I had marked my calendar because today was going to have a unique tour. We started our day by heading to Adelsheim, a city about an hour away from Heidelberg. We were visiting Landesschulzentrum für Umwelterziehung, the State Academy for Environmental Education. This was a unique setup where teachers essentially learn how to incorporate environmental awareness in their lessons and will often times bring their students back at a later date to experience these lessons. This is similar to Camp Michendo that a lot of 5th graders attend. The setting was in a woodsy area, with about 5 large dorm looking buildings, many transferred from their original boarding school facility to house environmental education opportunities. In the conference room, before my eyes was the oft-rumored bavarian pretzel, handmade at a local bakery. Before indulging myself, I noticed it was cut in half and layered with rich creamy butter. Yum! Inside the school facility, we saw numerous rooms, equipped to teach educators various environmental lessons. Some of the rooms had students presently experimenting with their teacher. Upon finishing the tour, we stood outside for a group picture, followed by a walk through the school garden, where an elderly man was planting flowers. This was my type of garden. One that lacked conformity and organization, rather it played by nature’s autonomous rules, let it be. The garden was wild and inviting. Here I was able to film some more interviews for my 3 Thoughts About Germany piece. After completing our time at the academy, we headed to Schwäbisch Hall, a nearby city. I had never heard of Schwäbisch Hall so my expectations were lower, though the city more then delivered beyond expectations. Pulling our coach bus down the crammed main street roads, I noticed numerous houses having beautiful rose gardens on display. It was now time to visit the Haller Löwenbräu brewery. I had never heard of this brewery, but I found out that for the most part in Germany, each region seems to have their main beer. The guide for the tour looked like he belonged in a motorcycle tv show, but was nothing but pleasant throughout our visit. Unfortunately, most of the tour was inaudible as the sounds from the machines mixed with him seemingly whispering, making it nearly impossible to hear much if anything. When it finally came time to sample the beer, it had a crisp refreshing taste, although not my ideal type of beer. Our last stop had us visiting on a tour of Schwäbisch Hall city. Like every city in Germany, this was no different with the unique houses and buildings. These seemed to be taller and looked like they belonged in what I imagine a shakespearian village in England for whatever reason. In the downtown area, we saw a large church that was turned in to a performance stage. Alexander pointed out that the man at the bottom of the large set of stairs wearing a cap was a famous German actor, rehearsing for the play that was to start later that evening. Along the cobblestone path, we headed past amazing buildings, with modern recognizable stores like H&M located nearby. The most scenic part of the tour was when we walked past a bridge and could see in the backdrop a variety of colorful, old-fashioned buildings. Finishing in Schwäbisch Hall, I felt that it was perhaps more clean and crisp than any other city, though I think something about Heidelberg has me liking that area better. Making our way back to Heidelberg, we were going to have our last meal together there. The large gothic looking building which we passed several times, was going to be host to us on this night. Before eating, I figured I should run and get some souvenirs, which I got a stein, a shot glass stein, and a postcard. Inside, this was one of our fancier meals. I sat next to Alexander and were able to share a great conversation that night regarding German and American perceptions of each other. I ordered the Beef Stroganoff with spätzle. I’ve never been treated to such a presentation. When our food arrived, they came out with a large metal dome on top. As tough as it was not to peak when it was 9:20 and I didn’t have lunch, I waited for everyone to be served before the big unveiling. On my plate were several morsels of beef in a semi-sweet sauce, later to be topped with my favorite, spätzle. Afterwards, we ordered a crème brûlée, which radiated decadence. This was a somewhat somber night for me as I felt that there is no way that the remainder of the trip could somehow come even close to topping the majesty and aura of Heidelberg.
About Matthew Cottone
Experience the World! This is my creed I bring to my classroom and my life. I'm a World Studies teacher at Van Hoosen Middle School and I have a passion for learning and experiencing the world.