Saturday, April 26, 2008


So we are driving through the Belgian countryside from Brussels to Bruges when I start vocalizing a litany of New England town names I can see on the map of England. Peterborough, Boston, Scituate, Ipswitch, Yarmouth, Bourne, Middleborough and Mansfield ... when I stumble over the town of Biggleswad.

Boy, did we luck out onTHAT one. Who would want to play for the Biggleswad Bruins I ask you?

Monday, April 7, 2008


They tell us (they being the locals) that this area im Breisgau is the warmest part of Germany, but today’s weather did not convince us. We snow was falling as we headed up the Munstertal toward the mountains of the Schwartzwald. Just outside of the town of Munstertal we saw the glorious former Benedictine Abbey built on the site of the grave of Saint Trudpert.

SAINT TRUDPERT … now that one had me scratching my head. Not since my encounter with St. Charles Borommee in Paris last year had I been stumped by a Saint’s name. Well it turns out Trudpert’s story is a little foggy, but it seems he was a Celtic monk who ran a mission here in near Munstertal in the seventh century. But we are not sure WHEN he lived here, or WHAT his mission was or IF it was successful. We do know that he died on April 26 and that date is commemorated in a local celebration.

“Der Freidhof musst erweitert warden.”

The coffee in Germany is REALLY good. After drinking at least 5 cups of it this morning we were ready to explore our new village. Lots of history here in Staufen. Apparently it was here, in our very hotel actually, that Dr. Faustus had come in the Middle Ages to apply his “knowledge” of alchemy on behalf of the citizens of Staufen who had fallen into debt. This “deal with the devil” went on to appear at least 25 times in German literature, the most famous of which was the Goethe tale.

As we strolled around the village, we came upon historic markers with photographs from WWII. Here is a picture from around the corner of where we are staying.

February 8, 1945

April 6, 2008

It felt a bit like making the Stations of the Cross as we read story after story of the dark days in early February 1945 as the Allies rained bombs on this town. The living would emerge in the night time and gather in the cemeteries to bury the dead. Soon the cemeteries had to be enlarged.

But all was festive this afternoon during the afternoon street fair. There was a full band set up in front of the Rathaus.

Hunter treated me to my first Curry Wurst which he remembers fondly from years ago. (Quite frankly, it is basically a hot dog in ketchup with curry sprinkled on top … a little strange, but I played along) The fountains in town had not been turned on for the summer season yet, so they set up bars in the middle of the fountains and you would just belly up to the edge of the fountain for your taste of local wine. (Now this IS a good idea …)

The Hotel That Was Not There.

Several things put us off or schedule yesterday afternoon. We had hoped to make the drive from Charles de Gaulle to Freiburg im Breisgau in about 4 hours arriving no later than 5. BUT, but, but … we had to learn how to use the GPS ( a total mystery ) …. How to start our keyless entry rental car (unexpected total mystery) … AND we had to leave the A4 in Rheims to do a drive by of the cathedral (which was unexpectedly HUGE) und so weiter, und so weiter, und so weiter. So that when we arrived in Freiburg, it was pitch dark and raining steadily. BUT we had our trusty GPS and once we entered the address “8 Rathausgasse” we landed in our location in the pedestrian zone of the Altstadt. But WHERE was the hotel? Not there.

I had only slept two hours on the flight over and by the time we arrived in front of the hotel that was not there, I had been up for 34 hours straight. Many thanks to the German woman who looked at our paper work and informed us that in fact we were at the right address, but in the wrong town. We had a hotel in the town of Staufen im Breisgau NOT Freiburg im Breisgau. I was only getting the loose gist of this conversation between her and Hunter most of which was being communicated to me by the deep disappointment on Hunter’s face. He knew he had a sleepless time bomb on his hands. I could not wait for his translation. In desperation I heard myself say to the woman, “wieviel kilometer, bitte?”

So back into the dark and stormy night we went, and a half hour later landed in the charming village of Staufen im Breisgau. We found our way into the hotel restaurant hungry and exhausted at 10 pm and found the crowd was just warming up to the evening. I lifted a dry Reisling to Hunter’s local draft Furstenberg and we settled in to a delicious meal . After dinner, as the clock approached midnight we wandered out into the square to sounds of a private party singing “Wundabar” through the open window of the restaurant. Alles gemutlich !!