Leaving Dresden After our long days in the snow, it was early to bed and early to rise. Monday meant departure day for our little band, and Return to Work and School for our hosts. We were all sorry to leave and reluctant to return to Real Life. Connie drove us to the train station, and off we went. As usual, we hit the wrong train car. Sigh. But, we were soon situated and on our way to Würzburg!
Würzburg Unfortunately, Würzburg turned out to be the low point on our trip. It wasn’t bad. It was just sort of awkward and full of compromises. The hotel did not have a good map and was significantly farther than advertised from the train station. With Mark dragging the broken luggage piece down unfamiliar, slushy streets, the trudge was long, confusing and uncomfortable. We started out, retraced our steps, tried a couple different routes and eventually asked directions from some strangers walking with suitcases. In the end we discovered that ours were correct, just scaled badly. Once we did find the hotel, the desk clerk was pissy and surprisingly rude, and Mom and Mark did not get the double bed they had requested, but a pair of twins, instead. Then, it turned out that our rooms were on a floor that could not be reached by elevator! You could take the elevator to a level between the floors and the had to walk up 1/2 a flight of stairs. Not ordinarily a huge issue, but with the broken bag and our rather worn spirits, it was just another bump in the day.
The rooms themselves were OK. But, when we got there we discovered that there was no free internet. You had to sign up through T-mobile for limited access during your stay. Yeah. Harumph! We did discover with a frisson of intrigue that the rooms each had their own bidets. Though, otherwise, the hotel was just a place to sleep. And eat. Well, sort of eat. We got lunch at the restaurant. But, timing of this leg of the journey was off. By the time we had eaten, most of the touristy things to do in town (castle, etc) were closed. So, all feeling a bit worse for the wear, we just opted to rest for a while before dinner.
We had originally planned to just stay in and eat at the hotel, but the restaurant closed at 6! As it happened, though, that was probably for the best. The area immediately surrounding the hotel was a little questionable, so I was a little trepidacious about our dinner-time forage. After rejecting an overpriced steakhouse and a scary looking döner place (really, check out the photos!), we eventually found a brewhouse by the river that served our needs well. It looked quite touristy, but all the clients were German speakers. After I fumbled with my meat order (English means “rare”, who knew?), the waitress swapped pleasantly to Dinglish (Deutsch/English) and we managed through the rest of the meal quite well. Actually, this turned out to be one of my favorite meals from our trip- perhaps mostly because the dessert was something called Apfel Kuchle, which was deep friend apple rings served with whipped cream and iced cream. Yeah, that was worth eating! Also, they had a full-sized regulation coffee cup, that they filled with full-sized regulation coffee! Went really well with the kuchle!
The next morning we were up early enough to take in the hotel’s ample buffet breakfast and then make a quick trip into the heart of town to buy Mom and Mark a new suitcase. The much-more-pleasant morning hotel clerk showed us a good location, but once again the badly-proportioned maps (and poorly marked streets) confused us into wandering far past our intended location. In the end we did find the Sampsonite store, and even located a purple suitcase for a very reasonable price. Mom and Mark did a bit more shopping (at a Levi store, and no the irony wasn’t lost on them) then we dropped off our things and headed for lunch.
DS had been craving sushi for the last couple months, so we found a nice little Asian place, with a rather unfortunate name and wound up having the most authentic Asian meal I have had in Germany so far. DS got a plate with 16 pieces of California rolls on it- he was sooooo happy! Mom and Mark had lovely tea served in thimble-sized cups with boulder sized rock-sugar. And, there was even a katana on the wall. (continued below)
After that it was time to head on back to Offenburg. Once again we completely missed our guess about which train car we were meant to be on and wound up having to walk the entire length of the longest train we had been on- I think it was about 10 cars that we tromped through before finding our seats… which were taken. DOH! Luckily, it was easily cleared up and the conductor even came by to help get it sorted out. In the end we shared a 6 person compartment with a nice elderly gentleman who reminded us all of a friend of the family and seemed pleasantly undisturbed in his luck of getting a train car with a bunch of loud Americans. The car was cramped, but otherwise comfortable and we had an uneventful trip back to Offenburg, where DH picked us up from the station.
Back in Offenburg and Strasbourg Mom and Mark stayed in a very nice local hotel (The Baladins Superior) when we returned. Mom was practically giddy about how easy it was to check in and get settled. The front desk staff were not only polite, they had everything ready when she arrived! After Würzburg, this was an obvious upgrade.
The next few days were spent finishing up the list of things Mom and Mark had wanted to do on their trip. We ate wurst, got some last minute presents for folks back home and we got DD her birthday gift from them. At first they had thought of giving her new boots or clothes, but when they found out that what she really wanted was Art supplies, we made our way to Strasbourg to one of the larger Artist Supply houses around. DD had never been there and when she saw the amazing array of items to choose from her face lit up. When Bubby told her how much she could spend, her eyes turned to saucers! No kid in a candy store could have been more thrilled with the possibilities. In the end she got a high end colored pencil set, a couple extra pencils in colors she lacked and a case for carrying them. She has more to spend later and is still deciding what she will choose. When she got home she got out a piece of graph paper and carefully cataloged a sample of each color. She was particularly pleased at the vibrance of some of the reds and blues.
Finally, it was time to say goodbye. Bubby and Zany’s flight left way way too early in the morning, so they came back to our apartment for one more night of poor sleep before heading out. In the morning we piled the purple luggage in the car (minus the one with the bad wheel, but with the addition of the Samsonite we got in Würzburg) and off we went. Once I had them safely at the airport, they gave me the Have Fun Storming the Castle wave, and they were off! I went back home and slept until noon. And then I started looking through all the photos and thinking about everything we had done.