Sunday, March 1, 2015

My Week: March 1 ed.

After being knock-down sick the week before, I was glad to (basically) return to health (punctuated by some very unhealthy-sounding coughing) and my regular schedule.

-I started the new German class. With the new teacher, I am finding myself needing to adjust to the way she speaks (which does include dialect). This is very good practice for me. The textbook is also a bit of a challenge too. There is a decent amount of vocabulary that I don't know and I am also a bit confused on the sentence construction. I'll have to push myself; this isn't bad, though, as it's a great way to keep one's mind sharp.

-Our group of friends arranged a tandem speaking meet-up. I met another American who attended the same American university that I did for his German classes.

-I had an absolutely lovely weekend. I traveled to Neustadt an der Weinstrasse to spend the day hiking with some newer friends, a German and Romanian couple. We planned to hike through the vineyards and part of the forest from Neustadt to Bad Dürkheim, visiting the light show at the end.

It was a good day to hike; the weather was rather warm (high 40s) for this time of year and it doesn't hurt that the Weinstrasse area is one of the warmest in Germany. We walked from downtown then north through the vineyards. As we walked along, C pointed out the almond trees along the way. They are starting to bud out and he believes that they will be blooming next weekend; it is likely that there will be an almond blossom festival at that time. He's funny; he said that by "festival," it is meant that there will be two tents set up for people hiking along the way (I'll have to confirm that one). He continued to tell us about the trees and plants along the way. I've been wanting to learn more (especially as it relates to foraging) so I was thrilled.

As we progressed through the forest, we stopped at the Waldgasthof Pfalzblick, a restaurant in the woods with a lovely view over the vineyards. K and I drank hot raspberry wine, which was incredibly sweet, and C enjoyed a beer.

The Blick (view) from the Pfalzblick, looking east.
After finishing our drinks, we walked to Wachenheim and visited the Wachtenburg castle ruins. It's possible to climb up the former tower for a great panoramic view over Wachenheim to look west to the Pfalz forest and east toward Mannheim. As we climbed down the tower, our energy was flagging after eight miles of walking (none of us are in shape yet this year). We did manage to rally ourselves to finish the walk a few miles farther in Bad Dürkheim.
Looking up toward the Wachtenburg from the vineyards at its base.

View from the Wachtenburg tower, looking over Wachenheim.
By then, I was waddling a bit because my hip flexors and calves were so sore. I felt a bit like a duck! While I love birds, I don't like walking like one so I tried not to limp too much. We wandered through Bad Dürkheim, which was celebrating (W)Einkaufsnacht, an evening of late night shopping, light shows and decorations, and performances. The name of the event is a play on words; "wein" means wine and "einkauf" comes from "einkaufen," which is shopping. "Nacht" is just night. C and K sampled some wine that was on offer from local vintners. I saw several performers whom I recognized. For example, I saw the van from a touring fire dancing troupe and had a fit of giggles because I have a back story that I share with my other friend C. 
Glowing "sculptures" for (W)Einkaufsnacht.
Then we saw these guys (gals?). Dressed in strange light costumes and walking on stilts, they reminded me of some performers (sans stilts) that I had seen the year before at an Easter Market in  Sankt Wendel. At that point, they were dressed and performed as silly aliens, if indeed they are the same people.
Silly pictures with the performers; see the guy in front?
Soon we were heading back to take the train back to Neustadt. We enjoyed a delicious, late night meal of fondue. C and K had bought packages of fondue from Globus (like a German Wal-mart, but they treat their employees better, I'd imagine). I can recommend it! I've tried to make fondue from scratch before (and it turned into what I call "fon-don't") so I can appreciate a packaged fondue that only requires reheating and tastes quite good. It definitely didn't smell the best, though; it was very strong and we made jokes about it actually being our feet after a day of hiking.

The next morning, they cooked a lovely breakfast and gave me a gift of homemade Quitten (quince) jelly. I thanked them for the lovely time and hopped on a train to Mannheim to meet up with some other friends for lunch. Lest one thinks I'm a hobbit and eat a ton of meals, I had a small amount of breakfast so I could eat a small lunch too. ;-)  We ate at Meydan, which is in the shopping district of Mannheim (note to self: walk all the way to the main gates of the schloss next time and then walk straight there! Silly self, I always don't walk down far enough and get confused).

My friends brought a new friend of theirs and he wasn't that familiar with Mannheim. I told him about the wonders of Pasa, a Turkish bakery just around the corner. There are delicious pastries there so he just had to see it. We laughed as he bought almost one of everything. He had to take pictures of the place and rated it online even before he tried anything; we had a good chuckle at his enthusiasm. Pasa really is good though!

With a bag of pastries in tow and hugs to my friends, I trundled off back to the train station to take the train home. I was incredibly satisfied and filled with warm fuzzies (and Pide). It was a perfect ending to a wonderful weekend spent with friends, new and old.

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