I woke up nervous. Today was the day we would meet Shane’s family, the day we had thought about so long. I could hardly eat my breakfast and was in a hurry to pack up and leave. We finally did around 0800 (we tried to buy 1L beer steins as we signed out but alas there were none.) We went to the train station and looked for flowers. In the single flower shop in the sprawling station there was there were no bouquet to be found. I left my pack on the platform and went to find a store. When I did stop one I had my work cut out for me. Wildflowers? Edelwiess plants? Orchids in pretty glass vases? I ended up with my favourite, two bunches of vivid coloured wildflowers.
We boarded the train to Nuremberg and I grew more and more frightened. Would they like me? Would they judge me? We left the train and ran to the next with only two minutes to spare. I became frantic. Do they even like white wine? What if someone is allergic to flowers? I was nearly crying by the time we reached the Mainbernheim platform. We stepped off the train and looked around. There was Kathrin, waiting as she promised. We said our hellos and hugs, I handed her the flowers, both obviously relieved that the hardest part was over.
We hopped in her car with our packs in the back and stopped at a bakery on the way home. The towns we drove through were picture-perfect Germany. “There is where I work, and there is where I used to work” Kathrin pointed out. “Historical site number 1 and 2” we joked. We got to her house, the place she lives with her mother, father, one brother and grandmother. It is beautiful. She showed us to our room, by far the nicest place we’ve stayed! The house is gorgeous! Wood ceilings in every room, a kitchen made by the hands of her father! We sat down at the table in the kitchen. Andi came in. “My smallest brother” Kathrin introduced, we quickly corrected, her youngest brother, Andi is tallest out of all of us.
The four of us chatted over lunch Kathrin prepared, an excellent hostess. Andi is writing his 12th grade finals and we talked about our trip. After lunch we threw in our laundry and hit the town. Actually, we drove to near by Iphofen. Iphofen is a teeny-tiny town built within the old town walls. Around it actually exists a large wall complete with turrets and gates. We wandered in and out admiring and talking. We got back home and hung our laundry to dry. As we were finishing the parents came home. We met and said hello, Tante was making dinner so we left with Kathrin for the pool. We didn’t know what this meant when we left but we soon found out. About a five minute drive from the house we stopped in front of a large garden. She unlocked the gate and let us inside. Behind the hedges erupted a large yard equipped with a kitchen a bathroom and a pool. It had a dining area and a trailer. Kathrin brought out the lounge chairs and took the cover off the pool.
Because the day was so hot (hottest recorded day of the year) we actually say down up to our necks in the pool. Then I fell asleep in a chair in the very hot sun. When I awoke I quickly moved to the shade and ate a delicious ice cream cone. At 1645 we headed home to try and phone Shane’s mom. We tried her once and didn’t get her (she is allowed a birthday sleep-in after all.) Dinner was served, tante made us a typical franken (the region here) meal with amazing braised beef and large dumplings for soaking up the gravy. It was delicious, it had been so long since a home cooked meal!
After dinner and a nice round of conversation we hit the road again. This time we left with oom, tante, Kathrin, Shane and I. We drove to Sommerach, though it was a maze to get there! We left the car not knowing what to expect. A few minutes later we were shaking hands with Daniel the owner of Then Wineries. He is a small scale producer here in Franken, the wine making region in Germany. We walked around the vineyards lined up the hills. He told us all about the wines he grew and produced, how to become trained in his field and what he does differently than other growers. We talked about labour practices and organic farming. Along the way we sampled different wines, a sparkling wine and rose, a white (Muller-Thurgau), a local grape called Silvaner. By the end five of us had drunk three full bottles of wine and few more halves!
We learned a great deal through their attempts at English and our little game of verbal charades. We finished the walking part of our tour in the Then cellars learning about the aging process of the wines and how the addition of sulphates is the difference between wine and vinegar. He handed us two little bottles of white wine “for the next train ride” he said. The tour was tailored to us and essentially was for us as we were who Daniel talked to. We ended the night sitting in the courtyard with large glasses of red wine talking about this and that. We bought a bottle of Silvaner from Daniel for a price we thought was not enough for how good the product was. We headed home.
When we got there we tried skyping mom again. This time it worked! The family said happy birthday and then she was off to work. I really don’t know what I was so worried about, Shane’s family is so fantastic. I’ve never met hospitality as kind as theirs, my cheeks still hurt from laughing so much!