(written yesterday – the internet was bad again)
Today we finally did make it out pretty early, and arrived at our first destination before ten o’clock. We started at Heidelburg Castle, which is an old medieval castle of some historical significance (we didn’t do a tour). The grounds were lovely – you could walk all over them without having to buy a ticket or anything. I practically drooled over the thousands photoshoot opportunities. The castle itself was cool too – very big and open and ruin-ish. I had fun exploring it, and I bought a little painting of it in the gift shop. We walked around for about two hours before getting back into the car and heading to the next town, Würzburg.
Mom, Philip and I wanted to do something other than look at another fancy house, so we decided to explore the famous market while Laura and Dad went to the Ludwigsburg Residential Palace. I was really, really looking forward to this. The whole time we’ve been here, I haven’t been able to do any shopping, and that’s one thing I really wanted to get done.
First, Philip and I got lunch at a Subway, and then sat with Mom while she had a salad at a café. Philip talked about how much he enjoyed seeing Köln Cathedral (I think that was his favorite thing on the trip). So while we were waiting for the check, Philip and I went to have a look at the …. . When we first went in, I thought it was a pretty neat – very white and clean looking, with interesting shattered-colors stain glass windows. It was a little weirdly smoky, though. Then we went down into the …. I started feeling uneasy after the first few steps in. The graves were a little creepy, and it just felt…dark. The feeling was particularly strong whenever I walked in front of the open doors leading into the black hallways where more people were buried. It’s hard to explain, but I imagine it’s exactly what Aragorn and his company felt when they walked through the Paths of the Dead. Sort of pins and needles and quickly growing claustrophobia. The thing that finally pushed me over the edge was this statue in one of the rooms. From a distance, it looks like a nun, or Mother Mary, kneeling and looking down. But as you get right in front of it and look, it’s a skeleton wearing a nun’s costume. It’s carved out of this black stone and it just sent chills down my back. Philip was already getting edgy to go (I’m not sure if he was getting the vibe I was or if he just was bored) so we hurried back into the church part. Now it all seemed dirty and evil to me somehow, and the smoke seemed to be a guise for whatever was in there. We rushed out, and I have to say the daylight and trashy smell of the city was never so welcome.
After we brushed this off, we went to go shopping. Except… all of the stores were closed. I was dismayed. Only some cafés and icecream shops were open. We figured out it was because of Easter.
Whilst wandering around, we passed the back side of the scary church, and it was all decorated with sweet baby angles and skulls with wings. Over the backdoor were two more of those skeleton nuns, keeping watch over everyone passing. It reminded me again of Lord of the Rings – this time, though, they were the Watchers who Sam holds up Galadriel’s vial to ward off in Return of the King.
Eventually we sat and waited for Dad and Laura, and I tried to console myself by saying that we’d find another town before we went back to the hotel, and maybe that town would have something. But when we finally did find Laura and Dad and got in the car and were going, Dad mentioned that the Navy Exchange would be closing soon. We had a few things we needed to buy there, so we had to cancel other plans and go straight back to the base. I was… not very happy, though I didn’t complain or anything. I knew we needed to get back to buy the stuff. But really visiting a local market was one of the few things I really, really wanted to do – more than seeing castles and palaces, even – and I couldn’t. And it makes me a little angry when I think of the hours I’ve spent on this trip waiting for Laura and Dad to get out of some cathedral or palace that Laura really wanted to see, when I could have been doing something I wanted do to. Or when I think I would have liked to climb to the top of the cathedral, but can’t because of my stupid arthritis. But I digress… going over it isn’t helping me feel any better.
The long and short of it is, we are now back in the hotel, packed, and ready to leave tomorrow. We might be flying on another cargo plane, though this time we will be keeping company with wounded soldiers from Iraq on their way to Walter Reed Hospital in D.C.. We could also be on a passenger flight, or end up staying overnight in South Carolina or something. It will be last minute, as always.
I’ll be glad and sad to go home. Glad because I have to get to work on my Gate of Opportunity scholarship, and I’ll get to bug my neurologist for my MRI and test results. Sad because I now have only a few weeks to finish all my schoolwork before we head to CA for Hana’s birth, and because I have to get back to life again. Sigh. I am planning on contacting my RA specialist when I get home… I’ve been incredibly inflamed this whole time, and my middle right finger is beginning to bend in that really ugly rheumatoid way. I need more physical therapy… at least to pop my hip back into joint. I’m pretty sure it’s come out again. It sure is hurting a lot.
Anyway. I’ve loved Germany a lot, and I hope I can get back. I just want to plan things out better next time.