Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 24

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Wednesday April 16, 2008 (diary)

With Wivica in the 'Bürgerstüble', St.Peter

We arrive at Frankfurt Airport at 5.20 in the morning. Temperature is 5° C and there is an icy cold wind outside. I rest up in the Business Class lounge, then onto the Departure Gate for the flight to Basel, where I buy some perfume for Wivica and cognac for myself.
The flight to Basel with Eurowings (a budget airline of Lufthansa) is a sheer delight. There are no 1st Class seats on the plane, but there is lots of leg room. Instead of the surly Lufthansa cabin crew, we are served by two delightful stewardesses (from their accents I believe Swiss) who manage to give us a very nice light meal, orange juice, coffee, and some delicious hand made chocolates, all within the mere 35 minutes the whole flight takes.

Just a tiny step can be an act of goodness.
Before take off, the stewardesses go through the usual safety features routine. I watch the girl in front of the cabin doing the pantomime demonstration. In the process she moves her arms very gracefully, like a traditional Indian dancer. After the demo she walk straight over to me and says with a smile "Thank you very much for watching me."     It brings home to me at once the situation from her perspective. We all usually act as "experienced travelers" purposely not looking, but demonstrably reading a magazine or looking out of the window.
With her thank you the stewardess politely reveals how demoralising this can be for them, having to go through this routine at every single take off, while purposely being ignored by just about every passenger on the plane.

The moral of this story ?  Think about the other person, rather than about yourself !     Next time you fly watch the person who is doing the safety routine pantomime. This tiny gesture of unselfish goodwill on your part will make her (or him) feel good about what she (he) is doing !

Tiny snow flakes are drifting through the air as we land at Basel Airport. Wivica welcomes me outside the Swiss exit (as I had remembered I should take). However her car is on the French side, so we have to go through customs again anyway, just like the time last year.
We eventually drive in the new Honda Jazz to her garage in Staufen to try out a Blaupunkt GPS we can purchase cheaply from the garage owner. It is a Demo model and he is switching to a newer version. We test it on our way home and it works great, showing the route plus two small diagrams of the next two turn offs ahead, including the distances to them. It also has all European countries installed on it. For € 99 that is an absolute bargain.

With Wivica in 'Der Bürgerstüble' 

St.Peter As we climb up the mountains to Sankt Peter we enter the snow at 500 meters above sea level (asl). Wivica's home is at 730 m asl, so snow all around as we arrive there.
I want to take a picture of this, but first rest up, talk and have a coffee. When I look out off the window after 2 hours, most of the snow has disappeared, only lingering on and near to tops of the mountains. A spectacular view all the same.

In the evening we go to Der Bürgerstüble for dinner. It is my favourite restaurant in Sankt Peter. They have an "Indian month" on at the moment, but I stick to their German fare and a long anticipated ice cream with egg liqueur as desert. Delicious. I am very tired by now and am fast asleep as soon as I hit the pillow back home.

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Thursday April 17, 2008 (diary)

Morning frost in St. Peter

I wake up early in the morning. The sun shines, but outside is still very cold, with ice patches on the terraces. I have a restful day as I feel the effect of the journey. Wivica and I talk a lot and I go through some of the family photos she has. Lots to photograph for my Blog.
In the evening we dine in the nearby Wald Cafe. The owner still remembers me from last year and I alert her to the fact that we will again order Köningsberger Klopse by her, like last year. I am very tired and early to bed.

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Friday April 18, 2008 (diary)

My mother in her 20s

Today we go into Freiburg to buy a few things, like long johns for me. Back home I read some poems by my parents written many years ago. My father's are light and humouristic about the various staff from Martinshof (for a Christmas party) and about some of his friends.
My mother's on the other hand are very emotional and deep all written during the time just after the WW2 when her husband (my father) was still in the concentration camp.

It was a very difficult time for her as a lone German amongst the Dutch, many with a deep hatred for Germans at the time.   These poems reconfirm to me that the deeper introvert, self-reflective side of us clearly comes from my mother's genes, which she in turn received from her own mother (our German grandmother), who unfortunately died very young so we never knew her.

We have bought some food and wine today and dine in. I am once again very early in bed.

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Saturday April 19, 2008 (diary)

Hessian dolls by my mother

After two sunny days I wake up to a dark overcast morning. During the day it gradually lightens up with the odd ray of sunshine breaking through the dense cloud cover.
Amongst the many photos Wivica has there are several small Polaroid prints of the hessian dolls my mother used to make just after the War. They are really lovely, so I photograph 8 of them as a small series on my Blog. There is other material of my mother too which I hope to do prepare at a later date.

I read in my Lonely Planet Guide that the Romantic Rhine (between Koblenz and Bingen) is definitely worth a visit. I have one week between my Ahr visit (April 20-27) and my Mosel (May 2-9) one which I could use to visit there. The area is close to the other two which would work out fine. I have contacted a nice Hotel in Boppard, Hotel Günther, right on the Rhine river front and hope to get a reservation there for the week.

We have dinner in the Italian Restaurant in the center of St.Peter. Very good indeed. I have an entree of grilled escargots (snails) in a delicious souce. Spagetti Bol after with the spagetti exactly doen "al dente". No wonder, as the chef is indeed Italian himself. Wivica has a Tuna Pizza with light crispy crust.
The bill of a mere € 20 including drinks is served with a complimentary nip of Grappa. The place to be !!

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Sunday April 20, 2008 (diary)

Hotel Günther in Boppard has only rooms without a view available, so I contact RheinHotel Rebstock (also in Boppard) instead and book a room with view there. It is the first choice in the Lonely Planet Guide anyway. Price per night only € 31 per night including breakfast.

Hotel Zum Schwarzen Kreuz, Altenahr I leave St.Peter about 10.20 am. The Blaupunkt GPS works like a charm. Half the time I am not sure where I am, at one stage all road signs are French, then German again. It is overcast all the way with some haze higher in the air. Temperature around 8-10 ° C. As I finally take the turn off to Altenahr the sun starts to shine through, and I arrive there about 14.20, a 4 hours drive. The town is bustling with weekend visitors, all sitting on the terraces catching the sun. Hotel Zum Schwarzen Kreuz is a delightful building, and inside too the decor is very old and lovely. I have a spacious room on the top floor (there is a lift too) with Biedermeier chairs and a small balcony.

After a few beers outside on the terrace I go in for dinner (included in the price). It is a most memorable one. A consomme so clear you could still have seen the bottom of my cup if it was 100 meters deep. Then a grilled fish, frankly probably the best I ever had. It is called a "Pangasius" (?) or something like that. truly delicious. Desert is ice cream and the staff is happy enough to oblige me with some egg liqueur over it.

Back in my room I am exhausted, still very tired from the flight, jet leg and today's drive. I pick up my emails and a familiar and dear stone gently drops into my emotional pond (it is "She" again). The ripples spread. What will the future bring ? Let me be quiet, listen and contemplate.

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