A short trip to Baden-Baden

After 1.5 years of travelling around half the globe, I thought to myself: … „Hannes, your geographical knowledge of India is probably better than that of what you know about German cities!“ So in order to get rid of this weird little fact, I thought I’d call my favorite travel agency and try to get some tickets to go to the in.puncto TV studio of the SWR television network in Baden-Baden in southern Germany. Turns out there were still a couple of places left on the next flight, plus SWR agreed to cover the costs of the entire trip! And to top it all off, I was finally going to meet my favorite reporter and in.puncto show host Nicole Köster in person!

So I had a flight booked for Monday from Berlin (Tegel) to Karlsruhe (Baden-Baden). The custom tailored suit from our friends from the Boworn Fashionhouse in Bangkok still (barely) fit me, even though I had been doing a good amount of eating being off the boat and back at home. My big bushy beard was exposed to a skilled Muslim barber in Berlin Kreuzberg, and then I was ready to let the show begin. Well, not quite, I still had to catch my plane. Due to my numerous experiences of arriving slightly late to many of my previous flights and as a result having to run from the security check to the gate, this time I planned ahead, to at least this one time avoid the sarcastic applause from other passengers when entering the plane just before closing of the doors.

Excited about my punctual boarding, I thought I should maybe order a red wine to go with my beer. Which turned out to be a bad idea, since I was still not used to having to wait in line for an opportunity to go to the restroom. Since at sea I always have the worlds larges toilet at my disposal, my social compatibility in today’s modern society has slightly decreased. I couldn’t believe that I had to wait, and so I ended up impatiently moving around in my seat and tried to distract myself from my selfish bladder by watching the small towns beneath us appear and disappear in the almost mystic fog. This strategy wasn’t really working all too well but at least I did manage to hold it in until we landed. So since I was on time for this flight and didn’t have to run from the security check to the gate in Berlin, I guess I at least had to lay down a little performance after the flight. So I was that pushy guy in the isle, trying to get off as fast as possible and then it was me running. With belt undone I rushed into the next available restroom. Relief ensued.

As a contrast to all this, the taxi ride to the Hotel Tannenhof on the SWR premises was very relaxing. My eastern European driver kept the conversation – or better, the monologue – going by constantly talking about “his” city and it’s recent 900-year anniversary. He was also nice enough to give me a complete tour of the city, which was very nice but slightly difficult to follow, since it was very foggy. And dark. At this point I would like to thank not only my driver, but also all you great “GEZ” (public TV fee/tax) – payers for making all this possible.

Arrived at the Hotel Tannenhof, the exhausted and tired receptionist provided me with some toothpaste, since mine had been taken away at the airport security check in Berlin. Better safe than sorry, I guess! Happy with the way the day had been going so far, I fell asleep in my comfy bed and had to think of my Captain and his 50 cm (20 inch) worn down and saggy foam wannabe-mattress. I wonder whether he’s taken care of the cockroach problem yet.

The next morning I was surprised by an extremely silent breakfast room, which bored me just slightly and was just one more factor that made me down a good liter of coffee to wake me up. I thoroughly enjoyed the food and the fact that I didn’t have to pay for it, so I went back to the buffet at least 4 times. Delicious free food? Yes, please.

Not even half an hour later I was on my way to the TV studio, which was about a 10 minute walk away. All of a sudden I found my legs walking faster and faster, only to notice that my acceleration was driven solely by my incredibly impatient bladder. I arrived at the studio with my jacket and belt undone and virtually flew through the reception hall only to burst into the restroom. Slightly tense I thought to myself again that I still had a long way to go, getting used to this whole restroom thing. But my tense expression turned into a content grin soon after.

Nicole taking a picture of me and my “green” tooth

Relieved, I was ready to meet my good old telephone-interview friend and show host, Nicole. 1 year of phone calls and we had never met in person. I was excited to meet her and excited for the show to begin. Once Nicole came out of make-up, a little hug and a nice first conversation is all it took to relax me and get me ready – it was showtime! With a great mood and a great conversation in the studio, time in the so called “green hell” went by faster than I could’ve ever imagined. During the interview all words that came out of my mouth seemed to just pop out without me even having a chance to really think about them. So later when I saw myself on camera replying to the question what I would do if I was a girl with: “ if I was a girl, I would touch myself all day every day.” I was slightly surprised. So they really aired that?

Just a few hours later I was already in the taxi and on my way to the airport again. I thought about everything that had happened on this great day and was desperately trying to get rid of the little souvenirs from lunch that I had carried with me in between my teeth. The steak seemed to really want to stay with me just a little longer. I had plenty of time to work on this souvenir removal, since my taxi driver was again of the talkative kind. I had mentioned the Sailing Conductors project and my Captain in just one sentence, which for some reason got my driver started rambling on about how he once paid 1400 Euros for Rolling Stones tickets in London. He continued with stories of Beach Boys and Led Zeppelin concerts, and other big time events, apparently to sort of show who was Captain in the taxi. Definitely not me. But since I am Smutje (cook) anyway, I was more than happy to work on the food aspect of this taxi drive. I was more or less successful. 2 out of 3 pieces were removed by the time we got to the airport. Awesome.

As my plane accelerated and took off, right in this anyway incredible moment, the last of the 3 pieces decided to say good-bye and let go. We took off into the dark night sky, with direction Berlin. Happy with what I had gotten to see and the geographical and historical knowledge I had gained during this trip, I decided to go ahead and order a beer and a red wine from the blond stewardess in order to continue my training, to become socially compatible again.

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