Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ramstein--No not the band

                                                                    Gasthaus Schöne

After a relatively relaxing and uneventful flight we land to a beautifully sunny and warm spring day in Ramstein. It is a small town in the middle of Rheinland-Pfalz not to far away from where I will soon be studying. The first order of business is to find a place to stay that will store my luggage. The airbase has several hotels, but they were all booked. Before we left the U.S., we looked up several pensions and hotels in the area. I decided to call the Gasthaus Schöne because it was family owned and might be more willing to store my luggage. My very odd request of renting a room for the afternoon and storing luggage for a week was granted (we would be leaving on the train that evening so we did not need to stay overnight…one of the repercussions of having to travel Space A was that it threw off our travel plans slightly). While still at the airbase, I found a Vodaphone stand and bought a very simple phone and sim card for the duration of my stay. It included free incoming calls and an international plan to call the U.S. for only five cents a minute. Not too bad, pay as you go. I also searched with no results for a recycling bin. Of course the only place in Germany without a readily available bin would be on an American military base…

We took a taxi to nearby Katzenbach were the Schöne family lived in a quaint late 19th century barn converted into a pension. The family was endlessly friendly and accommodating, letting us stay in a room for the afternoon for no charge. We visited their restaurant after a shower and rest and were greeted by a special “Schlachtfest” menu. In the past, the farm would always host a slaughter festival and serve special dishes to the neighbors, a tradition they still carry on (without the live slaughtering however). My mom and I shared a bratwurst, Leberknodel (like a meatball made out of liver), and sauerkraut. Jürgen Schöne explained to us how they had to transform the barn into a pension in the 80s because the government made it increasingly impossible for small farmers to operate. Apparently this was all the “Green Party’s” fault…

A short Spaziergang around town reminds us how fast people drive on tiny streets (or any streets, but most are narrow anyway) in Germany. No wonder there are laws requiring children to sit in booster seats ‘til they are 13 (you should double check this, I might be remembering incorrect data) and you aren’t allowed to get your driver’s license ‘til you are 18. This emphasis on safety doesn’t really equate in my mind with being able to smoke and drink beer/wine at 16 (hard liquor at 18).

Jürgen drives us to the train station—also for free and will plan on picking us up the next week. How lucky did we get! I will describe our trip to Prague in the next blog, so stayed tuned.

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