Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 22: A first glance at Nürnberg

My recurring nightmare was almost realized early this morning. First, the nightmare: I am at my Dad’s house. I haven’t been there for a while, so I don’t have the place memorized. It’s late at night or early in the morning, and I’m the only one awake. I step inside the door nearest the kitchen and flick on the lights. But wait, I’ve hit the orange glowing one! Lights come on, as well as an extremely loud and panic-inspiring alarm. My step mom comes running down the stairs from the master bedroom, naked, pauses once near the bottom, turns toward me, pulls her hair and lets out a scream, not of surprise or anger, but devastation, as if all hope is now lost for the world. Naturally, I try to undo what I have done, and flick the lightswitch back off, but no! It’s one of those lightswitches where down is on and up is off! By comes screaming down the stairs naked AGAIN! This keeps repeating until I finally wake up, feeling horrible for turning on the wrong lightswitch, waking up a woman who already has a hard time getting sleep, causing her to run around naked, and oh yeah, losing all the world’s hope.

In reality, I was up into the wee hours trying to get pictures to load on my _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ blog while I had a reliable (albeit slow) internet connection. Finally, at an ungodly hour (although quite a good time to call anyone at home in the States), I headed to bead, relieved that Georg had not yet gotten up. I went to turn off the light in the main hallway, and hit the wrong switch. Not only did the lights not go off, but a box above the door started ticking and humming. When I tried to turn it off, I realized that no! This was one of those German lightswitches that is springloaded into the “off” position, so you can only turn it on! The box started clicking with renewed vigor. In the logical side of my brain, it was a timer for something fine and harmless. In in the side of my brain prone to hysteria, the one most easily roused at ungodly hours of the night, it was a timer for a house alarm that I didn’t know how to unarm, or a bomb. Finally the logical side of my brain won out, and I went to bed. Nothing bad happened in the night, except for inconsolable wailing from Lily. Could the box have been wired to her brain?

I left Krut this morning, and said my final goodbyes to the family. I really like them, even though I feel somewhat awkward (and vertically, but not horizontally, challenged) around them. Georg and I don’t speak each other’s languages well at all, Frances is rusty, so concepts but not connotations are communicated, sometimes only after a few tries. Lily skipped kindergarten again today on account of her illness, and Frances decided to skip her trade show as she was coming down with the same.

So she drove me to the train station in the town of Kinding, and I was off to Nürnberg.My Nürnberg host had to teach this morning, so I stashed my luggage in a locker at the Hauptbanhof, and set off for some intense meandering. Right across from the train station in Nürnberg is the Altstadt, or Old City. I set off for it, happy I wasn’t going to be wandering through office buildings trying to look purposeful rather than lost. When I turned around, I realized that the Hauptbahof was housed in a beautiful building too! How awesome is this city?!
Alstadt was a tourist trap, and I got thoroughly trapped in it. I first walked into a pottery shop, which is a problem because I want to make, not buy, everything I see. There were some really cool ideas, and as a brain fart, I just have to list here:

-a honey pot with a lid that is thrown so that the handle is the lip of a cylinder, the cylinder is what the honey dipper handle sticks out of
-bread, onion, potato, and garlic (brot, zwiebeln, kartoffeln, and ????) jars: appropriate sized, with lids, but holes in the side for air ventilation.
-teapots with warming bases: light a tea candle in the middle, set the pot on top, and your hot beverage stays hot as long as the wick lasts.
-really excellent casserole dishes
-rice bowls with notches cut on top so that your chopsticks have a secure home to rest
-cheese platters with a ram’s head in the middle as a handle
-lemon juicers
-stamped handle attachments
-fake sea shells
-glazing effects such as mixing matte under glazes with thick shiny glazes, in stripes, flowers, and polka dots, leopard print, in and around but not on carved words, and the mix of glazed and unglazed.

I spent a lot of time there, and the woman who was working (throwing pottery right there behind the counter) stopped to give me a tour and explain things to me. I eventually meandered my way out of the tourist trap and into downtown. I felt a little bit like I was driving into the state of Georgia: there were smut shops everywhere, but unlike Georgia, they were housed in the beautiful old buildings. I would have expected it in Amsterdam, but why is this German city different from Mü nchen, Trier, Salzburg, and Saarbrü cken? I didn’t go in any, and now I regret it, because I have a tour guide tomorrow. I just didn’t have any pressing sex-toy needs, and I don’t know I feel about carrying around any impulse buys I might have found myself with.

