Yes, my dears, I am safely and sanely back from my travels to the charming land of Bayern (southern Deutschland). I arrived last night around 9:00, took a shower, looked over the emails that I won't have a chance to answer for another several days, answered one or two of them, puttered around some more and finally went to bed. So today, when I have barely more time, I will try to tell you all of my doings in Lauf and Nürnberg. Friday afternoon Holger, Sabine, Carolin, Felix and I crowded into their Volkswagen and began the eight hour drive to Holger's mother's apartment in Lauf. We arrived fairly late and I stumbled into bed. The next morning we awoke, had breakfast, met up with Sabine's sister who is visiting from South Carolina with her twins and her husband, and went to Nürnberg which is only about fifteen or twenty minutes away. Holger and Sabine bought me some gingerbread cookies, handed me my train ticket, and sent me on my wanderings about the city after having pointed the way both toward the train station and the castle. Yes, the castle. I saw my first real-live castle. That first day I toured the castle, climbed the castle tower (96 frighteningly narrow steps), walked through one of the three major churches, and had a traditional wurst, kraut, dense bread, and beer dinner in the locals' pub. Sunday I met Sabine's entire family and got a personal tour of the city's ancient water wheel from her dad, who headed up the restoration project, and an extensive personal walking tour of the whole town of Lauf from Holger's mom. I'm telling you, this is the way to do tours. I was utterly charmed by Lauf. Monday, I went back to Nürnberg and walked around, looked at another church, had professionally made European drinking chocolate, and did some shopping and reading. After all of that, I don't precisely recall the order of things that happened, but suffice it to say, I had a great time. Every evening when I got back from my wanderings I would sit down for a glass of wine with Sabine, Holger, and his mother and we would talk. This is a really good thing for me particularly since I have had a very difficult time feeling at ease around Holger and Sabine in a more equal environment, i.e. when I am not just the care-taker, but am a traveler, or a person interested in history or any number of the other aspects which comprise me-ness. All in all, it was a wonderful five days. I could get used to this whole travel around with nothing to do but take in the sights and go on tours!