Germany always impresses me for one simple reason: stunning efficiency. The Messe exposition center directly adjacent to the city center, easily handles 135,000 visitors a day, and there is no major traffic jam coming into the city during the show. How do they do it? Amazingly efficient freeways is the answer. The speed limit is variable depending on the conditions. Sometimes the speed limit is even different in the right two lanes as the left two lanes. If traffic is backed up ahead, there are warnings and the speed limit starts to come down as you approach the traffic jam, virtually eliminating big rear-ender pile ups so common in Los Angeles.
The show itself is one of the biggest in Europe. Most of the stuff for sale is total crap, but there are some interesting things, ours included I would like to think. But what really bugs me is the amount of money, resources and work that is put into this five days of selling. I suppose it is a necessary evil to keep the wheels of capitalism spinning, but the sheer magnitude of the waste is mind-boggling. Thousands of stands set up for 5 days, only to be torn down again. Containers full of merchandise flown in from as far away as Australia and China, only to be flown right back a week later. During set up and break down, teams of trash collectors fill containers with empty boxes and bubble wrap one after the next. Carpets are layed the day before the show opens and are destroyed immediately and torn out. It is the most breathtaking display of sheer waste I have ever seen.
One of the high points for me, however, is seeing all of the people coming together from all over the world. I overheard the following languages (and some others I didn't recognize): English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Sweedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Polish, Russian, Czech, Slovak, Croatian, Greek, Arabic, Cantonese and Korean. I'm probably forgetting some, and it may have been Mandarin and not Cantonese, I'm really just guessing there. The only reason I could sort out the Skandanavian languages is because Danish I can recognise, and the others I knew where the people were from. Don't ask me to tell the difference between Norwegian and Sweedish, because I can't.
Aside from the great story in the post below, the most interesting thing that happened was in a bar one night. We were having beers in this little place when three young guys came in. One, who we learned was only 18, sat down at the piano and started playing boogie-woogie on a level that I have never heard. Apparently he is one of the 3 best piano players in all of Germany, and he stops by the local there to get some free beers and pizza for him and his buddies. It was truly amazing.
All in all, I'm glad to be back. While I was gone, I had a flurry of activity on my blog. I registered something like 35 visits an hour for a 24 hour period. I have no idea why and now I will never know because it was too far back to look into the visit log. Could it have something to do with the Iran story? I really don't know. Triple digits in a day sure does feel good though for a tiny little blogger like myself.
Thanks for all the welcome-backs.