Molly on the Main

Day 3 - Sunday, May 26

We slept until nearly noon and finally tumbled out of bed. After a cup of coffee with Harold, we made a plan for the day. I had exchanged an email message with my good friend Sigrid Glas to arrange a time for us to see her and her husband Hermann. Sigrid and I worked together for four years from 1991 to 1995 at the Uni Bayreuth in the Lehrstuhl fur Mikrobiologie (Microbiology Department.) She was an incredible good help to me -- not only in learning the job but also learning much more about Germany. We have kept in touch over the years. She and Hermann live in the village of Benk, just outside of Bayreuth, and she was kind enough to offer to come to Harold's house and pick us up for afternoon coffee at their house at 4 pm.

With that plan in mind, Harold suggested we make a quick trip to a place with "the best bratwurst in the world," according to him (and with 30-plus years of bratwurst tasting, he can probably speak with some authority.) So we set off for a quick trip to -- first to the lab and then to Leups, a village a few miles south of Bayreuth, just off the Autobahn A-9.

Our first stop was at BITOK (Bayreuth Institute for Terrestrial and Ecological Research), where Steve worked with Harold for several years. When we first moved to Bayreuth, the institute was in development and renovations were still underway. It was interesting to see the place again, fully completed and operating with the several research departments.

We took a quick tour of the spaces where his office and lab had once been. The equipment and design of the lab is impressive. Essential equipment, supplies, safety accommodations are all in place, and everything is tidy.

With an eye on the clock, we all jumped in the car and we headed south on the autobahn to Leups and Brauerei Gradl for a light lunch of beer and bratwurst. It was a beautiful and sunny day, and we were a little surprised to find that the beer garden was not already full of people. Each of us ordered beer and bratwurst. I opted for a Radler (beer and lemonade mix) which was delicious and refreshing. (The German version of lemonade is not the same as what we are accustomed to in the U.S. It is not as sweet and is slightly carbonated, which makes it a nice partner to the pilsener - it tastes much like a "Summer Shandy," only better.)

Harold was telling us about a new park in Bayreuth called the Landesgarten (county gardens), developed a few years ago along the Roter Main on the outskirts of Bayreuth. The initial use of the Landesgarten was to host a year-long flower show which occurs annually in Germany at different locations. So for a year, the place was a show garden of a variety of elaborate displays, attracting visitors from across the region. Afterward, the place became a permanent park -- with bike trails, playgrounds, an amphitheater, a dog park, small lakes and access to a fishing stream, and an area of community gardens. When we went back through Bayreuth, we made a quick stop to see it, and it is an impressive piece of planning.

We returned to Harold's house just in time to meet Sigrid and Hermann, who arrived in their car to pick us up for coffee at their place. It was a wonderful renewing of friendship! We spoken in German and English and talked about old times, good friends, new times, the EU election (which was taking place as we spoke), politics in general, changes we don't like, Sigrid and Hermann's grown children (who were still in high school when we lived in Bayreuth) and the future. We had a wonderful fresh strawberry pie, coffee, Sekt, and more visiting.

Hermann gave us some preliminary results from the election, and we discussed that some more. They showed us the instruction booklet they received to cast their ballot by mail, and the opening page shows a map of the European Union countries - 28 in all - who were participating in today's election.

After our visit, Sigrid and Hermann delivered us back to Harold's house (with several pieces of cake - I asked for two pieces and got six), and we said our farewell, exchanging promises to do better at staying in touch.

The evening at Harold's gradually turned into a plan to stay home and cook chicken on the grill. We sat and visited while Harold whipped up some delicious concoctions of seasoned chicken, grilled eggplant and fresh asparagus. We sat at the table and talked until well past midnight. The hours went by quickly with lots of laughing, and before I knew it, it was already 1 am, and I retreated to bed. Harold thought that was a good idea, and he crashed, too.

BITOK, Steve's former workplace in Bayreuth.

Steve entering the door at BITOK.

At Brauerei Gradl - Steve delivers the brats.

A view of the Landesgarten.

Sigrid, former co-worker of Molly's, with Molly and Steve.


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