Monday, June 27, 2011

Rats, a Pied Piper, and some Musicians, Oh My!

As we enjoyed our last breakfast at the Trendelburg castle, we received a phone call on the hotel's phone. I took the phone, feeling completely baffled as to who would be calling us in Germany, and found myself talking to the Tourist Information office down the street. After meeting us the day before, he thought that our Fund For Teachers project would make for a good news article for the local tourism newspaper. After we finished our coffee, we bounded down the hill for a short interview and some photographs featuring Rapunzel's hair. We are looking forward to seeing the article in the upcoming months, but it will be very difficult for us to read, as it will be in German!

We hurried back to the castle, grabbed our suitcases, and headed out as today would consist of hours on the road. First stop--Hamelin, or Hameln in German. Hamelin is known for the folktale of the Pied Piper. As copied from Wikipedia: The Pied Piper of Hamelin is the subject of a legend concerning the departure or death of a great many children from the town of Hamelin (Hameln), Germany, in the Middle Ages. The earliest references describe a piper, dressed in pied (multicolored) clothing, leading the children away from the town never to return. In the 16th century the story was expanded into a full narrative, in which the piper is a rat-catcher hired by the town to lure rats away with his magic pipe. When the citizenry refuses to pay for this service, he retaliates by turning his magic on their children, leading them away as he had the rats. This version of the story spread as a fairy tale. This version has also appeared in the writings of, among others, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, theBrothers Grimm and Robert Browning.

We set out in search of rats and the Pied Piper, and did not have to wait very long to find what we were looking for. There were rats everywhere! Although many of the rats that had been painted on the sidewalk have faded, we followed them through a tunnel and up some stairs into the picturesque town. But first things first--it was lunch time. As we passed a McDondalds in a half-timbered house, I noticed a sign for a Pannekoeken Huis. Mmmmm....Dutch pancakes--my favorite. Eva followed me willingly even though she had no idea what they were, but once I muttered something under my breath about them being pancakes, just like crepes are kind of like pancakes, I think she was game. Eva ordered one with ham, a special kind of cheese, and raspberry preserves. I, of course, ordered Nutella. They were fantastic, and we left on a mission to find this Pied Piper we were seeing in statues and posters all over the city. We stopped in a few shops that were selling rat perfume, rat drinks, rat suckers, rat candy. I saw the sign for the TI, and we followed the rats on the roads to the front door of the TI. We perused the souvenirs, when all of a sudden I saw something brightly colored out of the corner of my eye. It was him! I nudged Eva, and we chased him down before he went into his office, and were able to snap a few pics with him. YAY! Mission accomplished. We took our time walking along the quaint shops on the way back to the car, and we wished we had arranged to stay atleast one night in the town of Hameln, but our day was far from over. We had an hour and a half drive ahead of us to get to our final destination on Fairy Tale Road, the town of Bremen.

The drive went pretty fast, and we finally filled up the gas tank for the first time. I think it was about $90 US dollars if I remember correctly. We found our hotel, and were very happy with it. It opened a year ago, very modern and comfortable, and a stone's thrown from the Alstadt. We dropped our bags and had to run one errand before we could search for those Bremen Town Musicians. It was time to say good-bye to the car. We had to drive downtown, and take a trolley back to our hotel. After we made it back into the Alstadt, we walked only a block or so before we found our first statue outside of a Starbucks. We snapped pictures as the rain started. We seemed to bring the rain with us where ever we went on this trip, so we weren't surprised in the least. We pulled our hoods up, and walked some more until we found ourselves outside of the Ratskeller. This is Germany's oldest wine cellar, and Bremen's most famous restaurant. We were happy to get out of the rain and walked down the stairs to find ourselves in the most beautiful restaurant. WOW! The menu was full of German cuisine, just perfect for our last dinner on fairy tale road.

The next morning, we packed our bags up again, and headed out to the post office. We had to ship a box back to the US with all of the things we had been purchasing for our classrooms. There was simply no more room in our bags. I held my breath as I waited to find out how much it was going to cost, and couldn't complain too much with the $80 or so. We still had over a week to go, and this would lighten our load quite a bit. Next we dropped our bags off with our hotel. We had the entire day to explore Bremen, but needed to check out of the hotel, as we had a late night flight to London. We wandered the streets, sipped on cappuccino, ate crepes and bratwurst, visited the Rapunzel shop in the Schnoor shopping area, went inside the cathedral, and took some pictures with the very popular Bremen Town Musicians. We walked until we could not walk anymore, then it was off to the airport, the smallest airport I have ever been to. I think there were 3 gates, and our flight was the only one scheduled for the next four hours. We couldn't wait for the next country and what we would learn there about digital storytelling. Auf Wiedersehen, Germany and Fairy Tale Road!

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