advice, coronavirus, German culture, Germany, laws, news

Word of advice… don’t call a German cop a “fascist”…

It’s another cold, grey, drizzly weekend in Germany. Christmas will arrive next weekend. I suppose I should be more into the spirit of celebrating the season, but I just can’t seem to find my mojo. I don’t really like going out in yucky weather even when there isn’t a pandemic. The spiking COVID numbers aren’t inspiring me to get out there and mingle with the masses.

But not everyone feels the way I do. My German friend, Susanne, shared with me some news out of Reutlingen. It seems there was a riot/protest there last night, consisting of Nazi sympathizers and COVID deniers, most of whom weren’t masked and ignored the rules against congregating. Things got pretty out of hand in some places, so the Stuttgart police showed up to maintain order.

Germans are usually pretty tolerant of peaceful protests and strikes. They’re usually scheduled ahead of time and announced, so people can choose not to be involved… or, if they’re into it, they can participate or observe. I believe one has to get a permit to protest legally. I have no idea if this group followed the rules. The protests I’ve seen are usually pretty chill… afterwards, everybody breaks up and has a beer or something. But every once in awhile, people do get their hackles up. Such was the case last night.

This video was shared on Facebook by Matthias Kipfer in the public group, 99,99 % (Filder) vs. R.E.S.T.. I’m not sure where this particular incident involving the man screaming about fascists took place. It might not have happened in Reutlingen, although I can see by the photos and videos in the group, there was plenty of action there last night. I see the guy screaming about fascists was originally posted on Twitter by Stadtrand Aktion. As you can see, the cops weren’t amused. This guy was promptly arrested. I suspect he will get a nice big fine, as outlined in the trusty 2022 Bussgeldkatalog. Edited to add: Susanne thinks the fascist cop incident might have happened in Berlin, since the cop has a B on his uniform.

More than once, I have written about how insulting people is illegal in Germany. It’s especially true that insulting the cops is a big no no. All I can think is that this guy took complete leave of his senses, forgot to whom he was speaking, and lost total control of himself. I know how that feels. It happened to me a time or two when I was a teenager. This fellow looks to be well beyond the teen years.

I think it’s funny that there’s a catalog of fines people can consult to find out about laws and fines. I especially get a kick out of the section on the fines for insulting people in traffic. When they are translated into English, they are both hilarious and nonsensical. Below is the list of fines as of 2022.

Some of these insults seem to have lost a little in their translations.

In all seriousness, these protests were pretty bad. Apparently, some people were using children as human shields against the water cannons cops tried to use to disperse the agitated crowds. I was impressed by how the cops managed to keep their cool. German police officers don’t seem to be as violent as American police officers often are. But then, they probably pay better and offer more training.

My German still sucks, but I do find myself picking up words and understanding more, especially when my friend shares interesting German articles with me that include juicy tidbits about current events. If I have gained anything from the past seven years, besides a massive beer gut, it’s a rudimentary understanding of basic German. My Armenian is still better, though. That isn’t saying much.

The above photo basically translates to “People who think vaccinations change their DNA should consider it an opportunity.” Who says Germans aren’t sharp witted? Not I!

In other news… I hope the new blog design is welcomed by the few regular readers who have been keeping up with me during these COVID times. I decided to play around with it a few days ago, and when I went to change it back to the theme I was using, I discovered that the “wandering” theme was retired. So now I have a new but similar theme, and a new color scheme. I think it’s easier to read.

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Czech Republic

Cheap thrills in the Czech Republic! Part six

We woke to sunshine and slightly warmer temperatures on Sunday morning.  I was glad to see it.  After breakfast and a walk with the dogs, we started to plan our day.  We were about to leave for Plzen when Bill looked out the window and noticed a couple of guys doing yard work, blocking the gate to the yard.  I guess it’s not a problem to do yard work in the Czech Republic on Sundays.  They were done soon enough, so we headed back to Plzen, parking in the same garage we used on Saturday.  Bill discovered a handy footbridge from the garage to the other side of the street.  Like I said in an earlier posts, things are surprisingly civilized in the Czech Republic these days.

