Hotel Alt Pirmasens and stereotypes
Pirmasens Travel Blog› entry 3 of 3 › view all entries
What a beautiful little city though. Just like Rome its built on seven hills and surrounded by some wonderful country-side. From the city center there are paths leading into the hiking and bike paths in the forest. Used to be a big shoemaking center the ladies tell me and that for over a century discerning shoppers for ladies shoes would have know of and desired "Peter Kaiser" shoes.
Despite that build-up I skipped the museum of shoe history which has samples of footwear from around the world.
I am in the Hotel Alt Pirmasens and it goes from one street about half-way down the block to the corner, restaurant and reception is on the corner and then wraps half a block down the connecting street. It is, of course connected to the adjoining private residences so the view from the street is one long row of houses. As this row of houses wrap around the block it leaves in the center an area for the beer garden, parking for residents and some of the neatest little gardens. I can see them all from my balcony and do hope the pictures come out well.
The Alt Pirmasens is family owned and operated. Christine operates the restaurant and her, very beautiful and very capable, daughter works with her. The inside of the restaurant, again this is not a young building, shows the traces of its well cared for age and recent improvements. I asked Christine if she did the decorating and she said "Yes, this is my living room." It is very nicely done with oils showing what I think resembles the Italian countryside in the Ligurian region - white walls, flat roofs and those thin pines arising sometimes to show property lines or roads. One of Christine's sisters was in my class Wednesday and she works at the hotel and restuarant on weekends as well as when additional help is needed. It is a popular spot for birthdays and anniversaries and these large groups are absorbed seamlessly into Christine's personal touch hospitality.
As with the people I met in Ansbach and Schweinfurt, the people in Pirmasens dispell that stereotype of Germans being a cold personality type who only loosen up after they've known you.
Anecdotal supporting evidence that this stereotype is wrong.
Sunday was Mother's Day and the restaurant closes at 3 on Sundays anyway. I went out about 6 to look at the menu's (German eating establishments post their fare and prices outside the building). After walking around a bit I decided that the Riviera was where I wanted to go - Veggie Pizza Della Casa - so I returned there walked in, did my best Gut Abend impersonation and noticed all tables either occupied or reserved. Ach so! Mother's Day it is and just like in the states everyone takes Mom out. The next couple of restaurants were in similar straits.
I finally found an Imbiss and figured if nothing else a plate of fried potatoes would be good. Curses! Foiled again, the kitchen was off. Well, I've worked up a sweat and the local beer, Parks, is a grand brew so I ordered one. My soft-southern accented German (of which I've mastered three words and fake about 20) gave me away as a foreigner which - made them light up. "Do you have mother's day in the states?" "Yes." Well here's grandmother in the corner please tell her hello, and here's my wife wish her well. Do you play guitar? No, I hurt my hand and haven't played for years. Well try it now. So the only song that came to mind was Country Roads and to my surprise 5 people joined in so all I had to do was concentrate on chords. They played some songs - a German version of Hello Mary Lou, which I got the impression was pretty bawdy, and the Green Green Grass of Home. In between German versions I was compelled to do verses in English.
All of this led to a discussion and proof that Jack Daniels was much better than Remy Martin. I was allowed to buy one round for the three ladies (grandma too!) and 4 guys and not allowed to pay the rest of the night.
From the corner a man who had been quiet waved me over. Born in 1924, he was barely 9 when the Nazi's came to power and 15 when they invaded Poland. Towards the end of the war when he as 19-22 he was brought into the service and ended up in an allied POW camp in Bari Italy. I had been to Bari in the service and we compared landmarks. The German prisoners were used to clean up the unexploded ordnance and he eventually became a truck driver to carry the ordance to dumps away from Bari. This led to him eventually being a truck driver for the U.S. in Germany for medical supplies and his settling in Pirmasens where there were suitable climate controlled facilities for medicines. He lost his wife of 50 years 2 years ago and wasn't to sure if he was up to keeping on without her. His loss was evident as his eyes which had been very focused started clouding.
What do you say to something like that to someone you've know 15 minutes? Your 83 years old, you've been strong this long, find something else to fill your time Mein Herr? I was relieved then when called back to the guitar and never had I done Nights in White Satin more sadly (and its pretty heavy to begin with).
Well its closing time and I am ravenous by now. Very nice restaurant is found but I take the easy way out and get some spargelcremesuppe and mozzarella capresse which will keep from experimenting with translating this menu and will be quick and indeed it takes the edge off my hunger quite well.
I slept like a baby.
Fast forward to today, it is a German Holiday and I have the day off and its raining big soft drops continuously. I did go out and brave the rain to the city center after breakfast but the water wouldn't relent so I dripped back to my room, finished Gaines' A Lesson Before Dying, and have started reading some weather and earth science texts to help me prepare for the Praxis exams I'll need to take for licensure to teach public school in Virginia.
Hopefully the rain lets up a little this afternoon so I can explore some more.
Tomorrow I drive to Heidelberg - need to meet the point of contact there at 1300. I intend to leave early so I can stop in Annweiler and visit the castle where Richard the Lion Hearted was held for ransom on his way back from the crusades and referred to in both the Ivanhoe and Robin Hood stories.
This area, sometimes called the Palatinate, is so beautiful with the moutains, woods, lakes in the valleys, small villages with their ubiquitous church spires and clock towers and of great interest to me: it is wine country and you can see the vinyards rolling down the hillsides. Another place I may try to visit is the largest wine cask anywhere, they say it has a volume of 1.7 million liters, and inside they've built a wine tavern and restaurant. I tend not to drink if I'm not walking though - maybe a bottle to go!
Cheers and hopefully a sunny day to you!