1990-04-05: Germany

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5 April, 2120, Melissey

Slept in for a change, with no deadlines. Around 930+/- left for Germany (Allemagne). A little more than one hour took us through border crossing to Mulheim, We stopped once before 11 at a rest stop to try to get DM in case we needed to buy our way onto German motorways as at Switzerland, but could not. The usual nervousness at how the formalities would be handled evaporated when the fellow inside the border station didn’t even raise his head as we slowly rolled by.

In Mullheim we found apparently free (at least we didn’t pay) parking & wandered around searching for a bank. C had the multi-lingual phrase book & found that the word for bank is bank. Soon found one & tried ‘Sprechen sie Englisch?’ on first teller, who said ‘Nein’ & several other things, saw our T.C & pointed to another window. At that window, clerk changed 200$ into 326 DM with minimum talk: Gutan tag, AufWiedersehen, danke. Went to shop nearby & bought postcards & map of Schwarzwald Sud. Next stop: pastry shop (~1130), bought ‘zwei’ pieces of ‘butter kuchen’ & ‘eine’ piece of ‘apfel-something’. S was surprised at my easy use of German! Little did she realize that has been the extent of my French all along! Ate the pastry in a park.

Back in the car,selected a route through part of Black Forest ending at Freiburg, with plans to stop as inspired. After a bit of confusion finding the start of the route, rapidly climbed into hills. These were patchwork of apple (?) orchards with trees wide apart, meadows, plowed fields & deciduous trees. Stopped for several pictures; very little traffic.

German road signs mostly incomprehensible to us, but direction signs very well placed & marked with town names, for the most part. (One problem trying to find road to Wehr; the sign only faced the traffic direction opposite the one we were on, till we turned around!)

As we climbed higher, the orchards disappeared & evergreens mixed into the forest. Most of the drive was during lunch/siesta, so no shops to stop at. Stopped once for short walk into woods. The scenery & quiet made the drive very nice, even C enjoyed it. One odd thing in Germany: roads have military speed limit signs, with speeds for trucks & tanks! This country should be very tired of the presence of military & threat of war.

The drive was pleasant, but we eventually headed for Freiburg. Found parking & a shopping district near cathedral. Food vendors sold fresh waffles (~3″x4″, with sugar & optional ‘apfelmus’, & Bratwurst a 14″ sausage on a 4″ bun, very much like a hot dog; C ate one of each.

Stopped in several stores & got quite a few small things. Stopped in Woolworth, of all places! After shopping, bought C an apple, then stopped in bakery & got 2 apple kuchen & 1 apple pie & ‘Krusten Brot’, all good, heavy German pastries.

Left parking lot ~5pm, traffic a little slow getting to Autobahn, but drivers not over-aggressive, and tolerant of a tourist’s last-second lane changes (as the French have also been; no problems with drivers anywhere, so far).

Rain started as we were leaving Freiburg, not a driving hazard. S was worried about clothes we had hung out last night & this morning, but rain didn’t reach Melissey.

S cooked ‘steak hache’ etc. & we tried to eat our pastries, but too full.


5 April, 2120, Melissey

Our side trip to Germany was intended simply to get a little flavor of the region (especially while the Black Forest is still a forest). As it turned out, the Alsace region of France is pretty much like the nearby part of Germany that we saw. The funniest thing was the way Susan reacted to my use of the language. When we stopped in the bank, she was apparently surprised when I greeted the man who changed the travelers checks by saying Guten Morgen (even though we routinely say Bonjour to French shopkeepers). When we went to buy a map, we were facing a rack with dozens of maps, when I suddenly reached past her, saying ‘this one’. I recognized Schwarz (black) and Sud (south) (as well as Nord on another one), and realized it was what we wanted; later figured out that wald was wood. The impression on her was out of proportion to my real ability. Finally when I asked for zwei and eine of various pastries, butter kuchen and apfel-filled, I guess it was too much for her. She was in awe the rest of the day. I may have spoiled the effect in Freiburg, after buying one last poster while she and Chrissy waited outside the shop. I pointed to the window display of the poster and the proprietor brought out a poster from behind the counter, apparently asking if it was the one I wanted. I nodded yes, but couldn’t say anything. After I joined them on the sidewalk, I said I was having great fun, but couldn’t remember the word for yes; they said ‘Ja!’, and laughed at me. Well, maybe it was pretty funny.

While driving around, we saw a hilltop airstrip with several sailplanes. A few days earlier, we had seen sailplane trailers on the Autoroute. We didn’t stop, since there didn’t appear to be any flying going on. (1991-06-18)


Next day

[ sketch of a person with a hat ]

went to Germany. Walked around, and got pastries. Ate, and got in car and went to the Black Forest. Got 2 nutcrackers, 1 for me, 1 for Angee and went to a spot where this was our menu:

  • 1st
  • C         Apple Waffle
  • DM      Hot Dog
  • 2nd
  • D         Apple Waffle
  • C         Hot Dog

Good! Sometime mom said Deux! [ sketch of hand holding up two fingers ]

And Dad came out of a store after rattling off a sentence or 2 & said “I can’t remember the German word for yes!” “YA!”

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