Wed May 11th, 2011 at 04:50:49 PM EST
I awoke in the hospital feeling rested and out of place. My nurse came in and, though she apologized for her command of English, we talked about how I was feeling and she said that I'd likely be discharged in a while after I saw the Doctor. My roomies wife or girlfriend came in and we passed the time going over phrases. She particularly liked "See ya later, alligator", then we moved on the "after while crocodile" and a good time was had by all.
I was out by noon and off we went. We went to a castle near Nordlingen, and walked through it. Then had lunch and scooted back home. We stayed in Nordlingen for another couple of days and wandered around the town-one day they had a festival and that was fun, and I very much enjoyed the city. We were still somewhat under the weather, though I felt increasingly good. After a couple of days it was time to move on and not overstay our welcome.
We had planned to go to Lyons and rent a car and head off into the South of France for a week, but didn't have the energy to keep moving. We decided instead to go back to Baden-Baden. A quick train ride later we were there and ended up in a search for a room as there was a convention in town. The nice fellow at Hotel Om Markt, called around and found us a place, he said he couldn't speak to its modernity but it would be clean. He loaded us into his old VW and took us up behind the Opera house and ushered us into this old mansion. It was the perfect place for us. It was old, but it had been very nice. It was a little overgrown, but had cats wandering around outside, and they fed a fox, and various other critters. It was quiet and restful. We stayed there a couple of days and walked around the town and out along the promenade to the old nunnery. After a couple of days we were feeling better (again) and took off into the forest.
Well, I could spend many days wandering through the black forest. We got soft pretzels and bottles of water in the mornings and walked to the castles around the town. We took the tram ride up to the tower and walked down, we took a bus to a castle and walked back via another castle and alongside a beautiful palisade of rock with climbers scaling its face. We walked and sat and walked some more. In the evenings we'd come back and have some simple food with great deserts from the chocolate shop. In the mornings we had good breakfasts at the hotel and life was good. We took a bus ride around the city (208, I think) and really enjoyed it.
The time at Baden Baden flew by and pretty soon the story was pretty much told. We caught the ICE to Amsterdam and went to our hotel out a Schipol. Caught the plane next morning without a hitch and were on our way home. By the time we got here Nita was fading badly. We got her into see the Doc the next day and she had the beginnings of pneumonia in her lower right lobe. A massive dose of anti-biotics and about 60 of the next 72 hours in bed and she started to come around. Even now, two weeks later though, she is still somewhat under the weather. I feel fine and am back to work.
One of the things that struck me on this trip was the difference between a journey and a vacation. It caused us some problems until we got conceptually on the same page. I love to travel, and don't really care too much about the mode or the accomodations when I'm by myself. On my motorcycle trips I generally ride most of the day, find a cheap motel and a diner and settle in.
This trip suffered from our condition and our failure to focus on what we both wanted. In addition, the language barrier was more pronounced this time for a couple of reasons. One, I didn't put as much prep time into getting back up to speed in basic conversational French. I worked much harder at it last time and it really paid off. This time I was lax before I left and coupled with my struggles with the flu I was uncomfortable in trying to talk to people. The other problem linguistically, was that I don't know a damned bit of German, so I was totally at sea there. The people we encountered were able to talk in English generally, but its a poor way to travel when you know really nothing of the language.
I loved the train system, it was nearly an embarassment to come back to San Francisco and wait an hour for a private bus to come and take a 2.5 hour journey to go 80 miles. It is a situation that I hope we remedy in the coming decades, but am not optomistic. Taking the trip from Paris to Strasbourg and again from Karlsruhe to Amsterdam was a great way to travel and to look out over the countryside. I'd do it again in a minute.
I'd love to come back and spend a week hiking through the black forest rather than just circling around one town-though that is a treat as well. The word magical kept coming up in our conversations.
Anyway, that is the long version of the trip and is an apology and hopefully an explanation of my failure to communicate to my friends here at the European Tribune whom I respect greatly. I hope to be back in a couple of years and if we're still all "here" I hope I see you there. Thanks to all who make travelers lives enjoyable, and if anyone knows the nurses at the Hospital in Nordlingen, tell them The American" appreciates all the special treatment he got.