Saturday, November 15, 2008

German Sightseeing - Finally!

I have a conference in Germany this coming week. My co-worker Ralph and his wife Susan who live in Germany generously offered to show me some sights over the weekend, so I flew in a few days early. I didn't get much sleep overnight on the plane - friggin' economy - but I did finally see The Dark Knight at least.

I landed in Frankfurt and Ralph drove me to his apartment in Zwingenberg. What's the first thing I do? I open my suitcase, which hits some plants on a nearby table and knocks over a really tall cactus. I go to stand it up again and it's completely snapped off. It's always nice to greet your hosts by breaking something that took years to grow within the first 5 minutes of your visit. Step 2, yell "I broke your plaaaa-aaaant!" Susan says she can replant the broken piece into a new cactus , but the guilt will likely haunt me forever.

Susan had to run some errands for her company so we went to Darmstadt and I got to meet Ralph's daughter, Angela. We all did a little bit of shopping together and they took me to see the Waldspirale. It's a crazy apartment building built by the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, where the lines of the building are wavy. It has over 1,000 windows where none of them are the same and the doors all have different handles. Plus the rooms only have rounded corners.

Susan had to get back to Zwingenberg to do some work so I took Ralph to find his first geocache. Luckily I had him with me to translate the original clues in German as Google translate did not do them justice at all. Roughly, the instructions were to find the sign that scares you and turn your back on it in disgust. Ralph says the woman on the sign is the daughter of an important winemaker in the area who declared her the "German Wine Queen". A highly competitive title-awarding process similar to the "Miss ENSIS" contest. Too bad I wasn't traveling with my tiara. This time.

Next we went to Lorsch and saw the King's Hall and Abbey, which is a UNESCO Heritage Site, and the museum centre across the street. We also stopped at a café

After picking up Susan we headed to Poststuben for dinner. I had an excellent dinner of goose and crème brûlée. Ralph knew the chef and told him that his crème brûlée didn't make my top 3 when he came to visit our table. Embarrassing! Too bad there wasn't a cactus around for me to break in half while I was at it. I was also introduced to the terrible wonder known as kirsch. It's a cherry brandy, served as a shot, that's very strong. It tastes like burning, rather than sweet. I couldn't finish it.

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