Travel

Angry German Bakers: Lunch

Dat Backhus: HafenCity, Hamburg

This trip to a German bakery went badly. Usually I could soften this statement with an addition like: The trip to the bakery went badly, but at least I had a delicious, sweet pastry. When you end up with a cold fish sandwich you can’t really soften a bad visit to a bakery. How does one end up with a cold fish sandwich? Well, you order it because you saw a couple other people in line order one and assumed that it must taste good. Here is a word of advice for people traveling in Germany, local tastes may not match your own.

The journey to Dat Backhus had all of the usual foibles I force upon my family when traveling. I wanted to visit HafenCity and I really didn’t plan out much beyond the arrival in HafenCity. I like to explore, to allow myself the freedom to wander around and get lost, wandering aimlessly is not something my family enjoys. What did I know about HafenCity before arriving? There was a miniature world museum and the industrial docks were being turned into cool modern buildings. My plan was to arrive, go to the mini-world, find lunch and then look at the construction of the opera house.

We arrived near HafenCity and within ten minutes I managed to get us lost. It wasn’t like I was trying to get lost, it is something I am just really good at doing. To me lost is an opportunity to see Russians selling drugs out of a van, or to stroll through a private country club without knowing where I am, for my family it is simply a long walk with no end in sight. It took a little time to find mini-world and then it took a little time to decide whether we wanted to eat lunch before going to mini-world or wait until afterwards. I think my family thought we would get lost again if we tried to eat first, so we went into Miniatur Wunderland. Have I mentioned how much Germans love lines? Well, Germans love lines like Disney Imagineers love lines. What looked like a short line from the outside of the building ended up snaking around an entrance and then up a bunch of flights of stairs. We ended up in an empty room with about 50 other people. Then a teenage boy came out from behind a door and started yelling at us, at least that is what it sounded like. He was probably just speaking German loudly, but I felt like I had done something wrong. When he was finished yelling, a door opened and the crowd started moving through it. I waited and then asked the teenager if he spoke English. He did and all of my problems were about to be solved, that is until he told me that this was the line for people who purchased tickets on-line. Only Germans would wait 30 minutes in a line for tickets they already purchased: Germans and stupid Americans like me.

That was the final straw for my now famished family. We were not going to wait in line again, we needed food.

Now no one died on our long, meandering walk that ended at Dat Backhus, but some people were not happy with their husband and my father-of-the-year nomination was put on hold for at least six months.

There was a line in the bakery which I thought was a good sign because it meant the food was probably good and it would give my family the opportunity to get their act together and decide what we wanted to order. Unfortunately everyone in line was German and therefore had planned what to order around 8AM three days earlier. Before we knew what had happened we were faced with a German bakery worker who wanted our order. None of us were ready which is simply not acceptable in Germany. I quickly pointed at the fish sandwich, my daughter pulled the “I’ll have what he is having” assuming I had ordered something edible, my son ordered a couple pastries (which did not please the bakery worker) and my wife ordered something like soup. The Germans in line behind us were not pleased to see this typical American chaos in their orderly world and they expressed their displeasure by looking at their watches which I believe is the German equivalent of shouting “Hurry up!”

I did my best to gather our food, pay the bill (cash only in German restaurants) and then find a seat in the dining area designed by IKEA and Tony Smith. No one in my family was smiling. I felt like I had just gone through an unfortunate medical exam, my son had more confirmation that his father was really Clark Griswold, my wife was very quiet, and my daughter was crying because she had just ordered a cold fish sandwich for lunch. I ended up eating two cold fish sandwiches. My daughter ate some delicious German pastries.  It is times like this, that people like me, end up in places like McDonalds.

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