definitely did not have the weekend I expected. At times I even felt
like I was having the weekend from Hell. Almost everything that could
have gone wrong did. I know that life, and owning a small business,
are not always easy; but come on.....
night before I drove to Wiesbaden for the bazaar I wouldn't let
myself sleep. This meant that I couldn't handle the 2.5 hour drive
without pulling over and taking a nap on Thursday morning. Setup
began at 8:00, but I wasn't able to get there until 10:00.
to check-in complications I wasn't able to actually start setting up
until 11:15. The initial space my bazaar hosts tried to give me
wasn't even wide enough to fit the tables they provided; let alone
any of my other displays. I took their second option, which was a
spot in the Fest tent. At the moment this seemed like a much better
option. I didn't know that it was going to be cold and rain all
had not planned a wardrobe around being outdoors in this kind of
weather for three, 10 hour days. I packed my stretch pants, skinny
jeans, loafers, no socks, and v-neck shirts to be in a heated hangar.
bazaars I have a full length mirror. It's nicer for shoppers to see
their entire self along with the scarf. Fifteen minutes into setting
up, that mirror got bumped and smashed all over the ground in a
billion pieces. Cleaning it up without a broom, and disposing of it
properly, was quite a fete. Another vendor lent me some working
gloves so I wouldn't accidentally slice my finger off. After the
mirror broke it seemed (probably only to me in my own head) that the
other vendors were ganging up on me. I got hassled to move my car and
rearrange my tables to better suit the needs of those around me. The
other people in my tent were European vendors that all seemed to know
one another. (I was like this little-tiny-all alone-crafter) They
were laughing, and joking in German. I was silent, and cold, and sad,
and I ripped my tablecloth!
my annoying set-up I had to navigate around the city; finding my
hotel, going to Ikea for a new mirror, going to the mall for socks,
leg warmers, and gloves, and feeding myself. By the end of the night
I was exhausted, but this did not stop the Universe from punishing me
further. I got trapped in the parking garage. It seems I was
initially printed a parking receipt without a date and time. Because
of this, the machine wouldn't let me pay, and the gate wouldn't let
me out. There was no security guard answering the telecom; and there
was no guard at the security desk. It took me an hour and the help of
two different sets of Germans to free me (and my automobile) from the
imprisonment. When I finally got back to my hotel (which was just a
house with rented rooms) there was no parking. I drove down the
street and around the corner.
that was just on Thursday.
Friday morning when I woke up I had half-a-mind to pack up and
hightail it home; skipping this whole bazaar in Wiesbaden thing. But
I couldn't give up so easily. I arrived at the bazaar grounds at
9:30. I finished setting up, mingled with my neighbors a bit, and
waited for some scarf-selling action. It never happened. I didn't
sell my first scarf until 2:00 pm, and there wasn't much activity to
bazaar ended at 7:00. In aimlessly driving around the city to find a
place for dinner, I ran a yellow light. After I went through it I saw
a light flash twice in the corner of my eye. I'm pretty sure that
means my photo got taken for running the yellow and there will be a
ticket in the mail for me any day.
managed to survive most of Saturday without incident. This was until
after dinner, when I almost didn't have enough money to pay for my
meal because I couldn't find the cash I had put in my pocket. Nor
could I find my driver's license. I left the restaurant, after
emptying my change purse, only to find it had begun to rain again.
(Good thing my car was eight blocks away.) I ran all the way back in
the rain, but took one turn too fast, on a grassy corner, slipped and
fell. My entire right side was mud soaked. When I got back to my car
there was no money and driver's license. In the rain, I retraced my
steps two more times before confirming my money and ID were
that wacky? It's been a while since I've been handed so many
(ridiculously annoying) incidences in a row. When I eventually got
home, Sunday night, I wanted to throw myself a party, for surviving.
