Continued…Part Two, “Grandpa’s Gift of Germany”
After sending a cheery, flower covered note card to Robert, practically inviting myself to stay at his house for a visit, he called me. “Yes! Sure! You can stay with me. It’d be great to see you!” Not having spoken to or with him in at least a year, it was nice to hear his voice. Furthermore, he hinted to me the best days to fly, stating “not to worry about a car rental”; he explained the railway system as being “superb”; asked if I knew where I wanted to go, what did I want to see? He could use his time off to drive through some of the countryside. Wonderful! I had some ideas as to the answers of his questions. “Learn some German, Andrea….” were his last words on the phone.
Off to the library I went to get a few LP (Long Playing) albums of German Language and Diction to play on my turntable. It wasn’t difficult to learn and I enjoyed it. Along with purchasing an English/German Dictionary, I felt rather proud of myself for learning another language.
Satisfied with the results of that contact effort, the flight became my next task….
Through a travel agency, I booked a round trip flight via “Northwest Orient” from Boston, Massachusetts at 9:40 AM on July 1, 1984 for $432.00 USD, stopping in London, England for a re-fueling, then onto landing in Munich, Germany at 9:30 AM on July 2nd. Having dozed off and on during those hours, I occupied myself with reading a book and the occasional prayer for my safe keeping and spiritual guidance. My favorite Diet Cokes were free along with a turkey and tomato sandwich. Peanuts were handed out later during that flight.
The London, England refueling process and time did not allow me to exit the airplane. No worries. I was happy to at least say I was there!
The twelve-hour flight left me anxious, wanting to walk briskly, jump, move my body, get my circulation circulating. Becoming moody ─ cranky with exhaustion ─ was not going to be tolerated. Looking out the airplane window, calmly flying through the cotton ball clouds, looking forward to seeing Robert and so much more brought me a calm and simple gratitude.
“Andrea! Andrea! I’m over here!” Robert called to me as I rushed through a swarm of travelers to greet him. He was taller than I last remembered. And a bit more muscular, more handsome. His buzz cut blonde hair and smiling blue eyes were unmistakably those of my friend.
Small talk followed as we exited the airport area in his silver BMW toward his rented cottage in Aschaffenburg located on the southwest part of Germany. Listening to Robert talk was music to my ears. The car windows down, he drove me on the infamous autobahn, “the highway without speed limits.” Feeling carefree, careless with all the windows down, my long hair whipping every which way, I didn’t care. I was here. I was here with my long time friend.
Fitfully excited, I did not want to rest or unpack. Robert could tell. After washing up and changing clothes, he took me for a ride around his neighborhood.
Narrow, black topped streets, multiple two-story houses, mostly apartments, were everywhere. Each of these houses were surrounded by neat, bright green and spacious lawns in between. Every window of every home presented demure and patterned lace curtains. I was charmed. Not only with the attractive cleanliness of such decor, but each and every outer window sill housed a wooden or colored plastic rectangular flower box full of freshly blooming, multi-colored flowers. Gorgeous!
“You’ll be able to safely walk around the neighborhood if you’d like,” Robert stated, breaking my rapt attention. “The bakery is within walking distance as is the butcher. There are no nearby ‘Cumberland Farms’ stores or ‘7-11s’”
“Great. Do you like fish? I’ll cook us up a fresh fish dinner if I find something suitable at the butcher’s.”
“Yes. Fish is fine. That’d be nice.”
That first evening, Robert drove us to a nearby restaurant, The Schlossgasse 16, 63739 Aschaffenburg, Bavaria, Germany. It was huge! Tall. High. To me it looked like a massive hall. One room with a few doorways opposite the entrance. Filled with numerous 8’ wooden, canvas cloth covered picnic tables, its vaulted ceiling stretched into the sky.
Attention to our entrance provided immediate service. After being seated, draft beers were immediately brought to our table. Strange. In America, water is immediately brought to a diners’ table. Here, it is beer, warm beer, golden beer with a fuzzy, frothy white, bubbly heads. Robert told me that “warm beer is the way it is here. Cold beer is considered an insult.” Hmm. No problem with me, I’ll drink it and I did. “Cheers!”
Robert ordered us each a platter of sauerkraut and sausages, not too unusual for me. Delicious. However, I like yellow mustard with my sauerkraut and sausage. “No, don’t order mustard!” Robert shocked me with this excited whisper. “It is an insult. Also, eat with your left hand.” Not only did I not want to experiment with the food choices as yet, I did not want to insult a soul, not knowing Germanic table etiquette.
Quite the introduction.
Returning to his cottage, his landlady and landlord pleasantly greeted us. Robert, all smiles, made simple introductions. Smiling coyly, I felt they wanted to make sure Robert was not getting into any trouble with this attractive, young, American female visitor. Mm hmm. Very nice. Respectful. Appreciative.
To Be Continued…..
Destination The World NCPA Anthology 2020, Volume Two, © 2020. “Grandpa’s Gift Of Germany” page 22. Available at Amazon.com.