The rain that falls on our tent this morning doesn't faze us. Our friends are here! Donning our rain jackets, we run over to their bright green van, and climb inside where they are already making breakfast.
Safe under the metal roof of their VW bus, we talk and laugh and cook together. With the Garden State Soundtrack playing in the background, an aptly relaxing and melancholy mix for a day such as this, we are happy and grateful for our place in the world. We don't care what we do with the day. We're just glad our friends are here.
Nadine & Felix:
We awake to the sound of hard rain on our roof. We close our eyes again. When we do get up, it is still raining. We all pile into the bus and make breakfast. Felix prepares a Spanish tortilla from potatoes and eggs, and we make coffee. Tara and Tyler have especially been looking forward to that.
The freshly ground beans in our coffee maker turn into hot oily fluid mixed with frothed hot milk.
We all take our time. It does not look as if it will stop raining any time soon. We make even more coffee. Pack our stuff. Felix and I check out, which, as you might have imagined, takes quite a bit of time. The grouchy old lady working can't seem to figure out how to bill us. I wonder how they handle entire classes on school trips?
We settle in the bus, Tyler has to hide on the floor in the back because there are only three people officially allowed in the bus. He sits kind of unhappy on our picnic blanket and finishes the last slice of tortilla (Tyler's note: I actually thought it was kind of fun being a stowaway in the back!).
The way into Nürnberg would not make you think that the city has a classical old town, rebuilt after the war. First, there are strip malls, fast food restaurants and lots of office buildings. This depressing sight is taking over the outer parts of many German cities.
We find a parking space close to the old city wall. "Let's walk this way along the wall. Should be interesting!", I say. It is. Immediately after, we pass through the red light district! Conveniently placed in what you would think is a touristy area. What could be more depressing than old prostitutes smoking behind their windows on a grey, rainy German day?
We walk on and pass the establishments cutting towards the old part of town. I have never been to Nürnberg. We pass a very graphic fountain depicting the good and bad sides of marriage, have a look around St. Lorenz church, the old town, and walk up towards the castle, where Tyler sets off to picture hunt a red squirrel running up a tree.
Suddenly we hear bagpipes and discover that there is a beer fest of sorts going on in the trench around the castle. Bratwurst! Lunch is safe! The castle is located on the hill providing a good view over the city.
After having explored the free parts we walk back to the street, and along the trench. Was this ever filled with water? That would have been an impressive sight. Now there are small private gardens, leased to people living in the city without lawns of their own, and said beer fest.
We make our way down. Hardly anybody is around. We compare the bratwurst stands and decide on one. Superlecker! (Tara's Note: Nadine taught us this fun word. It roughly translates to "super yummy!" and is pronounced "soopah lekkah.") The man and woman serving say that they have had hardly any business with all the rain. It is still dripping from the sky.
We try different kinds of beer, meet a friendly pig roaster who gives us bits of fried skin from 'Elvira,' and find a more or less dry place to sit under an umbrella.
Tyler has gotten a big soft pretzel which he shares around with us and the two cute kids from the table next to us. I explain that the soft pretzel is traditionally one of the first solid things you give your child to eat in Germany. Or, to dissolve in their mouth anyway! If you look in any German stroller you will find the crumby remains of pretzels. In southern Germany at least.
One of the kids is still a toddler, accustomed to said pretzels. She points her finger at ours and looks on with big, round eyes. When Tyler hands her a piece, she munches away happily. Later on, her mother will get her a pretzel of her own. We talk under the umbrella for an hour before heading back to the car.
If only we could remember where along the old city wall it is parked! As we walk, we think about a non-embarrassing way of asking what direction the red light district is. At some point it has stopped raining. We finally find the car and take our seats. On the way back, we get some more milk at a gas station to have one last coffee together, and give Tyler the opportunity to take more pictures of us preparing it (he likes how the milk clouds into the espresso, but reports the photos didn't turn out).
A Sunday sleepiness overcomes us when we get back to the camping ground. A nap would be nice. Everybody is yawning. Tara's and Tyler's tent is almost dry, a first in weeks they say! We make coffee, dry our camping table, and put everything back in the car.
Felix and I have decided to drive up to Berlin to meet with them one last time before they head towards Russia and Mongolia. By then, we won't be able to drive wherever they are :(. We are looking forward to seeing them again in two weeks. When they left us after staying in Munich, we were worried. Whenever we receive visitors we know they will be going home again, and we know where they will be. With them it was a bit different.
After they left, we stayed glued to our computers for two days to see where they had gone to, if they had posted new updates, pictures, twittered, anything! Where are they now? Have you checked? Did they get the internet to work? There are new pictures! It rained a lot and we hoped that they were safe. Now we are more relaxed, they know what they are doing and we follow them as they go. We are looking forward to our next meeting in Berlin!