After a long time of non-stop travelling, topped off by a 12-plus hour bus ride, we were all pretty pooped by the time we arrived in Husum. After checking in, a group of about eight of us went to a restaurant right on the harbor that the hotel desk had recommended for us - and they were right. Dining out in Husum is all about the seafood, and my cod tasted like it had been caught within the hour. Piled on top of my cod were tiny little shrimp called Husumerkrabben or Nordseekrabben depending on whom you ask. No bigger than a dime, they were surprisingly sweet, and very, very tasty. After dinner, everyone, including the nightowls like myself went straight to bed.
The next morning I went to visit Betty Ann to use her phone line for my computer, since my room did not have a phone (the joy of staying in small european hotels...I had a gorgeous room with a private entrance to the street that day, but no telephone. You win a little, you lose a little). Shortly after that we collected Rob and Michael (Michael we were being especially kind to, since Patrick had flown home for the funeral the day before), and went for a walk in the town. Somehow, it is exactly what you would expect an old harbor town on the North Sea to look like...quaint, and equal parts charming and austere. With the cold wind whipping off the north sea, and the clouds never seeming to rise above sea level as they scrape the penninsula to cross over to the Baltic, it's no wonder this place was called "the little grey town by the sea" by Theodore Storm, hometown german author. We did walk through the grounds of the Schloss there - A very pretty building but at this point...just another schloss, so we chose not to go inside and instead walk into the very center of town. Because this town hasn't been important at all in the last 100 years it was emerged from the war relatively unscathed; only the actual port was damaged, the rest of the town is full of historic little buildings. The main church was designed to look much like a lighthouse and the narrow cobblestone streets are also charming. In front of the church in the main square was a small Wienachtsmarkt (Cristmas Market) with a few stalls and food stands. While the merchandise was mass-produced and unappealing, the Gluhwein was a welcome treat from the cold wind.
Betty Ann, Michael and Erwin decided to walk the mile out of town to the north sea...and when they returned with tales of a grey landscape, grey fog and flat, grey water, I was glad I decided not to accompany them. Later that evening, we all tromped back into town for another seafood dinner, and afterwards, stopped for a beer on the Schiffrestaurant to sit and watch the harbor at night.
I woke up early the next morning because I had a dental appointment. In the prior month or so, I had noticed in the mirror a small cavity forming on a tooth, and I wanted to have it taken care of before it became anything serious. On the way there, our company manager informed me that If I wasn't feeling any pain yet, that they wouldn't fix it at all...so I had to recollect how it was painful when I drank very hot coffee or very cold drinks. In the dentist's office, the dentist looked at it, heated something in a flame, then touched it to the tooth...since I did not scream, she decided it wasn't bad, scraped it a tiny bit with the metal implement and then packed it with fluoride. While she was doing this, I tried to explain to her that I wanted to keep it from getting to the point of extreme pain (the concept of preventative dentistry seemd foreign to her) and as she was leaning over me, answering while putting the fluoride patch in place, I noticed that her teeth were horribly crooked and black in several places. Obviously I was not going to get far with this woman, so I just shut up and left when she let me out of the chair.
Patrick arrived back from his grandmother's funeral about an hour before the show; he had planned on getting in several hours before, but one plane was delayed, causing him to miss his original connecting flight out of Frankfurt so by the time his rescheduled plane landed in Hamburg, he'd missed his planned train. He walked into the theater just after soundcheck, and gave a perfect show, after almost 24 hours straight of travelling.
After the show that night, we had dinner at the only restaurant left open in town, and because of that, everyone around us had seen the show and was talking to us about it...or just trying not to look like they were staring when they were staring. It was great -- we all felt like stars that night.
Our next stop was Hameln, but our hotel was in the next town over...we started to complain a little on the bus as we kept driving further and further away from Hameln...but once we checked in, we asked to stay there for Thanksgiving as well. The hotel had been built in the Late '60s, and hadn't been redone since, so it looked like the set of Barbarella or Fantasy Island...I was unable to take any pictures inside, since there was nothing but "mood lighting". In the basement was a full spa area, complete with fountains and waterfalls into the pool, faux roman statues along the edges, hot tub, sauna, steam room, tanning bed, and several "lounging" areas with no clear purpose. We immediately had our company manager ask to keep the pool open for us after the show for a pool party...which lasted until about 4AM...and was much appreciated after a week of cold, wet weather.
In the morning, since we had asked to stay an extra day instead of travelling on Thanksgiving, Michael Danig, Amanda and myself took the train back into Hameln to play tourist. Hameln, as a city, is really working the Peid Piper/Rat kitch. Rats everywhere. Rat inlays into the pavement tracing the 'route' the piper led them on to the river, way back in 1284. Several commemorative statues mourning the loss of the town's children. Bread shaped like rats. A drink called "Black Rat Liqueur". Etc. Etc. Etc. It also happens to be a very charming town in its own right, but you'd almost forget to notice that for all the rats. On the Rathaus (Town Hall) there is a large glockenspiel that plays once every two hours during the day, and is followed by a little carousel that pops out of the wall, depicting the Piper chasing out the rats, then the children following along behind. Even the Grafitti is rat-themed.
From what I could tell, almost everyone had a good time on their day off..although Betty Ann was leading Rob, Christine, Patrick and Michael for a walk in the woods to climb the hill behind the hotel, and apparently she forgot to leave a trail of breadcrumbs to find the way back...after being lost for a few hours, they stumbled on a road, and it happend to be only a few blocks from the hotel.
That evening, our hotel had prepared a Thanksgiving feast for us the best way they knew how. We had a choice of turkey breasts: coated in Musli and baked until crispy, or served under a Bananna/Pear Stew. I chose the musli, which was not quite like what I would have had at home, but quite tasty in its own right. Almost the entire cast gathered there and it was a very nice evening for everyone. A few people got a little weepy, during the toasts, remembering family back home, and family no longer on earth, and it was nice for me to reflect on how lucky I am to be here, travelling Europe with several of my closest friends.
After dinner, both Christines, Mayumi, Angela, Rob, Patrick, Michael and myself were walking back towards the wing with our rooms and we stumbled across a room with a piano in it..and ended up taking turns singing while Michael played the piano. A perfect evening to a wonderful day.
Our next show was in Worms (pronounced with a "v" and rhymes with "forms") and driving into the city over the Rhine the Autobahn bridge had been built into the structure of one of the original fortresses - a true "gate" to the city. However the real masterpiece in the city is the 1000 year old cathedral of St. Peter. The beauty of the building itself, and especially the 17th century baroque altar inside hushed all of us. Also of interest to us was the Kaiserportal in the north: the alcove where Burgundian queens Brunhild and Kriemhild had their fierce argument that brought down their nation...as told much later in Wagner's Ring Cycle. Just as we were exiting the cathedral, the sun had broken through the week-long cloud cover to bathe the building in a red sunset glow. We saw little else of the town (except the inside of the theater and the hotel), but the cathedral alone was worth our time.
The german phrase of the day (For those who know Betty Ann Hunt): Alte Frau, Farbe Deine Haar.
Next up: The Black Forest, Obscene Souveniers, Friedrichshafen, The Whore of Konstanz, and Neuschwanstein Castle.