Here’s a picture of the BEST tomatoes I’ve had in years at the local market. I think I’m turning into a tomato I’ve eaten so many this year. This one’s for a friend of mine – you know who you are!
Just an observation: I cannot write when I am listening to Tom Waits. For one thing, his writing is the absolute best in the world – he was probably Shakespeare in a former life – and I find myself focusing on his lyrics instead of writing. For another thing, I’m so humbled by his genius that anything that comes to my mind to write just sounds so lame by comparison. So now I’m turning him off until this journal is done. Sorry, Tom. This hurts me a lot more than it hurts you.
Back to business:
One of the (rather subordinate) reasons I came to Europe is to escape the Florida heat. If you know me at all you know that I just can’t stand the heat. I’ve suffered through many Florida summers and vowed never to do it again.
Well, this summer has turned out to be the hottest one on record for 30 years in Germany. Great. However, it’s much better than Florida heat because the humidity is quite a bit lower and it cools off at night. Just don’t ask me how great it is about 3:00 in the afternoon!
What makes it bad is that I have a third-floor apartment with no air conditioning – normally no A/C is necessary here. So when the temperature rises above 86, I have to leave my apartment about 1:00 in the afternoon and go somewhere cooler until about 7:00 p.m.
Sometimes I walk the two blocks down to the river and sit in the shade. But when the mercury gets 90 or more, I flee downtown. At times I go to sit in St. Martin’s church where it’s beautiful, quiet, and cool, though I can’t say much for the comfort level of the pews.
I have pored over the shelves and racks in most of the stores with A/C downtown. I saw this in a regular clothing store:
Yes, those are Lederhosen! They were next to the Dirndls.
Don’tcha just love Germany?
Anyway, most of the time I sit in the air-conditioned restaurant of one of the department stores. Fortunately I’ve discovered that there is free internet there.
So I hung out there last Friday (high temperature was 93 that day). I was making my way from there to the bus station and dropped into the bookstore to poke around and kill some time. As has happened to me a lot this year, I began to hear music in the vicinity and it sounded like it was getting closer.
Of course I grabbed my camera out of my bag, switched it on and took off the lens cap as I trotted out the door. It was just in time to see a parade making its way through the middle of the plaza!
I felt transported back to a medieval minstrel show, or at the very least a Cirque du Soleil performance. There were acrobats doing flips and riding unicycles, people playing music, some guys juggling. And like the children of Hamlin, we all followed the parade to the main square where they had set up lots of tables and a giant stage.
The parade opened an event called Bamberg Zaubert
, which, loosely translated, means Enchanted Bamberg or Magical Bamberg. The festivities were to go on all weekend. Apparently this was the 12th annual such fest which they define as an international art festival. Must’ve been performing arts.
Here are some pix of the parade. I don’t pretend to have a clue as to what some of these folks were dressed for!
There the mayor or somebody was giving a speech that lasted way too long for the heat. People weren’t sitting at the tables; they were all crowded in the shadow of the building next to the square. But the beer truck was doing a good business.
I had to go catch a bus and it was so hot I wouldn’t have stayed anyway, so I left the festivities and headed home.
However, today, Sunday, was cool enough to make me want to leave the house voluntarily instead of being forced out by heat. So I ventured back downtown and wandered around there for a few hours this afternoon. This was definitely a family-oriented event. There were face painters and toy sellers, as well as the requisite balloon vendor:
The place was shoulder-to-shoulder with crowds – I don’t remember ever seeing so many people there.
On the big stage in the square was a duo singing Hotel California and other cover tunes. Notice their group’s name was Choco Latte:
I saw this beautiful young child near the stage:
In other impromptu stage areas such as the steps of St. Martin’s church, by the fountains, near the river, near the old court house, etc., were individual performers or small groups. I recognized many of them from the parade pictures:
This woman was going on about how she used to live in a nearby building and incorporating some of the local folklore into the story:
As you can tell from the photos I couldn’t get near any of them because of the crowds. There were many groups I couldn’t get close enough to to figure out what the act was, let alone take photos of them. However, I don’t feel like I missed a thing!
By far the creepiest act was these two guys dressed like penguins and acting out what seemed to be a mating ritual complete with hoots and bobbing up and down. It was kinda scary for a family event. I wasn’t sure where they would go with the act, but eventually they waddled off and repeated the ritual in different places without actually consummating anything. Thank God.
I eventually found myself a spot under an umbrella at a sidewalk café. There I had an espresso (ok, two) and wrote for a while. I did a lot of people watching, too. It was a wonderful afternoon and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Fortunately the weather forecast has been downgraded from 90’s to low 80’s for the next few days. Tomorrow is my friend Hilde’s 74th birthday so I’ll be headed out there for coffee and torte. Wish you were here!
I’ll leave you with this for no good reason: