On the train ride home, I finished watching Heimat. It's a tv series that follows the lives of a family in the Hunsrück region of the Rheinland, which is somewhat northwest of Kaiserslautern. The first series covers the years 1919 until 1982. For those curious about how life in Germany was during this time, this series covers it reasonably well, at least from what I can tell from my studies in history. For example, one can see why National Socialism would have been attractive to some Germans at the time because of the promises it made during shaky economic times. The series is slightly twee and nostalgic but it gives a decent rundown of German history for this time period.
When I got back to Kaiserslautern, I met my tandem partner and we practiced more for the German telc test that I would take in April. Can I just say that test preparation sucks the joy out of learning German for me? Okay, maybe it's not so dramatic as that, but reading a controversial editorial or findings of a research study and expressing my opinion about it gets old. In the next German class, C1, it's going to be even more intense because that is the level that is required to get into German-speaking unversity programs.
During the weekend, I met some friends at the palace in Schwetzingen. I've been wanting to visit for years but the palace itself had been closed for renovations. It was finally open again and even better yet, the cherry blossoms were still around.
Spring showers bring...cherry blossom flowers, and cherry blossom flowers bring...cosplayers! I bet that you didn't see that one coming, huh? (hehe) Our group, including my friend and her partner (who's also my friend), their child, and my other friend A. gathered under the trees for a picnic and some great people watching. Ladies wearing steampunk-inspired gowns primped and posed under the trees. The majority of people showed the peace hand symbol (can that just stop please? Seriously?).
We shared quite a laugh because J thought that a security guard was cosplaying. Heck, I laughed really hard because initially I thought that she wasn't really a security guard, either, just someone in a costume. However, her body language was very police-like and I later saw her in the security office.
A. and I bought tickets for a tour of the castle. It lasted about an hour and traveled through one set of apartments. The guide asked everyone not to touch the fabric or furnishings in the rooms and even showed us a sampling of the fabrics and those we were allowed to touch. Of course people still touched the fabric in the rooms. Gah.
Later we toured the grounds and ran into literal forests of Bärlauch, or in English, ramsons. They are a cousin of chives and have a mild oniony and garlicky taste. I had been looking for them in other places and so badly wanted to find some. It was definitely a tease to find so many of them at the castle; I didn't dare pick any of them, whether or not there was a cosplaying (or not) guard around. Below is a picture of the Bärlauch at a farmers market and some of it on the castle grounds. They are a major symbol of spring around here and people go nuts for them. You can even find them for sale at times at the grocery stores; my friends saw them at Lidl. Local restaurants cook soups and other dishes with them.
Passing wistfully by the Bärlauch, we visited the back part of the palace grounds and came upon the mosque. It was built in the Turkish style during the late eighteenth century. A examined it and pronounced, "I hope you do not think that this is how mosques really look. This is not accurate."
That cracked me up as I saw this building, while beautiful, as a European vision of a mosque with its mysterious, lovely, undulating designs and Arabic. It was probably not meant to be accurate as it was constructed for a Christian ruler who wanted an exotic building on the grounds. A. squinted at the Arabic on the ceiling. She is an Urdu native speaker and can sometimes read Arabic. This script was too difficult because of its stylized nature.
After leaving the non-authentic mosque, we continued to visit the lake and ran across what I call a "turducken thingie" and of course had to explain my excitement and the backstory.
I found the castle worth a visit, especially during cherry blossom time. It's beautiful and definitely has some interesting flora and fauna.