So in the last episode of Stacie-goes-abroad, we saw how I met Alrick, Ulli and their adorable daughter Adelisa. After Adelisa had been found, we said our goodbyes. Alrick gave me his business card and wrote their home number on it. “If you’re ever in Nuremberg,” he said, “you must call us.” I went back to my room, certain I would never see them again, as I had no plans to visit Nuremberg.
Fast forward about two and a half months. I was nearing the end of my wander-around-the-continent trip. I was leaving Prague, and I was with Andrew, the younger brother of my friend Eva. I had run into him weeks before in the train station in Venice. We’d stayed together in Venice, split up in Yugoslavia and then joined up again in Hungary. We’d spent a crazy day and a half trying to hitch out of Czechoslovakia, and at the end of that second day, we got a driver who was headed to Nuremberg … which was when I remembered Alrick’s card.
Our driver left us at a pay phone on the outskirts of town. I called Alrick, who was more than happy to come get us, had no problem with the fact that I was appearing out of the blue and with a friend. He pulled over to the curb in his silver Jaguar (no, really), bundled us inside and took off for his house.
Alrick and Ulli lived in a very pretty planned-community-looking neighborhood with lots of young, happy families all over the place. It was a little ‘Stepford’ for my tastes, I have to say, but everyone was very nice. Andrew and I settled in. Frau Mieter, the maid (oh, didn’t we just wish her name was Rita!), had turned the basement laundry room into a guest room for us, complete with a big double bed that made it clear Alrick and Ulli assumed Andrew and I were more than just friends. No problem. We’d slept the night before in the cab of a truck, in a space really only big enough for a ten-year-old, so a double bed would be as private as having separate rooms!
Alrick suggested we go into town for dinner. Andrew and I slid into the back of the Jag, Ulli in the front with Alrick. We started to drive off … which was when I saw Adelisa playing in the grass by the side of the road. Um, what?
“What about Adelisa?” I asked.
“There she is,” Ulli pointed. “Right there in the yard.”
“Um, yes, but … well … isn’t she supposed to be with us?”
Alrick and Ulli looked at each other and laughed. “Oh no,” Alrick said. “She’s just fine. She’s already had her dinner.”
Well, ok, she’s already eaten but … well … we’re driving. away. from. the. house! She’s out in the road by herself and it’s almost night time! No problem, apparently.
After dinner Ulli took a cab back to the house because she was tired. I was tired, too, but Alrick wanted to take us out to a beer house, and Andrew didn’t want to miss that particular opportunity. We sat on the front terrace of a big, open bar and drank for a while (my one Pilsen to Andrew and Alrick’s several whatevers).
I was tired but happy. This was the beauty of travel, right? You meet strangers, you exchange numbers and the next thing you know, those strangers are hosting you in their home, in their town, welcoming you warmly and generously.
Alrick offered to take us on a driving tour of Nuremberg by night. What a nice gesture … until he started in on all the things we had to see the next day, taking us on a crazy-fast tour of about a thousand places we had to visit in what would be our only day of sightseeing. He drove all over the city, doubling back a few times to show us things he’d forgotten. He even made Andrew get out at the Dürer house to see if it would be open the next day (mercifully, it wouldn’t be, so that was one place that could come off our list).
And this is the problem of taking up with strangers, right? You just can’t know what you’ll get until you’re all up in it. I used to go off with strangers all the time. It seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. And mostly it was fine … and then sometimes it wasn’t.
Alrick finally drove us back to the house and made sure we had everything we needed for the night. We closed our door behind him and just stared at each other. “It’s only for one day,” I whispered. “Maybe it was the beer.”
Maybe. But the next day was about 700 times stranger and, as far as I knew, there was no beer involved … (Part III is next Monday.)
is hosted by Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers.