I ate among friends and discussed our impending travel while enjoying a delicious vegetarian special. I do not remember the name of the dish but it involved a lot of cheese. Go figure. :)
This morning I awoke bright and early because I was so eager to get a jump on the day. I dressed, ate more bread (with butter this time), packed up my backpack, and put on my most touristy outfit for what surely was to be an epic day. After 2 trains and 2 buses and a whole new country in front of us, my crew of 5 fellow SU abroaders landed in Baden-Baden ready to explore to our hearts content. But, of course, we all stopped to eat first. The only vegetarian option was a tomato and mozzarella sandwich, which I devowered in 5 minutes flat. Travel makes one hungry, I am convinced of it.
We also split my very first chocolate croissant which was every bit as delicious as I had hoped. The bread is a lot softer in Germany and also seems to have less oil in the mix. Therefore the croissant managed to be effortlessly decadent without leaving us feeling gross. Post meal, the group and I spent a solid 45 minutes at the train station trying to figure out how to reach the castle we read about online.The main problem was that none of us spoke a peep of German. May I just say that all German words look alike? Good, I am glad that is out there. I digress...so after said 45 minutes we finally gave up a grabbed a cab with a very pleasant man named Klaus. (Sitting next to Klaus in the front seat! Can you see him in the mirror??)He spoke pretty much no English except for the words "castle" and "ya". He took us to legitimately the middle of no where and pointed to the top of the mountain and said "castle." Before departing he gave me his phone number on a business card (which is how I found out his name.) NBD (no big deal) I now have a contact in Germany! Haha! As we hiked to the top of the castle, which we all believe was actually a fortress of some type, we stumbled upon the most breathtaking panoramic view of Germany I could have ever imagined.
Sitting on top of the fort I could not help but reflect upon my life at that exact moment. It was one of those times where you can completely acknowledge your life in the present and really realize how lucky you are. I mean it was Germany! Unreal!!
After we left the castle we hiked around the backwoods/mountains for another 2 hours. I was completely in my element and could not have been happier to be trekking through a forest. Once we left the green zone, we walked through the small town Klaus drove us through hours earlier. While walking down the street a man from his balcony shouted "Bravo!" at us. I am assuming it was because we looked like we had just come out of the boondocks alive! :)
The next hour was spent waiting for a bus that we never thought would arrive. The hours and a half after that was spent trying to navigate the most complicated bus system ever. We really could not wrap our heads around how such a small little town could possibly have so many bus routes! The map looked like the D.C. metro lines x 100! Oh, and of course they were all in German and all the names looked exactly alike.
By the time we had figured out where to go we found ourselves with some time to kill before heading to the train station. So we did what any good college kids in Germany do...found German beer! (The look on our face is nothing more than utter relief for finally figuring out the bus system!)
I ordered a supposed "wheat ale." But what it was actually called was Paulaner Kristallweizen. (I dare you to say that 5 times fast!)
Oh, did I mention we were also starving by this point? I learned today that the German equivalent of a vegetarian meal is a tomato and mozzarella sandwich. How did I learn this? By ordering my second one of the day. Seriously. The ride back to Strasbourg was a blur because I was so exhausted. We ran into the group of SU students who went to Heidelberg for the weekend at the most remote train platform ever near Offenberg, Germany. I think the stop was called "Auffenweire" but after a meticulous Google search I have learned that my spelling was so off Google can't even find it.
The group was headed to dinner upon arrival in Strasbourg. I joined in after purchasing my host mom a bouquet of flowers. Tomorrow is "le fête de mére" (mother's day) and I wanted to express my gratitude for all of her help throughout my first week here.
Everyone was apparently craving Mexican food, which I honestly did not know existed in France, but I was wrong. We ducked into a Tex-Mex restaurant right beside the Cathedral in the center of Strasbourg.
My meal may appear boring, but let me assure you, after a day of cheese and bread greens were exactly what I needed. Dessert followed dinner, as it always seems to in France, and my friend and I headed for gelato. This is the best 4 euro cone of bliss I have ever encountered. It is great for so many reasons, including that they shape it in the form of a flower!
My cone was a mix of chocolate, tiramisu, and chocolate chip. Divine. Oh and mom, don't worry, I promise we will go here when you come visit!
Ok, so if you made it this far, congrats! You made it through this longgg post. Desolée but I just had to recap this day! Oh, and if you were counting, I had 4 meals today not including snacks. NBD.
Must. Sleep. Now.
A tour of the Alsace region is in store for tomorrow followed by a regional wine tasting event!
Until next time,