Tuesday, February 12, 2008

the pace thickens

I have every intention of writing heaps of stuff about what I'm doing here in Germany but the days are filling with so many details and things and stuff and inspiration and walks that I find blogging the day at the end of the day almost physically impossible.

Sunday saw us travelling some 200 + kms east to the "new" state of Thüringen to a small village called Lebensgrün to visit with Martin's papa, Volker Spernau, or "Opa-mä" and to pick up R. who had been holidaying there for the past week.

Opa lives in a very old house. He's been doing it up over the course of the years. The houses in this region are very long and narrow as the blocks were built to be only 12 metres wide. So while the house is over 35m long, it is "only" 6m wide. It has a cellar, which is constantly damp and floods a lot, and an attic, which is commandeered by various family members as a viable source of long-term storage.

The old stable area down on the ground floor has been turned into a sort of curiosity shop, where Opa sells knick-knacks and oddments. The middle floor is the main living area with bedrooms, kitchen and comfortable lounge.

We spent a lot of time looking around the farmlet, walking down the slightly sticky clay soil and grass towards the back of the property where Opa is constructing a sort of garden. He also keeps a small mob of shy, shaggy sheep who ran the moment I stepped towards them.

The village of Lebensgrün is about 600 years old and while I didn't really get a chance to go walking through it to take photo's of the unusual houses, it was quite the pleasure to be in a part of germany that is off the beaten tourist track.

We then went to a lovely quiet little restaurant and although almost too late for lunch were offered two meal choices. I chose the vennison.

Sliced and swimming in a salty gravy with a tiny garnish of a lettuce leaf and a tomato on the side. A bowl of Klöße arrived. This dish is a typical Frankonian dish of mashed potatoes shaped into large dumplings. The Klöße is cooked, mashed and when sort of dry is then mixed with a special kind of flour or finely grated potato. Then it is shaped into balls and boiled again in salty water. It is thick, gluggy, salty and moreish.

We also had Blaukraut, which is basically red cabbage boiled in a way to change its colour to either a deep purple/blue or red. It too was salty and vinegar-like but incredibly tasty and more'ish.

We had Lebkuchen for dessert. I had bought a Lebkuchen Herz (Lebkuchen Heart) at a stall in the heart of the city a couple of days before. So on our travels home, we broke into it and munched happily on the slightly spicy, chewy texture of the Lebkuchen. It was quite yummy.

Sandra has suggested that we spend a day in my final week here, when she has more time to teach me how to bake Lebkuchen for myself. I'm hoping that we will get that opportunity. Might be a new bakery line for the shop back home huh? hahahaha

The countryside is beautiful here. The fields are so small though in comparison to home. I'd love to learn more of the different farming practises here but I guess I can catch up on that info in future visits as I become more fluent in the language and getting around by myself. Yes! I do intend to return :)

So since Sunday, Bat has taken me for a jaunt around the Hauptbahnhof in the centre of town. He knows it quite well having spent many years commuting for work. There are some building works going on there too so there is a whole "new" floor he has yet to figure out how to get around :) I will be catching the ICE back to Frankfurt from here come the 23rd.

We found the Post office too today, so now I've posted some of my postcards. I have to get some more actually and get them sent off ASAP too or I shall be home before they are!

Sometime this coming week, I plan to do some gift buying for family and friends if possible (if finances allow) and maybe do a seamail post back home to keep my luggage allowance under control. It means we have to wait until around May to get our stuff, but that's okay. :) Patience is a virtue is it not? *smirk*

I have even booked myself a visit to a beautician here who has set up a store practically 10 steps from the door of the batcave! She can't speak English and I can't speak German but we've arranged to take off my gel nail-polish which is starting to look a bit tatty around the edges. That appointment is tomorrow at 1330 :)

I also hope to go back to the middle of town tomorrow afternoon and see the Kaiserberg and other sights that I've not yet had to chance to go see. There is a toy museum to see and other general Museums etc...Oh my! So much to do!!!!! It's great to visit with friends but its so easy to get caught up in conversations at home rather than getting out and about. Because bat is visually constrained, its much harder for him to show me stuff like others would be able to, so its really up to me to venture out and be proactive with the sight-seeing stuff.

If I don't stop eating soon, I shall have a mammoth task to get my weight back down when I get back to Australia too! The gym will need to become a high priority I think once home again. :)

Some days I want time to slow right down to the pace of a snail so I can fit in a life-time of experiences into this three week window. It's a bit frustrating having to sleep really but yeah...I am pretty much exhausted come 2100 in the evenings! Bat then makes me sit up to watch DVD's with him.... he is the night owl sort it seems!

Today, we are all off to see Flocke, the new Eisbär (polar bear) at the zoo. Then we plan to go out to a restaurant to eat schnitzel mit pommes :) I so love the food here! *sigh*

You can find my photo's of this trip here

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