"Hallo, Hunden!"
May 29, 2001

This is what this little girl chirped from the top of the jungle gym behind my apartment complex when we walked by recently. It was so cute.

At 10 p.m. here, there is still daylight outside -- not much, but more than anywhere I've lived before. It's so weird. I wonder what it will be like by the time the summer solstice rolls around.

Sunday, I went to a Jazz Brunch at the Hotel Dressen. This is the same hotel where Chamberlein and Hitler met once upon a time, and Chamberlein came out and said, "Oh, that wacky guy hitler, he would never invade Poland." I think that's the exact historical quote, if I recall my Kentucky high school education correctly. Anyway, what's ironic is that Hitler (and Henry Ford) HATED jazz music, 'cause it was associated with those "evil" black and jewish folks. And now, there's a jazz brunch once a week at Hitler's hangout. Ha Ha. The good guys win again. The food and the music were pretty good -- typical German food, rather than what I was really in the mood for (biscuits, gravy, bacon, grits...). But tasty. The jazz was Dixieland. It sounded great -- but no one danced except for one lone African woman. But everyone else clapped a lot.

According to a BMW devotee site on the web, the Hotel Dressen is still owned by the Dressen family, as it has been since its opening in 1894. During the 1920s, this hotel was run by Frau Dreesen, who was friendly with Hitler after Hess, who had gone to school in the area, recommended the hotel to him. "Not forgetting her kindness, Hitler preferred to stay at the Dressen when in the area after he came to power." One web site notes that, in 1929, Magda Quandt, whomever that is, and her student lover stayed here, though the liasion was known by GŁnther Quandt (I'm guessing that was her husband), who had her leave their house in Berlin.

The Nizkor Project, "Dedicated to the millions of Holocaust victims who suffered and died at the hands of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime," has an excerpt from a Nazi-era diary by William Shirer, who wrote this in his diary on Sept. 22, 1938.

This morning, I noticed something very interesting. I was having breakfast in the garden of the Dresen Hotel, where Hitler is stopping, when the great man suddenly appeared, strode past me, and went down to the edge of the Rhine to inspect his river yacht. One of Germany's leading editors, who secretly despises the regime nudged me: "Look at his walk!" On inspection it was a very curious walk indeed. In the first place it was very ladylike. Dainty little steps. In the second place, every few steps he cocked his right shoulder nervously, his left leg snapping up as he did so. I watched him closely as he came back past us. The same nervous tick. He had ugly black patches under his eyes. I think the man is on the edge of a nervous breakdown. And now I understand the meaning of an expression the party hacks were using when we sat around drinking in the Dressen last night. They kept talking about the "Teppichfresser"', the "carpet-eater". At first I didn't get it, and then someone explained it in a whisper. They said, Hitler has been having some of his nervous crises lately and that in recent days they've taken a strange form. Whenever he goes on a rampage about Benes or the Czechs he flings himself to the floor and chews the edges of the carpet hence the Teppichfresser. After seeing him this morning, I can believe it.

Would love to know who the "leading Germany editor" was mentioned in the above paragraph.

Okay, enough of the history lesson. After the brunch, I went with my friends and their dog across the Rhein on my favorite ferry, through Königswinter, to a parking lot to catch a train to Drachenfels, the Roman fortress I've sent you all postcards about and written about so many times, that sits atop one of the mountains on the Siebengebirge chain. The place to catch the train -- or the burros, if you are so inclined (they are so cute!!!) -- is hopping, with lots of food and people and activity. The train doesn't take long at all, and on the way up, you pass beautiful meadows and a big German mansion and a former hotel out in the middle of no where that someone really should fix up...

Drachenfels is neat, but over-commercialized. It was also really hazy, so the views weren't as spectacular as they should have been. Still, seeing all of the areas I've written you all about all laid out in front of me was really amazing. Definitely worth the trip

I would love to tell you about Drachenfels, how it came to be, who lived there, what battles took place there, what maidens looked out for their lovers from there... but everything displayed at the site is in German. However, I found this on the net:

On the wild, jagged Drachenfels towering up so mightily above the river, there once stood a proud castle, of which today only the high tower is still to be seen. The hill and the castle enjoy enjoy tremendous popularity and are visited yearly by countless numbers of people. The view from the 1050-ft.-high summit is considered one of the most famous on the Rhein.

