Further Adventures in Germany, Part 1
The program may have ended, but my adventure continues.
At the end of our week in Berlin, only I remained in the city. I checked into a hostel in the vicinity of the Hauptbahnhof, and awaited my train to Frankfurt, which didn’t leave until Monday. Here is where I would post more pictures of Berlin, but I didn’t follow my own advice of getting out; my last three days in Berlin were spent sleeping and watching Netflix, allowing myself to recuperate from 5 weeks of continuous schoolwork and travel. It was a nice little reprieve, but I am kicking myself a little bit over the missed opportunities to continue exploring Berlin.
Now, the reason I was headed to Frankfurt was to meet up with my mother and sister, who had decided to join me in Germany. Now, as I explained here in my last post, my mother spent several years in the 1970s in Germany. Her primary excuse over her visiting Germany was to visit me, but I know that her true reasoning was to visit her childhood home. Hence, Frankfurt; my mother lived in a tiny village outside of Aschaffenburg called Straβbessenbach, which was the first place on our itinerary to visit (further confirming said theory).
When I met my mother and sister at their arrival gate at the Frankfurt airport, I found them already waiting with two others. Rather than taking the train, as has been my primary mode of transportation here, my mother had gotten into contact with her old neighbors, two very typical Bavarians: Karl-Heinz and Elisabeth. They, being very generous and excited to see the young girl who had lived next to them in the 70s, kindly offered us a place to stay in the local Gasthaus and transportation around the area.
Of course, being from such a small village and being a bit older, they spoke very little English. My sister (speaking no German) and my mother (trying to remember 30-year-old German) relied on me to relay conversation between them and Karl-Heinz. We loaded all of our baggage into their car (my mother didn’t get the memo about packing light for the trains) and headed off to Straβbessenbach.
Straβbessenbach was very different from both Leipzig and Berlin. No towering, monolithic remnants of history filled out the skyline, and only small, comfortable houses lined the streets. That is not to say that the village was without history, though; zum Weiβen Ross, the Gasthaus in which we stayed, had been run by the family Scherf since the 1700s.
During our time there, Karl-Heinz drove us about both the small villages in the area and also into Aschaffenburg, the larger city in the vicinity. It was very interesting for me, not only due to it being my first time visiting the area, but also due to my mother’s return to the area, and how the differences and similarities to its appearance in the 1970s impacted her. My grandfather worked as a liaison between the Air Force and the Army base located in Aschaffenburg, and many of my mother’s memories revolve around the base, now all but dismantled. She also expressed dismay at her favorite Italian restaurant being turned into a parking lot.
Even as she reconciled her memories of the place with the present, she was delighted to find some things the same. Karl-Heinz and Elisabeth still lived in the same house as they had 40 years ago, and my mother’s old house still stood beside it. The three sons of their landlords, Herr and Frau Eler, all lived in the area and all independently invited us to dinner, where my mother was able to share in the memories of yesteryear.
All in all, my adventures beyond the program, while new and exciting, have been an exploration of a more personal history than the stories I’ve found in monuments and buildings. This is the history of my mother, and, thus, a history of me.
As I write this, I am riding a train to my next destination, Freiburg, on the second part of my weitere Abenteuer, which you can find by clicking here.