We knew Niels had a meeting today at 1 or 2 in the afternoon, so we did the logical thing: wake up at noon. Oops. Though we weren't too rushed, it was apparent that we had to get moving pretty quickly. Niels started by calling them up to confirm the 2p time, because 1p was obviously not going to work. We got ready for the day in a good amount of time and drove in a CAR to the TRAIN station (Germans...), parking on the nearby street. Niels asked what time it was and I told him the time. He looked at me flatly and said we missed the train. I felt awful. Immediately, though, Dani chimed in, saying that it was not the time I said. Oh yeah! My watch is 9 minutes fast. That gave me my first idea of how close we were actually cutting it! We walk briskly to the train station. While Neils and I were working on getting me a day pass, Dani went to the corner store to get the local newspaper (Someone had leaked that she was from Elmshorn and made it fairly far on X-Factor Germany!LINK She was the cover story!!). Dani made it back while Niels was ringing in the ticket. The total came up and we didn't have the change!!!! Noooooo! The train was arriving so we started to scramble. Dani & I looked for change while Niels ran to break a bill. He was back in no time and sent us to try to hold the doors. We ran up the stairs. Closed doors. Disaster. Now what?? After some conversation, it was decided the best recourse was to just call and confess to the company that there was no way Niels would be arriving before 2p, driving or train. He made the dreaded call and they were surprisingly patient. Niels and Dani decided that we should just take the train anyway, so we did.
The train ride over, we had some fun conversations about life, though I can't remember one. Then, after arriving in Hamburg, we took the bus to the office. The strangest thing happened when we boarded the train--no one paid to get on. I was flabbergasted. In America, that is unheard of. How do they make money if they don't charge you?? Are you ready for this? While you're riding, they have plainclothes officers onboard sometimes. They look like anyone else. After the bus door shuts, they suddenly turn around, announcing their presence and asking to see everyone's transit passes. If you don't have it, they fine you 4 times the cost of a ticket. It's amazing!!
We finally arrived at the office Niels had his appointment at. Keep in mind, this is Germany, where people speak German, and I don't know a lick of it. Niels is shown to one of his contacts, who greets him warmly. Niels introduces me as his American friend, and the contact greets me in rough English. We go to the office of a famous German TV host for the meeting. Niels is clearly impressed. I'm not. (Who?) When the meeting starts, I am shocked by the first question posed sheepishly by the German TV executive: "Should we doing this meeting in English?" He's making a joke, right? OMG, he's serious!! I immediately pipe in and insist they do the meeting in German. I couldn't believe they had even asked!!!! We wouldn't think of doing a meeting in Chinese if someone from China, who was on vacation of all things and had no idea what the topic was, walked into the room. So polite! Even the guy in charge who walked in later asked the same thing!
So it turned out that this meeting was actually a pretty big time meeting! If you don't know, Niels founded a gospel choir all by himself called the Young Spirits. It has done really well for a start up. This meeting was about the Day of Legends Soccer game where huge soccer stars of the past converge at this big stadium in Hamburg and entertain the Germans. It is a pretty big deal. And now the Young Spirits were going to be singing for the opening for the second year in a row!! This meeting lasted for a little over an hour. I couldn't understand a word of it, so I just observed their non-verbals. It was quite fascinating! Did you know that German words have actual meanings????
After the meeting, I relayed to Niels the 10 words I understood in that whole meeting ("Wait, so drei isn't the opposite of wet?" Okay, 9 words.). We then walked around downtown Hamburg. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. Perfect would be a good word. Niels explained that it was more of a fluke than anything. North Getmany is all about the rain rain rain! I just had gotten lucky. You're welcome.
At one point, I noticed Niels was suspiciously on his phone for a long time, which was very unlike him. He is rarely on his phone. He is all about being present in the moment and is very good at that. Strange. We soon found out why: remember that train we missed earlier? Well, Niels's best friend from childhood was on that train and saw us on the platform as we missed the train. Niels tried to surprise Dani by texting the friend and making plans for lunch. Eventually, Niels made an agreement to meet in the shopping district where we were so we could eat with her.
We went to this delicious fish place where they had typical German dishes.
So I didn't actually get the German dishes, but I tried the German dishes others had ordered. Yummers! The waitress we had was a total bitch. And she spoke really good English. It was bizarre. It took a while to figure out, but she finally revealed that her dad lives in America. I thought she was from New York with the attitude she had. She was very insensitive at first. By the end of the meal, though, she had opened up and we tipped her whatever was fair in Germany. Okay, maybe a little less.
That night was the X-Factor party, which you can read about here.
Once the show ended, we went back to the car and went home. Everyone had a great time. I really enjoyed the whole affair. Once again, Niels stayed up to chat for hours at a time. I think this is the night I life coached him, which was a lot of fun for me. I hope he learned sumfin.
Maybe on the third day, well get up very early.