The Longest Day of My Life

So I am positive airplane wifi is a myth, I have yet to successfully work it.

Today is literally the longest day I have ever experienced. I woke up at 5:30ish in Germany and walked into my parents house in Montana sometime after 10 PM, yet due to the weirdness of science and societal rules, I have actually experienced 25 hours in that timeframe (I think. I am not exactly a credible source on math right now). Here’s my notes from the day:

Frankfurt, Germany. 11:30 Local Time.

5:30 is when my alarm clock awoke me this morning. Early morning traveling is so much easier when you are going somewhere exciting. Though I am happy to be headed home.

Christian and I said goodbye to Mom and walked one last time through the streets of Bad Mergentheim to the train station. It was dark out still, with just the streetlights to guide us. The town was quiet and asleep, the sane people still not up and about on a weekend.

2 1/2 hours of train ride later, and we made it to Frankfurt. I distracted myself with a good book. I wonder when I will travel by train again. There certainly aren’t any foreseeable opportunities in my near future to do so.

Dad landed in Frankfurt a little before we got there. We thought we might be able to catch each other and say a quick hello. Due to the ominous long lines at security we couldn’t do so, though we probably weren’t a long way away from him.

We got through security with no problem. They dont make people take off their shoes here. (We do have to go through customs in Amsterdam probably… And then pic up our luggage in Minneapolis and maybe redo security there. Secreening at every layover! Grr. I just want to relax and not worry about paperwork or screening and just get home).

Somehow Christian’s and my seating got shuffled up, so for this first flight we aren’t even next to each other. At least it’s a short one.

Long day of traveling ahead.

Amsterdam, Netherlands. 3:16 Local Time.

Time to start the long long flight over the ocean. The flight from Frankfurt went well. It was, in case anyone was curious, about the length of the second part of Hamilton: an American Musical.

We got lunch in the airport, after we made it through all the checks and double checks of simply moving to the side of the airport that deals with flights to the US of A. I caved and tried a cheeseburger again, this time at Harvest Market, some cute little place, and more importantly the only place on this  side of the extra security protocols. Could someone please tell Europe that there has been a translation error, and we put dill pickles on our burgers, and not sweet ones? That being said, this burger was actually really really good. The truffle mayo with the fries especially awesome.
Time to watch movies for 8+ hours. Maybe I will actually sleep this time.

Still in Amsterdam. 4:00 Local Time.

Some sort of heat regulating trouble with the plane. Taxied back up for mechanics to look at it. Er, okay? 
Hoping this doesn’t seriously mess up my layover time in Minneapolis.

In other news I have already watched over half of Citizen Kane…

Minneapolis Minnesota, United States of America. 7:27 PM Local Time.

I have been awake for about 22 hours now. I’m tired, but strangely enough not really exhausted. Our plane did finally take off from Amsterdam, and I obviously survived whatever minor mechanical errors they had to fix, so yay for that! Thankfully we were able to make up most of the lost time. I was able to watch a grand total of 5 movies during that time:

  • Citizen Kane: Classic, interesting look into the downward spiral of a powerful man. I wasn’t sure what to expect but found it quite engaging.
  • Snow White and the Huntsman: Winters War: Better than the first movie, and a better cast of characters and plot to it. I quite enjoyed it.
  • X-Men Origins: Apocilypse: While I didn’t care for Apocolypse as a villain (just what can he do? And he wasn’t exactly original as far as villains go), I thought that this movie really worked to add some character development and emotional elements to ground the crazy CGI fight scenes in a good story. Very good movie overall.
  • The Intern: After several long hours of over the top scifi, I decided for something a little more realistic. This cute movie starring Anne Hathaway, about an up and coming online fashion business that takes on a senior citizen as an intern was quite enjoyable. While I am not sure I agree with all the messages it gives (Follow your dreams, even if it means you spend no time with your family), it was sweet in other ways.
  • Allegiant: I really only watched half of this and then fast forwarded through most action scenes after that because I was going to run short on time, but from what I saw, nothing really happens, too much time is spent focusing on weird scifi gadgets to fill the lack of plot, and they ignored most of the book. I really didn’t like that book, so maybe I shouldn’t be picky about it. But it is the principle of the thing.

As you probably guessed by now I didn’t sleep at all. I just haven’t really felt tired enough. I am going to crash hard tonight. (Christian is actually thinking he can go out for beers with friends after we land. Haha! Good luck to him on that)

We made it through all the final checks of customs with no issues, shared a quick plate of nachos (The fake cheese kind that sometimes you just get a craving for) and are just about to take off for Billings. Homeward bound!


So anyway, we made it home, and Christian somehow did make it out for drinks with his peeps, and we both somehow woke up way early this morning, when we made a giant pancakes, hash browns, sausage, and egg breakfast. Now the jet lag is sinking in.

Anyway, thanks for reading about my travels! I guess my blog goes back to a general life thing now. But there are adventures to be had at home too.


Day 14: Tauberbischofsheim and Farewells

By this time tomorrow I will no longer be in Germany. Humankind is so weird and adaptive. The streets and views and sites and smells here have become normal to me, known by me. I feel like I have been her so long, that life is just going to continue here as it is. I have a place here. But such a home is coming to an end tomorrow, and today I tried to get together a good last day of traveling. I think I did so fairly well.

Such a view of the castle! I am seriously going to miss the rich history and beauty here.