I was super hungry, and didn’t feel like buying an expensive and fancy sitdown dinner and miss out on all the meandering I could be doing. I was planning on getting some hot wurst-in-brot because the weather was quite cool and I only had on a light wool jacket. At the last second though, I bought a tomato and mozzarella sandwich because it looked damn tasty. It was good, but it did nothing to warm me up, so I spent the next hour searching for hot food, finding it, and not buying it because I wasn’t hungry anymore. Then I made a joyous discovery: lebkuchen. They‘re delicious. To describe beyond that, I think I’ll need to do some more research. Anyway, most are advertised as, “Ohne Mehl,” or without flour. I thought the gluten-free movement had swept up the cookie bakers of Nü rnberg, until I realized that they’re genuine wheat-free cookies. If I find out that I’m getting all these stomachaches from wheat, I still have baking hope: lebkuchen! I enjoyed my lebkuchen with heiss Schokolade mit Zahn und Amaretto, or hot chocolate with whipped cream and Ameretto. Hot booze- the warmth that keeps on giving. It was perfect.

Then the highlight of my day: I got hit on! I’ll just throw the pretense of humility by the wayside and confess that I expected that I’d be hit on a lot here, being a reasonably good looking foreigner. Since I definitely am a foreigner, and I really don’t want to re-assess the first part of that statement, I blame it on spending my time with family. So, I should be relieved, because most women get annoyed at unsolicited attention, but I admit I like a touch of excitement or flattery. I was walking by a fruit stand, and the vendor called out to me. Having no particular destination or schedule, I stopped and started chatting in German. That ran out really fast, so we switched to English. He asked me if I was a tourist, I said yes, I asked if he got a lot of business from tourists, he said yes, I pointed to a big ol’ squash and asked, “Well, what about this one? A tourist won’t buy this.”
“Oh, the kürbis! You boil or roast it, split it open, a little bit of salt and butter and pepper, it is perfect!”
“I’m sure it’s delicious, but I don’t have anywhere to cook it! We tourists have no kitchens.” “Well honey,” he said, or something like it, “You just come home with me and I’ll feed you that and more.” I laughed, I bought a tomato, he asked my name, I left. Flirting was good for business, but would he have said that if he found me unnotable or ugly? I choose to be flattered.

I met Johannes back at the train station. We had agreed to meet in the ticket office at 4, and at 4, a man came up to me and started talking to me. He asked where I was from, so even though his voice wasn’t exactly right, I didn’t brush him off, figuring there was a really good chance he was my host for the next three nights. I figured out he wasn’t my man since he just kept talking, rather than confirming my name or his or making movements to continue the conversation while walking. Then another man came up, and his voice was perfect, and he was a Johannes looking for a Kirsten. So I just stopped talking to the other guy, and we were off. I would have said goodbye to old creepo as a common courtesy, but Johannes was already talking to me.

We had a late lunch/early dinner of britze (pretzels), Nürnberg wurst (small thin sausages the size of a pinky, supposedly to fit through the keyholes in dungeons), leberknoedelsuppe, and my new love, federweisser (new/young wine). By this point, I had figured out that “leber” is liver, and although I’d already eaten and enjoyed leber completely without knowing in Saarburg, I was prepared to be grossed out and not like it. The livered dumpling was pretty good though. Okay, really good with a kind of funky texture, but the broth it was swimming in was AMAZING. I felt pretty “money” as those who say it say. Johannes doesn‘t just have a car, but two Mercedes-Benzes, a very new one and a vintage one, he held the umbrella for me, and was just so gracious that I couldn’t help but feel, “Yeah squash man, I am hot shit.” Johannes brought me by the Nazi colosseum on the way home, and a figure in black was up where Hitler used to give speeches. It gave me a bit of a chill.

Once I get my photos off my phone, I'll put some of the sex shops and Hitler place up.

1 comment:

  1. "heisse Schokolade mit Zahn und Amaretto" translates to hot chocolate with tooth and Amaretto -- makes it sound like a drink with extra kick! Of course you meant "Sahne", whipped cream...
    BTW, I've got a local pottery studio contact for you, where you might be able to throw and fire your own pottery.