September 13, 2009: Last Full Day in Europe

Today is my final day in Germany.  I will leave Germany by rail first thing tomorrow morning (Monday) and travel back to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and fly back to Dublin where I will set for three hours, again, before flying back to JFK in New York.

I slept in again this morning; I am still needing extra sleep to get back to feeling one hundred percent again.  Once I was up I was out the door to get out to Hellern at around ten thirty for my breakfast at Wellmann’s.  I love Europe and its bakery / cafe culture.  There is hardly anything like that in the US and especially not out in the country.  I don’t ask for much, I just want a good cup of coffee and a croissant and someplace outside where I can sit and enjoy them.  You can get that in NYC but you can’t get it in any random small town.  The first thing that is missing is the sidewalk space necessary to do something like that.  Even if bakeries wanted to there is not very much option.  So much of Europe is just designed around people being outside.  The US is designed around driving to the door of your destination, talking two feet, getting your coffee to go and driving away.

That was a good walk.  From there it was on to the hotel, a quick check in with email and whatnot and then heading out the door to go to the Felix Nussbaum House in downtown Osnabruck.  I decided that after taking so many pictures yesterday and doing so much walking with the camera that I was not going to carry it again today.  Most of my activities today are going to be indoors in places where it would be awkward to be carrying the camera and where photography would not be permitted anyway so best to not even bring it.

The walk was a breeze after all of the walking that I have done this week.  Not carrying the camera made for a nice change.  That thing is big and heavy.  I am really glad that I had it for this trip though.  Lots of pictures that I will now always have to enjoy to remind myself of my holiday in Germany.

It was just five Euros for a ticket to get into both the Felix Nussbaum House and the Osnabruck Cultural Museum for the day.  Not a bad deal.  That is less than eight dollars US.

The Felix Nussbaum House is a modern art museum (as in the museum is modern, not the art) dedicated to Osnabruck’s second most famous son, Felix Nussbaum who was a painter and sketcher who was murdered in Auschwitz during World War II.  Many of his works were only recently discovered in the last two decades.

The museum building itself is an amazing architectural structure designed by world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind to reflect the progression through Nussbaum’s life.  The museum was very solemn and quite amazing.  I was definitely impressed by the architecture and the way that it added to the entire experience although I am glad that I read about how the architecture was supposed to reflect things before going through it or I may have just found it more confusing.

It was a nice break from the normal German touristy and countryside walking stuff that I have been doing this week.  The museum was thoroughly enjoyable and I can see why it is considered a must-see when visiting Osnabruck.

After the Felix Nussbaum House I crossed over to the Osnabruck Cultural Museum.  This was a much more traditional museum.  The upper floor, where I entered having crossed over from the Nussbaum House, was the art museum full of paintings.  Then down in the lower levels there were artifacts from both the recent and distant past of the Osnabruck area.  It was interesting but completely in German so it lacked a certain appeal.  I did not spend a lot of time there because of that.  The Nussbaum House really took care of their English speaking guests well so that was a lot more interesting.

Around this time I started to notice that my right knee was not feeling completely up to par.  I decided that it would probably be best to make it a short day and not spend too much time out and about because of my knee and also because of needing to pack, sleep and get up very early to head out to Amsterdam to catch my flight back home.

I wandered around the old town for a while until my knee was bothering me too much to stay out.  I spent some time just sitting on some benches soaking in the town.  I am sad to be leaving in the morning.  I really love it here.  But I am extremely lonely too and am really missing my family.  I want to get home and see Liesl!

I walked down the big street where the outdoor shops were on this Sunday.  Lots of things were closed today because it is Sunday but there were a lot of people selling things (read: junk) on the street as well.  I ventured into the Eis Cafe (ice cream cafe) and got some amazing Amadeus Delight ice cream and sat outside enjoying it.  This was one serious ice cream shop.  Very impressive.  Apparently the Saxons take the ice cream quite seriously.

I was a little hungry for real food so I decided to at least attempt getting authentic German fast food.  There was a restaurant called Nordsee (the North Sea) on the street that sold tons of fish (go figure) that looked like I could screw up pretty badly and still not have to deal with having gotten meat so I went there.  It was basically the German answer to America’s Long John Silver’s.  I managed to order without incident and sat out under an umbrella in the rain eating my fish sandwich and fish bites.  The funny thing was that I got the meal for “big hunger” or something like that and it was absolutely tiny by American standards.  The “big” fish sandwich was smaller than a McDonald’s fillet’o’fish!

I was really tempted to sit at a cafe or pub in the old town and get a beer or something and while away the afternoon but that seemed very lonely and the combination of having no one to spend time with while sitting outside, the mental overhead of figuring out how one orders and pays at one of these establishments and needing to get back to get ready to go made me lean away from that decision.

I walked back to the hotel.  It was a long, slow walk with my knee getting progressively worse on the way back.  I definitely pushed it to its limit.  I don’t think that I damaged anything but need to take it easy.  It is probably just lightly inflamed from all of the stress of the last few days.

I got to the hotel and showered and relaxed for a little bit.  I grabbed a quick dinner at the Subway again.  Cheap and easy.  And healthy too.  Really did not want to deal with anything extra tonight.

I packed everything up and made sure that I was as ready as I could be for tomorrow.  Then I headed down to the hotel bar to relax for the remainder of the evening.

It was just me at the bar.  I tried some recommended German Weissbier and spent several hours hanging out with the bartender.  It turns out that he is actually a Brit who grew up in Germany and only spoke limited English.  We had a great time discussing Germany, beer, America, the UK, etc.  I learned a ton about Germany, German history and culture and more.  Probably the most valuable time I spent while in Germany.

Later on in the evening some guys from Chile came and joined me at the bar.  The one guy was a German who had married a Chilean girl and moved there thirty five years ago.  He and his friends were in Germany for a major potato farming convention.  Seriously.  So I hung out with him as his English was really good.

At one point the bartender had left and another bartender had taken over who was French but spoke English and German.  It was just a Chilean who only spoke Spanish and I at the bar.  For the first time in my entire life… while sitting at a bar in Germany… I was finally in a position where my high school Spanish paid off and I was able to have a brief conversation with the guy!  Of all of the crazy places how could it possibly happen there?  He was unable to talk to the bartender directly so I was translating for them, LOL.  Me, of all people.

It really was a great evening.  I headed off to bed around midnight or so.  It is going to be a short night.  Tomorrow is the longest day of my life (literally) as it will be thirty hours long with the time shifting during the flight.  I will only get about six hours of sleep tonight.  My alarm is set for a quarter after six.  I am taking the seven fifty three train to Schiphol from Osnabruck’s central rail station.

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