(this was written while I was in Germany. Because I wanted to add photos, I didn't make it public. Because I did add photos [and rather a lot of them; athenais there are a couple of stained glass pieces for you] I am putting in cuts. If you just want to read, then you can. If you want to see the pictures, you know what to do. The comments to the photos are independent of the narrative)
It’s been what it always is; mostly they could do the whole thing without me. The corollary is that every so often, they really need me. I earn my pay for the ten minutes every couple of days when my presence is essential.
Saturday was a social evening. I was checking some e-mail when Joe came in (on his way to the night shift of overwatch. Should something go wrong which needs a linguist, he’ the poor schlub on the spot), to tell me that Merrill had been drafted to go bowling and wanted some backup. I like bowling, so I changed into mufti and hied myself off to the lanes.
Where I wasn’t needed at all. It seems everyone was there. I did take advantage of the apparent relaxation of the rules on drinking to get some local dark. It was tasty. As for the bowling... I wasn’t at my best. I was barely at “acceptable” Three games, not one of them was I able to get so much as 120. I did manage to break 100 in all three, and (amazingly) I won all three (relative to the people with whom I was playing). The last was the reason I say amazingly. In the 5th frame I was down 30 points. I was unable to pick up a trivial spare because a pit had fallen forward of the sweep, and was blocking the 10-pin.
Trying to deal with it in the top of the 6th, I guttered, and then bounced the ball off of it to pick up a 10-pin spare.
I was down 20 points in the 8th, but a pair of strikes and a 7 pin final throw put me not only over 100, but over my competitors as well. Back in the day it wouldn’t have been close. There was a time my average was about 145, and 120 would have been the score for my last game of the evening; because my arm was getting tired. Saturday I was robbed of a few strikes (I was using a light ball, both because I am out of practice/bowling shape and because my joints aren’t what they were when I was 20, so flinging 14 .lbs; accurately, isn’t as easy as it once was), but I missed some easy pick-ups (single pins, from my failed strikes). A couple of those and I’d have been more where I want/expect my game to be.
The next morning we all headed off to Nürnberg; there to enjoy our day off. As days off go, this wasn’t the best planned. Germany isn’t really open on a Sunday. The Christkindel’s Markt was open, and cafés, and most museums but shops; not really. No matter, this was our best chance to play tourist all planned to avail themselves.( Photos )
Joe skipped sleep (if he wanted to sleep he had to forego the city) and we piled onto busses. Got to the town and we told to be back to the busses twelve hours later. Weather was nice (temps in the forties), and scattered breaks in the clouds threatening to turn into actual sunlight; which hopes were, eventually, dashed.
Before that, however we did get to see one of the more charming aspects of the town. On any number of walls were to be found sundials, so that one might know the hours, in the absence of clocks and watches.( Photos )
The market was a pleasant madhouse. Joe and I grabbed a kinderpunsch glühwien
and warmed our insides. Then we headed into the throng and, almost immediately bought a brötchen
. I had mine with butter and emmentaler (I didn’t feel like salami, and am not so fond of camembert). Thus braced, we strolled the booths, looked at the wares, smelled the food and listened to the people. It was reminiscent of Dickens’ Fair, mostly because of the smells.
The air was awash with the smell of wursten
mulling, and someone; somewhere, roasting nuts in cinnamon and sugar.
We worked our way out the far side, up to the museum of handicrafts (we decided not to go in), and up the street, to a cafe. I wanted coffee, and got some hot chocolate. It wasn’t as good as the chocolate in Ecuador, but was more than worth a few moments indoors, with the strangest streudel I’ve ever had.
Mostly because it wasn’t anything I would have described as streudel. It was filled with a pleasant mix of lebkuchen
spices, but the wrapping of this filling was more a dense, slightly sweet roll. Coffee wouldn’t have gone with it very well. The whipped cream was very good.
One of the things one notices, when strolling about, is the large amount (at least in the older city) of carvings on the buildings. Arms, knights and other relicts of the past are everywhere. Above it all, is the castle. Nürnberg, to Nürnburg( Photos )
We’d signed up for a walking tour, but missed the start, so I bought a couple of tickets into the castle museums. It was worth it. A nice selection of things found around the grounds, coins, tools, old swords (some dating back to the earliest days of the castle [ca. 1300] and decayed to a blackened lacework of corroded iron. One still had a couple of letters, inlaid in silver, from an inscription on the blade) and other pointy toys. As the things got closer to the present, they were in better shape, until; by the 16th century they were pristine.
We saw a relief of Gustav Adolph (who fought part of the 30 Years War here).
From the tower we could see all the town, the peaked roofs of apartment buildings, the domed projections of renaissance dormers and more modern garrets; the scaffolding which shrouded the church towers, and all the modern impedimetia which blocked the “pure” view of the city (cranes, radio towers, etc.).( Photos )
So we wandered some more. Back to the market, around the shuttered shops (the sex shop was closed, the brothel was open), and into the festival in the Rathaus. It was vaguely medieval. I got some thaler (which were very pretty, but more than I wanted to spend on a coin as souvenir, rather I did as was done at glüwein
stands all over town, and kept the cup I bought my biertrinken
in (the way it works is, you pay a deposit to get the cup of drink, if you wanted to reclaim the deposit, you returned the cup. If you didn’t, they would give you a new cup. I now have three of them. Each different to the other, and each about 200ml). The biertrinken
was a mulled dunkles, mixed with dried orange slices, clove; some cinnamon and (I think) a hint of nutmeg. Being long stewed I don’t think it was a violation of the no-drinking rule (which was idiosyncratic to the Utah Delegation). After about 150ml it was also a bit much. I finished and when I asked for the cup to be rinsed, so I might take it away, they looked as me as if I were simple; and gave me a new one.( Photos )
As the sun was fading we saw a small marketplace (enclosed, just inside the 16th century city walls, and wandered about the tin shops, haberdashers, lebkuchen
sellers and into a wienstube
A meal of kraut, nürnbergers (a type of wurst, much like a breakfast sausage in size, and spicing) and braunbröte
, with a glass of dunkles (it was amusing, everyone assumed that the non-Mormons would be drinking their way across the city. I decicided this was an off-day, and allowed myself one beer. I don’t know what Col. Summit would have done had he seen me drinking. I suspect I’d have gotten a stern talking too; and he’d have been disappointed, but his concern was to keep people from being stupid, and I wasn’t, to quote him, “puking on a clean floor”).
On the way out the gate of the market, I bought 200g of chestnuts. I realised, as we walked the dead ground in front of the old curtain wall, part of why I like chestnuts, and why Maia doesn’t, they remind me of lobster. The texture is, somewhat, like them, one has to break into them (harder with gloves on) and they are richly flavored.
As we trailed our way through the shuttered shops (and the market was closing up) we saw a final piece of history under glass... a wakizashi
which was (IMO) a lot overpriced.( Photos )
Then we worked our way back to the rally point.
Back to the bus; back to the barracks, and back to the war.