Cathedral of St. Bartholomew.

We wandered around the Main Square in Plzen and I noticed people were climbing the tower at St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral.  I am in piss poor physical shape these days, but somehow I can’t resist climbing a tower, even if I’m sore for days afterwards.  So that’s what Bill and I decided to do.  We walked up 301 steep, narrow steps to get to the highest point in Plzen and the highest church spire in the Czech Republic itself.

I paused to take pictures of the bells… and catch my breath.

It costs 50 Czech crowns to torture oneself in this manner.  You pay at a station about a third of the way up.  Once you get to the top, you are treated to views of the city, which can be exhilarating, depressing, or terrifying, depending on your point of view.

Yes… it’s a very steep climb!  There are pictures of the views from the top at the bottom of this post.

I found it harder and scarier to go down than to come up the stairs.  Yes, climbing the stairs up was harder work and got me more winded, but coming down was really scary.  You’re already tired from the climb up and the steps are really narrow and steep.  I found myself holding on to the bannisters for dear life as I slowly made my way down each step, praying I didn’t miss one and take a fall.

On the way down the tower, we ran into a couple of police officers.  I wondered why they were going up there– although they did look pretty fit.  Bill said maybe they were taking a “break”.  Or perhaps they were checking for snipers?  I don’t know.  If I had to walk up those steps every day, I have no doubt I’d be in shape in no time.  However, two days later, I’m still a bit sore and the climb itself was kind of hard on my knees.  I’m glad I did it once, but I’m not sure I want to do it again!

Just as an aside about Czech cops… I happened to catch a TV show that appeared to be inspired by our own Cops TV show in the United States.  Although I didn’t understand anything that was being said, it was interesting to watch how Czech police officers handle their arrestees.  I noticed the guys being arrested were cuffed, put in the back seat, and strapped in with a seatbelt.  The cops didn’t bother buckling up.  Somehow, I figure the seatbelt was used less for safety reasons and more for security.  Or maybe they don’t wear seatbelts because they need to be able to react quickly.  Who knows?  Personally, I hate the damn things, but if I don’t wear mine, Bill turns into Pat Boone.  Besides, cars today are like nannies and will beep at you incessantly if you don’t use them.

Inside the cathedral.

After the tower experience, we walked into the cathedral.  Supposedly, you have to pay to see it, but I never saw anyone collecting money for admission.  Anyway, there’s a gate at the front of the cathedral, so you can only peek in there.  I’m not sure it’s worth the 35 Czech crowns they supposedly collect for that.  I did manage to get a few photos.

Then we went searching for lunch.  I thought we might try Buddha, an Indian and Nepalese restaurant I noticed near the Brewery Museum.  It smelled delicious and they had an English menu.  I also knew Bill would get a thrill because he loves Indian food and I don’t.  Alas, they were closed on Sunday, despite their sign signifying otherwise.  Oh well.  If we go back to Plzen, we’ll have to try it.  It gets great reviews on TripAdvisor.  Even without the reviews, my nose told me it was a good place to eat.

It was okay that we missed Buddha, though, because I found another fabulous restaurant.  I had actually noticed it as we walked into town.  I am naturally attracted to alcoves when we travel.  I like to explore things that aren’t on the main drags.  This restaurant was actually on the main drag, but had its entrance in an alcove.  Called U Makicke Brany, the outside of the restaurant looks distinctly Eastern European.  The inside is very inviting, with cavernous ceilings and an upscale bar area.  I was especially attracted by the great music they were playing… lots of classic rock!  Good music, excellent beer, and delicious food is an invitation for me to pig out, which is exactly what I did.

Bill looks at the menu.

