Friday, July 31, 2009

Wössingen, Baden, Germany 3.7.09: Cloudbursts and Pots of Oleander

Days passing quickly and full, with little time to write. On the 1st, we traveled to Germany.

The experience with Ryan Air (on which M. had booked us to save pennies) was unsettling. When we arrived at the airport two hours before the flight, the snaking queue for their counter was horrendously long. They had apparently opened the counter only a short time before, after people had lined up and waited for hours (for all their flights), and it had too few staff.

When we finally got to the desk, we found that the hold up is their draconian system of weighing, made more cumbersome because they hand-write everything on bits of paper. One of our bags was under weight, the other slightly over.

But one can’t pay the overage fee at that desk. Oh no. Steve had to go to some other one, where he waited in line almost an hour, as the write-and-stamp system continued there, and as pilots and airline attendants broke in line.

When we finally got aboard, after having been herded like cattle through the boarding process, we found an eye-popping yellow and blue interior, all plastic, like being inside a child’s play plane or a fast-food restaurant with wings. And like being inside a flying, non-stop advertisement, since ads were plastered all over, hither and yon, and when the menus finally arrived for some horrible tripe like cheeseburgers and fries or pizza, they were picture menus on plastic sheets with lurid photos of the “food” being purveyed (for a hefty fee, it goes without saying).

And so we arrived at Frankfurt Hahn, a bit worse for wear, and could not locate our rental care as the skies opened and rain poured down. Right to the very moment we found and got into the car . . . .

A long drive then, through the Hunsrück with its beautiful fields, south on the autobahn in the direction of Mainz and then towards Karlsruhe. Road repair is everywhere, so we were lost briefly in Durlach, just outside Karlsruhe, but finally made our way to Wössingen, where the K.’s were waiting for us.

Marvelously kind: they sat us down in the garden amidst pots of eggplant, tomato, and peppers, and beds of herbs and hydrangea and oleander, and gave us Italian sparkling wine with appetizers of smoked trout on bread, and melon with prosciutto. Then Jochen grilled lamb, chicken, and pork, and we ate that with wonderful cooling salads on a very hot, muggy summer’s day.

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