Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain

In your heart of hearts, you know it isn't this easy, this traveling bit. But just to keep it real, let's talk about Wednesday's logistics.
I didn't sleep at all the night before, trying to get the apartment clean and us packed, and worrying about everything I'd forgotten. Rob slept like the dead, so I listened to him and tried to sleep vicariously. Didn't work. So in the morning, I forgot my purse, which I realized when we were at the train station. I rushed back up on the U-bahn and Maddie met me there in her pajamas, handed off the purse and I stepped onto another train back down. This meant that we missed the first train, and we were walking off the train when our flight began boarding.
It was hectic, but we made the flight with only minor sweating. In Stuttgart, however, we found that of the three bags we'd checked, only one had made it: the stroller. The other two were clothes for all three of us, and Joss's travel crib. We were the only people with lost luggage, so we were a little put out that they'd managed to lose two out of three.
The rental car wasn't in the right parking spot, took some getting used to, and we couldn't figure out how to move the seats up and back and ended up with all of our lumbar adjustments adjusted and slide out extensions extended before we finally found it. Aside from its being a manual transmission (of course) and a diesel (??), it was a perfect car after that.
Even the navigational dominatrix, whom I usually disagree with and have to shutdown, was smarter than average and she and I got along fine. You already heard about Stuttgart for lunch, then I knew I wanted to go to Burg Hohenzollern, but I didn't quite know how to get there. The American directions I'd downloaded didn't work well and we kept losing our way, so we finally just went to Tubingen to get directions.

We stopped at a converted gas station that was selling wine, bread, cheese, olive oil and produce and we bought some lunch there. It was a huge score. Not only did they set us back on the right path to the castle, they sold us the Best Nectarine of 2009. No kidding! The ciabatta was a beauty, and Rob got this soft cheese made of cow, sheep, and goat's milk. It was incredible, but more incredible still is the fact that he ate nearly an entire round of it at one sitting! Yep.

We drove to Hechingen, which is by the castle, and we pulled off to look at a map. Another car pulled up in front of us, I think simply because he saw the lost tourists, and the driver got out. He was dressed as a lot of blue-collar workers here would be, in a t-shirt with sort of short-alls over it, and work boots. He had a mustache that was curled at the ends. He reminded me of Yosemite Sam. He asked where we wanted to go and told us how to get there, pointing and gesticulating and talking nonstop. He was as adamant as the shopping lady in Spain had been, and he made me laugh just as much. He looked me up and down, checked out my shoes, and told Rob "you'll want to take the shuttle up the hill". At the end he told Rob that he'd spoken slowly so Rob could understand him and I got into the car and busted up. But his directions were perfect.

By this time in the afternoon, poor Joss had been woken up half a dozen times and hadn't had a nap of more than half an hour. It had rained off and on, and he was asleep. We waited in the car, snarfing down cheese and bread and nectarines until he woke up. Then there was a downpour which we waited out in the shuttle driver's hut (yes, we took the shuttle up, since I had forgotten my ski poles which are obligatory for hiking here).

You've already heard about the castle, but during the whole tour, Joss was trying to sleep, and couldn't quite get there. He wanted to be held, he was too cold, we only had a blanket for him since all of his other clothes were in the lost suitcase . . . At some point he started to run a fever, and I still don't know if it was from teething (three molars) or from the cold or from exhaustion.

We finally reached our hotel about seven in the evening and this was our party room. Check out that headboard! Just goes to show you what can be done with a length of rope lights. Even the TV and fireplace had halogen uplighting in the floor. Joss was the happiest to get here, and he especially liked the fruit plate.

It was an absolutely insane day, but if that is what it takes to see Stuttgart and the castle and Tubingen, I'd do it again. I'd only change three things: 1. I'd take a sleeping pill 2. I'd remember my purse and 3. I'd have eaten at the indian restaurant next to the Vegi Voodoo King -- their food smelled great and I'll bet that their restrooms wouldn't have made me feel quite so middle-aged (there were so many band adverts/bumper stickers/action alerts that the mirrors and doors were completely obscured; which one is the ladies' room?).

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