Instead I just threw myself in bed. Today, I have felt like a new
that my crying is out of the way I can also share all of the cool
things that happened to me this weekend...
house I rented a room in was perfect. I picked it randomly off the
Internet and lucked out. It was clean. I had my own room and
bathroom, the landlady was terribly sweet, and the price was
affordable. You (really) couldn't ask for more, when traveling for
bazaar had a refreshment room for vendors only. They kept it stocked
with breakfast, lunch, snacks, and hot and cold refreshments. It was
such a relief to be able to grab a cookie and some tea, every so
often, to warm up and stay busy during the slow hours. We also had
our own bathrooms. I may have died if I'd have had to use a
port-o-john all weekend. Also, the volunteers working the event, the
ladies of the Wiesbaden Community Spouses and Civilians Club, could
not have been nicer. They were very supportive, attentive, cheerful,
and helpful. They provided a warm, energetic atmosphere that lasted
us through all the awful weather and lack of crowds.
was (absolutely) selling the perfect items given the weather. If
Mother Nature was on any one's side; it was Florida Scarf's.
my German-language skills, the Fest tent was the place to be. I was
eavesdropping as much as possible to try and understand as many
conversations as possible. In certain instances, I was able to
participate in conversations using German. These were the times when
I really wanted to pinch myself. I would laugh, as I joked with the
Polish Pottery Lady (in German) about how she gets asked the same
questions all day long and she delivers the same answers. I can do a
pretty good impression of an Army wife inquiring about baking dishes.
I wonder why. It's probably because I'd have had the same questions
if I had not heard her information over and over again.
is definitely a cool city. There are a few historical attractions;
and they are pleasantly blended with great residential neighborhoods,
shopping, and dining. Some of the streets reminded me of Savanna,
Georgia. (I hope that isn't too random)
had the best dinners. It would take me while to find the restaurants,
and then find parking, but it was worth it every time.
On Thursday I
ate at Taj Mahal. It was a basement restaurant under a three story
office building. Random, right? Not really for Wiesbaden; they had
many basement bars and restaurants with cool signs, descending
staircases, and romantic porches. The Taj had great music. I was
delighted when I heard an eastern version of a song I know to be
played by the Gipsy Kings. My face lit up, but since I was alone I
could only make a mental note of it, instead of pointing it out to a
dinner date. I was seated at a table next to the door. In every
restaurant I went to; I got the worst seat in the house. I wasn't
surprised. A restaurant should never waste a good table on the
weekend, on one person. One waiter sat me, another waiter took my
order, still another waiter brought my drink, then a forth brought my
warming plate and entree. I saw that last waiter twice more, because
he also cleared my table and brought my check. I am wondering if
everyone working felt the need to get a look at the girl who came to
dinner all by herself. I didn't care. I'd probably be nosey too, if I
were them. I was just content to have the attentive service in this
warm, smoky, cumin scented sanctuary; far from a cold day of work and
stress. I ordered Sahir Paneer Masala (I'm pretty sure I spelled that
wrong) and garlic naan. It was delicious. As I ate I dreamt of owning
my own Indian restaurant. It would be a room full of bathtubs. The
bathtubs would be full of typical Indian sauces. Restaurant goers
could bath in their favorite sauce and there would be overflowing
baskets of warm naan on all sides of the tub for dipping.
Friday I ate at Di Gregorio's. It was situated on a hill in the
middle of a bunch of old homes and large trees. It was really lovely;
out and away from the center of the city. I felt like I experienced
the “single girl in a restaurant” syndrome again. Di Gergorio's
is one of those establishments where the diner gets a gift from the
kitchen. On Friday night it was three slices of (some sort of) soft
salami. As I embarked on this culinary adventure, and sampled some
bread, tomato paste, olives, and house wine; I was greeted by a total
of three members of the restaurant staff. What is the deal with that?
Like the night before; I refused to let it bother me. For my main
course I had pasta and sauce. It doesn't matter what kind of pasta,
or sauce; all that matters was that it is the best pasta sauce I've
ever had. Since I was out to eat, again with no one to talk to, I
thought to myself how inspired I was by the sauce. It motivated me to
want to work on my own sauce skills. I also thought about how singles
need to eat at upscale restaurants if they are going to eat alone.
The food and the atmosphere can be all the “date” one needs. Take
Di Gregorio's for instance. You are in a beautiful surrounding. The
food and drink are delivered with theatrics like extra silverware,
plates, olive oil, and fresh ground pepper. There is lots of setting,
clearing, and resetting of the table. You get surprise gift hors
d'oeuvres. And if I need to mention it again; you receive a delicious
entree, perfectly portioned, with impressive ingredients and multiple
levels of flavor. Frankly, I'm beginning to think it's all the
company I can handle. While eating at Di Gregorio I decided to open
my own Italian restaurant too. It's going to be called “Cut the
Crap and Just Give Me Wine, Cheese, Bread, and Maybe Something With
Garlic.” (I may need to shorten that somehow)
Saturday I ate at Sombrero Latino. The restaurant's décor made me
feel like I was Ernest Hemmingway. It was dark, with lots of wood,
candle light, black and white photos, and musical instruments hanging
on the walls. To my surprise I was not seated by the front door, but
I was seated in the very back next to the bread and butter prep
station. (the lesser of two evils) It was no matter; I still liked
dinner. Instead of chips and salsa (which is what an American expects
at a Spanish restaurant) you get hard (really hard) rolls served with
salsa verde and mayo. Interesting combination, right? The salsa was
green tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, tons of black pepper, raw yellow
onion, and garlic. Can you imagine what it tasted like all together;
the hard roll, mayo, and salsa?...a hoagie. I loved it! After
my hoagie-without-the-meat-and-cheese appetizer, I had a burrito. It
was chickeny, and cheesey, and just what I wanted; and I ordered the
perfect Chilean red to wash it down.
