I had my first bowling experience in Germany a few days ago. Our car needed a little tune up and the mechanic was located a couple of blocks from the bowling alley in S’s hometown of Hof, Bavaria. Since the repair was scheduled to take about 1 hour, S thought we could go bowling during the appointment and pick up the car afterward.
S called to book a lane at the local bowling alley. They told him that the lanes were all completely booked that evening, except for a 1 hour time slot between 7-8pm. That was exactly when our mechanic appointment was, so it worked out pretty well!
We went bowling with S’s sister who has been bowling many times before. On our way to the bowling alley, I asked S how many times he’d been bowling before. His answer? 0! I couldn’t believe it! I mean, I’m no bowling league bowler or anything but I have definitely bowled my fair share of gutter balls and spares at birthday parties growing up. When I pressed S for the reason behind his lack of bowling experience, he said that the bowling we were about to take part in was actually the American version with 10 pins and a huge ball with 3 drilled holes for your fingers. He had played the German version of bowling before, Kegeln, which only has 9 pins and a smaller wooden or plastic ball. Mystery solved – Difference #1.
S, his sister and I had a blast bowling. Somehow I got off to an early lead. S quickly caught up after rolling a few gutter balls and then it was strike city. No turkeys or strikes for me, just a couple of spares.
At one point prior to my second roll of a frame, the pins didn’t appear (they were still covered by the pin guard). (I don’t know if this is an actual term, but I don’t know what it’s called. Anyone know?) In Canada, there is usually a button on the bowling ball return where you can reset the pins if they are stuck. This was nowhere to be found and a staff member had to go behind the alley to un-stick the offending ball. Difference #5 – Where’s the reset button?
Difference #6 boggled my mind and is the reason I decided to write a post comparing bowling in Canada vs. Germany. While I was waiting for my turn to bowl, I looked across to the people bowling in Lane 5. They were eating….right in the bowling area. At every bowling alley I’ve ever been to, you can order hot dogs, nachos and other greasy, concession stand style food but you have to eat it outside the bowling area. This guy (maybe ‘Thomas’?) was eating (and I kid you not) a Caprese salad of sliced tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil with a balsamic reduction. This salad was more beautiful that any other Caprese salad I have ever seen and it was from a bowling alley no less! ‘Thomas’ was balancing the plate on his knees and eating with a knife and fork between his turns. I was shocked to say the least. Who is allowed to eat in the bowling area and furthermore, since when can you get a Caprese salad at a bowling alley?! With balsamic reduction?!
We ended up fitting in just about 3 games before it was time to pick up the car at the mechanic. I’d loved to play again soon! Maybe I’ll order my own Caprese salad next time…