My mom's visit and some insights on life and entertainment here.
(Straying from the original plan because laziness won the coin-toss...)
(Th) ceturtdiena 04.05.2006
Got up at 8am to take a 10am train so I could get to the airport before my mom’s plane. My second train was five minutes late. My third train arrived as scheduled. Fourth train arrived as scheduled, but took its sweet time getting to the airport; there was a 15-minute delay.
The German train system, as much as I love it, seems to do whatever it wants.
Once I got to the airport, I had to find the shuttle bus that would take me to terminal 2 – which is a good 3 km from terminal 1. It was also my only option—this I learned after asking the bus drivers (who then laughed [more or less at me] and said if I really wanted to walk, I could). Luckily the plane had landed a bit late, so I was about 10-15 minutes early. Mom finally came through the arrival gates, we hugged, I shed a few tears. Seriously, I hadn’t seen her in 7 months. Crying was allowed.
We got our train card validated, and went to buy something to drink and to eat. It was at this point that the first mistake was made. After three bites of an apple, half a Nußhörnchen (in my opinion one of the better pastries in Germany, but strangely seem to be produced no further south than Heidelberg [in my experience]), a small bottle of whole milk, and a sideways rocking train ride ADDED to the stress of a plane ride, my mom doesn’t feel too peachy. (HOWEVER, I was and am very proud of her!) She expressed her discomfort in the standard yet private manner of hugging a toilet in Mannheim – once, and then a second time 30 minutes later to seal the deal. We ended up missing three possible train connections and sitting in Mannheim for almost two hours. Luckily she felt better and we were able to get on a train with her sitting in a real seat and facing the direction of travel. After that the trip home was smooth; we got back to the apartment and she was able to sleep for a short bit while I rode to the library to write an angry e-mail to Amazon.de (who very promptly and correctly fixed the problem). When I got back home I pulled her out of bed and we went to walked around the city for a while on a campaign to keep her awake for long enough to try to avoid the kick of the difference in time-zones. Then we stopped at Mai-Markt, I think, where we got a small pizza and Fanta. That was dinner. Then we got back at the planned time (10-10:30 P.M.) whereby mom was allowed to go to sleep.
(F) piektdiena 05.05.2006 - (Sa) sestdiena 06.05.2006 - (Su) svētdiena 07.05.2006
Friday we kind of slept in, then left for Heidelberg. On the way we stopped to pick up my standard “I’m taking a trip” breakfast: something good from the cheap bakery and coffee-to-go from my favorite café. My mom was amusingly cautious of bacteria (I usually am, too, but her level in this case was plain funny) and kept a plastic glove from the bakery
with which to eat her Nußnougat-Croissant (=croissant filled with Nutella spread. GOOD.) Once in Heidelberg we found our hotel, put our stuff down in the *cute* room with a good view, then took a tram to the city center. Once there we popped into a few shops and had dinner, but mostly walked around and looked at the river and a bridge and at other people, including the drunk Italian woman who kept proclaiming to her group of fellow-bar hoppers that she was, in fact, very drunk. No delusions on her part. I myself had never walked along the river in Heidelberg. It’s very nice – not much more I can say about it. I did decide, however, that Heidelberg was definitely a city I could live in (meaning on the outskirts of the city rather than the city center itself). It has a body of water
, it has the right size for a city, interesting things to look at, a castle
, people, etc. Even looks cool at night
. Maybe someday… In the meanwhile pictures and drooling over my future possibilities will have to suffice.
Saturday we went to the Heidelberg Castle. The Heidelberg Castle is a source of (apparently) endless amount of entertainment. For me. When I went with my father I found out that it was possible to go to the other side of the castle to look at the proper ruins bit of it
, as well as the inner courtyard
(when I first went with Andi, Joanna, and Kathy). This time I found out that visiting the castle gardens is FREE OF CHARGE, and that not only are people allowed to chill out and bring picnic lunches, but that there is a pond filled with tadpoles. That’s right, tadpoles. And no one yells at you if you stick your hands in and try to catch them. Did I say try? I meant SUCCEED in catching tadpoles. We were the tadpole masters, Mom and I. There is also a large nude-man fountain
. There are also castle sheep on a castle hill. I like Heidelberg. It was interesting spending an entire weekend there. I thought I’d get tired of it, but NO! It was sensational! If I studied there I’d abuse my free-of-charge castle entry rights as much as possible.
We also saw some gate thing and some new church thing. Obviously these weren’t a large part of the time spent in Heidelberg.
Sunday early evening we headed back to Landau and did something that I don’t remember. It most likely involves Mai-Markt (again) and dinner, and if not, then it involves dinner at home.
(M) pirmdiena 08.05.2006
Monday I went to class, and then met Mom in the city center (she found it on her own! and with my crudely drawn map!) afterwards. We then had lunch at Green, by far the best restaurant in the city if you want a good salad. The salads are huge, filling, tasty, and basically „make-your-own.“ You tell the waiter or waitress what you want on the salad (from a set list of add-ons), and they bring you a bowl of healthy tastiness. Then we went shopping for some food and drink, hung around the city center a bit more, and then went back home. The evening may or may not have (once again) included Mai-Markt. I would have to consult Mom and her travel diary for exact facts.
