November 20, 2007

Remainders: Jesse's visit

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost two months since my friend Jesse spent a week with us here in Würzburg. He arrived on the last day of September and stayed a week before traveling on to Munich and Prague, and somehow managed to time his trip with last week of glorious fall weather in Germany. I’m beginning to wonder if the leaves didn’t hang onto their branches a little longer just for him. Kevin and I have had such a never-ending flurry of travel since then that his visit passed undocumented on these pages. We are nearing the end of November now, and steel-gray skies and cold drizzle have rendered Fall a blurry memory, but Jesse’s visit was not so easily forgotten.

I had the most wonderful time with him bumming all over Bavaria. We toured Würzburg’s two castles: the old Festung Marienberg and the more “modern” Residenz. At the latter we went sampled the local wine and even spied a couple of vintage sweethearts necking in the park. We biked along the Main River in both directions, south to Frickenhausen and Sommerhausen and north to Veitschöchheim. We even took a train to Bamberg one day, where Jesse, a journeyman printer, could taste the delights of the local Antiquariats. Although I had already visited all these places many times before, it’s amazing how seeing them with Jesse gave me a fresh set of eyes. As much as I pointed out all the highlights for him, he caught all the little miracles I had missed.

However, the trip was not without its disappointments. One day we made an excursion to the Hessian city of Darmstadt to visit the famous Hessiches Landmuseum, only to find that it was closed for repairs until 2011! (Who closes a museum for 5 whole years without evening mentioning it on the museum’s Web site?) We didn’t let that keep us down. We hopped another train to Frankfurt and spent the afternoon staring in wild-eyed wonder at an exhibit of Dürer prints at the Städel Museum. In the end, I think we were the better for it.

But the best part of Jesse’s visit was having a constant companion for good ol' English conversation. The dearth of vigorous conversation is one of the hardest things about living in a foreign country, where you don’t speak the language fluently. And while many of our German friends speak “fluent” English, there is always something lacking in the translation, even if it is more cultural than linguistic. Of course Kevin and I always have each other, and we have such similar interests and the gift of the gab that most of the time we don’t need anyone else. But sometimes it’s nice to have a new audience to whom to hold forth, and Jesse was both a gracious listener and energetic supplier of fresh conversation. We are still talking about his trip now, and now doubt will be for some time to come.

For Jesse’s version of events, see his photo set here.

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