. Following breakfast we wandered through Globus and picked out some meats and cheeses to make lunch later and we headed out following Karl and Angelika through some of the neighboring towns to get a feel of the countryside. The drive took us past a giant restaurant shaped like a wine barrel, the surrounding vineyards and up into the mountains past yet another castle on a high hill. It was a beautiful day for a drive but soon we had to return so that James could drive Kent and Christine to the airport in Frankfurt for their flight back to the waiting puppy Riley. Saturday night the four and a half of us who remained met cousins Walter, Elka and their daughter Jenny for a short streetcar ride to Mannheim where we were dropped off directly in front of the Stadtfest (Cityfest). This is an annual street festival which featured dozens of food and beer vendors and six stages of live music. A normally busy city street was closed down for the weekend to make room for this enormous party which kicks off the summer festival season. We were told that with the winters being so cold, Germans tend to make the most of the time of year they can party outside and who were we to object? It was fun to walk the streets with the locals and listen to the bands play. Following the street festival, Della and I were treated to another local's experience, the disco. Jenny took us to a giant club located underneath the train station where hundreds and hundreds of young Germans gathered in the three different themed dance rooms
. Apparently the club can hold up to 3000 people and given the size of the different rooms, we believe it. Each of the large spaces had different music playing but we spent most of our time in the House Music room which was decorated like a medieval castle with candelabras all around the multi-level sitting areas and black-light pillars around the dance floor. In one room it was Captain Morgan night, complete with the man himself, handing out tri-corner hats to the ladies and posing for pictures (Captain and Coke was on sale for 3.50€). One of the interesting aspects of the club that we thought should come home with us was the way that they pay for drinks. On the way into the club, they take your picture and give you a credit card, similar to a hotel room key, that way when you go to buy drinks you give them your card and after seeing your picture come up, they charge your drinks to it. Then on your way out of the club, you give them back the card and pay for your drinks. The limit on the card is 55€, which is more than enough since most of the drinks seemed to be around 3€ anyway, and we aren’t sure what happens if you charge that up and then can’t pay, but it can’t be good!
After returning to Ludwigshafen last night after a long day of driving from Munich we were welcomed to dinner with Karl and Angelika. It was great to experience a homecooked German meal and the hospitality that comes with it. We enjoyed an assortment of meats and cheeses, kartoffelsalat (a potato salad but much better than the American version), and fricadella which is a hamburger meatball cooked in a mushroom soup. They invited us to meet the Saturday morning for breakfast at their usual spot, Globus. This was a bit like going to a Walmart with a café inside and the food was quite delicious. They come here almost every morning and so know a lot of other regulars, including their neighbors who we sat with. Karl brought all of the men "meat-mitts" which is essentially a sandwich of bread and meat made with either a thick piece of bologna-like meat or fricadella (both were delicious). Angelika took the women through the cafeteria style line to pick up their breakfasts from the buffet and get coffee or tea for everyone