U123888 lives nearest and knows the town best, so she and her boyfriend, Oliver, guided us to the various venues. Many thanks to them both.
So, 18 September 2002 it was. A lovely mild Wednesday evening, as it turned out. Freiburg is, in fact, the warmest town in Germany. Official website (English version) here.
U180656, who as a Paper Lady, has hardly missed a meet.
What did we do?
U175291 and U150740 came by train from Basel, which is about 70 km away. U168814 and U127053 (who was visiting from Estonia) drove to Karlsruhe station and picked up U154942. U155449 was staying in Freiburg for his conference and walked. U185155 drove in from Strasbourg, having left it a bit close for the train. U123888 and Oliver live in nearby Furtwangen.
Following the usual rules for such things, those who had furthest to travel got there first, and were just ringing U123888to check she was on her way, only to discover she was just 5 yards away! U185155 was there almost on time (ish) but had a job finding somewhere to park.
The Beer Garden
Once assembled, we decided to spend the first part of the evening in a Beer Garden. What we hadn't been told was that this was at the top of a very long and steep path. However, it was worth it for the view. The town was visible through the trees and the early autumn mist, and seemed timeless and peaceful, and if we'd have stopped talking for a minute, we might even have enjoyed some silence. Freiburg has a very old and close-knit centre, in which the main means of transport is Shanks' Pony and bikes - in term-time it is probably even more so, when all the students are up.
The beauty of the town was lost on us as hard-and-fast conversants, but the beer in the beer garden was very welcome after that climb!
When glasses and bladders had been emptied, we descended the hill and headed for the "Schlappen" (which is a slang word in German for an old or soft shoe) and looked for a table. Unfortunately they don't take bookings and there was just not room for 9 people at that time. So we decided to find somewhere else to eat and come back later.
We went to a simple Chinese take away-cum-restaurant and were served amazingly quickly for very reasonable prices. We pushed a few tables together and had a good laugh and a natter about H2G2 and life in Germany and all the languages we knew. The conversation was 80% in English, as Hati and Ottox don't have enough German to hold a conversation (won't be long now though for either of them!) and, well, it just sort of worked out like that. Other German meets have been exclusively in German. (Black Forest (entry still in limbo) and U156569's birthday.)
Students' Hangout - One for the Road
After our Chinese meal, we went back to the "Schlappen" and had a final drink and further chat. The place was still full and although there were 9 of us, we still shared a table with another group! It was a typical German student's place - albeit a very big one. Food and drink were cheap and it was very loud and the waitresses very friendly. The music was good, too, except you could only hear the bass line over the noise in the back room where we were.
Because the weather was so fine, there was plenty going on on the streets, and it was generally a great atmosphere. At some point there seems to have been some rain, but not even enough to have "joined up the dots" - there were just a few splatters on the cobblestones.
We finally - and reluctantly - split up around one am. Thanks to all of you for a great evening!