Cars, trains and Christmas Presents

We had even more snow today and I am – gasp – even starting to feel a little Christmassy.

Amazon Germany brought most of my Christmas presents today, so I’m pretty much settled for everyone from my Mom to my fourteen-year-old neighbour. The only presents I’m still missing are for my Dad and aunt and uncle.

My Dad is pretty much impossible to shop for, since he doesn’t do DVDs or CDs and only reads motorcycle mags, the occasional garden book and coffee table type books about ships and shipbuilding. And he’s got plenty of those. I’ve tried giving him novels I thought he might like, anything from Patrick O’Brien (because my parents have all of the Hornblower books and everyone agrees O’Brien is even better) to Herr der Hörner by Matthias Politycki, a supernatural crime novel set in Cuba (he’s been to Cuba, as has Politycki, so I thought he might like it), but he just doesn’t read them. I’ll probably give him some desk organizing stuff from Staples, unless I have a better idea.

My aunt and uncle are no readers either (my uncle occasionally reads really horrid political non-fiction and very rarely coffee table books) and they don’t do CDs or DVDs. Never mind that their taste is so far out of my range that I wouldn’t know what to get them anyway. I usually buy them fancy tea and cookies or soap, since they at least consume that. However, my aunt has had a series of back operations (a long and very depressing stories) and has spent most of the year either in hospital or in a care home, so tea and cookies and soap are out. I genuinely have no idea what to give them.

This afternoon, my Dad and I did a cross country tour. My Dad is planning to change his car (the current one isn’t that old, but he’s been dissatisfied with it from day one) and wanted to test drive the replacement candidate (this one). The car is bulky and ugly* and looks like it’s going to change into a Transformer and a Decepticon at that at any minute (disappointingly, it doesn’t), but its driving behaviour is definitely an improvement over the previous model. I’m not a fan of fourwheelers – unless you’re a farmer, soldier, forester or someone else who needs offroad capability, few things say “I’m a jerk” more loudly than a fourwheeler – but I have to admit that the fourwheel drive is pretty neat, given the current wintery weather conditions.

The thing is also fast. I pushed it up to 200 kilometers per hour on the highway. I don’t usually drive that fast and neither does my Dad, but we wanted to test how fast it could go. I probably could have pushed it another ten kilometers per hour or so, but then I passed the “Next exit in 1000 meters” sign and had to slow down. I start feeling uncomfortable at anything above 160 kilometers per hour anyway, even if the highway is empty (driving that fast on a crowded highway is much too dangerous).

We drove up to Bruchhausen-Vilsen (which amazingly has a pretty extensive Wikipedia entry in English for such a small town) and even saw the historical train under full steam. Usually, the historical train (which is restored and maintained entirely by volunteers) only operates during the summer (the old steam engines don’t like the cold), but in the past few years, they have also started offering so-called Nikolaus tours on the four advent weekends as well. They’d even decorated the cars christmassy. Combined with the snow, that was a very nice sight. I wish I’d taken my camera.

Bruchhausen-Vilsen is heaven for vintage vehicle enthusiasts anyway. In addition to the historical train and the various vintage locomotives (I think their newest train dates from 1936), there also is a place showcasing vintage cars.

* Mercedes Benz must have changed designers, since of late all of their cars look like extras from Mad Max. No idea what’s up with the macho look, but I vastly preferred the more rounded lines of the last round of models.

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