 

U Makicke Brany offers menus with German and English translations, which was a huge help.  I can often figure things out in local languages, but Czech is a mystery to me.  Our waitress and the bartender also spoke English and/or German, which was also helpful.  Actually, speaking some German is useful in the Czech Republic, because even if someone can’t speak English, chances are they will know some German.  I have noticed it on all of our visits.  Bill can speak basic conversational German and it does come in handy when we go to the Czech Republic.

I loved the bar!

And the beer…

But I especially loved the garlic soup!

 

As we were looking at the menu, I noticed the restaurant offered garlic soup, which is apparently a popular hangover cure in the Czech Republic.  I noticed the Brewery Museum restaurant also had it on the menu.  I was intrigued by the ingredients, which looked really good to me.  There was garlic, potatoes, barley, bacon, and croutons.  It sounded perfect for cold weather.  But I also knew I wanted dessert and I knew the main course would also fill me up.  Thankfully, Bill was happy to order it with two spoons.  Our waitress was adorable and beamed when I enthused about that soup.  I think she and the bartender had some chemistry going on.  I noticed they seemed to be enjoying each other’s company.

This garlic soup was delicious!  I need to find a recipe.  It wasn’t too garlicky, but had just enough of an essence.  The croutons tasted homemade and buttery, which really added to the comfort level of the soup.  It smelled amazing, too.  

Bill sensibly followed up with a chicken Caesar salad.  It also had bacon in it.  Bacon makes everything better, right?

I went with smoked duck breast and gravy.  I told you, I love duck… even though they are so cute and cuddly.  I wish my tastebuds hadn’t evolved before my ethics did.  The duck came with baked potato discs that absorbed the gravy in a most appealing way.  Or course, I was thinking to myself that green vegetables had been missing from my diet while we were in the Czech Republic.  I’ll have to make up for that this week.

For dessert, we shared cheesecake with blueberry sauce.  This was just the right size.  Not too big, heavy, or rich.

And I had one more dark beer for the road… a Master, which packed a good punch.  Between us, we had five beers, a bowl of soup, a salad, an entree, and dessert.  It set us back less than $40.  Cheap!

A few shots of the outside.  In the summer, they also have outdoor seating.

I noticed the street name as we waited to cross the street.

Views of Plzen on a sunny day.

Inside the tower as I recover from the climb.

We decided to go back to the dogs and watch more of the Olympics, since by the time we were finished with our sumptuous lunch, it was mid afternoon.  Once again, we were too full to go looking for dinner.  Instead, we had more croquettes.  Even as I was cursing myself for being so lazy on this trip, I realized that with better planning, we could really fill our days up in this part of the Czech Republic.  Not only is there Plzen, which in and of itself offers a lot to do, there’s also Karlovy Vary, which is a beautiful spa town, and of course, Chodova Plana, which offers Chodovar.  If we’d wanted to, we could have spent a week and not done the same thing twice.  Maybe that’s why we didn’t go out as much as we should have.  There were so many choices that we were overwhelmed with making decisions.

Bill and I mostly stay low key on our trips, anyway.  We kind of like to soak up the atmosphere, people watch, and do the odd activity, sandwiched with good food, beer, or wine.  We also love meeting new people on our trips.  We almost always have something interesting happen to us, if only because we’re less focused on seeing things and more attuned to simple experiences.

Sunday night, Bill discovered where he could find Chodovar beer in Plzen.  It was available at Billa, a grocery chain in the Czech Republic.  On Monday morning, as we were leaving Plzen, we drove to a really seedy looking part of the city, complete with communist era apartment buildings.  I remarked that it will take a long time before those vestiges of communism will go away.  Those buildings are ugly, but functional.  I used to live in a couple of them myself, when I lived in Armenia.

I enjoyed a Chodovar last night!

Bill scored seven bottles of Chodovar and a few bottles of the awesome flavored sparkling water from there.  I found myself planning another trip in my head.  Next time, maybe we’ll return to Chodovar, which offers a good centralized location for notable cities in the area.  Maybe we’ll spend a few more days, just wandering the beautiful countryside, touring breweries, and hitting the spas.  That’s the life for me!

Those buildings aren’t going away…

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