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hannover bed and breakfast
By Dennis Batchelder 21 March 1999

the facts:

Hannover, Germany is a city that's 4 hours north of Frankfurt. Before Germany united in the 1870's, Hannover was the capital city in the Grand Duchy of Hannover.

In fact, the current English royal family comes from Hannover. George the First was imported after Queen Anne died, and the Tudor line was depleted of any acceptable monarchs. George was some cousin of the Tudor line, and never learned to speak English. His grandson, George III, imported Hessians (mercenaries from Hesse, where Frankfurt is) to fight against the revolting American colonies in our revolutionary war.

During World War I, the House of Hannover had some difficulties in the public relations department, as England was fighting the Germans. So they changed their name to the House of Windsor, which was the name of the local castle in London (Windsor Castle).

However, Queen Elizabeth II is not only Queen of England; she is also the head of the Hannover Royal Family. You may have heard that Ernst August, Prince of Hannover married Princess Caroline from Monaco a few weeks ago. Prince Ernst had to get Queen Elizabeth's permission before he was allowed to marry Princess Caroline.


Now the story:

I am staying in a bed and breakfast in a small village about 10 miles south of the exhibition halls in Hannover. Ingmar, Regine, Mohan, Bernd, etc. are also staying at a bed and breakfast, but a different one.

My cohorts speak both German and English, as does their host. I speak only English, and my host, Frau Barten, only speaks German. Also, I am Frau Barten's only guest.

Frau Barten is an older lady - maybe 70 years old. She lives alone, and I guess she really misses her family, because she's very sweet and talkative. We have interesting conversations in the morning:

Frau: Gute morgan! Hast du gute geschlafen? (good morning! did you sleep well?)

Me: Excuse me?
Frau: (using hands, pantomiming sleep): Hast du gute geschlafen?
Me: Sleep?
Frau: Schlafen. Hast du gute geschlafen?
Me: Sleep good?
Frau: Was ist sleep?
Me: (using hands, pantomiming sleep): Oh! Sleep! Ja, Ich schlafen gute. (yes, I sleep good)
Frau: Gute, gute. Hast du einen schnupfen? (do you have a cold?)
Me: (pantomiming blowing nose) schnupfen?
Frau: Ja, ja. Schnupfen (pantomiming blowing nose)
Me: Ja, ja. Ich haben einen schnupfen. (Yes, yes. I have a cold)
Frau: tsk tsk tsk. [then a whole bunch of german gibberish]
Me: I have no clue what you are saying
Frau: [repeat of gibberish]
Me: (shaking head). I'm so sorry. I wish I knew what you were saying to me
Frau: [repeat of gibberish, this time louder and slower]
Me: SInce you can't understand me, let me tell you about Snare, and my concerns for exporting encryption...

You can see how time consuming this can be. Since I've been there for four days now, we're getting better at pantomiming, and better at talking to ourselves. I now read a book during breakfast, which seems to discourage the idle chatter a bit.

Frau Barten is a dear, but there is one thing I really dislike about staying with her - she doesn't have a shower. Only a bathtub. This really is bad for me. I remember as kids we took a bath once a week (whether we needed it or not!), every Friday night. But I seem to have forgotten the steps necessary to have a successful bath. For instance:

1) do you wash first, and sit in your dirty water, or soak first, then use the water to rinse?
2) do you lather up from head to toe, or toe to head?
3) when and how do you shampoo? and how do you get the shampoo out?

I've tried all kinds of approaches, but I'm not happy with any of them. I don't know what people did before showers.

The most horrible part of a bath, in my opinion, is the ring around the tub. I don't think it's nice to see how dirty you were. Yesterday I took two baths, to see if on the second one I also left a ring. Yup. This was most discouraging. And even more discouraging was the amount of my hair from my head that stayed in the tub - I don't think tubs are good for balding people, either. It's so much better to NOT know what's going down the drain...

I have three more days to figure out how to bathe properly. If any of you has a good approach for tub-bathing, please send it to me... I'll give it a try and follow it step by step. Here's the restrictions:

1) cold room with tile floor
2) one itty bitty tiny towel
3) small tub with faucet only
4) 10 minutes time


bath results

25 March 1999

I have received four suggestions for my bath taking:

[Remember the restrictions: ]
[ 1) cold room with tile floor ]
[ 2) one itty bitty tiny towel ]
[ 3) small tub with faucet only ]
[ 4) 10 minutes time ]

I've presented them below, with my ratings on their effectiveness


[From my mother]

skip the bath and wash only the essentials with the itty bitty towel - if you must take a bath - shampoo your head first - then rinse it, use minimal soap and wash the rest - don't worry about rinsing - if you use a nice smelling soap this works well

[results: i chose the bath option. i didn't like the scent or the greasy feeling that the german soap left. rating: * *]


[From my Aunt Melodee:]

!. Begin to draw the bath.
2. While the water is running, strip quickly and completely. With a little luck, water has not turned ice cold in the process. (they have very small hot water heaters in Germany)
3. Turn off the water.
4. Step into the tub, sit down, lay down as much as space will permit. Totally submerge yourself in the water.
5. Stand up, being careful not to fall on the bar of soap and apply shampoo to your wet hair. (Best to use a shampoo/conditioner combination due to the time constraints.) While still standing, soap up your entire body. You may have to occasionally dip the soap back into the water to rewet it.(they don't use washcloths in Germany either.)
6. When you are completely soaped up, lie back down as far as possible in the tub, rinsing your hair at the same time. 
7. Before you rise up out of the water, reach around with your toe and pull the drain plug.
8. Stand carefully and quickly before the ring settles around the tub.(if you kick your feet around a bit while drying off, you may prevent any ring from forming at all.
9. When you have dried yourself as much as possible with the itty-bitty towel, spread the towel on the floor to step out on.
10. Dress yourself completely, except for your socks in hopes that the itty-bitty towel was dry enough to absorb the excess water from your feet while you were dressing. ps. personally, I would ask for more towels so that I could give my hair one more quick rinse under the running faucet

[results: water went up my nose while wetting my hair. and i wasn't coordinated enough to unplug the drain with my toe. but the instructions wehre thorough, and worked well. rating: * * * *]


[From Sheri Clemmer, at Burnt Mills Church:]

The first one that comes to mind is a thorough wash in the sink and FORGET the tub. That avoids several of your restrictions -

1. The cold tile floor won't bother you near as much this way as you can remain partially clothed during the bathing process.
2. The itty bitty towel will be more effective on itty bitty parts of the body at one time.
3. If you wash your hair in the sink, the water will swiftly take away any lost hairs, thus preventing discouragement to set in.
4. Since you have lost a lot of weight you probably can get the job done in the 10 minutes alloted without great difficutly.

[results: my ego was less bruised, and it was nice not watching my hair disappear. i'm so small now it only took 5 mintues, but i didn't get a good rinse. rating: * *]


[From Peter Cox, also here at CeBIT:]

1) fill the tub with water
2) get in
3) get out
4) dry off

[results: not enough emphasis on the soap/shampoo for my taste... rating: *]


Thanks to everyone who responded for the input. This is my last day here: no more bathing. I'm looking forward to my own shower!


btw: I hope you all enjoyed these emails. It also helped me pass my days, and gave us all at CeBIT something to talk about!

hannover bed and breakfast - germany