happiness

Mom’s Tour de France 9 (FGK 100)

I can’t believe I’ve hit 100 posts From Grandma’s Kitchen!! I am so grateful I’ve got these letters to share.

This is the second half of the letter describing mom’s trip to Germany. I noticed again that she mentions stealing apples off of trees to snack on. I had always figured it was dad who taught us to steal fruit – but now I wonder if maybe mom also had a hand in that. As children, when we would vacation on Vancouver Island, dad was famous for pulling over on the side of the road and sending my sister and I into the ditch with buckets. We had to stand amongst the prickly thorns and pick as many blackberries as we could, as quickly as possible. The drive back to Calgary after our vacations was always a very pungent one as flats of berries sat on top of our luggage.

Her description of the little parade watched reminds me of the Cochrane Labour Day parade when I was a kid. I think the only people watching the parade were parents of kids who were in it- everyone else was in the parade!

Mom bought a camera! I will have to dig around and see if there are any photos of her adventures in Europe.

About seven we got hungry but didn’t know where to find an inexpensive restaurant. While we were going through one of the towns we saw a Shell Station. We knew it would be German, but it felt so good to see a familiar sight that we stopped there to ask where to find a place to eat. Luckily the attendant knew a few words of English and with our few words of German he directed us to a lovely little wooden restaurant. We went in what we hoped was the right door and seated ourselves around one of the tables- which were similar to picnic tables. The waitress couldn’t speak French or English, but we got a menu by gesturing- then the fun started, because we were just starving but couldn’t understand the menu!! We spent about 20 minutes trying to decipher it . By this time a man and his wife had sat down at our table. Everyone in the room was very amused but we were getting hungrier and discussed in English where we should ask them if they would help us. Finally the man leaned over and said, “This is a very good meal!” He spoke a little French and English!! For less than a $1.00 we got a huge platter of meat and mushroom sauce, a platter of spaghetti, and a big salad among the four of us. We were so hungry we ate almost all of it. It was just delicious. We ended up having them all teaching us how to count in German and a few more sentences – like how much does it cost etc. We got into Ulm, which was our destination for the day, fairly late but found a hotel right away. It was new and clean. Our beds had the great big German feather mattresses on them – which made it very difficult to get out of bed the next morning!

Breakfast was served by a quaint old German lady who loaded us up with extra bread for lunch. As you probably have guessed by this time, bread and cheese is the cheapest meal you can get over here. We visited the church (I sent you a post card of it) and attended the service there which was Protestant. (Munster in Ulm an dear Donau hochster Kirchturm dear Erde (161m) Munster (cathedral) at Ulm on the Nonnau highest steeple of the earth (161m).

From Ulm to Stuttgart we were on one of the German autobahns. These are just marvellous – the same thing as a freeway. At Stuttgart our troubles started – everyplace we drove while we were in that town we got lost. We had to count an extra hour whenever we wanted to go somewhere just to get ourselves untangled. After crossing the city about three times we finally got on the right road for the campus of Stanford in Germany. This is in the country near a tiny village not far from Stuttgart. We could see the buildings in the distance because it was at the very top of a hill, looking out in all directions. The sides of the hill are covered with vineyards and apple trees. There is a tiny winding road up to the top lined with trees, from which we took some apples because we hadn’t bought any. We got a great reception from the students there, it was almost like coming home – to meet someone who spoke English!! They showed us all over the centre. We both have different advantages. They live in the country, get to know the people of the village very well and have a homey atmosphere. We have more of the advantages of living near a big town and can meet more students and our building is more modern. Since they have been established longer than we have, they have a few more things – like a record player and more books in the library. Remember this time last year when I was dying to go to Germany? I am still just fascinated by the language and would love to learn it. After taking a walk around the village, we went back to Stuttgart to see Christof, Gail’s friend. He is one of the nicest people I have met over here. We had supper with him and his sister. It was a very simple meal consisting of German bread with cheese and liverwort. Their company was so enjoyable that it was one of the best meals we had. They served some apple cider that had just started to ferment. It was delicious. I wish that it could travel so I could send some for you, but you have to drink it at a certain stage. Christof studies physics at the University of Stuttgart and he had a book on his shelf that was written by Ruth’s father who is a professor at Cal. Christof is also an amateur photographer – some of his pictures were really terrific. He gave us all one as a souvenir. This hobby comes in very handy because the next day he took us down town to buy cameras. I have a fabulous Zeus camera which I got for $50.00 off because someone had exchanged it. I am so excited with it I can hardly wait to run out and get some pictures. I’ve seen so many things since I’ve been here, it’s just killing me without a camera. We walked around the streets of Stuttgart a bit and then went to have a lunch at a milk bar. We had some German bread and pastries for next to nothing. They even sold milkshakes but we just had plain milk. That afternoon we headed for Baden-Baden and the Black Forest. This was one of the prettiest parts of the whole trip. On the tops of some of the hills we could see old ruins of castles. Down in the valleys, here and there we could see a little town. The forests are very well cared for. We could see where they had been re-forested after lumbering. At the top of one of the hills we came across a little store run by two little old men. We stopped here to buy some cookies. We went to so much trouble and get all this in German that he gave us chocolate bars to eat long our way. After leaving the Black Forest we took the Autobahn to Strasburg. The Rhine is the border between France and Germany here and we were caught in a traffic jam on the bridge, trying to get through French customs. They were looking in the trunks fo cars – and we had five cameras plus a lot of odds and ends from Switzerland. We decided to say we were tourists so went in that lane but the little man didn’t really believe us because we had French license plates. We more or less just drove off before he could figure the whole deal out. We spent the night in Strasburg in a tiny hotel in the old part of town. The street we were on was really interesting – hundreds of years old. The people there speak a mixture of French and German – I didn’t think they know what they are half the time. The next morning we visited the cathedral and threw a stone in the Rhine. Since we were quite far from Tours and this was our last day of holiday, we had to drive straight back. We hadn’t seen this part of France before though, so it was quite interesting. I saw some Herefords in a field. There was also some big stacks of baled hay – much more than around Tours.

It was All Saints Day and in some areas of the little villages we passed through they were holding services and parades. Everyone in the village was in the parade so there was no one to but us to watch them. We got back in Tours about seven thirty, in time to compare our experiences with those of the other kids who had gone travelling in all directions.

Margi Copithorne

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