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Good Guests for Easter

April 5, more or less, 2010


Friends and Families ,

We have officially opened the 2010 season for visiting friends and our initial bunch have set a very high standard. They were funny, adventurous, active, willing, gracious, and only stayed a couple of days.

Jim and Linda Metcalf, a couple we have known for almost twenty years (wow -- makes us seem older than we feel), put us on their 2010 European Vacation itinerary and, as an added bonus, brought their cousin Terry along. This was Terry's first trip out of America and she was as enthusiastic as any novice we've run across. This diary is for them and for us, but other snoopy people can read too.

Day 1: I met the group at Frankfurt airport and, after some shuffling between terminals, I drove them to beautiful Offenbach where Jim was put immediately to work. In our company he is registered as an Expert. Really. Anyway, he went in to consult some of our young guys while the girls explored the neighborhood -- all on just a few hours of sleep. Real troupers.

At lunch time, we hit the road south-east toward Pommersfelden. Mostly we stayed on the autobahn but we did divert off to the side roads at Ebrach, where we visited a very famous cloister. J, L and T seemed to like the visit to the colorful but cold place, but we needed to move on before they fell asleep. Dinner was a great Marianne feast. Again.

Day 2: Marianne took our tourists to Nuremberg where, after some minor tourism, they grabbed a train down to Munich. The last Marianne saw of them was through the window as she tried to get the train to stop so she could give them the famous "lebkuchen" (cookies) they had bought for the trip but had forgotten with the hostess.

Day 3 and 4: Don't know. They were gone. Reportedly, they enjoyed Dachau and Munich. Well, maybe one doesn't "enjoy" Dachau, but it is/was an interesting destination.

Day 5, Easter Saturday. Marianne and I spent another work day in our yard while the tourists were cruising the breweries in Munich. We managed to make some headway on getting set for planting, but the weather was still too cold to do much.

At 7:30 pm we were back in Nuremberg, picking up the crew from Carolina. They had plenty of stories, but I think they were also looking forward to hitting the sack after two-and-a-half full days of Bavarian tourism.

Day 6, Easter. We went to the 10:30 mass at our neighborhood 18th Century castle chapel. It was a great combination of small village neighborliness and remarkable history. After that, we headed up to the Kellerhaus Cafe for brunch. Mr. Hofmann and the folks there were as welcoming as ever and, by now we had convinced our guests that we knew everyone in town. Not QUITE true.

To walk off our big brunch, we took a drive over to the "Frankischer Schweitz" or the Franconian Alps. It is an area with dramatic rock outcroppings, not as large and dramatic as Switzerland I must say, but pretty interesting anyway. Marianne and I have been in this area a number of times but, for this visit, we decided to hike up to a fortress ruin ("xxxxx") where the view was absolutely spectacular. And the hike served it's purpose of making it possible for us to eat again.

At home, Marianne fixed up a great Easter dinner, lamb roasts and all the fixins'. And a bit of wine. Maybe more than a bit. All I can remember is laughing for hours as we dawdled over another wonderful meal.

Day 7: Easter Monday. This was still a holiday here in Germany, so we had mapped out a pretty simple schedule. After a slow breakfast at home, we drove over to Prölsdorf Gardenmarket, a street fair in a small village two valleys over. We headed out despite the rain because, in Germany, if you let rain stop things nothing will be done! Anyway, the village fest was pretty good, although I think we were the only folks there that hadn't been born within a few miles of Prölsdorf itself. Not an international crowd.

After Prölsdorf, we took Linda, Terry, and Jim over to Bamberg, our favorite local city. We did the required stops at the Rathaus (city hall), the one that was constructed 800 years ago on a rock in the middle of the Regnitz river. After that, it was up to the Dom (Cathedral) where we looked around the somber interior, and touched the various famous crypts there. From the Dom we went across the street to the not-yet-blooming Rose Gardens, for the best view of the red tiles roofs of downtown.

Marianne had made dinner reservations at "Fellini's", a movie-themed restaurant just outside downtown Bamberg. We have enjoyed the meals we have had there before and our Easter Monday dinner was equal to anything we'd had before. A great end to the day.

Day 8: I packed the visitors into the car and we headed back up to Offenbach. On the drive, I managed to give them a demonstration of that wonderful feature of German driving, "the stau". We had miles of road where the right lane was stopped trucks and our left lane was barely-moving cars. The worst part was that SOMEONE in the back seat had had TWO cups of coffee for breakfast and almost died before we reached a rest stop.

After the three-hour drive, Jim and I headed to work and Linda and Terry went into Frankfurt to shop and tour. I don't know how effective the boys work was, but the shopping was reportedly successful.

In the evening, I took our visitors to their hotel in Groß Gerau, about a half-hour from Offenbach. Along the way, we enjoyed another good German meal, this time at the Frankfurter Hof, an old traditional spot on the southern edge of Frankfurt. It had always been a favorite of ours, in part because of the parking lot attendant. (Really. We call her "Attila" for the firm manner in which she puts everyone in the proper place.)


The next day, Terry would head back to Charlotte and Linda and Jim would go to Berlin. Marianne and I stayed about our normal business. - with a house a bit too quiet.


So, if you too can face Franconia with a smile, you are welcome to follow in the Metcalf footsteps.


John and Marianne.




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