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Cross-border croissant Smuggling
Rating: (5.0) (1 Votes)

Stuttgart, Germany
December 22nd, 2004

Pros: very friendly
Cons: none

Early in the morning I arrived in Strasbourg, and since I had never seen the city I wandered around a bit so I could get a feel for the place in the wee hours of the morning. Bakeries were just starting to come to life, but all the Christmas lights were still on because it was completely dark. I went over to the island that seems to form the centre of the old city, and looked around the Christmas market in the main square. It seems like every city around here has one. Strasbourg is in Alsace, which has gone back and forth between France and Germany so many times in the past 150 years that some people changed nationality four times without ever moving. So, it has an interesting mix of French and German food, language and tradition, and is right across the river from Kehl in Germany. I bought a lovely almond croissant in a little boulangerie, and enjoyed it so much that I went back to get another one for my boyfriend who loves croissants. Then, I had to sneak it across the border to Germany, because that's where I was headed to stay with him and his family for Christmas. No problem, right? Inter-EU borders are not so heavily guarded.

I found my train and settled in for the 2 hr trip to Stuttgart. By now I was really very excited because I had come all this way and had been missing my boyfriend for the last few days. About half an hour into the trip, military police appeared in my carriage. Oh, no! They know I have French baking!!! However, they checked the passports of the family sitting behind me and then moved on. The rest of the ride went without incident, and Chris was grateful for his croissant when I saw him, which I somehow managed not to eat myself on the train.

I met some of his family in the morning as well, but some of his sisters were not yet home for Christmas. Just when I had settled in to feeling at home with Guillaume's family, here I was yet again in a different family, in a different language, and a different city! A bit daunting, but, this was what I came for. One thing that helped a lot was that Chris's family, like Guillaume's was amazingly friendly, and they all spoke English. This was important because unlike in France where I can get by in French if people speak slowly and excuse my mistakes, I barely knew a word of German except for a few useful phrases like "Ich habe Sauerkraut in meiner Lederhosen!" (I have sauerkraut in my leather pants...) which can produce some really strange reactions, to say the least. They didn't speak German all the time, however, so the conversation would sometimes drift from one language to the other, coming back to English where I would be completely lost because I no longer knew the subject they were talking about.

In the afternoon, Chris and I and one of his sisters went exploring in the public woods right within Stuttgart. Horseback riding must be popular in the area because by the side of the road we saw a horse-level zebra-crossing (crosswalk) button to push without dismounting! We went to a little park on the top of one of the hills encircling Stuttgart where you can get a very good view of the city, including the two (famous) television towers, a bit like the CN tower but smaller and older. Just behind us on the hill was a Bismarck Tower. These can be found all over Germany and were built in honour of the German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck (1815 - 1898).

That evening we went over to his friends´ place for a games night, where I learned a few new board & card games (Hexenjagd {Witch-chase}is highly recommended!) and was convinced that everyone was talking about Barbie cars when it was actually Bobbycars, ride-on cars that all German kids seem to have. Because the 'r' is not pronounced strongly in Germany, I thought it had just disappeared like it would here in Britain