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terça-feira, 20 de setembro de 2011

Project Webthings Tour - ep. 4: An idiot, a international driving permit and the city of Marburg

If you have no idea what this is all about, don’t worry, you can follow the story no problem. But if you wanna read the previous episodes, just go and click:

Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3

August 2010,

I don’t know why people travel. I mean, not everyone travel and, in fact, many people are very satisfied in knowing only their small corner. To some this “small corner” can be the city where they were born, to others, it can be only their house, perhaps their room, or who knows it can be only their own belly button. But, going back to what I was saying before losing myself with this “little corner” story, I don’t know why people travel.

I don’t know if it is a will to go away, to find out one thousand new things, to find people, to get out of the routines, to see for real things we only know from hear, to search for a place where the habits and the things are different, or if it’s just for fun. Whatever the case, I wrote here before that I always wanted to travel and see as many new things as possible because to me it is a way to find new points of view, new answers to the old questions of life. So, when I saw myself living at the center of Germany, in the center of Europe, I placed one hand inside the pocket of my vest, with the other one I combed the tip of my mustache (which I don’t have) and with a quick move of my left eyebrow I adjusted my monocle and as loud as humanly possible I said “Well, well”.

Searching in Google Maps I could see the distance to Berlin, to Amsterdam, to Paris, Nuremberg, Prague, Zurich, Brussels and many other cities that I wanted to visit. I was born in Brazil, so It was surreal to see how close, just a few hours by car, these cities were. I could chose one, wake up early in the morning, travel to there, spend the day and than come back, all in the same day. Of the cities I wanted to visit, Paris was the most distant, something around 7 hours.

Oh, and to complete the whole picture, we had at our disposal a rented car. During the week we used the car to go to the company, but at the weekends we could go anywhere we wanted, as long as we could pay for the fuel and as long as we were there at the company, Monday morning, ready to fulfill our obligations.

From Monday to Friday I was committed with all the things at the company, but at the weekends I had made the decision with myself that I had to always, unless it was really not possible, visit a new city or a new place.

But let’s slow down up a bit, I know that putting this way it may sound like it was very easy and there were no worries with monetary details, weather forecasts, how tired I could be because of the week, the changing of the seasons, the shit one may think when this one is far away on the other side of the world, thieves ready to jump over you in road stops and gas stations, alien abductions and whatever else that happened and I will tell in the future episodes.

The last details, an important one, one that will take us to the first of two side stories I will tell today while telling the main story: I got my driver license just 2 months before going to Germany, which means that despite the fact we had a car, in the RPG of life I was a driver Level 1, willing to drive in international roads with no speed limits, with rain, snow and whatever more that could happen. Sounds fun, no? hehehe.

International driving permit and 18 years old stupid

I don’t know how it works in your country, but in Brazil, when 18 years old are completed, the individuals of the human species (oh.... to bad to the other animals.....) can apply for a document which proves that one has the ability to drive, the “driver license”.

Of all the people that I know, I was an exception for not getting my license just after turning 18. I mean, the truth is that I was a “half exception”. Explaining in a simple, short and, why not say, abruptly striking words, at the heyday of my 18s I started the process, I did the lessons and I was even approved at the first of two tests, the theory test. At the practice test, however, I got myself f*cked, I don’t if it was because of shitty driving skills, or it was because I was a victim of that story that there is a great chance that someone will fail at least once on the practice test, because then you have to pay a bunch of fees to schedule another try, what makes the process much more interesting to the establishments providing these licenses, the “auto schools”, and since the world teaches you that you have to get money no matter what, who am I do go agains such a piece of extraordinary knowledge.

Since I was paying for the entire process and at that point I was just a private lessons “teacher” of math and physics (you can read this as “person with no job, trying to do something”) after I failed, pay all the fees to do the test again would be a little complicated at that moment.

But of course, that’s not the complete story.

The thing is that some people are born averse to the solution of bureaucratic problems and social rituals that are very clear and simple to other people. The whole situation was a bother to me, not only because it was another “failure that no one else had”, but because the license at that point would have no use and I was doing that because it was another of the “rituals to turn into an adult”, because all my friends were also doing it, because that was what was expected from me.

I wasn’t doing that because I wanted. So in one of that stories of “I will see that later”, I ended up putting it aside. The “later”, conveniently went far and far away as I got myself a girlfriend, went to college, got a job and so on.

Years have passed and one day, somewhere around the end of 2009, saying it very short to be as brief as possible, facing a bunch of shit situations that happened at that time in my life (don’t laugh, your time will come, ‘kay?) I saw myself in a position where I had to evolve, stop being so stupid and fix many things that I had left on the past. I had 23 years old and that was no longer the moment of the “ritual of become an adult”, it was time to accept myself as an adult and all the responsibilities and definitions that come in the same packet. It is something hard to explain, but I bet that you do know some people with 30 years or more that still didn’t get it.

The driver license was just a brick on the wall of everything that was destroyed and rebuilt at that time, but a very symbolic one. Oh, and by the way, just to not lose the opportunity, this website returned at that same time because it was also one of that things left behind, but let’s save this whole story to another day. hehehe.

