It has a beautiful church with a cemetery in the back, one store, the Edeka, a small bakery, a gas station and a car dealership. Yes, a car dealership - I’m always amazed it’s still in business. There’s a guy who does beautiful wood carvings and a shop for windows. We like to stay at Gästehaus Heckmann, http://www.gaestehaus-heckmann.de/gaestehaus.htm, run by Frau Heckmann herself. She will be 80 next year and she still makes breakfast for her guests and cleans the rooms as well as changes the beds every day. Plus she is so friendly and wonderful to see at breakfast each morning.
But the hub of the town is a small bar / restaurant called “Die Sonne” or “The Sun”.
Over the years Die Sonne has changed owners at least 4 times but the name has stayed the same, the interior has stayed the same, and the clientele has stayed the same. In the summer especially, around 4:00 it starts filling up with the ranch and farm workers as they get done for the day. It’s mostly men, lots of times gathered around a single group of tables (a Stammtisch!) and when we walk in, well, “I’m not sure how to put this but we’re kind of a big deal” ;-) To give you an idea of the ratio of men to women there, in all the times we’ve been going there, COMBINED, besides the owner, the quantity of other women we’ve seen in there, who we were not related to is a TOTAL of probably 6.
It’s pretty smoky inside but they have good food. Not as good as Tante Käthe’s of course but pretty good and inexpensive. Despite the fact they do offer an array of greek dishes as well as burgers, we’re pretty consistently Schnitzel girls! Usually with Pommes Frites (French fries), Spaetzelen (sort of noodle), or now these awesome small home made potato chips.
This trip we decided to stop at Die Sonne on Friday night for dinner. It would be the night before Tante Käthe’s big party for her 70th birthday and this way she would have a break from cooking.. The night before was Tante Käthe’s birthday dinner. Interestingly enough, her birthday was actually on Sunday. Now Tante Käthe, like many Germans, is a little superstitious. Because of this she would not allow any birthday wishes, presents or even much discussion of her birthday until her actual day, Sunday. So it was known by all, whether spoken or not, the dinner and gathering of lots of family which started at about 7:30 on Saturday night would have to go until at least midnight in order to celebrate her birthday. It felt like New Year’s Eve, with the excitement growing as midnight approached. There was even a little countdown. Then wishes and presents were given, a poem was read and my Aunt went to each person, shook our hand (it’s a German thing), hugged us and thanked us. It was so sincere and warm and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one welling up by her expression of love.
The next day, Sunday, we spent pretty mellow. We napped, and hung out at our Aunt’s house visiting.
The last few days we’re in town are a struggle. A sort of panic sets in, it usually starts with Katy – “we didn’t do this”, “we need to get this”, “lets eat more of …”. And this trip, right on schedule, Sunday evening, around 9:00 pm, as we were getting ready to walk back to our hotel, it began. Katy – “wait, I think I might want a snack or something”. This always makes our Aunt smile. On more than one occasion, we’ve raided her fridge on the way out in the evening and either sat at her table for one last round or taken a whole bowl of her homemade potato salad with us to our room. We sat at the table, got out some bread and fix’ns including pickles.
As we thanked her again and got ready to walk out you could see the wheels churning in Katy’s head – “Do I want something else? What am I forgetting?” She couldn’t think of anything else and we walked through the cold and into our toasty room.
We quickly got ready for bed, jammies on and snuggled under our comforters chit chatting about the day and the food. One of my favorite things Debbie says about one of the things she loves about Germans is they’re either preparing a meal, eating a meal, or talking about the last or next meal.
As we lay there, in our jammies, lights out, trying to go doze off, one of us says “man I wish I had some of those potato chips from Die Sonne”. We quickly start weighing out our options and the following is a glimpse into the dialog which ensues. “Maybe we should try the gas station and buy a back of chips.” “Seriously?! It’s all the way in Osterburken!” “But it’s warm in the bed” “Maybe the thought will go away – try to sleep” “It’s not going away and now I want salad too” “I don’t want to get dressed” “Maybe we could get it to go” and then … “I don’t think we need to get dressed, just put our coats on” and finally … “LETS DO THIS!”
Yup, we got out of bed, put coats and shoes on, decided to drive, even though it’s only seriously a 2 minute walk but we need a backup plan if they were closed or something. The three of sat lined up me, Katy, Debbie, at the bar drinking a glass of water while we waited for our to-go salads and potato chips!
Again, not as good as the fair we could get at Tante Käthe’s but OMG it was awesome and just what we needed to drift blissfully to sleep! Good night Die Sonne!