Grüße aus Deutschland! (Greetings from Germany!)
We’ve been in Germany just ten days, but it feels like a lifetime…in a good way. We left Ireland last Tuesday after a fantastic week, capped off with two active days in Dublin. It was a short, productive flight to Frankfurt; M worked on the poetry book he’s co-editing, and I practiced my German (which needs a bit of practice). Our flight landed nearly an hour late, but M’s uncle and cousin were waiting patiently for us just past customs. We had initially planned to take the train, but after a long week of travel, we were grateful for their offer to pick us up. We chatted all the way back to their house in a small town along the Main River south of the city of Aschaffenburg.
We stayed local the first few days, getting used to another time zone and catching up with M’s family. We’ve traveled here each of the past two summers, but in prior years, our visits have been planned around M’s cousins’ weddings. It’s a nice change of pace to be without a formal agenda on this trip.
M’s cousin, T, and her husband, S, have graciously welcomed us into their home, and we’ve had a wonderful week with them. We’ve cooked delicious dinners with vegetables from the family’s garden, gone running along the river paths and ridden borrowed bikes into a scenic city park. We also attended a fall festival in Miltenberg, a quaint town known for its extensive fachwerk architecture. T and I used the opportunity to don some traditional fest wear…with a modern twist. We also attended a German performance of the musical, Spring Awakening; M’s other cousin’s wife was part of the cast. It helped that we had seen an English version of the show at UNH earlier this year.
Our group also ventured north for two days at a theme park called Phantasialand. Neither M nor I had been on roller coasters in years, and it took a few rides before we figured out whether we were still cut out for them. We both survived Black Mamba, and while M called it a day after that (due to a bit of dizziness), I somehow summoned the courage to ride both Mystery Castle (a free-fall attraction that felt like being shot into space) and the absurd Talocan (the closest I think I’ll ever come to Aztec torture devices…fire, water, upside-down flips all while being suspended like a rotisserie chicken). Most of the people on the rides were in their teens and 20s, so in my…um…late 30s, I was the “Oma” of the group. (This realization both saddened and thrilled me.) We stayed at a traditional guest house in Brühl, just a few minutes from the park. It seemed like we were the only guests, and we had the dining room to ourselves for both dinner and breakfast. The owners served up fresh, tasty food and accommodated our request for “fleischlos” meals (without meat). T & S ordered schnitzel and curry, while M and I enjoyed a feast of salad, soup, cheese, potatoes and beer.
We’re back at T & S’s house now, and we continue to have a purposefully mellow agenda, simply living this phase of our life in a small German town. Our language skills are improving with practice, although we still understand much more than we can speak. Yesterday, I ventured solo to the local bakery for fresh breakfast rolls and managed to conduct the transaction auf Deutsch. T has been very patient with us, answering too many questions that start with, “Wie sagt man…” (“How do you say…”). And while we don’t have many set plans, each day unfolds before us and is filled with quality experiences. Tonight, we’re headed to a barbecue at T’s aunt’s house, and we’re signed up to run a 10K race in a nearby town on Sunday. My legs still feel a bit heavy from the last race, but I’m looking forward to exploring another slice of Germany the best way I know how…on foot! -J.