Day Tripper

Trip Start Oct 18, 2012
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Flag of France  , Alsace,
Saturday, February 16, 2013

Howdy folks,

Well it has been Carnival Week here in Germany and there have been plenty of things going on. Karneval or Fasching is a pretty big deal here and people go all out dressing up in fancy dress and going to clubs or balls. We were going to go to a big ball in Mannheim on Saturday, but instead we headed to the local one on Rosenmontag at the Seckenheim Schloss is on the outskirts of Mannheim. I got dressed up in all my Australian souvenirs: Australian Flag cape, BBQ apron, umbrella hat, flip flops and stuffed koala and kangaroos for good luck. Steffie revived her vamp from Banff Halloween and put on some big fake eyelashes for good effect.

We met Paula there and spent a good couple of hours checking out all the costumes and dances. There wasn't really a specific theme, there were: a smurf, the Mario Brothers, Avatar, Pirates, Cops, Top Gun, a cowboy etc. The local dance club put on a good show and the MC was dressed as a drag queen complete with G string! We made a game of trying to get photos with random people and most people were obliging enough: Foto bitte!

On Wednesday, we went out to Heidi's Restaurant here in Edingen for the traditional Herrings Essen which is the official conclusion of Fasching. Now I don't mind chowing down on a rollmop from time to time, but a whole plate of them covered in sauce was a bit much. Nevertheless it was good to get in on the local happenings. We don't really do Carnival in Australia although Sydney does the Mardi Gras.

I only had 2 days of school this week because we had 2 days off for Fasching and the teacher was sick on Wednesday so I didn't learn a whole lot other than Dative Adjectives z.B. Ich habe ein blaues Hemd, aber ich bin der Mann mit dem blauen Hemd. Don't bother trying to figure out why unless you are German!

Steffie and I exchanged the obligatory chocolates on Valentines Day. I'm not much of a romantic although that isn't much of an excuse. On Friday it was her mother's birthday so we organised a big bouquet of flowers and all went out to dinner at the Schnitzel Bank in Heidelberg. The restaurant is rated Number 1 on Tripadvisor although I didn't think it was that great. Everyone was crowded in row seating in a tiny room and when of course Aeneas started crying as all babies do then it caused a bit of a problem! The food was good though!

Every month her mother and her Uncle Rainer take the train to a small border town called Wissemburg (Wissembourg) so that they can play the Eurolotto and pick up some cheese and I thought I would tag along for the ride. It isn't every day that you can take a train to France and back in a day, but in Europe all that and more is possible. It was especially good for me because I got to do it for free because they both have train passes and on weekends they can take up to 4 people with them. We left the house at 8:15am and walked to the tram station where we caught the tram into Mannheim Hbf. It was a short wait for the connecting train to Neustadt an der Weinstraße which was my second venture into the Rheinland-Pfalz (I don't really count shopping in Ludwigshafen). That is my 4th province here in Germany, but I have another 12 to go!

We had a 30 minute layover so we drank a coffee and I had a crossaint at the railway station before jumping on the regional train to Wissemburg which is literally just across the border. Rainer pointed out to me the tiny stream that marks the border. "Watch out for the bumpy rail section, that means you are officially in France", he said and that was it. From Wissemburg I could have literally walked back to Germany in 30 minutes. Not bad: from home to France in 3 hours.

With the DB train terminating just across the border, we got out and walked for 10 minutes into the old town. The first stop was to play the lotto and we stopped in at shop that could only be described as a mix between a cafe, bar and a deli. The were the obligatory locals downing a beer before lunch although we went for a cappucino which was pretty good. Next door was a pretty popular sweets shop judging by the crowd standing around the window looking at the eclairs although it was a bit too pricy for me.

We had a few hours to explore so they showed me the sights including the information centre, the old church and a cute little water wheel house. Wissemburg is pretty small at 7,800 people so it didn't take long to walk around. We stopped off at the local shopping centre where we picked up supplies of cheese, pink champagne and Crème Brûlée before it was time to head back. The ride home was the same route although it was made a bit exciting by a few loud drunks and a dozen teenagers with expensive, muddy, downhill bikes. We were back at home just after 5pm.

Not a bad day trip!
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