For starters, I took a walk this morning. There wasn’t much of a hint of Christian pulling himself out of bed early, and today of all days I wasn’t going to wait around for him. I wasn’t entirely sure where my feet were going to take me, but they ended up taking me on a perfect little farewell tour. I started back in the apple orchard, admiring the perfect view of the city which it gave to me. I listened to my Hamilton soundtrack while doing so, letting the upbeat music fill me with energy on this fine morning. From the orchard I walked part of the Philosophenwag down the hill. I walked into Kurpark and again admired the fountains and the rose garden. This time I made it as far as the Japanese Garden at the far far end. I came back up the Philosophenwag and found the back door of the Hufeland Klinik locked, so I walked back down the Philosophenwag and back to the front, ready to wake up Christian and take him on adventures with me. No more sleeping in for him! I felt like my walk was a rediscovery and a perfect summation of the many walks I have taken by myself while here.
After figuring out all our travel plans for tomorrow, as we have to leave rather early, we hopped a quick 25 minute train to Tauberbischofsheim (I seriously don’t make these names up). All we knew is that there was an old castle there, so we didn’t have many expectations. It turned out to be a gorgeous place! The train station was one of the nicest I’ve been in in my travels so far. There was a long stretch of shopping district which we window shopped through a bit, but didn’t actually go inside, though from the looks of it there was quite a bit there for one interested in such things. There was even a little market set up in the square. Not much in the way of stalls, but there was someone with quail eggs. If I had been home I would have snatched those up to have fun with them. Ah well.

We found the castle well enough. Actually it was pretty much some old wall and a tower. There was a museum there that looked really interesting, but it didn’t open for several hours and we didn’t exactly feel like waiting for it to open, though if I had more time in Germany I would probably find a way to get in. It also looks like it is actually possible to climb the tower, with a guide. We couldn’t figure out where to sign up for that, but I hope Mom and Dad do. One of the major frustrations of all these old buildings is that they never let you up in the towers. The town also boasts of other beautiful structures that add a wonderful ambiance to the place. There was especially a church that looked very enticing. We walked along a park we found by the river, just killing time and enjoying the day.

Half the reason I include the railway station pics is to prove there actually exist towns with these names

During our walks we found a fire watch station. We tried for some time to find someone inside to talk to, but alas, there was no one around. We tried again later and found the doors locked. So we might have been trespassing originally. Oops.

For a break in our wanderings, we grabbed some ice cream. Neither of us was ready for lunch, though the noon hour was upon us, so we thought it would be the perfect snack. We found a place called Eiscafe Venezia. Both of us ordered an Apple Strudel ice cream, and it was amazing. Their ice cream over here has been so rich and creamy, and this was no exception. The Apple Strudel flavor was also quite delightful.

I never actually got apple strudel over here, but I’m pretty sure ice cream of the same flavor is a close second.

There are a surprising number of ice cream shops over here.

I knew I wanted one more Döner Kabap before I headed home, and I wanted one I knew would be fabulous. Once back in Bad Mergentheim, I stopped at City Kabop to have one last taste of this delicious sandwich. Christian and I sat and talked while we ate (He got some fried shrimp at Nordsee, as well as a beer). I was struck by the difference in doing something with someone and talking, and just sitting down and talking. I felt like we hadn’t really chatted for many a day, even though we have spent so much time together. It was good to just sit and chill and talk life.

This. I will miss this.

By now Mom was pretty much done with treatments for the day. Christian wanted to take a break, but Mom and I walked into town to pick her up some more cream for her coffee. We stopped to grab one last pastry and cup of coffee, at Zwillingshaus. I actually had a coffee today instead of my usual cocoa; a cappuccino that was perfectly strong and rich. Mom got an apple cake, and I tried a plumb one, which paired very well with the coffee.

So many options

Mmm, coffee

This put us right around dinner time, and after dinner Christian and I made one last run to the store to grab some energy drinks for the morning. (He’s going to need them tomorrow).

Goodbye shopping center! You have supplied us well

Last night in the library before bed, one of the Australians, Natasha, was messing around with paper and demonstrated how you could fold up a box.  She talked about some other crafts she had learned to do, and pretty soon we had a plan to get together and learn some tonight. It was a fun time. A small group of us made boxes and twisty little stars and accordion style cards. We laughed and chatted, and I was happy to have this moment of memory making with some of the people I have met while over here.

“The road was made while I was walking” was a quote someone brought up at the table, and I rather liked it.

Overall, I spent the day revisiting my haunts, having some lasts, and spending time with people I love. I couldn’t have asked for more.

Day 13: Fog and Shopping and Crispy Duck

Well, it has been a foggy week, but today the fog seemed to stick longer than normal. I walked through it and enjoyed the way the world can look so different depending on the weather.

My destination was the usual coffee shop, for a giant cup of hot chocolate and and pastry for breakfast. Today I tried the Amerikaner pastry, which was kinda a cross between a donut and cake. I was expecting it to be a bit more like a black and white cookie, but it was still good (It did have those flavors with the chocolate and vanilla glaze). All combined it was an uber sweet breakfast and I ended with a bit of a sugar high. Ah well.

I tried to pick Christian up a bagels and lox sandwich he had seen at Nordsee, but they didn’t have them out yet.

This morning Mom had hyperthermia treatments again, so  Christian and I kept her company and we watched part of Cowboys and Aliens while she sat in the hot box.

After lunch Mom and I finally got out for some shopping, just the two of us. Unfortunately we found not a single thing to buy. Doesn’t mean we didn’t have a good time though. We did stop to grab some dessert, back at my favorite bakery. My tiramisu needed more coffee, but it was still a sweet end to our unsuccessful shopping excursion.

We went back to the Hufeland Klinik, and I decided it was high time for a nap. Mom had a hot water bottle that she had left over from her treatments, and I curled up with it and quickly drifted into an awesome sleep.

We decided to forgo the clinic dinner, and head out for some Asian cuisine which has been highly praised to us. Christian, Mom, the Australias, and myself all took off around 6:30 for dinner. The place is called CT No. 1

I got their crispy duck with fried rice. I thought it was missing a sauce, but was still amazingly good. It was my first time trying duck, and while I found it very rich, it was very satisfying.

