I cannot believe that this picture was four years ago. That means that it’s been that long since my friend Courtney visited and since we did the House Hunters thing. Doesn’t feel like it but I guess this is where I say that time flies as you get older. In fact, I think I have whiplash… may need a Weltenburger beer to help me cope…
Faber-Castell is a pretty well-known name in Germany. They make pens, pencils, and other art supplies, and they are based in Nürnberg. You can visit their museum, which includes the very lovely old family home, the Faber-Castell Schloss*, just on the outskirts of town.
More information on tours (in German) can be found here…
Ah, vacations. I remember those. What I wouldn’t give to be lounging under an umbrella in Ios while somebody brought me a daiquiri right about now….
On another hot August afternoon, BV and I were visiting the villagers in the Oberpfalz (or Upper Palatinate), when a few of us decided to go for a hike to their “nearby” castle. After a bit of sweaty off-roading over some rivers, through the woods, up some hills, down some hills, and up some more hills, we managed to reach the castle overlooking the lovely town of Kallmünz. On the way though, we had to take a photo stop, because not only was the view absolutely perfect, but we wanted a front-row seat to this guy jumping off the side of the hill. As for the title of this post…. that is a direct quote as he sailed off.
After that, it was off to the castle, down to the city, and straight to the Biergarten. Summer in Germany is the best.
Edited to add: this is a spoiler-free zone!
It’s been quite some time since I had a decent donkey bridge for something in German. But before I get to that, I have a bit of a ‘minor differences’ story to tell.
(Side note: if you don’t know what the heck I mean by a donkey bridge, please see this.)
I had an extra spring in my step yesterday morning, and after I taught my early class and stopped by the office, I made a beeline for the big Thalia bookstore in the city center. For it was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child day!
Okay, technically Sunday was the release day but since this is Germany, all the Potter enthusiasts had to wait until stores reopened on Monday. The struggle is real.
I had originally wanted to reserve a copy, but never got around to actually doing it, so I was pretty much hoping for the best as I dashed up the three escalators to where they’ve stashed the English books. On my way up, I saw at least three other people wandering around the store with copies, so I was both hopeful that they had it, and worried that they hadn’t ordered enough.
It was hard not to remember the release of the last book, when I went with my sister and a friend to pick up our books at midnight like the good nerds that we
were are. After waiting in the line that wound through the store, everyone was ushered past the counter with stacks upon stacks of the Deathly Hallows to claim their prizes.
In Germany? Minor differences.
I expected at least two stacks of the new book (if there were any left, of course), but when I reached the English section I found four copies left. The stack had clearly been higher but still? Only one stack on the table? In fact, a girl had just picked the book up and then PUT IT BACK when I came around the corner. Who puts the new Harry Potter book DOWN on the DAY IT COMES OUT? What is this world?
Her loss, my gain. I snatched up a book (possibly thinking ‘my preeeecious’ as I did so), did a cursory round through the section, and hotfooted it back down to the registers.
After paying, I headed for a good spot where I could both read and await my friend with whom I had a lunch date. She was a bit late, and I was able to power through the the first few acts before we got our falafels.
With lunch over, it was off to my next class and another good 25 minutes of reading on the train. Two more classes out of the way, and it was back onto the train for more reading. As we approached Fürth, I finished my chapter, and stood up near the door. Since I had about 20 minutes to wait for my next train, I didn’t bother putting the book in my bag because I figured I’d read on the platform in a minute, so I just stuck my finger in place, and got ready to go.
This seems fairly standard, right? Okay, maybe, but first a little background information on why this donkey bridge moment will be memorable for me…
People say that the Franconians are unfriendly. On the whole, I disagree with this, but I’m also forced to interact with them in my classes on a daily basis. In the real world though? People do not talk to each other around here. There is almost no small talk in lines, at the stores, on the trains, none of that. Sometimes it’s a bit different on the weekends, but on commuter trains during the week? Nope. No chit-chat amongst strangers. Therefore, when someone does talk to me, I’m inevitably confused, surprised, caught completely off-guard, and probably look like a total weirdo because I’m so off-balance that I can’t come up with an answer in English, much less in German. In fact, I should probably start mentally preparing for my Christmas trip to the States now or I’m going to run and hide from everyone who tries to make small talk with me.
Back to the train…
A middle-aged gentleman who was sitting a few seats away also got up, and disentangled his bike from its place. He pulled up next to me, looked down, saw the book, and said “lohnt es sich?”
Me: “ummmm, jaaaaa?”
I had no idea what the fuck he had just said. No clue. But common sense told me that it was some variation of “is it good?” And I was close. “Lohnt es sich?” basically means “is it worth it?”* so hey… at least my answer made sense, even if it wasn’t very convincing. But in my defense, I was only three-quarters of the way through the book so I guess my opinion was not fully formed yet.
