Friday, December 4, 2009

Air Alone

“Geez, man, we’re sorry,” they started. Sorry for what I ask? “That you’re not going to be able to go to Heidelberg because of us.”

I looked at them like they were completely out of their minds. Humans are pack animals, instinctively favoring “herding” or gathering in groups versus being out on their own in most things. The interesting thing for me has always been that for some it is a given that if the entire group cannot attend an event, go to the movies, dinner or travel, then naturally no one else can or should go.

Why not?

One of my closest friends often comments that he is "reserving" Fiji for his honeymoon. Another friend decries the desire to see Paris only in the company of her beloved. Ain't neither ONE of them dating anybody long-term so what the hay? I subscribe to the school that says go when and while you can.

a) You may meet somebody with no interest in ever leaving the country or possibly even home.
b) Go before meeting your soulmate and you'll know your way around and can act as guide.

"Oh, I think it will be so much more romantic if we discover it together for the first time" she said. Right. Like two people on their honeymoon spend much time outside of the room?
c) Start a family and the last thing you may see for at least 20 years is (fill in the blank)_____!

Death and taxes are guaranteed and time waits for no one. I've enjoyed many a trip escorting friends and family to places they've never been or discovering a country for the first time together. At the same time, when an opportunity presented itself to travel to Thailand and no one I knew was interested or able to go I admit to being intimidated the night I arrived; after that it was like riding a bike, Thai style!

In the case of Heidelberg my friends and I were actually planning on traveling to Scotland but circumstances led to the entire thing falling apart right at the curbside of the airport terminal. While others tucked tail for home I marched in to the lobby, swapped the Scotland ticket for one to Germany - yes, this was back when such things could be done on the fly and for free - and was airborne to Dusseldorf a couple of hours later.

I enjoyed a leisurely two-hour train ride down the Rhine before pulling in to Heidelberg Hauptbahnhof along the Neckar River with a gorgeous view of the castle. Down to the main square I went for a fantastic luncheon at one of my favorite restaurants from childhood, "Der Wienerwald." Over a bowl of goulash and a plate of schnitzel the waitress and I carried on a rusty (me) conversation in German about how her native daughter married an American who took her back to the US to live. When "Mutti" arrived for a visit she discovered not a single American woman she met knew or was interested in learning how to cook for their man!

The weather was agreeable, the castle was beautiful as ever, the food as hearty and memorable as always and the singular moment of friendly conversation with my "Bierfrau" of a waitress added up to a moment only I was able to enjoy.

I wish my friends had come along but I didn't mind telling them about the adventure when I got home, in between their stories of cleaning out the garage and hosting the in-laws.

Gotta go!

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