Christian got some sushi. Such a pretty plate

We haven’t yet figured out tomorrow’s adventures (I would like something kinda exciting for our last day, ya know?). I shall keep you posted as to what we decide to do!

Day 12: Kayaking the Tauber

The morning dawned chilly, but the type of day that called for a wrap while still beckoning you into the street. In other words, the perfect fall morning. I started my day with breakfast and then coffee with Mom since she had about 45 minutes to kill before her treatments.  She can make a wickedly good cup of coffee; it had me buzzing and ready to take on the day. With Christian deciding to sleep in, for me that meant a bit of a solo morning. First stop, the small mall that is close by. I had noticed that they had pillows. Now, I think I already mentioned that I loved the big pillows that my rooms in Germany have had. The fondness in my heart for them has been strong, and I am sad that America doesn’t have giant, fluffy, square feather pillows which I can cuddle up with. I decided that was no reason for me not to have one. So I stopped at the Woolworth in the mall (Which I am told is rather a trip to the past, but that’s before my time) and found one for myself. I will find a way to shove it into my luggage to get it home, somehow. I also bought a pillow case for it, because I think forward like that. And a cute pair of earrings, just because.

The local mall/shopping center/I’m not sure what to call it. It houses a variety of stores, including a movie theater, a pizza place, a grocery store, and Woolworths.

Fishy fountain on the way to shopping

Well, I knocked on Christian’s door after I dropped off my shopping. Judging by the garbled response on the other side, he certainly wasn’t awake yet. I was not content to sit around, as Mom’s coffee was still kicking me into high gear. I wandered back out into the world with a notebook, thinking I would try to get a little writing done. I thought I would write in the castle courtyard, but I got distracted by some side paths and ended up taking quite a long walk along them. Turns out there were a whole network of paths which I hadn’t yet seen, which essentially form the beautiful setting of the castle. Little ponds with bridges, tree lined pathways, lots of rolling green grass. It was beautiful in the morning light.

I did finally settle down to write, but didn’t get any really done. It wasn’t so much due to writer’s block, because I thought of some ideas, it was just that none of my ideas fit my mood and surroundings. I had totally forgotten Mom’s suggestion of trying some short stories. That would probably have worked. Anyway, for another day perhaps. I sat for about 15 minutes, doing more gazing around the courtyard than putting pen to paper. I gave up at that point and decided I was in a reading mood instead. I went back to the Hufeland Klinik where I grabbed my book and sat on the balcony and read until Christian finally came to find me, and the lunch bell rang not long after.

This is literally all that I got written, and it doesn’t even fit in with any of the stories I’m working on

Beautiful nook to read in

After lunch, Christian and I headed out to see if we could find some kayaks. We  had biked past a shop full of different types of small boats during our ebike excursion. As far as we could tell, there should be some kind of boating experience to be had from it, so we walked down and checked it out. Well the woman who was there didn’t speak enough English for any of us to make sense of each other. Christian and I started to give up hope that we would get to do the excursion we had been planning on. However, another employee showed up, and with his better grasp of our language we sorted out that yes, we could get 2 kayaks. YAY!

It’s got a boat dock, that has to be a good sign, right?

It was surprisingly simple. He explained it to us, with his cheerful manner, laughing when he couldn’t quite grasp a word he needed. He pulled out two of the boats with their paddles from storage and hauled them to the launching point. He told us we had a few options we could kayak to along the river, and then we would give him a call and he would pick us up. To give us a bit of information he took us to a board full of pictures of various points of the river, pointing with a stick and letting us know “At this bridge, stay on the right. These rapids, stay left. Exit on the right when you see this house.” We hoped we would remember all this information. We were given a piece of paper, with instructions in German. Well, at least we would remember the name of the town we were supposed to get out at with it. He then launched us into the water. Without so much as getting our names, let alone any information or waiver from us, and we were to pay afterwards as well, Christian and I paddled away in his boats.

Sporting our pretty green kayaks

The board that was used to give us instructions. I hope we remember all of this!

We had decided our endpoint would be Edelfingen, and were told it would take about an hour or so to get there. We somehow successfully navigated the few faster spots and bridges we were supposed to be wary of, and for the most part had a vary lazy drift down a very lazy river, watching the ducks and herons and getting a closer look at all the fishies. There was one very shallow spot which we had to spend some time slowly getting our kayaks through, though thankfully that was only about 20 feet or so where our kayaks really didn’t want to move forward.

The thing about any sort of river drifting is that it is very hard to judge distance. It can take hours to float a few minutes drive. We were kayaking down a very tree lined and shaded river, thinking we should keep our eyes peeled for a white building for our end point. Thank goodness I had it in mind to snap some pictures of our instructions, because we second guessed that endpoint a lot. We started thinking we had passed it at what was in reality the half way point. Thankfully with nothing left to do but move forward that’s what we did do. We reached a point where both of us had made up our minds to get out at the next town and ask where we were, when we finally turned a bend in the river and saw where we were supposed to land. Our guide was there to meet us (Which makes me wonder if we were super late or something, since I thought we were supposed to call him). He attached the kayaks to the top of the minivan and gave Christian and I a lift back to Bad Mergentheim. We also somehow picked up two random other people on the way, and I’m not sure exactly how or why.

Ultimately it was a very pleasant time, and I had a lot of fun doing it. It only cost us 21 euros for the two of us to have this excursion, so it was very worth it for a couple of hours of spending time outside and exploring more of the country. On a side note I have now: been in a plane, taken a shuttle, taken a train, taken an ebike, walked everywhere, and taken a kayak while in Germany. I’m not sure I can find another form of transportation to try.

