Following a day of rest (aka school) after getting back from Malaga on Sunday, March 13, we repacked our luggage and headed for the land of wursts for the next six days. This trip was to be much much different than our trip to Malaga, though. This time we were going to be less like tourists and more like guests. One of Amanda’s very good friends, Christina, lived in Germany and graciously invited us to stay with her and her family for the duration of our stay.
We flew Ryan Air again to Frankfurt-Hahn, a tiny tiny airport on the outskirts of Frankfurt that translated into English means Frankfurt Rooster (funny enough one of the few words I learned while in Germany). Christina and her dad kindly picked us up at the airport even though it was a late arriving flight and their house was an hour and a half away. The whole getting from the airport to the place where you are going to stay is a facet of traveling that is often underestimated and can prove very very difficult (see Torino whenever that post gets written) so I was extremely thankful for their help. We finally got into Lingenfeld, their little town of 6,000 people in the Rheinland-Pfaltz region of Germany, at around 12:30 a.m. I was fairly surprised that most of the houses were built with a sloped roof (a la U.S. houses and unlike most of Europe) but after remembering they too got snow, it made much more sense. After a delicious slice of homemade cheesecake it was time to hit the hay.
We slept in until 11 a.m. and after eating breakfast and taking showers, we went into a town about 45 minutes away to see some real life castles (seen in the above picture). The drive was very enjoyable because we passed straight through the heart of German wine country so it was hill after hill of grapevine after grapevine.
When we finally arrived to our destination, the Berwartstein castle, I was surprised at how well maintained it was. This was a castle from the 12th century yet it was still in pristine condition. Because it was a Wednesday afternoon there was no one else there, and even the workers weren’t working so we had to give ourselves a tour. It was a really cool building though with great views from all sorts of locations. Because it was on top of a hill, you could see for miles in every direction.
Another cool aspect of the castle was the dungeon. I’m not quite sure if that’s exactly what it was but it was creepy like a dungeon nonetheless. It was cold as ice and literally pitch black down there and we needed candles to help guide our way. It made you realize that the people who lived in castles had to have extra candles on them at all times, otherwise they’d be screwed. It was the first time I had ever been in such a natural setting like that so it was definitely a great experience.
(One final note about the castle that I found fascinating: its a residence. There are people really living in it. We climbed to the top of the tallest part of the castle up some rickety old stairs only to find the entrances blocked by modern looking doors that said private and handles that wouldn’t budge. We asked the workers downstairs and they confirmed it. Now that right there, would be a mighty cool place to live)
After the Berwartsein castle we drove about a half hour and then hiked about another 25 minutes to see this castle: Burg Landeck. Unfortunately, the castle was closed for the day so we were only able to take pictures from outside and cross the rickety old bridge a few times. It was all good though, the hiking was fun and also had some magnificent views of the region.
After the castles we drove to Speyer, the closest big town to Lingenfeld. As you can see from the picture above, it had some beautiful streets with houses and shops painted in all sorts of colors. Speyer is also known for its two large cathedrals. They have some sort of backstory to them, I’m just not sure what the backstory is. Nevertheless they were impressive to look at. (The link has a picture of one of them just in case you skipped it and wanted to see proof.)
After our exploring we sat down for dinner at this fairly elegant restaurant that was a wine cellar turned eating establishment. The menus were in German and looked like gibberish to me. This is where having native speakers really really helps out. They can not only translate for you but they can also order for you, saving you from the glares of waiters who stare you down for only speaking English. Well, at least it would help if the place didn’t also give us a menu in English and spoke English himself, but you get the drift. I had a very yummy whatchamacallit that consisted of bratwurst and potato. So so tasty. It started a trend for what would be delicious meal after delicious meal in Germany.
Feeling full and drowzy after a good long day in a new country we called it a night nice and early…yea right. We were full and tired but the night was just beginning. Christina took us to an Irish Pub (yes they have them in Germany too) to meet her friends and play some German Bingo. The place was packed and really lively and the drinks were priced about the same as in London, which surprised me a bit because I thought Guinness, being Irish and all, would be way more here. Anyways, I had ben practicing my german numbers all day for this occasion and had learned how to count all the way to ten. Sadly, their Bingo goes up to 90 so much good that did me. It didn’t matter though, her friends were translating for me so I could play just the same. I never won but one of her friends did and he, being the designated driver, was kind enough to give us his prize of Baby Guinness. Baby Guinness is a shot of Bailey’s with a bit of Guinness and it was scrumptious. We stayed til around midnight, not winning ever again but having a blast anyways. One of her friends took a liking to me and even made me a heart from his bingo card (all in jest of course). I had a great time meeting Christina’s posse and just enjoying the great atmosphere. It was definitely a day to remember . . . and it was only our first in Germany.