Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Life in Germany

Traveling to Germany has been very interesting because I am so unfamiliar with the language; and I have been staying out in the country with my new friend Christian Lutz. I knew I could trust him because he’s an old friend of Uni and her Ukelele, and has traveled a lot in the United States. I have been very lucky to have him as my tour guide, host and translator.

Chris lives in his family’s old farmhouse in a small village (apx. 800 people) named Hergolshausen, which is in the Franconian part of Bavaria, near Schweinfurt, which is near Wurzburg. The compound consists of a semi-modernized house, a big barn, a storage garage, an unoccupied house, and a large courtyard. It is the oldest farm in the village, and right next to the church.

My first gig was at The Standard in Wurzburg on Thursday night. But before the gig, Chris took me to see the large fort/castle on the hilltop overlooking the city. What a view! The hip college aged crowd at The Standard generously tipped me, and I enjoyed meeting the owner, Hari, and a few other musicians that frequent the club.

Festung Mariehenberg in Wurzburg

Amber with Hari of The Standard

Friday was my designated day to go to Klingenthal on the Czech border and see the Weltmeister Factory. We got the factory just in time for a short tour; it was Friday and they closed at noon. I found the room where they put together the bass mechanism the most interesting. Looking at the racks of pins and levers and buttons – trying to figure out how they all go together… it was a mesmerizing puzzle. Then Chris and I took a little trip over to the next town where there was a museum of musical instruments. There were instruments of all sorts – from violins, to tubas, to clarinets and accordions, guitars, pianos, autoharps and fun old music boxes with classic German marches and waltzes.

We were even able to put a coin in one and watch it work!

making bass mechanisms

Chris standing next to the largest accordion in the world!

My second gig was at Café Vondran on Saturday night in Schweinfurt, which is more of an industrial town and where Chris works at the SKF factory. The gracious and funny manager, Bernd, had lived in the San Francisco area for almost 20 years – so we had a lot to talk about! I also met a group of women who work at the Army base in Schweinfurt. I learned that there are 20,000 Americans living on the base in that area – so it was pretty easy to communicate – everyone understood English.

Sunday night Chris took me into Bamburg to crash a Jam Session at a club and play a few songs – it actually went really well… I was surprised! The players were all guys jamming out on classic-rock style music. I decided to be brazen and went up on stage between songs and took the mic. The drummer and bas player tried to follow along… Luckily I sold some CDs.

Monday was another tourist day for me. Bernd, the manager at Café Vondran, acted as my tour guide and took me to see Rothenberg ob der Tauber which is a medieval walled city with Tudor style buildings and a museum of torture devices that made my stomach queasy. But it was overall a very charming and wonderful city with lots of cutesy shops.

Bernd being my tour guide


One of the biggest lessons I’ve been learning in Germany, is about language. Luckily Chris and his nieces have been humorously and patiently helping me learn words. I’ve also been eating some amazing food, and it’s a good thing that I am eating meat – there are lots of tasty sausages and cold-cuts with nuts, and eggs, and flavorful, decorative items to choose from. And the baked goods… yum! I definitely like Germany; it’s very clean, well organized, and sensible. The people I have encountered are very generous, have great senses of humor, and have pride in their culture.

1 comment:

  1. I knew you would enjoy Germany. I miss it. I have been to the places you are. Enjoy the trip. If you could bring some tubes of Lowen mustard, ramoulde sauce and curry ketschup ( 2 of each ) I will pay for them. Thanks. Raven