Friday, April 24, 2015

But what do you *do* there?

This summer will yield an exciting event: some family members will be visiting me! I'm thrilled, especially since I haven't seen them for two and a half years. We only get to spend a few days together but I've already started planning what we'll do.

When I talked to them about what we might do, it was rather obvious that my outlook has changed in the time that I've lived here. I recommended that we attend a wine festival since it's a great way to experience the Pfalz region and see what this area is really like with a minimum of tourists.

My guests wanted to know what one does at a wine fest. I happily explained that one can sample the local wines and cuisines, followed by a walk through the vineyards and/or the town, depending on where the event is held. Sometimes there is music or other programs. Basically, one can soak up the Gemütlichkeit and some wine too while enjoying the company of her friends.

I thought it sounded like a great idea until one family member exclaimed, "but we'll be flying the next day! I don't want to have a hangover!"

What? Um, I've never drank enough at a wine festival that I had a hangover. It's even rare for me to get tipsy. That's not really the point of these festivals so it hadn't even dawned on me that one would get a hangover from one. I haven't seen anyone slamming wine at them, but if anyone did that...I could imagine the possibility of an American doing so.

Then they wanted to know what one does at the wine festival. Hmm. I thought that I had explained it but I repeated myself, in case I had forgotten something.

No, what do people do there? What are the events, I was asked. I realized that our understanding of the event was different. I'm accustomed to attending with friends, more like a local would. My goal is to enjoy the company of my friends and to do some relaxed wandering with a bit of wine drinking thrown in; we usually attend on Sundays since everything else is closed then. Sometimes there is entertainment but other times the entertainment is just the company one keeps. I find myself identifying with the German idea of relaxing and really experiencing the activity.

I realized that I need to step back from my experience and reconsider the event through the eyes of my family members. They are here as tourists and have very little time during their visit. It makes sense that they would like to see some more famous sights since this is their first trip to Germany. We will probably end up doing some touristy sh**; we're definitely making a trip to Heidelberg, which I know reasonably well since my good friend lives there. Maybe while they visit the castle I'll have lunch with a friend. I might even make them go for a hike on the Schlangenweg and point out the house on the river where I partied for New Year's eve once. I'll point out Gernot Rumpf's signature little mice next to his monkey sculpture on the old bridge.  That way I'll slip a little bit of the "real world" of German living into the tourist trip.

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