Coming back to Germany was a great way to end the trip, especially with the opportunity to visit the Grimm brothers’ stomping grounds and a 700-year-old castle. Our first stop in the late morning was at a quaint little place surrounded on all sides by the Black Forest.
Not only did many beloved fairy tales originate from this area, but also many beautiful, handmade cuckoo clocks.
This is the building where we received a brief tour on the making of various types of cuckoo clocks, all created with wood straight from the Black Forest. Even the side of this building was a working cuckoo clock, complete with a giant bird emerging from the top window and the dancers you see twirling around to music every half hour.
As we were released from our tour guide to browse the display of clocks on our own, I absentmindedly glanced over several, not intending to buy any (for one, how would I pack that in my already bulging suitcase?!). One of the workers started to chat with me, asking where I was from. When I told him “Texas”, he remarked that Texans are the only people he’s met that name their state rather than their country. Why am I not surprised?
As our conversation died down, I turned to look at some smaller decorative items, when something familiar caught my eye…my own name! “Heidi Haus” was labeled on one of the little figures on a display shelf, featuring Heidi and her grandfather from the story. In a daze of excitement, I pointed at the small figure and exclaimed, “That’s my name!” The same worker turned to me and asked, “Your name is Heidi?”
As I nodded he matched my excitement and began to show me all the different clocks they had (which were much bigger and more impressive than what I originally found) with my name all over them! What was he doing to me? Way too tempting…and the prices were out of my comfort zone.
As we went around the store, a couple more workers got involved and started making me feel like a celebrity as they marveled, “Your name is Heidi? Is this your first time in Germany?” Was I supposed to be going there all along? Is it weird that this was my first time? I don’t know, but I’m definitely glad I got over there!
Finally, I found myself standing in front of one cuckoo clock featuring my name and all the well-known characters that were key to the story, a beautiful piece of work that might be considered within a reasonable price range. Still, the price was steep, and I couldn’t decide. I reached out to turn the hands so I could catch the “cuckoo”, when my thoughts were interrupted by a new worker offering his assistance. He turned the hands for me and I decided to inform him that I shared a name with the clock.
“Oh, really! Is this your first time in Germany?” (That question again!) This particular worker was younger than the others, very cute, and I could have listened to him talk with that accent all day. We had some easy flowing conversation with a bit of banter, then I stared back at the clock with so much indecision, a stupid amount of time passed with me staring like an idiot, hand covering my mouth and chin. He finally broke the weird silence with an enticing statement, “If I found a clock with my name on it, I would buy it immediately.”
Hearing that with the adorable accent just pushed me over the edge as I slowly drew out the words: “I think I’m going to buy it.”
“You think?” he teased.
“Ok, I am going to buy it!”
He punched in some numbers for me and led me to the cashier with the form, saying with a certain charm, “One Heidi Haus for Heidi.”
The cashier immediately showed her excitement for me, flashing a big smile and remarking, “Oh! Wonderful!”
So I am still expecting that in the mail, and I am SO EXCITED!!
Not to mention the guy reappeared after the purchase to talk to me again before I left. *melts*
Once in our Frankfurt hostel I was in for my second fun surprise of the day (though only appreciated by me). Our room number happened to be 511, which is my birthday! I was meant to go to Germany. 😉
Our dinner that night was by far my favorite of the trip. We ate at this place called Leib & Seele and had a waiter who enjoyed messing with us. It took us a while to figure this out, and at times we were really having trouble understanding him. However, we were laughing throughout the entire night, and he also laughed pretty much every time he looked over at our table. The first thing he did was bring out a giant plate full of meat and potatoes that I know I didn’t order and put it right in front of my face. I was sitting in the middle of the table and was so confused, since we had just ordered maybe a minute earlier and nobody else at my table had a plate in their face. He kept looking at me, inching the plate closer and smiling at my confusion. My hands were in the air questioningly and I was leaning away from the plate, unable to think fast enough as he kept offering it to me, until finally, I put my hands under the plate. As soon as I touched it, he whisked it away and disappeared. It was so confusing, embarrassing, and oddly funny.
There were other times when he spoke to our table that I realized he was trying to make a joke or tease one of us, but it took a second for us to catch on. Even when I ordered a cocktail, he nudged my shoulder and made a noise as if suggesting he knew the real reason behind my ordering a drink. Confusing! Funny! I love interacting with people from other cultures!
The end of the night was the best part, for as we were paying he really pulled out all the stops. He asked me my name before I gave him my card and reacted by declaring loudly, “Heidi!” I couldn’t tell if he was surprised or pleased that that was my name. He went to swipe my card and then I heard him calling my name from the entrance of the restaurant. He was holding my card above his head, beaming from ear to ear, and saying “Bye Heidi!” as if he was about to run out the door with my card. Boy, this guy loved to mess around. And we were totally eating it up. He asked Rosy to write down her number on the receipt so he could call her, and he whipped out a quick-witted response when the last of our group, Amanda, asked him what the name of the restaurant meant.
“Body and soul,” he replied in a thick accent. Repeating himself again, he added, “I’m the soul,” then pointed at Amanda, “you’re the body.”
“Oh!” she innocently responded, absentmindedly pulling her cardigan across her body to cover herself, and our table almost cried from laughing so hard.
The next day we hopped on the bus and headed to a slightly rainy Heidelberg. I also loved how this city has close similarity to my name!A view looking up towards Schloss Heidelberg, the 700-year-old castle.
And now, the castle! We wanted to take a picture sitting in front of the castle, and we ended up with a photographer who decided to get some candid shots before we were ready. I love how this one turned out!
Inside the castle we walked around and up and over the largest wine cask/barrel in the world (holds 58,124 gallons of wine!!).
And then, of course, why not have a wine tasting by the giant monument to wine?
One other special thing I tried in this city was a “snowball”, a treat made out of shortcrust pastry rolled into balls and fashioned with several options of flavors. You can see the display in the bakery below:I believe I got a mocha or cappuccino flavor. It was a little tricky to eat, but delicious!
We were greeted by lots of rain once we returned to Frankfurt late that afternoon, but after a while the skies cleared rather quickly. I loved the architecture and design of these buildings!
There weren’t many shops open aside from souvenir shops, so after some of our final souvenir shopping we stopped at a little coffee shop and sipped on hot chocolates and cappuccinos under covered umbrellas on the patio seating (so much of Europe had this seating option and I loved it. Why not enjoy the beautiful outdoors?). The elderly gentleman who owned the place asked us where we were from and then proudly showed off his “Texas” belt buckle. Texas gets its name out there!
Our goodbye dinner that evening that we enjoyed with the entire group was some of the tastiest food I’ve ever eaten. It was so much…much more than we were able to eat, but we kept taking bites because of how tasty it was! I didn’t take many pictures of food on this trip, but I had to commemorate this meal:
I might as well include a picture of our tour group. I believe there were about 45 of us in all. Here we are just before entering the castle in Heidelberg:
And finally, one of my favorite pictures of the trip (just because we got both the bus driver and tour director in the middle of our Texas group).
Thanks for taking the time to read and partake in the stories and pictures from my travels. I hope I inspired a bit of wanderlust in you as well.