First day of school in Germany is a big deal. All the kids get a Schultüte, a giant cone full of goodies, when they start school and there was much humorous talk of the beginning of the "ernstes Leben" (serious life). First grade! Serious! So here's a photo of my little cousin Nathalia hiding behind Joshua, who is holding her ginormous Schultüte. Ernstes Leben!
cousin Raimund making cute face at Joshua
she absolutely did not want to take a family photo, but I got one with both Ray and Stephania
somebody has attitude, wonder where she got it
(hint: dad is German and mom is Brazilian)
So Konrad is probably a bit of a play on words; unfortunately I don't get it. If it were blended with the Spanish "con" (with), I'd get it - with rad, with bike. This is how many of our German translation attempts go; any language we can pull from gets incorporated and then, well, we don't quite get it. Anyone understand Konrad?
Okay, honestly, who cares about the name!? Look at those hot bikes!
We were in Paris last year, where Velib is booming and the bikes are everywhere, but we didn't have a card with a chip (US credit cards = behind the times?), so no Velib for us. In Hamburg they also have bike share, but we had our own bikes. You can rent bikes all over Europe with a cell phone and a credit card, but for a long time we had no cell phone. BUT we now have a SIM card and we buy minutes from time to time. And we have German bank accounts, which means German cards, which means chips!
So we rode Konrad.
obligatory photo of my face with Joshua sticking out his tongue in the background
maybe I should be watching the road
And the specs on these babies - wow. Huge tires so you can comfortably cruise down cobblestoned streets and never worry about getting a flat. Totally upright, step through, with quick-release seat posts, chain guard to keep your clean clothes grease free, integrated head and tail lights (dynamo) and - wait for it - hub shifting the likes of which we have never experienced before. Shifts so smooth, you don't even know it's changing gears. No clang, no rub, no drop. It just gets easier or harder, depending on whether you make the little guy go up hills or ride on flat ground.
when the bike riding is easy and you want to go faster, turn the shifter so the man looks like this
when the bike riding gets too hard, turn the shifter until the man looks like this
Fahrradklingel (turn it like the shifter and it brrrrings!)
good questions (Documenta inspired, I'm sure)
rear hub, tire, lights, the doo-hickey that locks it up (computer?), etc etc etc
Documenta was cool too. We only saw what was in the Fridericianum, which was a lot. Joshua was terrified and claims art is dangerous, but I convinced him that it would be criminal not to take the risk and see this once-every-ten-years art event. His favorite piece was the big white room that had lovely cool air blowing through it, the art being the air that gently encourages the viewer to move through the gallery. He said, "I can understand that! I get the meaning - and I will remember it!" So there you go - meaningful, memorable art: a breeze blowing through a room. I liked the giant door mats with Italian phrases on them. You could walk all over them! Good art. And we both absolutely tripped out on some paintings viewed in dark rooms that had incredible perspective due to the 3D aspects and some very clever, skilled painting. They gave me vertigo, as did the giant canvasses painted in lines made out of tiny dots - Australian aboriginal art - and when you look at them sideways they also looked 3 dimensional.
Of course, the real pleasure was seeing Nathalia goofing off on her first day of school. There was a show that all parents, grandparents, neighbors, cousins were also invited to see. The teacher in charge of the new class welcomed them and then welcomed all the families - then honored the grandma of one of the new students by pointing her out and saying that she had graduated from that school in 1938.
The new 1st graders sat at the front just below the stage and the 2nd graders sang songs and acted out plays about what it meant to start their ernstes Leben. Big sister couldn't prepare the girl starting her first day of school, mom couldn't prepare her, dad couldn't prepare her, but then she went to school and did all the cool stuff - raising hands when the teacher asks a question, reading, writing, math, eating snacks and lunch. Everybody watching was crying. Then the bigger kids sang "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and we snuck out to go catch our train back to the farm.