Posts tagged with germany

Höchstadt, now and then

I’m just back from another trip to Germany, this time by way of Gatwick and on to Munich by redeeming some BA miles that had accumulated.

I thought about writing another little travelogue but then it wouldn’t make much sense as my previous trip to Höchstadt is still undocumented – I left readers wandering around the outskirts of Paris. So here’s the short version…

End of travelogue, July

Parc Asterix was so overcrowded we filled in a complaint form and left. Queues were about 2-3 hours long for anything at all. We returned on the Monday knowing the French kids would be back at school and it was much better, the water rides proving to be very refreshing in the hot July sun and queues that only lasted about 15 minutes. A month or so ago I got an apology letter from the Parc and a free single-entry pass for the 2005-2006 season… for one. :(

We abandoned my car at Charles de Gaulle and flew into Nuremberg where Clarissa’s parents had arranged a very nice hotel who’s name I have since forgotten so there goes the plug. Any hotel that does a complimentary beer is a good one in my books and it made a change from the faceless Ibis‘ that we’d hit a couple of times. I got to try some German food including currywurst – a giant sausage in a spicy tomato sauce – and the Numberger which consists of a bun containing a variable number of small grilled sausages. Yum.

We met Clarissa’s friends, played pool and saw some great sights and because the hotel was only available for a few nights, moved my things to Clarissa’s parents lovely house where we I stayed for the remainder of the trip. Their garden is a little like a jungle and vines scale one of the walls right up to the roof top… All German houses seem to have these outside window shutters, presumably to stop stray branches etc flying through them and to help keep in the warmth.

The green fields and endless forests make me miss living somewhere that has them. Guernsey is fine if you like beaches, sailing, working in a bank or want to grow old but has precious little else to offer. One review said it was more continental than England, relaxed with good food, while still retaining the familiarity. I think he was trying to give the island a compliment but to me this came out as “less relaxed than Europe and still retaining the parts of England you wanted to leave behind.”

We shopped in Erlangen where I picked up possibly the only pair of sunglasses to ever fit the shape of my face for a bargain €9 only to loose them two weeks later at my sisters wedding. In Nuremberg we found “British Empire” and I was able to stock up on a few cans of Irn-Bru and Cherry Coke. My Marmite supply was not in need of replenishment – Clarissa and her family had been avoiding it since I took the lid off.

We picked up a small bonsai tree and named her Emma. I had a Serissa at home called Toby, which was not doing too well when I left him. He passed away while I was on holiday despite frequent watering by my sister. Despite the claims these are indoor plants Emma immediately had problems which were immediately (well, 2 days) solved by leaving her outside in the shade.

The flight back to Paris was without incident, as was the drive back to Saint Malo. My friends father had let out all his holiday homes and so I was settled for another basic-but-has-hot-water Ibis. I should probably have joined their rewards scheme but I didn’t want to encourage myself to stay there any more often than I have already.

Last week

And so, some three months later I returned to Höchstadt. It had been a while since I had seen Clarissa – since my sisters wedding at the end of July in fact. Being a member of BA’s Exec Club is a good idea, it’s free and lets you check-in on-line and cut the time you need to sit around at the airport by half… which lets you cut it closer to other flights. It was a bit tight on the way out but what’s life without a little excitement.

The forest canopies were showing the signs of autumn, the odd yellowed and rusted tree among the darker greens. The vines along her home had turned into a fine gradient of yellows and reds. I’ve yet to check my camera, but perhaps it will do them justice. Emma was doing fine too and I had purchased another bonsai back in Guernsey, named Toby2 in memory of the first. He is doing much better, a different species and sitting upon a humidity tray :)

We relaxed, we drove, we visited Nuremberg again and this time I managed to get some orientation of the town while wearing the skin off the heels of my feet. I examined a large church and wondered how a large town can have three McDonalds and no computer shops bar a tiny EB Games hidden away in a mall.

We visited an exhibition in Höchstadt, ate good food and generally had a great time. It’s a wonderful thing to have a girlfriend who can not only drive, but drive well :) Clarissa’s parents were very welcoming again, her father baked us some nice German bread and drove us through a wonderful valley with a river and some amazing rock formations left by rivers that departed eons ago.

I visited Clarissa at her work again, where giant pictures of her hung up above her section and made her look like a school teacher. We did a little shopping and I picked up a rather nice new jacket, a smart blue tie and a much needed pair of ski boots. Yep, that’s right, nine ski trips and I’m still using rental equipment much to the bemusement of my snowboarding colleagues. We’re booked into Jackson for January and I’ll buy some ski’s out there once I’ve tried a few pairs.

There is so much more I could, should or will write.

[)amien

Illness, travel and the French

My girlfriend Clarissa has given me a bug, and not the sometimes fun type that involves single-stepping to locate and subsequently fix. She has a very high temperature and her doctor has signed her off work for a week.

Either I’ve got that to come or I’ve been lucky. Why is the human body so incapable of signaling to the brain exactly what the problem is, perhaps with a shopping list of useful nutrients and vitamins it could do with to help the fight?

I’m off traveling for a month starting June 20th with a few days in Disneyland Paris with Clarissa to enjoy rides, fireworks and queuing (it’s what us Brit’s are good at apparently). After that we’re going to head down to Paris itself and take in the local atmosphere and attractions. I was going to write culture but that might have implied I’d be eating food typically associated with the French.

I’ve always been a bit mistrusting of the French, they drive far too fast and I remember them blocking the docks to England when they didn’t want our beef after the BSE scare when the EU had finally given it the all-clear. Well, I guess that’s up to them, but then they blocked it again when we then refused their not-yet-all-cleared beef! While we’re on the subject why is it that if you try and speak French and mispronounce a few words the listener acts completely lost and confused? In English we’re grateful you’re making the effort and can decipher the most hideous accents, pronunciations, missing words and incorrect order. Either the English language is more robust to such problems or the listeners are more tolerant…

Anyway, my opinion of the French went up this week when they took to the streets and told their government to stick it with regards to the EU Constitution. With hindsight the French government telling the USA they wouldn’t be part of their Iraq invasion plans was also a good stance. I still have to bear the shame and guilt bestowed upon me by the actions of my English government even if my expatriate status means I don’t get a vote. :(

After France we’re heading up to Germany, Höchstadt, just north-west of Nuremberg to meet Clarissa’s family and friends. My German is practically non-existent so I’m sure I’ll be totally lost in a non-physical sense. At this point Clarissa has to go back to work so I’ll be heading south and chewing through the remaining 21 days of my holiday by heading into Switzerland and then on to Italy. At this point I’m pretty sure the physical sense of being lost will kick in.

Time for a cup of tea, wish I had a snack in the cupboard.

[)amien