Walden World

The wacky and wonderful tales of Beth's and Catherine's global adventures. And all things Walden too.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

first we take Paris, then we take Berlin...

Buried under what appears to be now, 7 feet of snow after yet another storm, C and I are dreaming of Paris in the Springtime and a May Day in Berlin.

After huffing and puffing and fretting about our next trip: where, who, what etc... we've decided to take a break from war torn regions rife with ethnic tension and instead go to France and Germany! (That's a joke by the way ie: headscarf fights, neo-Nazis etc...)

But at least we'll get a break from Harper versus any human being on the planet and Hillary versus Obama.

I had booked off a vacation day Monday so as to do something useful around the house, such as finishing painting the bedroom which has had that green painter's tape stuck up against the walls since, oh, November. However when I awoke I was faced with a grim choice: elect between covering the bedroom in plastic and newsprint; moving all the furniture into the centre of the room; defrosting paint brushes wrapped in saran plastic; pulling out the buckets and rollers from the flooded basement; putting on my mechanic monkey suit and then getting up on a ladder and a bunch of chairs to paint the ceiling...or I could lie in bed all day and read a book about the history of Berlin.

The book won out.

Sometime about 2:30 pm between when the 'Y and R' was over and before 'Wonderwoman' had begun, I felt a great sense of shame from the sin of sloth* and thus decided to take the bull by the horns, get up from the bed and look up stuff about our trip on the internet.

Initial stop the German Tourist Webpage. A strange site by all accounts.

First off they have a bizarre web banner which features really creepy, smiling children who look straight out of a Goebbels propaganda film circa 1936. I'm not making this up. Look at the site and you can almost hear the grainy German voiceover: "The healthful Aryan Youth are the Lifeblood of the Nation!" with tinny faux Germanic music overdubbed. All that's missing is the ubiquitous Tannenbaum and some blonde teens doing jumping jacks.

Then there is the intriguing section: "Myths of Germany" where one is assured that Germans have a sense of humour and are, um, not punctual or um, aren't efficient. No stick in the mud is the average Deutschlander! Below is the excerpt from the website:

A German joke is no laughing matter! As we all know, we Germans have no sense of humour, we love wearing lederhosen, and we always eat sausages and sauerkraut. We are efficient, thorough, obsessed with punctuality - and we make perfect cars. We always want to be first on the beach.

Having been around the world and met alot of Germans, I can assure you, despite the website, that they've got a thing about their space of the beach.

In any event, even more intriguing was the "Germany for Lesbians and Gays" link just underneath the "What to See and Do in Germany" link and "Germany for Families" section.

Hit that link and despite the earlier assurance that Germans aren't into wearing lederhosen there's lots of cheeky sexual innuendos about German men wearing tight, leather lederhosen which serve to "highlight" the muscular German calf and thigh.

Go into the site further and more cheeky jokes about lederhosen and sausage abound. However this attitude towards about gay people coming, no less, from a national tourism webpage, is refreshing.

Compare this with other countries: everything from Ahmedinejad denying gay people exist in Iran (not to mention laws providing they be put to death) to Ford USA pulling out ads in gay or gay friendly newspapers in reaction to fundamentalist pressure, to the very strange bed fellows of ultra-Orthodox Jews and Hamas** working together last summer, to stop a gay pride day parade in Jerusalem.

* The Vatican had yet to announce the four new sins that they advised of on March 10/08

**According to news reports, Hamas said that they would join ultra Orthodox Jews to stop a Gay Pride march in Jerusalem as allowing such a march would be "worse than Zionism".