This essay "Intoxication" is really about a condition that occurs when you've arrived in Wiesbaden or the Rhine Valley region....spent days, weeks, months and years there....and leave one day....only to discover that you were in some Disney-like park and riding an awful long log-ride. In essence, you just never realized how good it was, until you packed up and left. You were intoxicated for several years....in some happy daze, and felt some layer of enchantment over your soul.
1. Wiesbaden really isn't huge or a mega city....it's 280,000 residents. The thing is....you are surrounded by lego-like cities (Mainz across the river with 200,000 people, Darmstadt down the road with 147,000 residents, Frankfurt with it's 687,000 people, and another 100,000 along the west end of Wiesbaden along the Rhine River). You were on the borderline of a major urbanized zone but always felt some small town shadow.
2. You had one of the most significant airports in the world within thirty minutes of driving. It connected to Wiesbaden via an autobahn and a railway system (straight out of the basement of the airport). In sixty minutes, you could step off a plane....grab your bag, jump on a train, and arrive at the Wiesbaden station. There were hundreds of places that were on the hub of the airport, giving you a fantastic chance to travel a great distance in twelve hours.
3. You had literally a hundred-odd fests within a thirty-minute drive over an entire year. Wine fests, apple-wine fests, beer fests, small village fests, spring fests, and the list goes on and on. You were never invited....you just noted such-and-such fest over the weekend and drove over.
4. You found the Rhine Valley and Hessen offered up fresh fruit and vegetables every single week. Farmer markets gave you opportunities to always have fresh and local items for the table.
5. Cafes were the escape point where you could sneak off and sip through a great cup of coffee and have a slice of kase kuchen (cheese cake) while reading some romantic novel and listening to soft jazz in the background. You felt a private cloak over your presence.....just someone in the shadows.
6. You sipped fine local wines that amazed you in taste and quality, for less than five Euro. You discovered that Hessen apfel (apple) wine on a hot afternoon would renovate you and kinda packed a punch.
7. You walked through a shopping district in December....sipping gluh-weine and eating sugary-laced items. The lights, the atmosphere, and cobblestones.....all left you in a happy daze.
8. You zoomed along on the autobahns....sometimes worrying about your safety but feeling peppy about the 100 mph situation.
9. You sat for hours on a park bench facing the Rhine River and watching ships go up and down the river. You'd occasionally get up and walk along the bank.....stopping for an Italian ice cream....and then admiring the hundred-year-old houses on the other side of the river. Architecture was never something that you were keen on, but now, it seems that you notice such things.
10. You hated history in high school and college, but somehow.....all these little pieces started to fall into place. The castles, palaces, bridges, war memorials, and innovations made sense.
11. You discovered that around your village, there's this one trail (paved in fact) that leads onto four other trails, and you could actually walk ten miles one afternoon, and return by nightfall by bus or train. Oddly, other than getting lost.....you don't worry about assaults, thugs, or wild dogs on this trail. Well, you might worry about wolves, but that's another subject.
12. You discover ninety-nine ways of making schnitzel. Then you start to examine a German menu to find hundreds of things you've never eaten. Along the way, you find some great Italian and Greek restaurants in the Wiesbaden area. You worry about calories, but the temptation is great.
13. You listen in the background on a Sunday.....quiet. No lawns being mowed. You get used to this type of day without any noise.
14. You become amazed that city parks can be finely landscaped, safe at all times of the day, and actually draw you into a simple one-hour walk.
15. You waltz into the local train station and stand amazed a the simplicity of the schedule and the cost. You start to take risky one-hour trips to cities with historic charm and character.
16. You find yourself on a shopping district....in need of a very unique red men's hat, and surprised that there are actually three or four hat shops which feature this unique item.
17. You find that Frankfurt has this adventurous district of Sachenshausen. It's got a party-like atmosphere going on from sundown to sun-up. If that wasn't enough, you then discover jazz clubs and twenty different entertainment venues in the local area.
18. At some point, you walk onto a Rhine cruise boat and spend an entire afternoon amazed at the landscape of the river, and sipping some fine beer along the way.
19. You sat in a concert arena to hear some Irish lass belt out a weepy-eyed song that never would have been played in the US. You went to Mainz and hear some Czech band play a dozen great tunes. You sat in a Rhine River monastery and heard some monks render a five-star song.
20. You marveled at cops who seemed to be professional and bright....wondering why you can't find these sort of characters in the US.
21. You skated in the midst of December on some ice-rink and felt like a kid again. You actually went to Bavaria and learned how to ski....falling down a hundred times but having the best day of your life.
22. You were enchanted, enamored and taking one more risky adventure as each day passed.
All of this....leaves you intoxicated in some way. Then, as you finally leave, the intoxication evaporates, and you are back in the world of reality. It was good, while it lasted.