As promised, we headed downstairs to my parents' flat in the morning after making coffee for ourselves upstairs (hey, it was pure luxury, having excellent ALDI coffee all to ourselves in our private apartment, what can I say?). Oh, and we also nipped around the corner to a pretty okay bakery to get some pain au chocolat and fresh rolls for breakfast. (Both Dan and my Dad have sweet tooths and love chocolate, so it's always fun to see them go to town on pain au chocolat.) My Mom and I instead went for fresh rolls with butter and honey, and I just gotta say that even the cheapest grocery store honey and butter in Germany is way, way better than anything I can get at Whole Foods back home. It's crazy. Anyhow, it was a fine breakfast, with the orange juice I liked from way back when (yet another item on the nostalgic food list!) and some more of that great coffee. Yum. And then we kicked Dan out, who was of a mind to go for a twenty-mile run as part of his marathon training, and got down to business for a while to discuss EOL strategies. (It ain't gonna happen anytime soon, but winter is coming, so we're going to be as prepared as we can on the day. You know.) Then, when we were all satisfied with the discussions, I took my leave and headed off to the local hot springs in hopes of getting a massage. Hey, twelve stages of the Moselsteig have kind of got me achy and I would certainly like it if someone were to Rolf the bejesus out of me, right?
It was a beautiful day outside, so I packed my swimsuit, put on my PCT cap, queued up Thundercat's Drunk on my phone, popped in my fancy earphones, pressed play, and got to walking through the masses of slow, bumbling tourists to the bridge, then across to Trarbach and up the valley to the Moseltherme. The music was joyous, the warm sun a great treat after so much rain, and I felt great. At the spa, they didn't have any massages available, but no problem, a sauna's fine too, so I rented a tall, changed into my swimmers (much to my relief, they actually fit; I bought them in Tokyo last year and hadn't tried the out yet), and headed for the swimming pool. It was okay, nothing special, not really warm enough, so I cut bait and headed over to the sauna, which was better. They had a so-called bio sauna, which appeared to have a vague scent of Listerine (mint version) complete with mood lighting that occasionally made me think I was on a clothing optional version of The Demon, the rebranded Great America rollercoaster in Santa Clara. Kinda silly. Fifteen minutes, a cold shower, lie down, wait for the buzz to subside, then do it again, this time in the seriously hot sauna for ten minutes, with more a of a cold shower, and then outside to enjoy the FKK area outside. I spread out my towel on a chaise longue, and proceeded to enjoy the next hour or so of my birthday in my birthday suit, enjoying the warm autumn sun mixed with the occasional cool breezes coming in from the forest. It felt pretty dang decadent.
And then I was done, so it's get dressed, get stuck trying to leave because the staff are on a smoke break and all of the exit gates are broken, so jump the turnstile, leave the rental towel at the desk, and leave. If the morning was good for Thundercat, then this was certainly the time for Krautrock, so I alternated between Neu! and Neu! 2 on the way back to town, motorik beat timed perfectly to my walking pace. I passed the bottling plant for the delicious local mineral water - yay - and slowly made my way back to the Barfly, stopping a block just before when I noticed that a wine shop where I'd bought a bottle of Sekt the night before had some very good looking tables outside is the sun AND that it was to open in five minutes, which would mean that I'd get my choice of tables. Tempting. So I immediately went and pestered my Dad, demanding that he head outside with me and take advantage of the beautiful day by sitting outside, watching the Mosel, and drinking some Riesling with me. It was not even remotely hard to convince him that this was a good idea, so we did just that: shared a bottle of special hikers' Riesling (hiking boots on the lane, slightly reduced alcohol so you could still get back on the trail afterwards) and just chatted lazily, enjoying the afternoon. I don't get to do that much, so it was a real treat.
Eventually the bottle wore out (and so did the bottle of mineral water), and besides, it was slowly getting to be time for supper (we had an early reservation at 5 pm), so we headed back to their apartment to wait for Dan to get back from his epic run. When he did, we tried the two remaining beers - the Belgian Maredsous was OK, but the Gose from Baden was terrible, alas - finished up the family paperwork that we'd been working on, and attended to the task of walking to dinner, thankfully only a block away.
I had decided that my birthday dinner should be as low key as possible (no French gastronomy, no tasting menus, no dress codes, etc.), so we chose the Alte Zunftscheune, which was perfect. Super friendly wait staff, and a wide selection of German country cooking (for lack of a better word) done with attention to detail and better than average quality. We started out with Mosel Kir aperitifs - silly, yeah, but tasty (German sparkling wine with a local peach liqueur added), and then ordered a bottle of Melsheimer Kabinett feinherb, which I was very, very excited to see on the menu because I'd be staying there the following the day. The wine was sooo goood, lemme tell you. Everything you would want in a German Riesling, with exceptional length and clarity. Oh, and Demeter certified, which led to my usual inability to explain Rudolf Steiner to absolutely anyone, my parents included. I mean, heck, I don't even remotely understand what exactly he thought he was doing. All I know is that winegrowers who farm biodynamically seem to usually make exceptional wines, and that's good enough for me.
I had a Jaegerschnitzel - an old favorite of mine - that was excellent, and my Mom wound up with a huge chunk of pork smothered in onions and pan-fried potatoes, so she was as happy as could be. The other gentlemen had turkey skillets with grapes and spaetzle and other delicious stuff, so there were smiles all around, we finished the bottle of wine, and called it a night. It was good.
A short walk back to our apartments, an agreement to be by in the morning with more fresh rolls, and then we were just about done for the evening - but first, my Dad and I had to settle the bills with Petra, the landlady, so we headed down to the Barfly at 8 to pay up after a friendly chat and an incredibly generous offer of a free birthday cocktail, which I'm afraid I had to decline, but she gave us a lovely bottle of wine anyhow, which I'm sad to say I had to leave in the apartment because I just didn't feel like drinking any more wine and I also didn't feel like carrying it on my back the next day.
I said goodnight to my parents, headed upstairs, turned out the lights, and fell asleep quickly. Hey, it was my kind of birthday: time to myself, time with family, time with Dan, some wonderful messages from old friends, good wine, good food, and new sights to see. It was great!