The process to get the license took me 7 months, including the need to make new glasses, new ID and visit a bunch of government buildings that I never knew would exist to cancel the process I started when I was that 18 years old stupid. It was a pain in the ass, but no bureaucracy, with it’s forms, lines and protocols, can beat a mp3 player filled with podcasts. And just to let you know, it took me 7 months because I had to all the steps of the process at Saturdays, since I work far from where I live, so there was no time during the week. If that was not the case, the whole process would take 1 month, 2 months maximum.

With the national diver license in hands, since I knew about the possibilities to have a car in Germany, I applied for an international driving permit.

Many countries have agreed over this document, you should check how it works to the place you are going and the place you came from. The way to obtain yours also depends of your country, so I can’t help you much on this. In Brazil I just had to go to some special building, with the copy of some documents, than I had to pay a fee and that was all. You can see the international diver license bellow.

And this will take us back to August of 2010, back to Germany, back to the first weekend.

The city of Marburg

I know that some lines up above you heard me talking about Paris, Amsterdam, Prague and than I come with this ahn... Marburg? Oh no! I don’t believe! False prophet, burn in hell!

No. Relax.

There is one explanation to everything, or at least a believable lie, yes? To explain why Marburg I had to tell the second and last side story, but don’t worry this one is very short.

At the company there in Germany, along with my colleague from Brazil, there was a Chinese guy who were there to do the same thing we were doing. We end up as good friends and he will show up more in the future episodes. He was the one who suggested Marburg, which was 1 hour from our home. He had been there before and said that the place was nice. Doing some research in the internets I found out that the city was really interesting for reasons that will talk about some lines bellow.

Since that was or first weekend and who was going to drive was my colleague, who despite not being a driver Level 1 in the RPG of life, didn’t liked to drive long distances, we decided that the city had everything to be good enough for the first weekend.

And we were right.

Marburg is a university city and is also a place for tourists with churches and the castle with medieval and gothic architectures, all build up along the mountain face. Like many cities in Germany, the streets of the old city were preserved and transformed in commercial areas with shops, pubs, restaurants, second hand stores and others, where only people walk, so, usually, no cars. I didn’t knew at that day, but I was going to see a lot of old streets with commercial areas like that in many cities all over Germany. A lot.

In most of the cities, these historical areas were destroyed by bombs during the World War II. Marburg was different because the city was a university, like I said, and during the war the entire city was transformed into a huge hospital and even if the war is a time when people do crazy shit, it is not a common habit to drop bombs in hospitals. This way, the old city of Marburg is different because it was not rebuild, like in most of the cities in Germany, it was restored.

Perhaps that is the reason why it is possible to see how the city was built following the mountain outline. The streets, with stones in the floor, are steep and some are large, others are narrow, without any standard. Just to give one idea of how different it is, the official website of the city says (and I believe in it) that Marburg has more stairs in its alleys and streets than in all its houses combined. The city is definitely a interesting scenario for stories of mystery and fables, or just to get lost if go walking wondering without thinking.

And speaking of streets, it is quite possible that you already heard about the brothers Grimm, that two crazy German brothers who became famous as writers by putting together in a book the stories, fables, myths and legends that the people of the regions that are Germany today and its surroundings used to tell. Before them, all these stories were passed orally from generation to generation, so we don’t know if these stories are really based on something that happened or if they are complete invention. Their work was very important for saving all these stories not only to all that people of each region, but specially to you, reading right now, who certainly already heard about The Little Red Riding Hood, or Snow white, Cinderella, Rapunzel and many others.

Before the brothers began their quest for stories, they studied in Marburg for a long time and it is said that when writing their stories and when the illustrations to the book were done, many places were based in real ones of the city of Marburg. In the city there is a staircase with something the brother wrote about the city, I took a picture of it, take a look:

"The position of Marburg and the surrounding area is certainly very beautiful. Especially when you're standing near the castle and look down there, but the town itself is very ugly. I think there are more stairs to the street than in the houses. In one house it goes into even the one roof"
Marburg is a beautiful city, where is possible to have a calm day, walking, taking pictures and eating some icecream. If you go by car, make sure to look for the underground parking place, one of those who counts the time and you pay for how much you stay. If you park on the streets you have to use that parking tickets and it is allowed to stay only 2 hours in a spot, which means that, at each 2 hours you will have to stop your walk and go back and change the car position or you may get a fine. We did this little mistake at that day, yes, but let’s no talk about it, that was the first trip, no problem hehehe.

Talking with people from the company and to the owners of the house we were living, I heard more than one story about people who fell in love, ended up married and bla bla bla, and to which that day they spent in Marburg, walking, eating some ice cream and watching the sunset was an important moment in their relationship. Maybe that’s why so many people choose to get married in Marburg, at the day we saw 4 weddings.

So, in other words, the message is: if possible, try to visit Marburg with that special one and not with your Chinese friend and a colleague from your work, not matter how good friends you all may be, yes? hahahahaha


At that Saturday, I got home very tired, but with the first step of my personal journey, of one travel at every weekend, done.

It was interesting to see that the world was a place that had a city which could be the scenario for a fairy tale, which one day was transformed into a gigantic hospital with wounded from the biggest war we know, which then, years later, could transform again, now into a place were people could go to have fun, walk and maybe fall in love.

-- End of Episode 4