**Disclaimer: We do not just attend wine and beer festivals over here. We do other things too, but right now is the season for wine festivals and local Oktoberfest celebrations, so we are taking full advantage of them!
Last night, we went to another wine festival! Since today is a National Holiday, we don't have work, and we figured it would be fun. Wine is always fun and last night it did not disappoint (German wine rarely does).
First a little bit of quick history. Today is the Day of German Unity and is a celebration of Germany finally becoming a fully united country, a dream first established in the middle of the 19th century. It has been celebrated since 1990 on October 3, but is not just a remembrance of the unification of East and West Germany. Throughout much of German history, the country has been divided into multiple, smaller country-states and it has only been for the past 24 years that Germany has existed as the whole we know today.
We started off the long weekend right by attending another wine festival. This one was in Neustadt an die Weinstrasse, about a half hour away from here. It's opening night was last night and since we had no obligations today (other than to make it to Baden-Baden by mid-afternoon), we took a ride out there. We took the train from Mannheim Hauptbahnhof (main train station) and this time, it was pretty cheap - about 6 euro per person, each way.
This is also the season for Neuer Wein - a wine that hasn't finished fermenting yet. As a result, it is sweet due to the high amount of residual sugar and looks like lemonade. In fact, it tastes like a drier version of Mike's Hard Lemonade (but WAY better). I was warned that due to the active yeast still in the wine, not to drink too much. We shared a small glass and that was enough for the two of us.
The Neustadt wein festival, officially called the German Grape Harvest Festival, was quite a bit smaller than the one in Bad Durkheim we went to a few weeks ago, but there was still plenty of wine. We grabbed a glass at sat down at a table with some people (sharing tables with strangers is not only common here, its the norm). We got to talking with them, in our very broken German and found out that two of them lived in Mannheim and had taken the train out just like we did. The other two lived closer. The gentleman had retired from Mercedes a number of years ago, but before he started working for them, he worked for the predecessor of ABB (an electrical company) all over the world. He told us some really interesting stories about his time in Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and South Africa during the 1970s. This is the best part of going to these types of things - meeting people.
This is the Germany I wanted to experience - meeting people, talking to them, attending the local festivals and generally living like a local. When in Rome, well I guess in the case I guess it should be, when in Germany, do what the Germans do. And I think that in the two months we have spent here, we are well on our way to doing just that.
This weekend, we are headed to Baden-Baden. It is one of the most famous spa towns (yes, they have entire spa and wellness towns) in Germany and we have a nice, relaxing anniversary weekend planned there. Since it's just over an hour away, it's a quick drive to get there. We also plan on trying to see some stuff between here and there, but we really don't have a set schedule. Anyone else taking a quick get away this weekend?
- Meghan -