Day 19, 07.12.2009
It had been a long night. I woke up at 11:15 and was still exhausted. Sleeping late and waking up late just doesn’t work for me. I showered at 12:00pm, which felt so bizarre. My Gastmutter [host mum], Clara, and I went to Ansbach to kill some time while my Gastvater [host dad] visited his mum. We walked around the city, went to a Kirchweih, which is basically a carnival hosted by a church, and ate “gebrannte Mandeln”. Caramelized almonds–crunchy and sweet. After a giant Tüte [bag or cone] full of almonds, my jaws began to lock up from all the chewing.
My host father picked us up and we went to Colmburg. I fell asleep on the way there, still exhausted from the night before. And woke up to the most stunning landscape–a breadth of dense woods, a serene lake in the center, a small island of baby firs floating on the surface. A sheer veil of fog cradled the face of the lake. Then came a lonely white swan, drifting across, downcast and leaving dimples on the water. We zipped past this breathtaking scene, as i fumbled to get my camera to no avail. Beauty is only in passing.
Colmburg is an ancient fortress that sits atop a huge hill and from where you get a fantastic view of the German countryside. There was also a medieval toilet jutting out from the side of the wall of the fortress. You can look up the hole where the people of ye olden days discharged…stuff. What if someone crapped on you while you were walking? I shudder to think.
My Gastvater gave me a break down of the different names for puddle, pond, lake…well, there was an endless number of classifications for bodies of water! My mom finds the English language silly with all the classifications used for big cats (leopards, panthers, cougars, cheetahs, jaguars…etc.). In Chinese they just say 豹 [bao]. She’d have a hoot with German. I also got to see deer everywhere! So exciting! I’d never seen deer in the wild before. They peacefully nibbled on the grassy tufts sprouting along the fortress.
Our next stop was the quaintest town–you could get through all of it in 15 minutes. It’s called Dinkelsbühl. Dinkel + bühl = “spelt hills”. Hills of spelt, roughly? Dinkelsbühl is one of the only remaining walled medieval towns in Germany and one of the many stops along the Romantische Straße [Romantic Road].
Red-tiled roofs bob up and down along the hills, cobblestones pave the way to pointed Gasthäuser [inns] with potted flowers hung over window sills. Because my host father is a huge history buff, he told me about how Dinkelsbühl was saved from destruction during the 30 Year’s War.
There was a woman who gathered all the children of the town and ordered them to stand guard at the front of the fortress, for when the enemy came. And when the enemy reached the city walls, they were met with singing children at the city walls. The commander’s heart softened, and so Dinkelsbühl was spared. Talk about a really gutsy move.
Rothenburg has an equally fascinating 30 Year’s War story that stays true to the seriousness with which Germans approach their beer. The Bürgermeister [mayor] challenged the leader of the opposing army to a drinking contest. The Burgermeister won, and Rothenburg was spared. Hooray!
Dinkelsbühl has the most delicious strawberry ice cream I have EVER had. It was creamy and thick like gelato, but didn’t have the “milkiness” to it: I could have sworn I was sucking on the juices of the plumpest, perfectly-ripe strawberry.
Before we went home, my Gastfamilie [host family] and I hiked up a rather steep hill, some 600m up. Panoramic view of Bavaria; I could see for kilometers. The plush, verdant landscape of Germany is something that I’ll never tire of.
We passed the American military base on the way home, which made me think of the drunk Americans we ran into my first week in Germany. We got home around 19:30. For dinner we ate German burritos. Germans call them “tacos”. We used tortillas. Whatever you call it, it was delicious! We stuffed them with mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes…and essentially everything you could find in the produce section of a Whole Foods. I awkwardly asked for seconds, even though everyone was full after the first…not that i was actually ashamed at all ;).