I'm not sure what it is about me exactly, but a friend recently described it this way, "You seem to attract conversations." This morning at breakfast was no exception. I even had one headphone in, listening to a show on my iPhone. A very tall, older gentleman popped his head into the breakfast room. I noticed him because he had to duck to get into the room. He had a bald top and lot of fluffy white hair in that horseshoe men get around his head. He immediately looked friendly. It was in the eyes. He left the room.
In two more minutes, he came back and sat next to me with a hand cupping his mouth saying "Guten morgen" in a jokingly loud way. Pretending to shout so that I would hear him over my headphone. I took it out and offered to share my carafe of coffee with him, explaining that I only speak English. He said, "Then this shall not be a problem communicating." We spent the next ten minutes having a good ol' chat.
We talked about where I'm from. I've been saying "California" to people when they ask, because my accent is clearly American and everyone knows California. If I say Australia, obviously they know where that is, but it doesn't make sense when hearing me speak. The nice man asked me what brought me to Germany. I said, "I have family in Arnsberg, so I thought I would drive around Germany first before seeing them." He said, "Pope not included." From my quizzical expression, he knew I'd never heard that one. "There is a saying," he said, "Americans want to travel through Europe in three days, Pope included." I laughed and said, "Well, I've been traveling around Europe for nearly two months. I even went to the Vatican. Pope definitely not included."
He then said, "The exchange rate should be good for you." So, I said, "I've been living in Australia, so not really." He expressed to me that the Euro is a foolish concept, giving the example of The Emperor's New Clothes. "It is amazing that only a few people seem to recognize that it doesn't work. It is Step 3 before Step 1." He went on to explain that different countries have different economic policies and cultures, and by making them all use the same currency, this will not make them all work the same, or think about money in the same way. This is so obvious now with the German/Greece situation (He did not mention this. This is my example). I asked him if he thinks Germany will revert to to the Deutschmark. "It is the smart thing to do." I thanked him for sharing his thoughts with me. It was the moment that Dresden (and maybe Germany) was emotionally saved for me. I'd been feeling grumpy and put off by so many little things. It was hard to go from Ireland (the friendliest, most accommodating country) to Germany (where no signs or directions are in English. If you're lost, you're lost. Done.). But this wonderful man reached out to me and brought me out of my little funk. It was quite nice.
He ended our talk with this. He said, "America is in support of the Euro because it weakens Europe and therefore increases the value of the US Dollar." It was such a simple statement, but I cannot find fault with it.
We wished each other a good day and I asked him where he was from. "Very close to Dortmund," which could be said for Arnsberg (where I'm going). I said, "Maybe I will see you again." He laughed, "There are only 7 billion people in the world. It could happen." I'm going to keep an eye out for him...just in case.