I don’t know if you have ever travelled to a strange city on your own. I have. My preferred travelling companion was my wife. She was the best person in the world to fetch up with in somewhere unfamiliar. Peerless.
But I had to travel on my own a lot on business, and that is not always as interesting as it might be. I’d arrive, get to where I was staying, and become filled with an odd mix of ennui and homesickness.
We travel now to Wiesbaden. I got helicoptered in to help out a sister ad agency that was struggling a bit. I got helicoptered in to some odd places way back then. Anyway, back to Wiesbaden. It’s a spa town, architecturally quite likeable, but like much of Germany, a bit stolid. Not a place to be on your own, really, unless you like a flutter in the casino, because there is little else to do there of an evening. Trust me. I know. I’ve found good places to hang around in all over the globe. Wiesbaden lacks them.
I cut my losses, went into the bar in the bar in the admittedly swanky hotel. Lots of wood panelling, polished brass, crystal chandeliers, mirrors everywhere, and an air of hushed efficiency. The wonders of an expense account, eh?
I didn’t wish to go into the faffing about in the restaurant, but I spotted a bar meals menu. In German. Now my German is pretty well restricted to ‘Hello. Goodbye. Please. Thank you.’ As I have pointed out before, those four expressions will get you round every country in the entire world.
But even my shaky German could make sense of Wurst und Kartoffel. Easy. Sausage and mash. Transport caff food I understood. Easypeasy. What could go wrong?
Well, I forgot that my Teutonic friends have absolutely no concept whatsoever of portion control. None.
My humble soss’n’mash, my truck driver’s transport caff nosh, arrived. On a plate that you could use as a carving platter had you just roasted an entire ox.
There were three types of sausage. Fine. But each was at least a foot long. I like sausages, but one foot-long sausage would generally be sufficient. If I were self indulgent, I might manage two. If I were stoned off my box and got the megamunchies, I might be able to tackle three. And the huge mountain of mashed kartoffel, the pile of sauerkraut…
But I wasn’t stoned. Yet I hate to waste food. So I ate the whole lot.
I felt a bit queasy to be honest.