Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Romantic Road - part 1

My parents came to visit me, just not in Hannover. They decided to meet me in Bavaria because they had already seen everything there was to see in Hannover last year. Remember, it is the Omaha of Germany.

This year's plan was to fly into Munich, stay in an apartment in nearby Augsburg, and do day trips around the area for about a week. I have not been on vacation with just my parents before. I can't remember spending that much time with just me and them together since high school. I didn't think anything would go wrong, but what if in that much togetherness we decided not to like each other any more? What if we started to finish each others' sentences? What if we just stopped talking altogether? Hey, it's possible. Brian was not included on the trip because his spring break didn't start until Saturday, then he flew to Disney World to make a celebrity guest appearance coaching for the St Anthony Huskies. My parents and I were, appropriately, going to be seeing the places that made it into the Epcot version of Germany.

During our first two days, we explored the Romantic Road. Is it a route for sweethearts? An ancient road used by the Romans? A great post-war marketing ploy? I think the answer is all of the above. The Romantic Road is a north-south route through southern Germany that is sprinkled with charming, historic towns, castles, and great views. It also offers a steady supply of cuckoo clocks and bier steins for sale.

On Thursday we headed north to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. If you took a picturesque medieval town and froze it in time, then added some souvenir shops and a Christmas museum, this is what you'd get. I am sure in the summer it's packed with tourists, but in late March the place was mostly deserted, chilly, and really cute.

Sightseeing with my parents goes like this: My dad strides ahead, way ahead, with hands in pockets. My mom walks a little behind, at a slower pace as she looks in shop windows and up and around. Still, she feels some obligation to keep up with Dad, so she walks briskly. I am with her a lot of the time, until I feel the need to stop unannounced and take a photo of a cool doorknob, or I have to look in a shop window  (biggest regret so far is not buying a figurine of a wooden bunny driving a carrot race car). Then our family excursion stretches all the way down the cobblestone street.

I was shocked by the number of American accents I heard in Rothenburg. I am used to hearing English speakers around Hannover sometimes, but these were outspoken, slang-using, ball cap-wearing Americans. I should not have been surprised, since this is one of the most popular places to visit in Germany, but I couldn't help it.

The next stop was Dinkelsbuehl, which is almost as pretty as Rothenburg and has the added attraction of being a functional small town with traffic and hair salons and travel agencies, all housed in picturesque medieval buildings like these:

 In Dinkelsbuehl, despite the raw and cloudy day, my dad wanted ice cream. He had his mind set on it. And I confess that despite the chilly weather, ice cream started sounding pretty good to me too.

Like a cowboy who swaggers into a saloon with his spurs jingling, slams a fist on the bar and demands a whisky, Dad went right into the ice cream shop to ask confidently for two scoops in a dish.  I walked in, at least ten strides behind, to find him gesturing and see the man behind the counter looking completely bewildered.  His eyes were huge and staring blankly. He may have been shaking. I convinced Dad to sit down at a table and open a menu, then I explained to the Italian waiter what we wanted in my imperfect German. He must have recovered from his shock well enough to serve up some ice cream while we listened to Italian radio programs. In a Western, he would have been the first one to duck behind the bar when the bad guy walks in, especially if that bad guy spoke English.

So we weren't finishing each others' sentences exactly,  but had formed quite a team.

*Regarding the photos - due to some technical difficulties, I haven't brushed them up as much as I'd like to. The full set of photos will be up on Facebook in about a week.

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About Me

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Thanks for coming to my blog. It started as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, and now has become an ongoing project. I'm an American living in Germany and trying to travel whenever I can. I write about my experiences as an expatriate (the interesting ones and the embarrassing ones), and about my travels. There are some recurring characters in this blog, particularly my husband Brian and several of our friends. The title comes from the idea that living in a foreign country means making a lot of mistakes. So the things you used to do easily you now have to try over and over again. Hopefully, like me, you can laugh at how idiotic it feels. If you have happened upon my blog, then welcome. Knowing that people are reading what I write makes me keep going. Feel free to write comments or suggestions for future posts.