The former masters of the castle, the Counts of Drachenfels, had a winged, fire-spitting dragon in there coat of arms. This ties up with the saga of Siegfried, who is reputed to have slain the dragon, which lived in a cave on the hillside, and then bathed in the blood. Lord Byron and many other poets glorified the Drachenfels.

In the last century the hilltop and the tower were jeapordized by the stone quarries, which had been continually extended, until the Government stepped in, taking over the peak and safeguarding the ruins from any further danger of subsidence.

These ruins are open to the public all year round. "

I also found out that the core of the mountain under Drachenfels is a cone made of basalt and "is therefore composed of the solidified lava of a volcano was hewn the stone to build Cologne Cathedral as well as roads built 2000 years ago to join Colonia Agrippina with Rome before they were worn down by the migrations of the peoples.

See many great pictures of on the web.

We decided to walk down. We stopped at the mansion that is halfway up the mountain to Drachenfels, and stands out almost as prominantly on the landscape. It's interesting, though it needs a lot more restoration. The grounds are lovely. We took the tour -- which was in German. The only word I caught was "Hitler." And I have to say, I got the feeling he'd been there... there were lots of murals on the wall of mythic moments around Drachenfels and Germany in general. Lots of animals being slaughtered. Most of the paintings weren't very well done, but some were really wonderful.

After the official tour, we took a few photos and then continued to walk down the mountain. We stopped at a beer garden near a large sheep herd, with a gorgeous view of Bad Godesberg across the Rhein. Wow. I live here.

In other news... had the really lovely experience of meeting a co-workers parents. They are from Spain, and speak even less English than I speak Spanish. But there I sat out on a back porch, sipping beer on a beautiful Bonn afternoon with the father and doing a very decent job at having a conversation. It's amazing how much you can communicate if you really try.

MY VCR WORKS!!! It had to be programmed before it would work, and while the machine and remote were in English, all of the instructions were in German. And the customer service rep that I contacted via the company web site was no help. So a co-worker very generously came over and programmed it for me. So I've been reveling in tapes of "Ed" and "The West Wing" and, at long last, "The X-Files", the latter of which a couple of people here already want to borrow.

Cultural lesson: when at a Turkish restaurant, do not order a Greek coffee. I didn't do this, a co-worker did. If looks could kill, our waiter would have murdered us all that night. But, to be fair, I didn't know about the whole Turkish/Greek thing, and could have easily made the same mistake if I drank coffee.

Also, I am being punished by the Twang gods in a major way.

Would someone please tell me what it was that I did to anger the Twang gods, and what it is that I'm supposed to do to repent for such? Cool web toy: Carmen told me about it. There's an online quiz that will tell you what religions might be most compatible for you. "The top score on the list below represents the faith that Belief-O-Matic, in its less than infinite wisdom, thinks most closely matches your beliefs. However, even a score of 100% does not mean that your views are all shared by this faith, or vice versa... The higher a faith appears on this list, the more closely it aligns with your thinking."

My top 10 included what you would probably already guess on your own -- Unitarian Universalism, Buddhism, Secular Humanism... but I wasn't expecting "Neo-Pagan" and "New Age" so high on my profile (besides, aren't they the same thing?).

At the bottom of my list? No big duh: Seventh Day Adventist, Islam, Jehovah's Witness, Roman Catholic, Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant and Eastern Orthodox.

I'm off to New York for a business trip. 19 days after I get back, I have to go again. I'm none too happy about this, not only because of all of the great music I'm going to be missing, not only because of having to leave the dogs so much, but also because, if I have to travel, why can't it be to somewhere else in Europe? Or India? Or Africa? Or Cuba?

More later . . .

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