Thursday, May 15, 2014

Lunch on my own in Karlsruhe (flash post)

I found a hip/mellow café called Feinraum tucked in one of the streets that fans out and away from the main shopping street in downtown Karlsruhe. The city is called the Fächerstadt (fan city) because of its formal 18th century design, which fans the city out from the castle at its center (think yellow-walled palace, not stone fortress). The structure creates unusual angles throughout the city center and can be pretty confusing if you're not used to it.

We used to live here, Markus and I, from 1992-1995, our first three years married. He worked after his MBA as marketing manager at a printing company (mostly old style phone books and packaging for pharmaceuticals). I taught Business English seminars all around Baden-Württemberg through a company based in Stuttgart.

I think most people have heard of Stuttgart (Mercedes, Porsche...). It's the state capital. Karlsruhe was the capital of Baden before the two states were merged, and it remains perhaps the one that got passed over. Württembergers and Badeners couldn't be more different from each other (according to themselves). Once back in the 1990s a client at a bank asked me for the truth--did I get along better with the people like herself from Baden than with those Swabians (the Württembergers)? Just a little unkindly, I told her that if I ever have any trouble, it's because all of them are German! (We changed subject.)

These days, the main reason you hear about Karlsruhe on the news is that the high courts are here, including the Verfassungsgericht (constitutional court), which is like the U.S. Supreme Court.

I'm here today because I came to see my hairstylist--yep, from 20 years ago. Across the street from the café I see an emptied out store. The worn decor features the faded blues, greens, reds and yellows of the toy store I remember being there. I bought some of my favorite kids' cassette tapes there on a visit around 2000. But that's the least of it. The whole town is fabulously torn up for projects involving tunnels and train tracks and who knows what. Every time we come, the place is different and we get lost (Miriam comes regularly, also on her own, to shop at Primark--something they don't have over in Stuttgart...). Today I came by S-Bahn (a region-connecting streetcar). It's a 90-minute trip from downtown Heilbronn, and it's time to start my trip back.

[What's a flash post? It's me writing fast, maybe on my iPad, inspired by something in the moment. No fussing.]

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