Don’t worry Sir, there’s no extra charge.”
After a period of procrastintion and deliberation, I feel like I’ve taken my biggest step since arriving here in die Fränkische Schweiz (or ‘der’ Fränkische Schweiz if we’re talking in dative terms!). Initially on arrival I’d decided to amerce myself in German both verbally and orally, then to focus on visual and written language a while later, in order not to overload my brain and stunt the language development. However, what with having a bit more free time of late, I decided that the time was nigh to start reading a German book! What helped to precipitate this decision, was that my friend and colleague Stefan both chose the book for me, and then kindly enough bought it for me on-line (so it wasn’t even my choice after all!). I can tell that you’re all eager to discover the choice of book (so was I!), and so I hope that you’re not too disappointed to learn that it wasn’t Karl Marx’s light hearted “Communist Manifesto,” or even Hitler’s thriller “Mein Kampf.” Rather, it is arguably Germany’s most popular children’s book (and we all thought that Germans lacked a sense of humour), “Michel aus Lönneberga.” So thank you for that Stefan. How reassuring to know that my colleague Petra’s 3 year old daughter is reading this book too :).
Anyway, the past five days has been especially exciting and as promised I’ve got a number of pictures from Bamberg to show you. You already know (that’s if you’ve been keeping up to date with the blog!) that I’ve recently seen Grace and her family. It was inevitably going to be sad saying goodbye, but what helped lighten the blues was that approximately ten minutes after the taxi had left with my girlfriend (and 60 Euros from my wallet), my uncle Geoff and aunty Linda arrived at the hotel (so convenient!). As did mum and my sister Ella as well the following day (dad’s busy organising Remembrance Day so I’ll be seeing him in November)! So, from the Sunday to the Thursday I was surrounded by family. This visibly injected a new bounce into my stride, I couldn’t believe how nice a feeling it was seeing loved ones after being away for a while :). For the very first time then I had the opportunity to show off to mum what I’d learnt so far in person. I hope that she was quietly impressed!
On the Wednesday we spent a great day in Bamberg, which is the nearest city to Göβweinstein. It only takes about 45 minutes to reach by car (although probably nearer to 30 if you’re Florian), and along the way you can watch the quilt-like woods of Franconia unravel before your very eyes. The city itself is absolutely beautiful, the “old city” being a listed World Heritage Site; its architecture has an authentic medieval appearance because the city avoided Allied bombing during the Second World War. We saw plenty of students, seeing as Bamberg is a university city, and ironically a lot of American soldiers (there is still an American military base in Bamberg which is home to over 4000 troops). As well as mum buying me a very warm jacket (I could easily use it as a duvet as well), we ate plenty and took an album’s worth of photos. Feast your eyes on some of these and if you’re ever nearby then I thoroughly recommend taking a day to visit the place!
On our way back from Bamberg (after initially catching the wrong park and ride bus), we stopped off at Aldi, but more significantly, we spent an hour or so in a village called Pottenstein, which is approximately an hour and a half walk from Göβweinstein. If I’m being completely neutral then I’d say that Pottenstein just about edges it on the ‘visually aesthetic’ front, but I can’t emphasise enough how many good view points there are in my adopted home town! Anyway, the reason why I mentioned Harry Pottenstein is that we drove through it specifically in order to experience the delights of the “Sommerrodelbahn” (toboggan / self-drive roller coaster). It’s tricky to explain exactly what it is, so click on the link if my description isn’t vivid enough! Basically, it’s a sort of roller coaster in the shape of a toboggan, with a lever to go faster and a lever to slow down. The track climbs high into the mountains at first and then goes over the top and then round and round the peak, so at times you get some spectacular views. Admittedly it was no Thorpe Park, but despite this it was well worth the visit, although I was disappointed that neither Geoff nor Linda nor Mum were brave enough to join me and Ella on the rodelbahn!
There’s nothing like seeing a bunch of lovely faces when you’re away, so a massive thank you to Grace, Heather, Richard, Abbie, Mum, Ella, Geoff and Linda for visiting, it meant a lot and has given me a huge boost for the next month! The fun doesn’t end there though, oh no, there’s never a quiet day here if I’m being honest! Only yesterday I was sitting in the lounge, working on my blog in fact, when in strolls Bernd, the first thing he says is, “Kit have you ever planted a tree before?” (in German!). Despite having completed my Duke of Edinburgh bronze award a number of years ago I’ve never planted a tree, so I concede that I haven’t. An hour later I’ve planted a plum tree for the very first time and can tick off yet another new experience from my check list (it’s a very long list so far). So, Bernd’s garden has a new softwood addition, and I’m just wondering whether I’ll be here long enough to see the first fruits come into bloom 🙂