(T) otrdiena 09.05.2006
Tuesday we had breakfast at C.a.M, where I introduced Mom to Andreas, the owner. Then I left her and went to class. Two hours later we met up again and then I don’t remember.
(W) trešdiena 10.05.2006
Wednesday we took a day trip to the Schwarzwald area. After much discussion and deliberating we decided to forego Freiburg or Baden-Baden and go straight to the middle-north region to Baiersbonn. Baiersbonn wasn’t very schwarzy (for the most part), but it was very waldy. Our goal was to find a hiking trail and wander around, and find and wander we did. But first was the obligatory „stand in a field with hills in the background and green all around“ photograph
. I look photo-shopped. Also the obligatory „take a secret photo when the other person is being contemplative and looking off into the Schwarzwaldy-distance“ photo.
And then the random playground… to make the hike seem like less of a chore? Subtract 12 points for the crappy joke that doesn’t really work
(Th) ceturtduena 11.05.2006
Thursday was spent in a train on the way to Füssen, a city southwest of München and across the Forgensee from Neuschwanstein Castle. Also near the Alps. Just…breathtaking
And dandelions like it’s a crop source. Once we found our guest house we set our stuff down, rented two almost useless bikes from the owner and drove into Füssen to find something to do. We missed most of the shops being open, but had our fill of Dönner and Radler (beer mixed with Sprite-like carbonated lemon drink). We also took some time to ride around the general area with the afore mentioned useless bikes. So I guess we dragged around more than rode around. Füssen reminded me of England’s Lake District in the sense that there’s a town just surrounded by natural beauty. Still makes me wonder whether the locals appreciate it like outsiders do.
(F) piektdiena 12.05.2006
Friday we took a bus to hohenschwangau, and then walked to crazy King Ludwig II’s (KL2) neuschwanstein castle. The climb was ‚meh‘, but the castle itself was enough to make me clear out over 60 photos worth of space on my camera.
As the perky-haired tour guide informed us, we were not allowed to take photos of the exhibits (which really weren’t exhibits…), but were more than welcome to take photographs of the scenes from the windows. And photograph those scenes we did.
I hated being in a tour group, though. I can’t stand it; I said later that we should have taken the german tour and just rented an audio guide in english. This is one of the few hard-core touristy things I’ve ever done.
After the castle tour mom and I sat down to watch a very poorly complied video of pretty pictures and vague texts read by british people; it was supposed to shed some more light on KL2’s life and works. We later bought a guide book about the castle, and a short biography of KL2 (what a good ploy to sell books… make a bad video and leave us all wondering).
After the video we hiked to the back of the castle, where my goal was the Marienbrucke
the small-looking line of metal wedged between two walls of mountain. I went onto the bridge myself (while Mom waited well away from the entrance of the bridge) in order to get a full side shot of the castle
I think I have about 10 pictures that are basically the same shot, but from only slightly different angles. I also had a semi-loopy local man dressed in Lederhosen take a picture of me with the castle in the background before he went back to precariously perching on the opposite rail of the bridge. The man also explained to me (after I had asked him) that the popular angle from which the castle is most often photographed for postcards and posters is inaccessable to tourists. The picture is taken from an angle that would require lots of hiking gear and experience. Lederhosen man told me that I would basically not make it to the location and back with the „gear“ I had on (=a few layers of casual hiking clothing and standard hiking boots). That killed my desire to try and get to the location myself.
In hindsight, KL2 may have been nuts (he claimed to have not been), but the man had a wonderful imagination and eye for location. You can see such a range of scenery from all angles of the castle, both from within and from outside.
Afterwards we got back to Füssen and took a ride down to the Forgensee. The Füssen theater hall is built right next to the Forgensee, and has a nice little maze garden, which must be great to walk through during intermissions. The lake itself was less climactic than I had hoped, but it was also interesting because the theater is across the lake/mountains combination from Neuschwanstein Castle. The castle looks so insignificant from the other point of view, just nestled among the mountains.
Weird how perspective changes.
(Sa) sestdiena 13.05.2006
Saturday we travelled back to Landau.
(Su) svētdiena 14.05.2006
Sunday we met with the Tutoring family for a short Mother’s Day visit. Coffee and tasty pre-made, oven-baked cake stuff and ice cream were eaten.
(M) pirmdiena 15.05.2006
Monday we took a very very rushed day-trip to Bonn. We didn’t see much, but stopped by the big „fallen“ heads outside of the big church, and found a bench with a fake person on it. Because I’m a good child and still have a certain amount of fear of the „wrath of parents“, I will not post the picture of my mom sharing the bench with the fake person.
(T) otrdiena 16.05.2006
Tuesday we got up early and took the train to Frankfurt. We got there in good time, got my mom and her luggage checked in. I found a „Mexican“ restaurant in the airport, had a nice spicy chicken salad in an edible taco-shell-bowl, and waited around with my mom until half an hour or so before her boarding time. I waited around until I couldn’t see her anymore beyond the security check point and headed back to Landau. The end.