From 1986 to 1988, I was being trained as an Assistant Librarian. During those two years, every four weeks or so I attended Librarian School in a small town in south Germany's famous Black Forest. The theoretical training intervals usually lasted four weeks, and then everyone went back to practical work at their respective libraries for the next four weeks, and so on. Students came from all over Baden-Württemberg (the part of Germany I live in), and for convenience's sake, we were given mini-apartments in the nurses' home next to the hospital of that town. There were always two students assigned to each apartment, which consisted of a long, narrow room with two beds, a desk and an in-built wardrobe, a tiny bathroom with toilet and an equally tiny kitchenette. We had our breakfast and lunch at the hospital's canteen, along with all the nurses and doctors, and took our packed evening meals from there when we left the canteen after lunch. Therefore, most of us used their kitchenettes only to make coffee or tea in the afternoon. School was only in the mornings, which left us with plenty of free time - and we loved it!
Most of us had started our apprenticeships straight after school and were still getting used to working all day, a big change when up until then we had been going to school only for the first half of the day. Therefore, everyone quite enjoyed the four-week intervals at Librarian School - not only were most of us away from home for the first time, playing at "being grown-up" without having to take full responsibility for ourselves (cooking, shopping for groceries, washing and cleaning was - to a certain extent - all being done for us), but we were part of a group of young people from 16 to 25, making new friends and having a lot of fun.
With some of the "girls" from back then (of course, by now we are all officially middle-aged women) I am still in touch, and we meet once or twice a year. Yesterday, I met with two of my closest friends from those days, and together, we drove to the small town where it all began.
On my suggestion, we took the nice, easy walk along the river (less than 2 km) to the next small town, Hirsau, which boasts the picturesque ruins of a monastery. Of course, I had my camera with me and took some pictures:
Approaching Hirsau. The river is called Nagold.
The plan had been to stop at this café where we used to have coffee and cake sometimes, but sadly, we found it closed for good - later, we found out that it was put on the market for sale 5 or 6 years ago and so far, nobody has made a move to buy it.
Some of the old buildings surrounding the monastery.
Building of the monastery began in the year 1082. A lot of the building material is the red sandstone typically found in the area.
The only building with the roof still intact is the small gothic church. A wedding was taking place when we arrived, but the ceremony was already over, and we could go into the church. You can still see the flowers attached to the pews for the wedding. While baroque churches feel quite "over the top" for me, I love the gothic style for its simplicity. Look at the beautifully restored painting on the ceilings!
The church from the outside, and some more pictures. By that time, the sun had finally managed to pierce through the clouds.
Before walking back to Calw, we stopped at a hotel where coffee and cake was served. Being at the Black Forest, of course I had a piece of Blackforest Gâteau - and a HUGE piece at that! If you order cake at any of the cafés in my home town, you usually get a piece about half the size of this one.
Back in Calw, we wandered around the old town centre with its beautifully restored timbered houses and narrow cobbled streets. The place has, naturally, changed a lot since the 1980s, but there was still plenty there for us to recognize. Nobody would recognize us, though - we did look rather different back then, as you can see from this older post of mine.
It was a lovely afternoon with my friends and a nice trip down memory lane - and we were incredibly lucky with the weather!