We walked back into town, and Christian got some fish and chips at Norsee, though he said they weren’t as hot and fresh out of the oil as they could be. It’s been a pretty lazy evening since then. I was going to paint with Mom but they didn’t have room for a non-patient, so instead I have been blogging and Netflixing (That’s a verb, right?).

Not sure what the rest of the evening will hold. Some reading for sure, and just general catching up with the news on my social sites. Have a good evening everyone!

Day 11: A Fair in Königshofen

Hello, beautiful day! The clouds finally cleared a bit and the chill that had settled over the country has lightened to pleasant fall weather. We didn’t have any solid plans for the day, but hoped something would come up. The couple from Australia at the clinic said they had heard about about a Fair a short train ride away, which they were headed out to later in the morning and to which we were welcome to join them at. Mom couldn’t make it due to her treatment schedule, but Christian and I decided to go check it out. Our train rolled into the town of Königshofen late in the morning.

The town is very quaint. Nothing really to see as far as history or attractions goes, or at least none that we found. But it was nice to see the residential side of the country, something more lived in. It all somehow still held a very old world charm.

Some kind of cool water powered generator.

While the town doesn’t offer much in the way of attractions, today it did host a bustling Fair which did host a very pleasant experience. Much larger than I anticipated, the event was part carnival, part open air market. Being its first day and a weekday at that, there weren’t too many people flooding in yet, and we could wander and enjoy ourselves with relative ease.

I thought it was so weird how they were cooking these fish. I was not brave enough to try

Little pots of honey

Lots of flower bulbs

Candied nuts of all sorts. Christian got macadamia nuts and also pumpkin seeds

There were lots of random shops I would not have expected, such as socks or yarn, or in the case of this picture, fabrics

We took a break from window shopping and taking in the Fair to grab a bite to eat at one of the vendors. There wasn’t much variety in the food; much what we have already seen around Germany. We decided on schnitzel sandwiches with some curly fries. They were a bit greasy, but in the fair food, totally expected and wanted way. They certainly hit the spot.

We did some actual shopping after lunch. I found something for my roommate. Not sure if it will be a Christmas gift or a souvenir, so I can’t go into details. But I have been looking for something and it was the first thing I have found that really reminded me of her. 

I also picked up some pistachio likör at a shop. It tastes absolutely as good as it sounds. I am trying to figure out if I can bring some home. Christian got some strawberry rhubarb Likör, which is very sweet but would be fabulous on ice cream or mixed in a cocktail.

Only about half of this display os likörs. The other half is oils and the like.

Our wandering led us back into town. We had some time to kill before the train came by, so we did some more wandering around. Back streets are so pretty!

We found ourselves back at the water powered generator, where we spent some time watching the ducks and throwing them an occasional piece of food. There were a ton of them. They were quite fun to watch waddle around.

Making lots of friends

We caught our train finally and headed back to Bad Mergentheim. I texted Mom asking if she wanted to meet up for coffee. “Pastries??” she texted back. Yes, we could do pastries too. The five of us settled down on the street seating of our usual place, and I sipped my cocoa and ate some twisty pastry, which I think was filled with poppy seeds.

This is multitasking right there

We went grocery shopping afterwards. I got some chocolate and some macadamia cream (think a mild flavored Nutella). We also went to the grocery store in the mall and got some snacks. Mom wanted to eat dinner which wasn’t vegitarian leftovers, so we stopped at a place called Nordsee and she got some fish and chips. I was way too full to try them, but I think she was pretty happy with it.

Now it’s winding down and watching Firefly time. Not sure what tomorrow will bring, but I am sure random adventures will arise as they did today!

Day 10: We Finally Make it to Rothenburg 

As has been previously stated, Rothenburg plans were put on hold yesterday due to lack of participation. We were discussing this over breakfast one day when one of the guests of another patient at the clinic heard and offered to give us a ride in her car. This found us a way to see the town we had heard so much about, so we thankfully agreed, and this mid morning found us cruising along the German country roads in the back seat of a car, with the pleasant company of a Sweede and an Irishwoman.

Sidenote, I texted my roommate to mention the random occurrence of Christian and I catching a ride with people we hardly knew in a forign country. She texted me back asking how I had met them, and I proceeded to forget to answer her. She probably thought I was dead in a ditch somewhere. Oops.

It is a smidge less than an hour to Rothenburg from Bad Mergentheim. The roads flow between the hills of the countryside and amongst little picturesque towns. I wonder if such pretty things were the landscape of American roads before interstates came into play. The roads here are hardly two lane, and offer a wonderful look of the vineyards and the little places that don’t offer enough to stop but are adorable to see in passing. The time passed quickly as we talked about the differences in American vs. European agriculture.

Time to enter the old town

The thing about Rothenburg is that the old town was completely surrounded by an old wall. Inside this wall is still a bustling city full of shops and cafés. We decided on a meeting spot and 4 hours to explore before we came back together. Christian and I instantly made our way to the wall. But not before I snapped some pictures of the town’s beautiful architecture.

Love the oldstyle hanging signs!

We had heard that you could walk the whole wall, even get in the wall at some points, and we were not disappointed. We got on top near the lower side of town and started our trip seemingly to another time. Even Christian, usually the first to say “Don’t act like a tourist,” or who doesn’t understand my need for picture taking, was excited and snapping pics as we found the nooks and crannies of history that engulfed us.

Leading the charge up the walls

You can get so caught up in the walls themselves you forget to look beyond them

Inside the walls. Christian had to duck for some of the beams

We stumbled across an old world theater stage. I asked Christian if he would film me saying some Shakespeare, but he refused. Apparently that would be too nerdy for him. Ah well, one can dream.

To be, or not to be… Doesn’t it call to you?

After walking the wall for a while we did finally find our chance to get inside. What we found was spectacular. Whereas everywhere else we have been so far has had that feel of upkeep and of being handled throughout the eras, the wall felt nothing like that. There weren’t even lights installed in the cool, dim rooms to help you see the uneven floor and steep stairs. And it added so much to the atmosphere of the place. You really could expect to see soldiers wander through. It was just so real.

