April 27, 2014: Śmigus-Dyngus

So this brings me to Easter Monday, which isn’t typically celebrated in American, but it is here in Germany.  The day started when Frau Arneth (the lady in charge of my program and who looks after me) came and picked me up at around 11 to go on a day out.  It was quite nice to get to spend some time with her since I don’t see her terribly often.  And she is a really sweet lady who kind of reminds me of my late granny in both physical features and demeanor.  Anyway, she picked me up and we drove around and through several small towns in order to see the fountains of each village which are typically decorated for Easter.  Despite most of the villages we drove through not having much done to their fountains, we did see several nice ones with their hollowed out painted egg shells and garland laced around the fountains.  It was quite interesting to see all of the fountains even though Frau Arneth kept saying how disappointing they all were this year.  After driving around for a while we stopped at a beer garden in Schwarzachtal to have some lunch.  It was typical beer garden fare.  I had a wiener schnitzel and a side salad.  It was pretty nice and the service was very quick.  Then we went hiking it what is called the Little Grand Canyon in the Frankische Schweiz.  For those of you who don’t know, they are just several little foothills of what I can only assume to be a part of the Alps to our South.  The hills are not even as large as those you might find in northern Alabama, but they are nice nonetheless.  And the Little Grand Canyon is a hiking trail (well more like a walk) through the small canyon made by a small river.  Given that it is such a small and calm looking river, it is pretty impressive how deep it actually is.  It’s a shame I didn’t get any pictures though, but it was nice.  And the weather was pretty nice as well.  So after our hour or so walk along the river and through the canyon, we headed back to Frau Arneth’s house to have so coffee and cake.  It was there that I met some of her family and we talked about a whole host of subjects, including marijuana, heh.  And eventually it was time for me to head back home so that I could meet up with some friends to do an Easter egg hunt in the sculpture garden on the “Berg”.

 

But first, we had to celebrate Easter Monday the Polish way, which meant Śmigus-Dyngus.  For those of you unfamiliar with the holiday it mostly involves guys pouring water over girls as a superstitious way to ensure girls will get married some day.  There has to be some sort of innuendo I’m missing here.  And since one of my best friends over here is Polish, well, we had to make sure she would get married some day.  So make shift water guns in hand, we made our way to Ela’s.  After ringing the doorbell we finally saw her coming down the stairs, rain jacket on and water bottle in hand, prepared for the soaking of her life.  After two rounds of water fights, we all finally headed up to the berg, about an hour and a half late and drenched.  But there was still a good 30 minutes or so of egg hunting before everyone was too drunk to do anymore.  It was pretty fun running around finding eggs, especially with all of the drunk people.  See the game was to have one person hide the eggs (the winner from the last round) and then everyone else had to take a shot of something, spin around on a stick 10 times, and then go.  I thought I was going to fall even though I decided against the shots.  I did, however, get into it (as I do sometimes get unreasonably competitive when there is a competition).  I ended up kneeing a stone wall and having a massive bruise, but I kind of deserved it for pushing one of my friends out of the way to get the egg.  Potato.

 

After that we decided to meet up with Tom in the park because he had not yet partaken in the fun that is Śmigus-Dyngus.  So on the way back we found a stream and filled our water bottles with some water and got ready for our sneak attack.  And sadly, as we crept up on Tom, we realized he had his phone out and we couldn’t quite bring ourselves to douse him until he had put it away.  But by then he had caught on and started running.  We then had to work together to corral him like a pack of hungry lions would do to a gazelle.  We still didn’t drench him as much as we had wanted to, but it was fun.  And he later got a hold of Donald’s water bottle and chased Ela and I to the square.  Several people looked at us as we squealed from the frigid water, but it was fun.  After that Donald, Tom, and I went to a nearby Donner place and we ordered what had to be the biggest pizza I have ever seen.  We struggled to eat it all between the three of us.  It was good though.

 

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As for the next two days we met Donald’s uncle and cousin who came to visit him in Erlangen.  It was pretty nice.  There was a lot of eating, drinking, and socializing, so it was pretty relaxing.  We also found some pretty good places to eat in Erlangen and Nuremberg.  I think the most interesting thing we had to have done was go visit the courtroom where they had the Nuremberg Trials.  And while the room was arranged differently than it originally was in the ’40s and ’50s, we still got to see where the Nazis were actually tried.  We also got to read detailed information about not only the trials, but also the defendants, attorneys, prosecutors, and judges.  There was even a brief exhibit on the Tokyo Trials, which was pretty interesting as well since no one really discusses the war criminals in Japan.  After the museum and lunch we walked around the historic part of Nuremberg.  Since his uncle didn’t feel up to walking up to the castle, we stayed in the square and visited a couple of churches.  We also saw a folk music band playing outside of one of the restaurants which also had an entire pig roasting in an oven.  We then made our way to a small cafe by the river and sat there for awhile and chatted.  It was nice and relaxing, and I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten so well for two days straight!

 

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Outside of that it was not a terribly eventful week.  On Friday Ela and I took a bike ride to try and find some lakes we wanted to visit on Saturday.  After getting lost for a bit we ended up taking a trail up this large hill and overlooking a beautiful valley with meadows and small villages dotting the ground.  We cycled around for a bit longer before deciding to picnic in a meadow.  After lunch we cycled up another big hill and made our way to Neunkirchen, which is a small town not terribly far from Erlangen.  It was nice, but we didn’t stay long before making our way back.  The on Saturday Donald, Tom, Ela, and I did end up going on a bike ride to the lakes we tried to find the day before about 45 minutes away.  We also took stuff to grill and even had chocolate and marsh mellows for dessert.  The only thing missing was the graham crackers.  And while most of the ride to the lakes was pretty uneventful, we began to have a bit of bad luck as we neared the lake.  While crossing a field Donald’s bike chain snapped in two, leaving us with either two options: we take a bus back home or we devise a way of towing him to the lake.  We went with the latter, or course.  Using two bike locks and the back of Tom’s bike, we made it safely there and even towed Donald all the way back to Erlangen in this manner, getting the most bizarre looks from people we passed.  Overall it was a pretty nice day.  I only had two complaints: I forgot to bring my swimsuit so I couldn’t go swimming and ticks.  We somehow managed to not get them all over us, but we did find a couple roaming around on our blanket, causing me to be quite paranoid the rest of the outing.  And while there were some light gray towering clouds threatening us with their rolling thunder, we stayed for quite a while before deciding to head back home.  And it didn’t even rain on us!

 

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