Several weeks? months? ago, I received an email from an old school friend with an invitation to our 30-yr high school reunion. School is a bit different in Germany – you start right away with 1st grade (Kindergarten is actually pre-school) but then you go through 13th grade, so German students usually graduate at age 19.
Mark and I liked the idea of going to Germany for a few days at the end of September. The weather is usually very pleasant in September, warm and dry. Warm enough during the day to spend a lot of time outside, going for long walks, sitting outside at a streetside cafe, etc. Cool enough at night to enjoy a blanket and not miss air-conditioning which many hotels don’t have.
Mark had found that Delta offers a new type of seat: Economy Comfort with more leg room and seats that appear to recline further back. It made a huge difference! Being able to stretch our legs, and recline, and – since our seats were in the last row of the section – no one behind us to fiddle with tray tables, or kick our seats. I took as many long naps as I could, Mark a few less because he was watching The King’s Speech, and we both arrived surprisingly rested.
It was nice – and we commented on it several times – to know our way around after we arrived in Stuttgart; we have a bit of a routine: take the S-Bahn to Stadtmitte (instead of going to the main train station or immediately to Winnenden) and walk a block or two to the Starbucks where we sit for a while and have something to eat / drink, use the bathroom, be online, and take a bit of extra time to arrive.
Then make our way down Konigstrasse to the main train station and take the S-Bahn to Winnenden.
When we made our hotel reservation there was almost no question which hotel we would want to stay at: the Schone Aussicht in Burg, a small hamlet high above Winnenden. This is where we stayed a year and a half ago, after my mother died, and we have fondest memories of peaceful and restorative seclusion from the world and a bit of distance from the preparations for my mother’s memorial service.
Of course, “small hamlet high above Winnenden” translates into “lousy bus service”. While the public transportation system in the greater Stuttgart area is fantastic, it doesn’t quite extend much beyond the main towns. Mon – Fri the bus runs once or twice an hour, Sat once an hour or less, Sundays once every three hours.
With meticulous planning it is possible to make use of the bus service and not need a taxi. However, meticulous planning is hampered by a surprising sense of displacement – both physical and where it concerns the local time -, and at least once we didn’t think things through: Mark’s phone (we don’t wear watches) hadn’t adjusted its time to German time, so we just added seven hours to get German time – except we forgot that his phone had adjusted to Atlanta time so we should have added only six hours … so we stood at the bus stop and wondered why the bus didn’t come. Feeling dumb and frustrated when we finally figured out that we were off by an hour.
Both Mark and I felt surprisingly queasy after we arrived on Friday. Mark’s intestines are never happy after travelling, but they seemed a bit worse this time. My stomach felt a tiny bit weird but that was to be expected: ever since arriving, we indulged in rich food and had ice cream with (real) whipped cream at least once a day.
Yesterday, however, about an hour after we arrived at the reunion, I felt really sick to my stomach. Perhaps it was the standing still for so long (we had gathered on a type of patio, standing around, visiting, walking a few steps, more standing before moving upstairs where the buffet was) or I don’t know what but we ended up taking a taxi back to the hotel before the food was even served.
The hotel brought a cup of camomille tea to our room, and later some ice cream for Mark because he had a taste for ice cream but didn’t want to leave the room.
We both are really tired, feeling more wiped out than normal (even considering that this is our third day today which is the day when we usually crash and take a really long nap in the afternoon). Mark has had intestinal cramps and diarrhea. We’re not sure whether we ate something wrong, or picked up a bug.
In any event, in addition to not feeling so hot from unhappy intestines, we are really frustrated that we haven’t been able to do the things we had so looked forward to doing here: taking walks – the weather is absolutely gorgeous, it feels like a crime to stay in our hotel room (close to a bathroom …); eating food, food, glorious food! Our favorite Cafe Benz has in its display case so many such delicious cakes – I could (if I could …) eat cake for every meal! Yesterday afternoon, I did have a piece of plum cake (Pflaumenkuchen) with whipped cream and it was so so delicious I could have eaten a couple three more pieces!
Tomorrow, we wanted to go into Stuttgart and “do Stuttgart” which for us means walk up and down Konigstrasse, do a bit of shopping, probably eat at the Alte Kelter, sit in the sun, watch people.
Not sure I’m feeling well enough to do that.
What a waste.