Beautiful old stairs


There were also some other parts of the wall that were quite impressive and/or interesting.

After our explorations we needed food, and kabaps called to us. We found a place called the Schnell Resturant. Christian got another Döner Kabap, and I had something similar, just in wrap form. Not as good as the one I had in Bad Mergentheim, but still yummy.

We then hit the shops. Old Rothenburg is a weird little tourist place. On one hand it is sorrounded and filled with history, yet it is filled with shops that lend it a more touristy flair that detracts from that a bit. Also they are obsessed with Christmas, having themed shops open year round. It did lend great opportunities for souvenir shopping though. We did find one particular store we loved, full of medieval stuff.

An army if Nutcrackers

When the bar maid is taking way too long to bring your drink

Really wanted one if these potion looking alcohols, but my ability to bring them home is probably nil

Christian testing the gauntlets

I don’t speak German, but I am pretty sure that sign says do not touch. How am I to find out if I am the Once and Future King?

Giant koi going nom nom nom

History of swords

We also walked farther around town, and saw the beautiful gardens along one arm of it, which overlook the valley. It happened to give us a fabulous view of the wall we had been able to go in.

Kathy had told me to find some Schneeballen. They were prominent in the town and it wasn’t hard to find a source for this German pastry. We settled on Differ’s Schneeballen as the one that appeared when we wanted it. Basically marzipan and pastry dough wound into a ball and deep fried, then dipped in chocolate or powdered sugar. It did not disappoint.

Pistachio! Yum!

We also grabbed some coffee and cocoa to keep us warm as the day continued to be overcast. Germany hot chocolate is about 1000 times better than the stuff I have had in the States. The Cafebar & Confiserie in the town square lived up to the stuff I have had so far.

At this point it was time to meet up again, just as the rain started to fall. We said goodbye to the charming, romantic town. I feel with more time I could have found out so much more of its history. I know there is a museum on Medieval law and torture, that there is history touching upon World War II, that there are churches and night tours and all sorts of things that it is not in my cards to see while I am here.

I find that feeling often in Germany. I can’t see it all, and I have to come to terms with that. But it makes me wonder what I miss back home because I think I have forever to see it. I hope to learn more of a wanderlust for my home when I get back.

Day 9: All Our Plans Fall Through and It is Wonderful

Today was supposed to be Rothenburg day. We had signed up for a bus to take us there, but not enough adventurous souls had signed up to go so it was cancelled. Come on, people, there is a world to explore! (I was obviously feeling more bright eyed and busy tailed this morning).

Christian saw this as another golden opportunity to sleep in until lunch, which left Mom and I to our own devices. It was another rainy day and the outside world didn’t promise much to do (very little is open on Sunday here). We decided the obvious thing to do would be to brew some coffee in her French press and hang out in our room for a while.

Mom’s coffee is strong and soo good!

Mom said it had been so long since she had time to just relax in the morning without anywhere to have to be. Not since she came here three weeks ago, anyway. We spent a long time just chatting and talking about the million of ways we are so similar, about our plans for the upcoming week, and the random things that do come up when you just sit and chat with someone.

At some point we remembered we had laundry to do. The clinic has laundry on site, so we hauled our clothes to the basement. At which point we saw a sign saying it was broken and will be fixed tomorrow. Oi. However, Mom says she went down last night and someone else has been using it just fine, who told her you just have to turn the water on. Mom came to the conclusion someone hadn’t realized this, reported a broken machine and it wasn’t really broken. Okay… I guess I was willing to risk it if she was. What was the worst that could happen? We could just turn the water off if the basement started flooding, right?

Well it isn’t that simple, because first you have to turn on the machine and get it going. A German coin-op with a bunch of confusing buttons isn’t the easiest machine. Finally we got it started; 3 euros for 2 hours, on express wash (or else the cycles run 1 1/2 hours. Express gives you half hour loads and you can cram several loads into the allotted time). I ended up leaving sticky notes for the next person, so they could figure it out as well. The machine worked just fine and we didn’t cause any floods, so that was nice. We hung our laundry up on a rack to dry for the day and went back to sipping coffee between loads, finishing at about 12:30.

A job well done. Now to let them dry

We made it to lunch after waking Christian for the last time for the day (we had to keep slipping in his room to get laundry or to make sure the do not disturb sign was on his door so room service wouldn’t wake him or whatnot. He was getting rather tired of it). We were a little jittery from all the caffeine, but feeling ready to tackle whatever the day brought.

After lunch, the day brought… More coffee! Yay! We walked into town in the light drizzle of rain, through the castle arches and into the square to find one of the few coffee places open on Sunday. This afforded me a chance to:

  • A. Wear the cute jacket I bought just for this trip which I was kicking myself for not wearing yesterday
  • B. Have fun with my new umbrella (I know my idea of fun is weird. I have simple pleasures)

We were supposed to meet up with an Austrailian couple whom we had befriended at the clinic, and until they showed up we grabbed another pastry at the place we had had coffee that first morning. Mom said we needed something to get rid of the coffee jitters, and I agreed. I had a bun with chocolate chips in it. There are too many pastries to try and I am going to be sad without them all back home. Until then I am going to guiltlessly enjoy them to my hearts content.

We then found our friends and looked for a new coffee shop to try, finding one in the town square called Zwillingshaus. Here was my first experience with German communal tables. It was fun, and as the couple who shared it with us spoke a little German we were able to have a short conversation. To order we had a little check list to fill out, but as none of us spoke German the waitress still did it for us. Mom and Christian got cappuccinos, and as I decided not to kill myself via caffeine overdose I got a buttermilchshake. I had seen them advertised elsewhere and my curiosity was starting to bug me. It ended up being kinda like drinking thin yogurt. A bit weird and sour, but I took a liking to it.

