Shopping in Germany, or at least trying to

9 JAN 2017

Trying to be a morning person in a room where the floors creak, and not quietly, can be difficult. Tiptoeing softly across the floor to get dressed and ready for breakfast only seems to prolong the creakiness, and jumping here and there is simply obnoxious. There is one spot by the bed where I am sure the wood flooring beneath the carpet dips a good two to three inches. At some point, I may place markers on the floor to indicate safe, quiet spots as if it were a trap in an Indiana Jones movie. Until then, it is always a surprise to find out where the floor does not creak.

The alarm on my phone sounds at 7 AM. I open my eyes and try to adjust to the darkness. There is a little light from outside illuminating the red curtains, but not much. It is still fairly overcast, so morning light comes at a premium. I grab the day’s outfit, laid out the night before so as to prevent fumbling around in the dark, and set off for breakfast. Afterward, our group meets in Salon Rouge to leave for the insurance office. As a student in France, it is necessary to have social security insurance, at a rate of 215€, unless you are over 28 (lucky me!).

The insurance office visit is a short one, and then we are back out into the snow and ice. The ice here, thankfully, isn’t like ice in Atlanta. It is much more like a very watery slush thanks to the street sweepers and salt. The sidewalks are covered in an inch or 2 of the soft, powdery snow that crunches with each step. Pedestrian footprints mark the sidewalk. Bike treads mark the bike lanes. The occasional small dog wearing a sweater jaunts along. We are back on the 15 Bus heading to Lamproie and the 15-minute walk to the château.

Today’s outing was a short one. I barely know what to do with my free time. I spend most of it catching up on journal entries, but luckily a few of the girls ask if I would like to grab groceries with them. We all decide to try shopping in Germany. Kehl is a small town just across the Rhine River. I am told that the shops there are all significantly cheaper than what we have available in Strasbourg. A quick search shows me that we should take the 15 Bus to the 2, then the 21, and we will be in Germany, easy. We hop on the 15, transfer to the 2, exit at Port du Rhin, and begin our search for the 21.

But now it is dark. We are in an area we are not familiar with and hungry. The 21 Bus stop is nowhere to be found, and without access to internet via data or Wi-Fi, we can consider ourselves lost. There is a tram stop that appears to cross the Rhine, but it is under construction, so no good there. We shuffle about the port area, which is clearly commercial. There are shipping containers, cranes, large barges, and the heavy stench of oil and engine grease. A few lamps keep us from total darkness, but an intuitive uneasiness sets about us and we decide it is a lost cause. The Simply Market by the château is thankfully a short two bus rides away.

Perhaps we will try for Kehl another day soon. In the meantime, the Simply Market is brightly lit with typical grocery store fluorescents. The produce section isn’t as full or diverse as those in the States, but I am pretty sure that is because most of the produce is somewhat local, and as it is winter, well, it is difficult to grow a lot in the snow. I manage to find some near-ripe, imported Peruvian bananas and grab throw those in my bag. In the refrigerator section, there is a variety of vacuum-sealed seafood options. I go for the salmon slices. I grab two loaves of whole-grain bread for 1€85 each. I splurge on some Nutella, because I could not hold out forever. I search out a few more items then head to the line. In France, you must bring your own bags, or purchase reusable ones at the store (I have a feeling I have said this before, but it bears repeating).

We check out and begin the healthy 20-or-so-minute walk home in the snowy dark. Germany will certainly have to wait until another day.


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