry and need of all our available limbs for balance meant there is no photo evidence of this escapade. Our next adventure was making a bonfire and finishing dinner prep.

We never got around to the grill, since we were too hungry to wait for it to heat up. Pans worked fine however, and the beet burgers were quite tasty!

We did however get a fire going in our fire-pit, and even managed to avoid injury by kitchen knife (which Mara and I were skeptical would be the case) as Adam and Maggie hacked at the too-large logs. Let’s just say that kitchen knives are never featured heavily in the Paul Bunyan stories for a reason…

We got the fire roaring before too long though, and found some sticks to roast the marshmallows that Maggie’s parents had personally imported on their recent visit. I would learn later that marshmallows are actually available in Germany, but it’s the graham crackers and Hersheys that are hard to find.

Mara concluded that s’mores are very sweet, and not actually her favorite. It did feel fun to eat them, she said, just like in the movies. We hadn’t been able to find a new bundle of wood however, so the bonfire was rather short-lived.

After eating our fill of s’mores (1 each) we headed inside. We explored the option of using Mara’s German driver’s license to rent a car, in order to pursue the next day’s planned adventures more conveniently. Car rental wouldn't have been cost prohibitive but it turned out she needed to register online ahead of time so in the end there wasn’t enough time to get everything worked out for that weekend. So we just ended up watching “We’re The Millers” which I had never seen, and having an early night of it.

Since exploring the Darß peninsula wasn’t in the cards after all, we had a fairly relaxed morning on Saturday, except for Maggie convincing Mara to go on an early morning run (before her coffee, if you can believe it!) We had a leisurely breakfast then left Adam to work on some job applications. The three ladies set out on a walk around the river and into town, since Mara’s only other visit to Rostock had been in rainy early January, and she hadn’t seen the river walk in all its glory yet. We spent quite a while just hanging out in a park eating the veggies and leftover beet burgers on a bench, soaking up the sunshine and chatting. We eventually ended up in a cafe where I did some knitting, Mara some reading and Maggie planned her next travels.

Dinner was a simple pasta primavera back at the apartment, and we broke out the board game Mara had brought afterwards. It’s called “Nilpferd auf der Achterbahn” (hippo on a rollercoaster) and involves rolling the dice to determine which slightly ridiculous and often hilarious task you will be assigned. There were some funny “lost in translation” moments when we had to either guess or describe words we weren’t too familiar with in German.

The next day the train taking them back to Hamburg left early enough that there wasn’t much time for adventures.

We ended up seeing Maggie only two days later however, since Adam was flying out of Hamburg yet again. He had recently decided that it would be nicer to postpone his remaining month of Schengen visa time so that he could go to his sister’s college graduation in early May. This also meant he could come back in mid June in order to be able to help me move out of the house and travel around after the official end of the program with my parents, who would be visiting in the end of June and beginning of July.

Thus it was that we made our way to Hamburg on Tuesday afternoon, April 22. We stayed over at Maggie’s the night before the flight–enjoying a lovely picnic in a nearby park for dinner. I then helped Adam lug all of his stuff and my one gigantic and one carry-on sized suitcase full of my winter clothes to the airport.

My train back to Rostock wasn’t until later than evening, so even though Maggie was busy, I enjoyed a lovely sunny day in Hamburg. I got off the train early as I was heading back towards the city from the airport, and strolled through the Stadpark again, enjoying the magnolias and apple blossoms where there had only been crocuses and muddy grass on my last visit. I had last been there while waiting to pick Adam up from the airport, so it felt like an appropriate book-end to his stay.

Next I climbed the spire of St. Michaelis Church, or “Der Michel,” as it is fondly referred to by true Hamburgers, apparently. It was a wonderful clear day, and I really enjoyed the views of the city and the river that the spire offered. I also managed to time it just right so that I went into the main chapel just as the group of noisy school kids left it. The inside was pretty, but less ornate than other famous churches. This makes sense considering it was built originally as a protestant church, rather than being converted from a Catholic church like so many of the others, especially in northern Germany.

St. Michaels's Church with flowers framing it in the foreground
Der Michel

I then set off to enjoy a “boat tour” in the much cheaper form of the extensive ferry network operated along the Elbe river. I missed the first couple of boats because they were entirely decorated with Lion King or Fritz-Kola ads, so I didn’t realize that they were in fact just the regular old public ferries. Eventually I figured it out and boarded the boat for a nice river ride back past the Dockland terrace that Maggie and I had climbed a few months back. After strolling by the one sandy “beach” that Hamburg can claim, I had to head back to the Hauptbahnhof to catch my train back to Rostock.

The rest of that week was uneventful–the excitement started on Sunday, the 1st of May. May first is a state holiday in Germany and many other northern European countries, to honor workers and worker’s rights struggles. Ironically, many of the famous strikes that took place on that day actually happened in the US, where we don’t celebrate labor day on May 1st.

I think I’ll save the excitement to come for the next post however, since May was jam packed with adventures too, and as Adam reminded me, not all entries have to be novellas… So, let’s call that April wrapped up, and let May be may, shall we?