After Zurich we were very fortunate to be invited to the Allgäu region in southern Germany within sight of the mountainous border of the Allgäu and Bavarian Alps. This sounds like I am so knowledgeable but I actually just looked up in Wikipedia what I saw with my own eyes. Our host Ariane took us around her home town of Weiler-Simmerberg. She likes to hike and she took us on gradually longer hikes of her favorite places.
We met our friend Ariane at the train station in Rothenbach near her home town of Weiler-Simmerberg in the Allgau.
We were greeted warmly. Though we had only known her for a few days in Assisi she generously took us into her home. We also were introduced to her twin teen age girls Gloria and Raffaela, and , few days later to Daniel her long time friend from Switzerland. This made life very interesting. Interesting because, as tourists, most of our contacts after Assisi, with the exception of Zurich, were brief encounters with the locals. This had left us with only each other to talk to.
Fortunately this family spoke English! This was great as we could finally speak to someone in more depth who was from a completely different country. I did learn some German. Gloria taught me the most important phrases….how to order a large beer and how say I was ready for the bill).
Our host never seem to tire of using English, a language most Germans are exposed to early on (in my high school growing up we could elect to take German but my school was a rarity and most students did not elect to take German). The language and cultural differences made for some interesting conversations. Apparently Hippie culture is back in fashion? Is this really true? Gloria seemed fascinated by our hippie past. I dredged up a photo of Ariana and I when we were married at a meditation camp in the early 80’s which lead to conversations about brightly painted VW campers and music festivals. We had quite a few conversations with Gloria.
Sadly we saw less of Raffaela. She was already working in one of Germany’s many programs which train students of high school age in technical skills. Germany has one of the best working apprentice programs in the world. Raffaela shared with us some web photos of some of her projects in media design.
One morning Raffaela came down for breakfast and asked me very sweetly how I was. I must have still been very sleepy because she left and went upstairs and a few minutes later came down and asked me pretty much the same thing. I answered again. She went back up. Then I suddenly realized it was Gloria that had come down the second time. Yes living with twins can be confusing. Also as a former special education teacher who also worked with teens with a lot of emotional issues, I still can’t help being surprised how kind and considerate young people can be.
It was Ariane mostly who showed us around Germany.
At one point Ariane was excited to tell us about this remote cabin alongside the hiking trail where an old, bearded, goatherder lived who made this delicious cheese. She had known him for quite a while and I pictured a little shack in an alpine valley in which would reside Heidi’s grandfather – remembering the classic children’s tale about an orphan girls love of her grandfather and the magical effects of goat milk and healthy living.
We were all surprised when we arrived at the “isolated shack” in my mind and discovered the old man was hosting an annual music festival in his “backyard”. There were over a hundred people and lots of cheese, beer, wine and bratwurst perched on a hill side listening to some jazzy music.
Apparently Heidi’s grandfather hosts this music festival once a year and this was the day. We were tired and hungry so we feasted and drank wine. Hiking in the solitude of the German countryside is only the toughest.
Coming up, we acend a tall mountain with the help of a cable car and Daniel gives me the gift of German music. – Sort of.