John’s here! Wuhuu =) That’s why he’s doing todays blog entry:
I’d like to commit the first paragraph to the differences between toilets in different countries. In America we have squat toilets with a wide lip with a gap in the front. We also have paper you can put over them to protect yourself from contamination from other peoples pee. Additionally the symbol for women is a stick figure with a long triangular dress. This is not the case in the toilets I visited in London/Frankfurt. In Heathrow the toilets were tall with very thin lids and no gap, and the symbol for woman wore a ballroom gown where the silhouette of an umbrella is overlayed on the stick figure. In Frankfurt the toilets were also tall and without a gap, and they had two large buttons for flushing. The big button was for a full load and small one for liquids. The symbol for woman had a mini skirt for whatever reason. The symbol for men were all the same. I deduce that this means over the world men are the same, while woman differ radically.
Those observations noted, I continued to take in other less pugnant surroundings. I travelled to Esslingen with Uta and her family for the Christmas Market, it was the last day it would be set up. The initial area was laden with wooden kiosks which were decorated with leaves and sculptures, it looked like dozens of massive bushes had been hollowed out and filled with wares for sale. However what really got my attention was the medieval portion of the market. There were two paths to take, Zwergenland (Dwarfland (for kids)) to the left was the childrens portion of the market, and to the right was the normal medieval market. We started left, and the childrens market began with a tavern kiosk selling spiced wine and honeyed meade. Dwarves begin drinking young I suppose. I had some meade which came in a ceramic cup I got to keep, and it was very potent. One booth had a childrens game where there are eggs stuck in small logs, and children must toss a heavy ball from 4 feet so that the egg is crushed to win. The children playing must have been 4 and younger, and the man running the game gave them enough turns so that at least one egg was crushed, though they were all given candy. Another booth had axe throwing, which again seemed an odd game to be in the childrens area (Only adults were allowed this one). There was also a merry-go-round which I was pleasantly surprised to find was powered by a child running in a wheel, much like a mouse.
We went to a booth where there was a small arena set up with small houses set up in a ring with ceilings painted in different colours. You picked a lucky stone and placed it on a roof, and the man would place a mouse in the center of the ring, and if the mouse chose to go into the house with your stone you won! This mouse was very indecisive and wandered for some time before picking a door to go through. I think it knew it would just be picked up and put in the center again anyway, so why go through any door? The mouse eventually went through my house and I won a small toy mouse.
Next we got Hanffladen, which is a bun sliced open and filled with a kind of spicy pink sour cream and meat chunks, and Lustrolls, which are essentially massive (face sized) cinnamon rolls with nuts but less sweet. There were many booths dedicated to crafts, like mideval outfits weapons drinking horns belts and so on, and everyone at the booths seemed to enjoy being there. There was even a small archery stand where I shot a small recurve bow, my shots were nicely clustered but far from target.
My favorite part was the stage, where a group of people played cheery music and put on several plays. It was all in German so I didn`t understand much, but there was enough context and acting to where it was still enjoyable. I ended up getting one of their music CD`s before we left. It far outclassed any mideval festival I encountered in America, and would go again if I spend another Christmas holiday in Germany.