Christian wanted another kebap, so we went back to the resturant for those and mom and I split some fries. They topped them with ketchup and mayo, per our request, but ended up putting on an excessive amount of condiment. One or the other would have been enough. They were still good though.

Hot and deep fried and a perfect rainy day snack

We spent a bit of time stealthily feeding a pretty little pigeon (we thought we saw a sign saying not to do that in the park, and weren’t sure if it was frowned upon in town).

We essentially ended our day watching stuff in Christian’s room; Ant Man, always hysterical, and some Firefly episodes, which are always super good. Mom had seen neither and we felt the need to educate her on them.

We also video chatted the family back home. It was good to see everyone.

Overall, not what we planned, and not even all that exciting, but enjoyable and wholesome. Adventures can be had another day. Today we rested and talked and focused more on enjoying each other than enjoying Germany, and that’s just fine by me.

Day 8: Würzburg – a Festival and a Fortress

Saturday marks the start of the weekend, with Mom free to explore with us! Looking at the pile of pamphlets that I have collected, one place in particular really called to me: Würzburg. It took very little convincing to get the family on board with my plans.

Located a convenient 1 hour train ride down the tracks, Würzburg is a much larger place than Bad Mergentheim, promising a rich historical heritage, museums, shopping, and I am sure pleanty more that I didn’t even see. It looked likely to be a full day of exploring and adventures.

The day was dreary and threatened rain, and it seemed to mark an end to the abnormally long summer and to welcome in the Autumn season. We got to the train station after breakfast at about 9:00, which ended up being about an hour and a half too early (or about a half hour too late, depending on how you look at it). We bought some round trip tickets for the day, and as we had time to kill, walked over to the post office where Mom and I both sent a post card to family. (They will probably get there after we get home, but it’s the idea behind it). We then decided to grab some coffee at a nearby shop, and I finally got my hands on a Pretzel, stuffed with butter. Yum yum.

At Christian’s suggestion I also grabbed an umbrella at the train station store, just in case the clouds decided to get worse.

The hour and a half passed quickly and soon we were off. We switched trains at the Lauda station and then continued into Würzburg.

Every train station is so beautiful

Very excited for the day’s adventures!

Würzburg is huge! Certainly a city, and much different than the view of Germany I had gotten so far. Tall buildings stretched across the skyline and into the valley. And, as it turns out, there was a giant festival that day. All the streets for miles from the train station were crammed full of people and vendors and bands.

Bustling city

One of the numerous bands

I thought the red on this building was stunning!

Mom and I quickly found we had under planned for the weather. Since we have been here, it has generally been a bit cooler in the morning before reaching the 80’s later in the day, and was usually perfect for tank tops or sleeveless shirts. Now we found it wasn’t getting warmer and we needed something to keep the chill away. We found something right away thankfully, and got some cute super-warm shawls. 


Now properly dressed and ready to tackle the city, it was only a question of where to start. On my travel map I had circled my five top things (and there were more that interested me as well), and Christian suggested starting at the farthest, and coincidentally the most interesting, point and work back to the trains. This made our goal the Marienburg Fortress across the river. It would be a long walk but we hoped it would be worth it.

Everywhere I looked there was something exciting and different. Beautiful, ancient buildings were everywhere, while a crowd of very modern people ebbed around them. Smells from various bakeries and food carts filled the air, and music from every street – ironically a lot of covers of old American rock songs, with some modern pop thrown in for good measure – mingled with the sound of the church bells ringing. I think Christian wanted to put me on a leash to keep me from running around from pure excitement.

In the midst of the happy chaos, we stumbled upon a set up of first responders. In the midst of a giant town, which just happens to be having a festival, we stumble upon the very thing where Christian could get a first hand look at the German fire trucks and talk to firefighters. I am assured that the fire trucks were set up much differently than American ones; I will take Christian’s word for it.

They unfortunately didn’t have patches to trade, but they did show him the details on their rig.

After a bit more walking we made it to the bridge called Alte Mainbrüke, which was finished being constructed in 1543, with the statues added in 1730. One of my to-see destinations, the large stone bridge was impressive. Unfortunately, due to all the people no good pictures were to be had of it. It did however offer an awesome view of the fortress. You can easily imagine how imposing such a structure would be hundreds of years ago, towering over friends and invaders alike. Indeed, it is still awe inspiring now.

Overlooking the city, this fortress has stood for centuries

Mom decided we needed some carbs before we attempted the long climb up the hill. We all grabbed a pastry at Müller Bäck (I got one of the twisty almond pretzel things on the left) and started up the long set of stairs that wind all the way up the hill. It is easy to make such a climb with such a destination ahead of you!

Yay! More pastries!

You can’t see it well, but the whole city is behind me

At the top we found ourselves at the first gate. Their was a large bridge that spanned a trench, which lead into a deep tunnel. We quickly realized it would not be the only gate we would travel through. All told I think there were 4 before we made it to the center courtyard.

The fortress is humongous. Starting as a refuge in 1000 BC, it became a church many years later. After it’s time as a church it became a fortress in the 1200’s, for the Prince Bishops, and remained that way into the Renaissance. The fortress was then turned into a castle, which was actually won in a conquest by a Swedish king, to be expanded with Royal gardens and to receive a Baroque influence. That history bleeds through so that there are evidences of various eras throughout.

Here you can see teo different styles of buildings adjoined.

A stand alone tower in the center or the middle courtyard.

Inside the church, these figures are in the center of the floor. Mom believes them to be graves.

We didn’t find a way to really see into the buildings themselves, but we walked through the courtyards and eventually dropped down into a garden between two of the walls. (We did find a super awesome gift shop though).

