24 August 2006


I took advantage of the day off to go to Nuremburg. Though it was enjoyable I might have been better off hanging around and resting; I'm starting to feel unpleasantly congested, probably due to second-hand smoke, and I can feel the bags under my eyes growing larger by the hour, though this does give me a look both dissolute and otherworldly so suitable to Wagner's music.
I had already seen the landscape on the way here, when I had to change trains at Nuremburg for the second time. There are some fields of corn, a few wooded patches, and lots of little towns that at first glance look similar to little towns in America until you notice how very steeply pitched the roofs are or see the black red and gold stripes of the German flag fluttering over the backyard patio or barbecue. The rest of the landscape is the sort that looks incomplete without cows, though only once did I think I glimpsed some through some trees.
The problem for me with day trips is that though I enjoy being in different places I don't usually enjoy getting there, so it's a question of whether the pleasures of the place will outweigh the vexations of the journey. If you've been before it helps, but faced with a large train station I always have to remember that things like that have to work on a system so all I have to do is figure out enough of the system to get where I want to go. It helps a lot here that -- do I even need to say it? -- the trains run on time. If the departure time is 12:51, the train leaves at 12:51. This is an adjustment though a pleasant one to someone used to BART.
Today contradicted a number of my experiences so far:
First, I had my first encounter with someone who was unpleasant about my lack of German: a thin dark-haired young man behind a counter who glared at me and shouted in German and then ignored me. I could figure out about a third of what he was saying and it turned out I was in the wrong line anyway.
Second, I did use French as a fall-back language: a kindly hunchbacked old woman working the shop at St. Sebald's tried to explain to me that the CD I was buying was out of stock and I tried to explain that another one would be OK since I just wanted one because the music was performed on that church's organ. We built that language bridge from French stone with the mortar of an occasional German word.
Third, I was caught in a downpour just as I stepped out of Durer's house. Fortunately I managed to slip back into a church, my version of Hunding's hut, soon enough to avoid getting my only shoes and non-opera pants soaked.

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