Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bring It On

"To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another.”
-Katherine Paterson

If I had known that Tuesday’s roller coaster-themed blog post would be some sort of weird foreshadowing into my weekend plans, I may have thought twice about using the metaphor. As it were, I had no clue that I was only days away from conquering the world’s steepest wooden roller coaster…
Colossus at Heide Park in Soltau, Germany
I had Thursday morning off so I met Kristin in Hamburg for lunch and a tour of the Hamburg History Museum (where the coolest thing I saw was a display case filled with 800-year-old beer steins). During our morning of culture, Kristin asked if I would be interested in getting drinks on Friday and, of course, I accepted.

That's real German beer!
So, Friday after work I took the train in to Hamburg and met Kristin for dinner and drinks at the Hofbräuhaus (a German drinking hall/restaurant). The real/original Hofbräuhaus is in Munich and was established by the Duke of Bavaria in the 1500’s. It is one of the city’s most famous and popular attractions, and there is an offshoot right in Hamburg only minutes from where Kristin lives.

Now, I generally try to avoid using stereotypes in my writing, but in order to evoke an accurate picture of the Hofbräuhaus for those of you who weren’t lucky enough to be there, I need you to pull out some of your German stereotypes and try them on for size. Imagine a hall with bench style seating, waiters in lederhosen, huge mugs of beer, a menu full of sausage platters, and German drinking songs blaring from the speakers. Add to this a few tables of boisterous Germans enjoying a Friday night out on the town and you’ve just about got it. 

A dinner well enjoyed
It was truly one of the best experiences I’ve had thus far. Kristin and I both ordered beer and dinner. She tried a pig knee (no lie) and I had the sausage platter with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut—both were delicious. After some of the beer we also joined in as much as we could with the singing Germans (our singing skills were greatly enhanced when they started to play YMCA and we actually knew both the words and the actions).

After soaking up as much German culture as we could, we went back to Kristin’s house and, after a 2-hour conversation at her kitchen table, went to sleep. The next morning Kristin was slated to take one of the children she takes care of, a 12-year-old girl, and a friend to an amusement park for the day. When Kristin’s host family invited me along and graciously offered to pay my entrance fee I happily accepted… and that, my friends, is how I ended up at Heide Park standing in line for Colossus, the world’s steepest wooden roller coaster (they even have the Guinness Book of World Records certificate to prove it).

Now, I would have been fine with the longest roller coaster, or even the fastest one. The tallest roller coaster might have given me a bit to contemplate, but the idea of the steepest wooden roller coaster strikes fear into my heart. Especially considering that “steep” and “wooden” are not two words I generally enjoy hearing together in the same sentence.

After nearly an hour of waiting, we were finally boarding the roller coaster and that’s when I looked over at Kristin, who also looked torn between fear and excitement, and the only thing I could think to say was “Why?” Why did we decide to get on this thing and throw ourselves down a 61º incline (that’s made of wood and not shiny new metal) with nothing but a tin car and a seatbelt to stop us from hurtling to the ground below? Why?

The ascent seemed to take forever as we lurched our way to the top of the hill. Gripping the lap bar and praying that it would do its job, I felt us start to fall and I opened my mouth to scream but nothing happened. I looked down and felt the wind smack me in the face, filling my nose and mouth with cold, cold air. I felt the pressure of the seatbelt and the opposing pull of gravity, trying to lift me up and away from my relatively safe box. My scream lodged somewhere between my lungs and my vocal cords, content to choke me as we barreled toward the finish. I don’t think I was scared enough to cry, but when we got to the end, my eyes were watering and my fingers were numb.

After nearly five years of roller coaster deprivation, I eased myself into "theme park mode" with something called Colossus. And I lived. And it was fun. And I would do it again. Because sometimes you need to stand toe-to-toe with fear just to prove that you’re the better woman. 

Sending Much Love,



  1. You are the definition of BAMF.

  2. I am not sure which scares me more - you on that roller coaster or eating (and liking) a pig's knee. ha! Hope that isn't going to be your new favorite dish when you get home.
    love you lots!

  3. Go Christina, Go Christina!!

  4. From Wild Thing at Valley Fair at 11 to Colossus at Heide Park in Germany at 23, and every one in between How far you have come and how far you will go!!
    You are amazing!