In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit?

Vinyards on the side of the hill

We realized there was no way to get out coming this way, so we backtracked back up and found more new things as we wandered.

Christian found a gate to underground tunnels. If only we had a key and a flashlight!

I found a friend!

We exited, through some more giant gates as you can imagine, and slowly wound down the hill through a beautiful garden walkway before hitting the stairs we had originally used to come up.

Christian and Mom discuss how to bring a garden like this to life at home, or at least something influenced by this

Back in the city we realized our time was winding to a close. The truth is that Würzburg is simply a multiple day excursion and one cannot see all the sights on a day trip. It was worth it for the fortress alone, and I would highly recommend a visit.

We did enjoy a few more looks at the architecture as we made our way back.

Cathedral of St. Killian. A place I wanted to visit, if we had had more time.

My new favorite stonework. He looks so cute

Mom had a craving for cheeseburgers, and as you can imagine those are few and far between in Germany. We did walk by some in a food truck, and stopped to buy a late lunch/early dinner.

You look so tempting, cheeseburger. If only you lived up to it

They were, eh, not so good. Mom took some convincing that it was even beef. I suppose we should have known better, but I guess it’s good America still has a corner on some decent food, right?

We did also grab some crepes on our way back to the train. These were much better in my opinion, though Christian and Mom were hoping for something with more filling.

Mine was Eierlikör, which basically meant they poured a bunch in the center. Yummy. I was right, Eierlikör was much better not mingled with coffee, and it was strong from an alcoholic sense, but good.

It had started to rain by now and my umbrella came in handy as we waited for the train home. I was exhausted, with a headache to boot, but couldn’t help wishing I could have seem more of the city so full of promising discoveries. 

I kept nodding off on the train, and Mom was too, making a very not lively party anymore. We got back to the clinic and I opted out of dinner to take a bath. The bathtub was narrow but super deep, and I opened the window and listened and smelled the rain that was falling.

I tried reading afterwards, but my mind wouldn’t focus so I gave up and went to bed at 7:30. Thus why I am a day late posting, but I will catch up. Christian says I can no longer tease him for sleeping in so much, and I suppose that’s true. 12 hours of sleep later, and today I felt much better. That’s another post though.

Day 7: Ebikes and Kabaps

I have been traveling for a week now! That’s a crazy thing to think of. And only a week until I start thinking of heading home. Let’s not think of it yet, let’s focus on the adventures instead.

Today was ebike day! Anyway, we had reserved two bikes, and hoped they were still waiting for us. We had breakfast, went back to Christian’s room to get stuff… And he fell asleep. Poor chap, apparently he hadn’t slept well the night before. I wasn’t going to begrudge him a well needed nap, so I wrote a blog post I had floating in my head about the clinic and surfed around YouTube a bit. He ended up sleeping all the way to lunch, which I finally roused him for.

We had a meal of carrot and ginger soup, corn cakes with Mediterranean veggies, salads, and cherries and raspberries with a custard. Not the best meal I have had here, but it was still satisfying. Lunch also included an interesting discussion about language, and I was taught the process of English Cockney slag. Baisically, you take the word that you want to turn into slang, the example given was “mate”, then you find a word it rymes with, making it “plate”.  Then you find something related to that word, and use that as your slang. Plates are part of a set of china, so instead of calling your friend your mate, English Cockney would say “china”. This is, by the way, a real life example I was given. Such a confusing method but fascinating. 

Afterwards, Christian and I went to the office, ordered some more water for our rooms, and found that two ebikes were indeed available. We unlocked them from storage and excitedly started expanding our circle of exploration.

Our rides for the day

Finally getting into the country a bit!

Selfies while bike riding not really recommended.

We spent about 2 1/2 hours doing this, winding past and in the roads in and about Bad Mergentheim and making it as far as Ingersheim. The countryside we saw was so beautiful. We wound through the park where we had walked that first morning, and it all felt like so long ago since we had been tromping down on a misty morning to find breakfast, with no idea where the town really was!

Let me tell you, ebikes are awesome. You see a hill up ahead, turn your assistance on from nothing to about medium, and you zip right up like it is nothing. So easy and fun. I was actually out of practice biking, not having done it for a few years now, and as Christian commented he “just watched me almost wipe out on a 1 inch curb.” So I was a little wobbly but I survived. (Also the break on my bike was to peddle backwards, a method I hadn’t used since my tweens. That took some getting used to).

After biking we decided to sign out for dinner and get Döner Kabaps. They could be found at Christian’s favorite brot source, and came highly recommend.

City Kabop, located right in the town square

Oh my, they were so. So. SO. GOOD. Baisically, they threw some dough in a press to make some buns. Then they took a little saw and shaved chunks of meat off of a spinning hunk of roasting pork. This ensures that every flake of meat you get is that awesome, crusty edge piece. Yum!

Spinning wheel of roasting meat

The bun was cut, the shavings of pork stuffed in, along with lettuce, pleanty of onions, tomato, and tzatziki sauce added. To top it all off, he asked if we wanted to add chili powder. Yes please. A hearty sprinkling of it was applied and I was handed a huge, steaming hot sandwich. (Christian and I are in a debate still as to whether it was just regular chili powder or not. I think there was more to it).

Nom nom nom

I cannot begin to tell you how amazing that first bite is into the soft, fresh bread, with the tangy sauce, the warm chili, the sharp onion, and the most delicious piece of pork you have ever had. And all for 4 euros. You can’t beat it. If I walked back out into the square again in search of food, I wouldn’t try something new, I would get one of these. If I got a food truck, it would be a Döner Kabap food truck and I would cruise around spreading the awesomeness. I will definitely be having more of this before I head stateside and I will definitely be searching for ways to make these at home.

