My sister lives in Bavaria, one of the most picturesque places on the planet, where the beer flows like water and the people seem perpetually happy.
I arrived a few days before my 40th birthday, and after two days in airports (due to my cheapo student budget) I was looking forward to a day of rest before a month of travel. The first day, Jen and I went to “Rothenburg ob der Tauber,” which means “Red fortress above the Tauber.” It is one of many historic walled in towns full of winding streets and cobblestones. When we arrived at her favorite print store, the woman brought out sherry on a silver tray for us to drink while we perused, it was sweet. Later that day I discovered that I can eat German potato salad (yum-o), and it has almost become a daily food item. We took in the view from the top of the city, took many photos, shopped and then wrapped the day up at the Criminal Museum that was full of torture masks, chairs and full iron maiden suits for women.
For my birthday Jen, Renee and I (in a dirndl) took the train with the locals to the Straubing festival. My sister made a video of the highlights, laugh away.
There was food, singing, roller coasters, drinking, people watching, and chatting with the locals in my almost non-existent German. On the train home we realized that we missed a connection and ended up at a fairly secluded stop. Amazingly, we ran into a couple and their son who offered us a ride to the correct station. So, we climbed into the back of a Brotchen (bread) truck, yes that’s right, bread truck. The couple rode in the front, the three of us in the middle with two small dogs on our laps, and their son in the back. Never ever would I do that at home, but this was in the countryside of Germany, totally different situation. We said many Danke’s and when they refused money, we slipped it into the truck and caught the last train home.
Next, a few days on my own as my sister worked before heading off to other lands. Tuesday, I took the train to Regensburg in the morning and began roaming around. It is a quaint town on the Donau River, with narrow winding streets, gothic and baroque architecture, and loads of plazas full of markets and outdoor eateries. By noon it was well into the 90s, and Europe isn’t big on air conditioning — not in stores, restaurants, etc. This girl was looking for a reprieve; I found an outdoor Thai restaurant, sunk into a chair under an umbrella and ordered a mineral wasser and food in my unfortunate German/English speak. After lunch I wandered over to the famous medieval stone bridge, built 1135–1146. I shot some photos, wandered through the museum and went down and sat along the bank. As I people watched a tour boat passed by and I knew what next on the sight seeing list. It took about 50 minutes and in that time I was able to see the gothic cathedral, tightly packed rows of houses, and old architecture mixed with modern industrialization. Once back on land I had about an hour before Jen would arrive. So, I began to make my way back to Duomo Di San Pietro Ratisbona (the gothic Church). I have to say, it is spectacular on many different levels with its massive front doors, sculptures, stained glass, looming columns, and amazing acoustics. I met Jen at her favorite bier garten, Weltenberg for a dark tasty beverage before a little shopping and a train home.
The next day began same as the day before, with a forty-minute walk to the train (only it was much warmer) and by the time I arrived in Nurnberg I was very hot. After a stop at the info center I decided to head to the imperial castle, which is roughly a half hour walk through the center of Nurnberg and up a steep hill. I walked about half way, had some food and sat a while, took photos and then walked up the hill in hot hot heat (90 – 100). By the time I got to the Castle I felt a little off, but continued to take photos and video. I sat on a bench for a while in the courtyard, but realized that I wasn’t cooling off and most stores, restaurants, etc. do not have air conditioning in Germany. So, I went into the ticket office and sat in a chair, fanning myself with a brochure and drinking lots of water. I expected that to help, but I soon realized something was wrong. First, I took off my shoes, then — I sat on the floor. Finally, I was flat out on the floor. I have never had heat stroke before (did I mention I was alone), but it was very surreal. I couldn’t walk over to anyone, I couldn’t talk and by the time I was on the floor my limbs were on fire, but I had an entire conversation in my head while this was all going on. One of the nice men that worked there came over and told me it would be okay, put a towel behind my neck and said this happens all the time. He determined I didn’t need an ambulance (whew) and helped me to their bathroom where I basically bathed in the sink until my body temperature cooled down. I didn’t learn much about the castle, but I did learn that my caretaker lived in Texas for many years and spoke perfect English. Once I could function again, I said many danke’s.
I called Jen and said it was going to be a short day and I needed to take the train home. She picked me up at the train and took me home and gave me pedialyte. Later that evening we went to a store where I bought skirts, shorts, a bathing suit and light shirts for the unexpected heat wave/our trip to Budapest and Vienna, I packed some pedialyte (just in case) and we were ready to go.