playing "The Viking Game" at the campground. Teams throw wooden blocks and try to knock the other team's forts down.
Last weekend we went camping with Ryan's coworker, Dirk. He's a really funny guy and owns about every piece of outdoor equipment imaginable. We drove to Pahna, a campsite in Thuringia, in the former East Germany. All of the other invitees were East German or "Ossis" like Dirk. There was a lot of joking about local dialect, and local expressions, but people were very helpful in explaining things to us Americans. At one point Dirk asked Ryan what time it was and Ryan said "viertel nach zwei" (quarter after two), and Dirk replied "viertel drei?" and Ryan said "nein, viertel nach ZWEI" and Dirk went on to explain that in his dialect you could said "quarter three" which meant quarter after two. His friend Claudia insisted that this was "sehr logisch" (very logical), while Ryan and I maintained that it made no sense.
We had another educational moment as we sat around the BBQ one night (no campfires, boo!) and another friend, Daniel, produced a shiny gold bag, and all the Ossis went wild. Daniel said to me in English "Katy, you do not look excited." And I asked "What is it?" He tried to explain "It is east german candy from our childhood, it is chocolate but also this Knäckebrot." (Knäckebrot is a really terrible German version of crackers. Its kind of like a ghetto Triscuit.) But Daniel was anxious for me to try his favorite candy, and I have to say it was not bad. I expected it to be like Nestle Crunch, but it wasn't as sweet, and more cracker-y in the middle. Daniel watched me closely and asked, "Is it AWESOME?" And I told him that yes, it was awesome. Ryan and I were discussing it later and talking about how all these people grew up under communism, and Ryan uttered "This candy is pretty good...for being communist." Communist chocolate is pretty similar in flavor to Hershey's chocolate, which should really tell us something.
As far as the rest of the weekend, it was really fun, though of course very different from camping in the US. As I mentioned, no campfires, and therefore no s'mores. Also we had to check-in to the campsite and fill out forms, put a tag on our tent, and take special keys to get in and out for parking and to the bathrooms. Also we were given both trash and recycling bags. That could all be expected. But what surprised me was how well-appointed the campground was. Not only did they have real bathrooms, but also showers, and a tiny kitchen. I don't know what the point of the kitchen is when you're camping, especially since the campground had its own restaurant and bakery. But that's Germany for you.