Did you know that Paul Rudd’s original surname was “Rudnitzky”? Also, he thinks thank-you notes are a must because they are thoughtful and nice. I got my hands on a Cosmo magazine last night, and while I’m really bad at thank-you notes, I still think it’s adorable that he writes them. You go, Rudnitzky.
Last weekend Elizabeth and I traveled to Eschenbach, which is a little town about 30 minutes away from Grafenwoehr (the town very close to Vilseck, where our sister American post is stationed) with Meredith, Mike, Mike, and Tim. Their friend Ryan has a house there, so we warmed up a bit before heading to the Fasching parade in the town center. Eschenbach isn’t very big, but the Germans really really like to come out of hiding for Fasching. It’s like America’s Mardi Gras, kind of, except way bigger and a little weirder. These celebrations leading up to Lent go on for weeks ahead of time (although Wikipedia says only the weekend before… wrong, so wrong). Germans throw every “Catholic value” they hold so near and dear out the window during Fasching. They have parties where they literally swap spouses for a night! Quite different from American culture. Anyway, the parade was great, there were a ton of floats, and lots of people dressed up in crazy costumes. It’s an interesting balance between German and American culture– Fasching is comparable to our Halloween. There were lots of people dressed as Smurfs, dead people, nuns, etc. We even saw a Batman costume with “Bad Ass” written on the front; when he turned around we saw he had an accentuated rear on the costume. Bruce Wayne would be proud, I think.
Anyway, it’s been frigid here in Germany (well, Europe in general), so the festival was fun for a while until I couldn’t feel my toes. We hopped inside the closest pub we could find and ordered some gluhwein (duh) to warm up. There was a loud, drunk German man dressed in blue with a blue wig that went around to each table yelling German things. He would yell a German town and the entire bar would chant back “HALLO!”–a Fasching tradition. When he came around to our table, he felt the need to not only yell “America!” but also go through and shout the states each one of us are from. We were with lots of folks, so everyone called home different things. When he came around to Elizabeth and me, we nervously said “Missouri,” and he said, “vut?” Unsurprised by this reaction, we tried, “Uhh, St. Louis!” He responded, “Vut tha fück is San Luis?” in his thick German accent. It was hilarious! He still yelled “San Luis!” but only a few kind Germans replied with an unenthusiastic “Hallo!”. (Meaghan: I have to say, California got quite a response!)
Anyway, for dinner we hopped in Mike’s go-go mobile and went to a little restaurant about 30 minutes away (near some incredible hiking trails and climbing, apparently!). The restaurant’s specialty was uncooked meat on a burning hot stone that you cook yourself, right there on the table, so it’s very fresh. Crazy! And probably unsettling for Elizabeth. They also had exotic meats that one of the boys tried, like Crocodile and Kangaroo. Ick.
One of our professors was in town this week to do our observations, so Elizabeth and I were crazy busy with planning and stressing out. The visit went great, though. Not to toot my own horn, but I got mostly positive feedback! So pleased. This particular professor observed me 2 years ago in my very first lesson in a classroom back in Kirksville, so it was great that she got to see how much I’ve progressed.
We also went to dinner at Gastof Erlhof, a small but ADORABLE restaurant in, of course, the middle of nowhere. We drove down windy German roads through giant pine trees in the snow– it was beautiful. And worth it! It was my favorite meal I’ve had in Germany so far. They are also known throughout Europe for their bakery (tour buses visit just to get dessert) so of course I got a piece of cake before leaving. German desserts are perfect– they’re not nearly as sweet as they are in America. I got the Black Forrest cake (which of course I’ve forgotten the German name of…) with cherries, chocolate and the most delicious cream.
Last night was Weiberfasching. Meredith and I went with Mary to Amberg to celebrate. It’s like a giant block party! Hundreds of Germans drinking delicious beer (out of bottles that you can get 2 euro back for if you return it to recycle it… awesome). It literally means “women’s fasching.” The tradition is that women dress as witches and men dress in drag as women. Why, you ask? It started as a night for women to go out and go crazy without their men, but the men wanted to go out too. (Ugh, so typical, amiright?) The men got creative and decided to dress up as women! If you can’t beat em, join em. Also, that day women cut off men’s ties in the workplace– a couple men who work at school got their ties cut. 🙂 So fun! While there were lots of witches and also a ton of men in (sometimes really convincing) drag, there were also all different sorts of costumes. The band playing in the center of town were dressed as the Flinstones. We saw cows, popes, smurfs, a “women’s” soccer team, Ronald McDonald, etc… I dressed as a construction worker! Like I said before, it’s really like Germany’s halloween, except a lot wilder. Seriously, I’ve never seen so many Germans in one place at one time in my life.
I also ate one of the best steak sandwiches I’ve ever had. And it was handed to me by one of the dirtiest German hands I’ve ever seen.
Spring Break plans with mom and Meg are underway– it’s looking like Paris for the first half of the week, and then either Rome or Florence. Tomorrow Elizabeth, Logan, Lisa, Stephanie, Haley and I are headed to Verona, Italy (the supposed setting for Romeo and Juliet) and then to Venice on Sunday for Karnival. Ohhhh, it will be crazyfun. Updates to come. In the meantime, keep me posted on your lives!
P.S. Mom & Pop, Meaghan, Kristel, Kevin and Nicole: Hug yourself and pretend it’s me hugging you! (That means you have to hug extra tight because I’m a good hugger). Thank you for the letters, cards and packages, you sweet sweet people. Although I didn’t rip your letters to shreds, I am about as happy as this baby when I get mail.