This is being written in a small cybercafé in Rothenburg, or to be precise, "Planet Internet" in Rothenburg om der Tauber. Throbbing techno is an audio distraction, but there's only a few people scattered throughout this storefront operation, and unlike a lot of the people out in the street, they're all speaking Deutsch. Not sure how to characterize the decor here, pale blond chairs and tables with "Belinea" computers and those "Stuvyesant" blue glass ashtrays. Last night & this morning I've been hanging around this wonderfully medieval town's central square, where groups of tourists congregate. Lots of English spoken there - Japanese and French, too. The encircling wall is almost entirely intact, and you can walk around atop it - several towers punctuate the battlements, which are all covered.
My journey's environment has been growing ever-medieval - Düsseldorf totally contemporary; Frankfurt surprisingly had a few historical districts; then Würzburg, with its Prince-Bishop's Residenz, tram network, and the Festung up on the hill; and now Rothenburg, a little town, completely period and authentic (well, firebombed in '45, but rebuilt quick). It's great fun wandering around, streets too narrow for most automobile traffic. There's two elements of hinky associated with Rothenburg - first is a local pastry, the second a legend. All the bakeries here are pushing "Schneeball" - near as I can tell, they take great wads of strüdel dough & toss them into the deep-fat fryer, then dust 'em with cinnamon or dip 'em in chocolate, etc. The legend is that in 1631, ex-Mayor Nusch saved the town from destruction when General Tilly ordered him to drink "almost" 3/4 of a gallon of wine in a single draught. The clock in the central square depicts this feat.
The new stuff from Europe: the new eye-catching element they're using here is a some very bright projected white light-source. Sometimes it's strobing, sometimes it's constant and beamed through a stencil, but it's that same ghostly color white as lightning or a strobe-light's xenon flash. Examples I've seen: a logo flickering on an interior wall's upper surface, pulsating into the leaves of trees over a café and beamed down onto the sidewalk along a department store, from sources in the upper frames of their display windows. (These were static, city names, something to do with the fashions on sale.) I'm wondering if it's the same technology I see in what I call the blue headlights seen on high-end cars in California, HID lighting, which uses xenon too.
SHOE UPDATEFeet are doing fine. However these cheap "Gorilla" boots (which I bought out in the Valley, on Ventura Boulevard) are beginning to self-destruct, and I need 'em on these cobblestones. Meanwhile the Puma running shoes are beginning to induce blisters in some odd places so I'm laying off them, too - may be how they're showing their age. The boots should last to the trip's end, though.
I've been listening to Voice Of America (VOA) on my short-wave radio - soon I'll write a paragraph comparing them with National Public Radio. I'd like to do a real article sometime, with contrasting interviews between the Washington, DC based employees of both organizations. VOA cannot be received in the hometown, and who listens to short-wave anyway?
Festung - fortress
HID - High Intensity Discharge
Schneeball - snowball
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