I am sitting currently in one of those private train rooms that I always imagined riding in. The kind with three seats facing each other and you can close the door for yourselves. Usually I imagine riding in one of these and meeting some handsome stranger during the ride, but for this one I am on my own in Germany, It is another foggy gray day, warmer but the kind of cold that just crawls under your coat and sweater to lay deep in your bones, pulling you into a cafe after every little jaunt along the avenues.
I am heading to Freiburg after a lovely afternoon and evening stay in Heidleberg with the family of Andrea, an artist I met through her boyfriend on the Internet. Her friend Christoph had found my web site about the manhole covers and had contacted me to ask me about casting them for a project he was working on with Ann Hamilton. Then when Andrea moved to NY from Ohio, she contacted me to help find a place to stay and work. So I actually only met Andrea once in NY and when I arrived in Heidlberg her family was extremely welcoming and kept on suggesting that I stay longer. Their home is like a Museum, Andrea’s father collects and refurbishes antiques and the home is full of his collections of teapots, pitchers and furniture. A warm and gracious home for the weary traveler.
But I have decided to head down to this cute little town I have been told about called Freiburg. It is the first place I visit where I do not know someone to meet. I just wish to walk around and see and feel the place, then take a late train to Paris. What amazes me most is the contrast between the newness of the buildings in Munich, eastern Germany and Berlin, compared to the historic architecture of Heidelburg and the traditional look of being this far west close to the French border. It was a pleasure to see houses from the 19th century and all the way back to the 15th century. The Americans did not bomb here like they did in the east.
Andrea’s mother Renate took me on a wet soggy walk thorough the hills on the western side of Heidelberg down to the historic bridge that crosses over to the ruined castle, with sections built during the Middle ages and Renaissance. In the old section there were plenty of shops and a temporary Christmas market, but most of all I was touched by the warmth of being welcomed again into a new friends’ home and presented with a new set of stories to share.