Day 22, 07.16.2015
Second to last full day in Germany. Was not looking forward to going back to the US at all. There was so much left to learn, to do, to see, and to eat.
I woke up half an hour earlier than I needed to because I got the meeting time wrong. So unfortunate. I arrived at the Hauptbahnhof pretty early and wandered up and down the halls, soaking up all the last bits of German I could. Side: it really bothers me how seat covers are rarely used in Germany…do people just sit down with their bare bottoms? Do they not worry what may have splashed on or who may have thrown up/bled/stepped on it?!
We rode the train to Würzburg, which is a little over an hour of a ride. We played President and I absolutely demolished everyone. Everyone told me that they didn’t “get” my strategy and wondered if I even had any, but that’s the beauty of it: I don’t. I run with my gut and win. When we finally arrived in Würzburg, the first thing we did was go on a river cruise. It was a mostly cloudy day, but the lush waves of vineyards ripe with bounty could not be tempered.
After walking around a bit (and holding my pee for literally the longest time), we finally went to eat lunch. And I was finally able to relieve myself. There is hardly a better feeling in this world. I ordered a dish called Kartoffelkuchen [“potato pancakes”]. Like Jewish latkes. Shallow-fried, thin, crispy grated potatoes smashed into pancake form. Mine came with a gravy boat of Champignonsoße [“mushroom sauce”]. It was cream of mushroom soup, but more condensed and thick. I drowned my Kartoffelkuchen in it. Absolutely phenomenal: I’ve never forgotten this dish and reminisce every so often about it.
We played more cards as we ate. And for some reason, we all started speaking in random accents: from Russian to Australian to British. My friends approved of my (terrible) English accent, and one tried to take a video of me. Except I hate being photographed in any form. So. Awkward. None of the other three were able to finish their lunches, so they shared–more like dumped onto–food with Herr Reynolds and the Gastgeschwistern [“host siblings”]. Clara and Laura were like locusts and ravaged the leftovers. It was astounding.All aboard! We continued to sail down the river [der Fluß] to reach our next destination. Before we began boarding, there was a small window of 5 minutes’ time. So Jon bolted back to this ice cream shop we had walked past earlier, with a special of 6 scoops for €5. A fool’s errand. It was 15-20 minutes from the dock to that shop. We weren’t expecting him to make it back.
Just as we started boarding, the lunatic returned with 6 scoops of straight chocolate. No other flavors. The games of cards continued–this time accompanied with the classiness of white wine. I was not accustomed to the taste of any alcohol at this point, so I sort of gagged on it. It was cheap wine too; yet Würzburg is supposed to have some of the best wine in Europe. I ended up giving it to Clara. Jon and Cory finished their glasses. Jon looked like that red balloon on Airheads candy wrappers. Apparently he’s allergic to white wine, but not red wine.
The Residenz was our last stop of the day and it was amazing. We all stopped to buy Spaghettieis on the way. I’m going to miss that stuff so much. Jon got an additional 5 scoops of straight up chocolate ice cream. A total of 11 scoops of chocolate ice cream in a single day. Gross.
Pictures weren’t allowed at the Residenz, which was a total bummer. There was a stunning fresco on the ceiling by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, called Apollo and the Continents. Pictures don’t do it justice–so much more expansive and vibrant in person. Every room in that museum is breahtaking. Nearly every inch of the palace is adorned with marble and gold; it sounds gaudy, but it was in fact very tasteful.
Each room had its own color theme. Even the details in the wooden floorboards were astounding: mosaics, except with wood, of complex geometrical shapes. One room contained the bed that Napoleon slept in. The signs clearly stated no touching was allowed, but my spiteful high school self wanted vengeance for not being able to take photos, so I touched Napoleon’s bed. Hah! Jon snuck in his camera by putting it in his pants pocket. We all had to check in our bags and jackets before entering the museum, and girl pants have the most impractical pockets. I had no chance. The guards would’ve seen me.
After maybe about 1-2 hours, we left the Residenz and collectively realized that we were really late for our train. There was so much adrenaline pumping through all of us as we booked it to the bus stop; ran to the next bus stop; jumped off the bus; sprinted through the city and across S-Bahn tracks; hurtled through the entirety of the Würzburg Hauptbahnhof; high-jumped two flights of stairs; and stumbled onto the platform, where they were just blowing the whistles for departure. I felt like I was some high-speed chase suspect. Totally deadbeat. But there was still energy to play more card games on the way home.
Finally made it home to Roßtal. It was such an exhausting day and the ratatouille that my host mother made was everything that I needed. Comfort food. Zucchini, tomato, and onions left to simmer for an hour or so in vegetable broth, cooked until tender. Served over rice. Mmmmm.As I rolled into bed, I was forcefully hit with the realization that my dreams lately had become so…boring. Sort of an odd thing to introspect on, but I’m used to incredibly wild, nonsensical dreams, every night–everything from being chased by the CIA to fighting dragons to running over alligators on the bayou with a car. Not even exaggerating–the mind is a mysterious jungle.
Point is, for the month that I was in Germany, most nights I had nary a dream, let alone a fantastical one. And what I realized was that my life in Germany was my fantastical dream. Sure, it wasn’t filled with fantasy or mythology and blockbuster-worthy adventure; but it was so much more exciting because it was so physically tangible how much my world had expanded and how much I had grown up.
Not even the conjures of my mind could compete with the wonder and technicolor that my life was. So to say that I was “not looking forward” to returning to the US is a severe understatement–I don’t even know if I can still properly express the emptiness that thought filled me with. It meant a return to the daily grind, the norm, the expected. I lulled myself to sleep with the bittersweet content of having known adventure, and then having to leave it behind.