We sat and talked with Mom and some other of the people from the clinic for a while as they sipped wine. Then mom headed to get her dinner, and I sipped tea in the dining hall as she had some veggi strudel, cheese, bread, and salad for dinner. We visited for quite some time, just the two of us, and now are finishing up our day by getting some stuff done online. Overall it has been a bit of a lazy day, but as I won’t have a moment’s rest this weekend that will probably be a good thing. Stay tuned!

The Hufeland Klinik

While the Hufelanf Klinik has played a central role in my Germany narrative so far, it has primarily figured as a backdrop. I thought it deserved a post that focused on the clinic itself, as it is the primary reason for my visit here.

The story of how Mom got here is a part of the cancer story I have started but not yet finished, and I don’t want to skip ahead of myself there. That tale will be continued, once my posting about Germany comes to an end. Suffice it to say the road was a long one which lead here, but with much prayer and gratitude she found herself seeking help in Germany.

The Hufeland Klinik uses many methods for cancer treatment. There is the aforementioned Hyperthermia, whether that be full body or local. There are such things as mistletoe therapy, blood ozone infusion, pleanty of supplements, reflexology, and all sorts of other things. Depending on your situation they make a plan just for you i.e. Mom doesn’t get the low dose chemotherapy, because of the amount she had already had on the past. I can’t give you the science behind the treatments, that would require a lot of knowledge I simply don’t have. Most of these are treatments not easily found in the US, and they draw people from all over. There are people from the States, from Germany, from England and Australia and New Zealand and many other countries. The clinic only deals with cancer, so everyone here has that common ground.

Outside the clinic is one of the coolest staircases I have seen

The community this creates is such a cool thing to watch. It reminded me of when I went to political camp. A bunch of strangers, thrown together in an intense experience with only one known common interest. People opened up fast, and lasting friendships were made. That was only over a period of one week, and Mom is here for six. She even broke her long avoidance of Facebook to make sure she could stay connected with everyone. There is a sign which asks people not to talk about there illness, but everyone breaks the rule. I think it is a good rule to be broken, as they connect because of their cancer, share their individual research and knowledge, and ultimately become friends through the shared experience of being treated. They have been very welcoming to Christian and myself as well, even though we share their struggle secondhand. The cast of people here is inspiring and numerous, and a snapshot of what I always imagined a long term B&B would be. Which I suppose in a way, the clinic is, just sort of more “Bed, Breakfast, and Cancer Treatments.” Everyone has a story to tell, a long road like Mom’s which lead them here. Everyone had a family and a life, and everyone had a reason to fight for. It is beautiful, really.

I have not had much interaction with the Doctors and Nurses themselves, but the little I have had they have been nice, even when Christian and I were no doubt a little under foot. The service staff have been wonderfully nice and very helpful, always happy and cheerful and ready to try to understand your broken German words or to use their much better English to help you out.

Patients live on site, in dorm like rooms. It is a bit of a running joke that rooms don’t have the same features. Mom’s has a bathtub, a fact which has made many a person jealous. Christian’s smaller, one person room has only a shower, but due to his unique position in the clinic is one of few to have wifi. As far as I know everyone has a desk and a closet, and the rooms I have been in feel fairly spacious to me. No one has AC, but cracking the windows has done a fair bit to keep everything livable. The beds have the most awesome giant square feather pillows on them, which are very soft and cuddly and which I must find for myself once I get back home.

Mom’s side of our bedroom, complete with corkboard for notes and a picture that very much teminds me of the mountain streams back home

My side of the room. Pictured is the fruit basket each room has (there is a basket of fruit in the dining hall you are encouraged to take from and create a personal stash if you like) and also the really cool mechanical metal blinds that raise and lower like a garage door with a push of a button.

The meals are all included, and are mostly vegitarian. Lunch is the largest, and dinner tends to be some leftovers and salad. I personally have found the meals quite enjoyable, but I have also interspersed them with food grabbed in town. I am told that after a few weeks it can lack variety. There is no coffee, but tea is always available with fresh lemon and ginger. All water is the bottled carbonated or mineral water, which seems rampant in Germany. Seating is assigned, because of certain people needing some special foods set out for them. This creates a special set of people you get very familiar with. Dinner is especially fun, as our table often hangs out, sips tea, tells jokes and catches up on personal adventures after the meal is done.

The dining hall

The building is beautiful, built to induce a relaxing feeling. There is a TV room if you are so inclined, a library, and a front entry/waiting room with a fountain and fish where people hang out in and use the internet (Those not fortunate enough to have access to Christian’s special wifi room).

The sitting area

The library

The clinic has options for activities for people. There is a bus to Rothenburg this Sunday which you can book through them, though I believe the actual bus service extends to many places in the area and visitors are not exclusively the patients. Mom and Dad went last week and said it was absolutely amazing, so that is where our adventures are going to take us this Sunday as well. There are the aforementioned ebikes or regular bikes offered, though a good one might be a challenge to get your hands on. I am also told you can rent a canoe to take out on the Tauber. While art and singing are considered therapies for the patients, as Mom’s guest I can do them as well as long as I don’t take a patients spot.

I have already mentioned the locations around the clinic rather extensively. It has close proximity to most of town, especially the park, the Philosophenwag, and the local castle (Have I mentioned the castle used to be a headquarters for Tuetonic Knights? The museum there didn’t reflect that much, unfortunately, but it is still so cool to think about). Bad Mergentheim has several cute cafés, and a little bit of shopping, but is of a smaller size and it is more reflecting of the laid back atmosphere the clinic creates than a bustling tourist location.

Many an era ago, knights walked this courtyard

Obviously I am no expert on the Hufeland Klinik, especially as someone only here for less than a week so far and not even a patient at that. But I wanted to share my impressions of the place with the world so that people searching for information can understand the location. Hopefully this post had been somewhat illuminating.