Linnea and the Lederhosen Man11:33 PM
Taking a short trail away from Ireland, I thought I'd tell you about one of the other places I made it to this year. For a few months, I was, shall we say, in close contact with a man we shall call "The Lederhosen Man". The Lederhosen Man is a friend of Franzi's who came to visit Belfast way back in December. He is quite literally the owner of a prospering, yes, lederhosen shop. One tries so hard not to make sweeping cultural generalizations and then you meet, well, a German whose main livelihood consists of buying and selling outfits that can only be associated with either dodgy sex shops, generally found in East LA, or on small yodlers herding flocks of mountain goats. Surprisingly the owner of this shop was far from being a backwoods shepherd type on par with the mountain men of the Appalachians and was actually quite the trendy European. Being a small town American girl, I launched myself quite happily into a short, but quite thrilling, European romance. He was dashing and kind and we laughed at our language and cultural difficulties nonstop. He came to visit me in Belfast, and I, on one fateful trip, decided to visit him in his hometown of Wurzburg, Bavaria.
Another of "Franzi's friends", whom I had adopted/stolen, was having a gigantic 30th birthday party, which was the perfect excuse to visit Deutschland! By coersion, I managed to get Franzi and our resident Swede signed up for a 36 hour tour to Germany. Looking out from the plane, on the snowy, wintery wonderland, I had no idea that I was about to fall in love with a country, so effortlessly and extraordinarily, that it would change the course of my short history. The Lederhosen Man graciously picked us up at the boondocks airport I had gotten us to, via Ryanair, and we sped our way down the autobahn.
Through mountains, dense forests and tiny, tidy German towns, that looked like scenes from a cuckoo clock, we drove, before we suddenly turned a corner, and there before us stood Wurzburg. Wurzburg, is an ancient town, that is centered off the river Main (pronounced mine). Thoroughly bombed out by the Royal Navy in WWII, it has been rebuilt with the preciseness that Germans are so well known for. The surrounding hillsides are covered in vineyards and wineries, a centuries old tradition. Hundreds of churches with sky scraping steeples peal merrily on the hour. In the center of the town lies a palace known as the "Rezidence", that boasts stunning rose gardens and lovely trellis covered walks. For some reason the entire place is also guarded by cupids, performing the most perverse acts of baby adultery known to mankind. However, the real crowning jewel of the city is the Festung Marienberg. The Marienberg is a castle overlooking the Main, and towering boldly above the town in an imposing, protective manner in a way which brings home everything medieval and feudal.
The night we arrived, knowing my rather dorky, gawking affinity for castles in general, the Lederhosen Man drove up to the castle, and proceeded to take me for a romantic walk to look at the stars and the city lights. Franzi was out visiting some other friends, and of course, we couldn't leave Swedey!
Now, I must preface this story with a introduction to Linnea. Linnea and I became friends way back at the beginning of my year in Belfast. She, being an aupair, took her little charge to one of our babies and toddlers meetings. Naturally, once Frank and Alan caught sight of a hot Swede walking in the door, it was all sweaty palms and sly looks. Being what I thought was a rather good wing man, I went over to introduce myself and scope her out. It turns out she was already dating an Irish guy, but she and I hit it off instantly, and soon became great friends. Linnea, whom we affectionately know as Swedey, lived for a year in the States, and had an altogether American sense of humor.
So, back in Germany, the Lederhosen Man took Swedey and I out for "our" romantic walk. Now, we've all been through third wheel syndrome, and this was about the height of it. Stifling the awkward, Swedey in vain tried to leave us for our walk, but the castle was snowed in completely. Walking discreetly behind us, mentally willing herself to disappear, who should come along, but another hand holding couple, sandwiching her completely in a kind of love boat nightmare. At this point, the dear girl just started to lose it. Attempting to hold herself together, and fiercely restraining fits of laughter, she strolled nonchalantly over to a tourist telescope. Unfortunately,she needed money to operate the dang thing, and in a heartfelt gesture, dropped it loudly. After trying to keep it together, for the sake of mein Herr, I finally lost it too, and the most thoroughly, unamused, Lederhosen Man escorted us snorting and shrieking with awkward laughter away from our would-be romantic moment.
The next day, we saw the town, ate German food (bratwurst of course!), and saw the sites of Wurzburg. I even got to go on a motorbike ride through tiny villages,filled to the brim with Tudor-like structures, that gave one the expectancy of seeing villagers dressed in folk costume, or dumping vegetables out of a window, or perhaps a German hausfrau screaming at her husband to put down his pint. Altogether, it was a stunning visit, and one that affirmed my passion for European life, culture and beauty. That day we drove sadly back to the airport and boarded our plane for Ireland. About five drunk Irish guys got on board singing and shouting, and almost created WW III with the Germans on board. As I looked out the window of the plane, I had only a slight inkling that I would return to this place for more than a visit...