So thank you, Harry Potter, JK Rowling (with John Tiffany & Jack Thorne**), for ensuring that I will never forget the reflexive verb sich lohnen. No guarantees I’ll use it correctly, but let’s fry one fish at a time. Not since the drive-by Snaping incident has Harry Potter proved so useful at helping my Deutsch skills.
*Shout out to Leo.org, and BV for confirming when I got home.🙂
**Who can all feel free to send me tickets to the play. Would love to come and I ♥ London.
Two pictures today because I am indecisive. And I love castle ruins.
Another day with my parents on their last visit was spent in the Franconian Switzerland. One of my favorite spots in the area is this castle ruin, which sits on a hill (because most castles are on hills, sorry mom) over the Wiesent river valley (Wiesenttal). On the other side of the valley there is a second castle ruin, but there isn’t nearly as much of the structure left as at Neideck. I’m a big fan of ruins that you can climb around on, or bring a little picnic to. Just remember to take your garbage with you when you go, or the castle ghosts will haunt you, you littering jerk.
Bardentreffen is one of the biggest events of the year in Nürnberg, but somehow I have only been there once, and that was in the first year I lived here. Whoops. It seems to go one of two ways, 1) either the weather is crap and you spend all day wet or 2) the weather is great and the city is more packed than a sardine can.
On the plus side there is a ridiculous amount of music, as performers set themselves up on every available open spot, and many of them are as good (or maybe better) than the officially advertised acts. Not to mention that there is food and drink available at every turn, so if you are a fan of drinking tasty things on the street and listening to kids play box drums, you are in luck! It’s from the 29th to 31st of July this year, and you’ve still got time to check it out.
Every once in a great while, I do manage to get out of Bavaria. In this case, it was because my parents came to visit and were flying out of Frankfurt. That meant a good opportunity to visit some places that were new to all of us, and a bit closer to the airport.
My dad is a big fan of German wine, so we thought it would be appropriate to check out the area around Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, in the Rheinland-Pfalz. When we checked out hotels for the evening we wanted to spend there, we did not find a ton of appealing options directly in town. Instead, we found a nice little hotel in the nearby village of Mußbach. It’s tiny, but incredibly picturesque. Fachwerk* abounds, and many of the houses are honest-to-goodness dripping in grape vines, as you can see above. We didn’t eat at the restaurant pictured, but if anyone is going to be in the area I would strongly recommend going to Weik’s Vinothek. It was too cold to eat outside (in July, thanks German summer), but there was a lovely garden in their little courtyard, and the interior was just as cozy. The food was great, definitely a memorable meal, so don’t be scared off by the website. Sometimes it’s a good sign when restaurants focus on the food and not their internet presence.🙂
*Fachwerk = half-timbered building
Usually I try to fit in at least one visit to the Villagers every summer. On one trip, BV and I took the scenic route (as my dad would say), and passed an absolutely brilliant field of purple flowers along the way. We made a mental note to stop on the way home to take some pictures, but that ended up being unnecessary. The Villagers had some things to do on that Saturday during the day, but they gave us some hiking tips for the area, and off we set. I’m pretty sure we veered FAR off course, as we were out for damn near the entire day, went through villages they didn’t even recognize the names of, oh, and did I mention it was at least 90 degrees? Thank goodness some of those villages had beer.
But at some point as we wandered along in the blistering sun, we recognized a smudge of purple in the distance. Sure enough, it was that field again. It almost seemed fake, lying there in between the greens and golds of the crops in the surrounding fields, but it was real. We skirted the edge as we turned ourselves (we hoped) back in the direction of the Villagers, and listened to the hum of thousands and thousands of bees. Can’t think of too many better ways to spend a Saturday.
A minor side effect of being busier than I’ve been in recent memory was that my 5-year anniversary of being in Germany came and went on June 20th without my realizing it for more than a week. Whoops.
I just went back and read my last anniversary post from the 3-year mark and it bummed me out a bit. I know I took that disastrous interview pretty hard, and was feeling exceptionally shitty about not only my lacking German skills but also the lacking work. While I don’t feel particularly fantastic about my German these days, I know it’s much better than it was two years ago. And while I still don’t see myself teaching English forever, right now I’m busy enough and have enough positive and enthusiastic students that it has made life A LOT more pleasant on that front.
So all in all, I don’t feel too bad that we didn’t mark the occasion in a more festive manner. It was a Monday and I had four classes, ran around town, and then came home to make these absolutely amazing shrimp tacos. We had a nice bottle of wine, watched The Wine Show, and relaxed. And thanks to the aforementioned shrimp tacos and a few other recent recipes, I can say that I have just about converted BV into a cilantro person. If I accomplished nothing else in five years here, at least I did that.