Saturday, July 20, 2013

Marburg: Geek Heaven

Today started out slowly.  To be honest, it was became somewhat uncomfortable for me, but in a good way.  To eat a bit of breakfast, putter around, eat more breakfast then chat in the kitchen seems like an unacceptably slow start to a day.  However, I think it's helping me learn to relax.  That's exactly how today started.  We had a wonderful time just chatting with our hosts, Marina and Martin

Martin headed out to do some volunteer work while Marina, Kelly, and I took a little walking tour of the city  We walked by a gaming club she knew of that also had a board game museum, but we learned that they were on summer break..  Marina had another commitment, so Kelly and I continued on to a church she recommended seeing.  It was a protestant church done in the gothic tradition, so the outside had quite a bit of ornate work and tall, thin spires.  Inside, it was still nice, but it looked spartan in comparison to many of the Catholic basilicas we've visited.

After seeing the church, we turned around and headed back to the Oberstadt.  We strolled through the cute little shopping complex, noticing many old buildings.  Another church had some gothic architecture and many of the buildings were very old.  Some looked to be built in the style that comes to mind when we think of a traditional medieval castle while others had the traditional German look to them.  Few looked modern.

There was also a statue/fountain in the center of St. George slaying the dragon.  He seems to be a very popular patron saint.

We were about to head to lunch when - what did I espy? - that is Spiderman hanging from the alley.  As we drew closer, we also saw Batman's symbol.  What could give me greater delight than discovering a comic book shop?  Counting the Euro board games in a toy store, that totaled four geek shops we'd already encountered in this one city!  The rest of Europe?  Zero.

Megan's enthusiasm for finding the store
After this it was time to enjoy a meal.  Marina and Martin had recommended a café called Die Pause.  They said it definitely had the best cake in the city, but the soup and other food was good as well.  It took a bit of figuring out - the restaurant was on one level, then steps led down to two terraced sitting areas.  In the restaurant or in the top sitting area, you could sit down and have waiters take your order.  In the bottom area, you placed an order inside the restaurant and the waiters would bring it to you.  Another generally good sign: no englisch Cartes (English menus).

Kelly settled on a sandwich and I on the soup of the day and salad.  We ordered beverages as well.  I tried drinking chocolate.  You get hot, steamed milk and a little bar of the flavor chocolate you chose.  You drop the bar into the cup and mix it around.  It was certainly an interesting treat!

Kelly's sandwich was delicious, filled with ham, pickles, tomatoes, and cheese.  There were edible flowers that adorned both our dishes, serving the dual purpose of looking pretty and adding a unique but delightful flavor.  Note the berries on the salad - they are a tart little berry called Johannisbeer in Germany, or Johannisberry in English.  I've never seen them in the States, but they're pretty great!  (For those interested, other popular berries are himbeer [raspberry] and erdberry [strawberry].)

My soup was amazing - a lentil-coconut soup with cumin and a few other spices.  It sounded a bit odd when I ordered it, but it was so delicious.  They really balanced all the flavors with  an expert hand.  Their bread was filled with herbs - it tasted like rosemary, thyme, and perhaps even a bit of lavender.

Finally, we were headed back home.  I saw a sign for a store called Mac Dragon and insisted on following it and stopping in.  I thought - another geek shop?  It wound up being a specialty alcohol store, filled with products that are really not available anywhere else.  It is a happy coincidence that many of them are geeky in nature.  They also had a lot of Celtic and dragon items.

As expected, the garrulous shopkeeper was a pretty big dork.  We chatted and browsed for a while, Kelly sampling a few different products.  I wondered aloud if there was a connection between Mac of McAnally's Pub from the Dresden files and the store, but that wound up being happy coincidence.  Well, five nerdy businesses.  Yessss!

We finally made it back home after this.  We chatted briefly with Marina before heading to an end-of-term party thrown by another CouchSurfer.  It really wasn't our scene, but we got there early, chatted with a few other Surfers who were very interesting and pleasant.  We met people all the way from Philadelphia to Belarus.  I took my camera, but spaced pictures.  We headed back and wound up talking with Marina and Martin until almost 3 in the morning.  (I didn't fall asleep!  Wow!)  Our conversation ranged the gamut, but I was especially intrigued by the part where we compared all kinds of aspects of German and American politics.  I learned many new things!

We used their shower for the first time.  It is a very old shower that I found to be absolutely fascinating.  It heats as the water comes out through gas heat.  It's originally designed to be simply a tub, but there is a showerhead attachment.  It doesn't have anything to stick in, so you just hold it as you shower.  In this picture, you can see the shower head and the pilot light that flares up to head the water.

I'm actually finishing this post the next morning.  We plan to head to a farmer's market and a flea market today to experience more of the local culture.  We're unsure what the rest of the day will hold.  We shall report back!

May the Force be with you,

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