you still reading this? Thank you for letting me recap my culinary
explorations of Wiesbaden. It was obviously the highlight of each
evening for me; whereas my days proved to be explorations more on the
I said, I wasn't in a tent near any other vendor that was American
(or had a current Army affiliation) Initially I was intimidated by
this group of sellers. They seemed to roll in a pack and know one
another; like Carnies. I felt like an outsider, like my life was too
normal because it didn't consist of a mobile store that I opened and
closed in a new city every weekend.
I got to know the vendors; one by one they each opened up to me. The
conversations always ended the same way; with each of them giving me
similar advice. “Don't trust anyone,” was what I received most
often. Most of them have been in the business for over ten years.
They know enough to be nice to one another and to share laughs; but
never to share any secrets. You don't tell other vendors how much
money you are making. (or have made) You don't tell them about the
other shows you are doing. You don't tell them if you are staying in
a nice hotel. You definitely don't tell them if it's cheap, because
then it won't be there for you in the future. Talking too much can
ruin your life as a vendor. There were so many rules, and codes, and
stories; they had just about scared me from ever doing a bazaar
again. The Internet was starting to look like a safe place.
though; I really enjoyed everyone's company. There was Romanio. He
sold Italian wine. He also traveled with an espresso maker and hooked
us all up every morning with delicious, dark, strong, coffee. I think
it saved my life. He also made pizza and pasta that he shared both
days. I also liked Fritz. He was a German ceramic artist. He
specialized in personalized steins and had a mustache that curled on
both ends. He wore a fishing vest stocked with cigarettes. He had a
light cigarette he smoked in the first half of the day, and a
stronger cigarette he enjoyed during the second half. I am also glad
to have befriended Jerry, the french soap seller who also runs a B&B
in the South of France. And Mama Kotroo; a Indian Sufi who sold goods
from India (like Red Saffron from Kashmir) and also is a trekking
guide in the Himalayas. He told me about skiing in the Himalayas. You
know I'm now going to research that! And then there was Procy. She is
from Kenya; and she was just the sweetest. She sold decorative
African wares, and was a perfect neighbor for me to share stories
with all weekend. There was also Juan Silva, the painter from Malaga;
and an older couple from Whales who sold hand carved, knotted spoons.
Lastly, there was Gerard. He was Belgian with a sore back. He was as
passionate about Belgium as Ludwig is about Germany. Gerard spoke
French, German, English, and a bit of a few other languages. He made
metal sculptures. He told me that Sarah is the most International
name; it's common with a touch of uniqueness. I really liked him
after he said that. Of course.
of the different people I engaged with were such a wonder to me. I
would get so wrapped up in our conversations that I would forget
about my booth with no customers that I worked so hard to prepare
for. I felt like I was having a chance of a lifetime to meet these
European vendors and learn from them. Selling your artwork when times
are slow is tough. I need to be doing, seeing, or learning something.
Standing quietly and smiling for long periods of time is impossible.
I was glad for my inspiring company.
I do more bazaars? In more countries? For more travel? Sounds dreamy
doesn't it? Maybe it does, but only for a split second, then I start
to think about the logistics and I think I'm good right where I am.
reaching the end of this tale I've forgotten all about how upset I
was about the bad things that happened. Bad times, like good times,
are (surely) easy-come-easy-go. This weekend I got one step closer to
being able to “roll with it” and I'm so glad I did. Had I gotten
discouraged, and packed up and gone home; I may not have frozen my
tail off but I would have missed out on so many awesome people.
Scarf lives to see another day, and probably another bazaar. For now
it's back home, settling in, and posting inventory online. I hope to
stay warm, dry, and out of trouble.