Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Best Research Trip Ever! #IWSG #writinglife

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day.

The Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

IWSG Asks: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

Although, its never made it's presence significantly into any of my published works, yet, the coolest research trip I ever made was to Bamberg, Germany.

A vacation, you call it?

Not for a writer.

Every experience that occurs to a writer can be used in a story and I knew going into this trip that I would use something of my experiences there in my stories in some way or fashion.

Several years ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to visit some friends in Germany and we jumped at the chance. I love to travel! I'd already been to many places, but never to Europe. This was also my first experience on an airplane. I can't deny that I was nervous especially since I'm nervous about heights. We took a short flight from Philadelphia to New York. This was amazing! I was scared I'd have a panic attack in mid-flight, but the view was just so incredible that it didn't bother me. And I was in a small airplane! How cool is that?

The flight from New York to Frankfurt wasn't as much fun, but still an experience to remember. Stuck in the middle isle, nowhere near any windows, I couldn't see anything outside. Incredibly, the turbulence didn't bother me. It felt like I was riding in a bus driving down a bumpy highway.

And then we arrived in Germany. We stayed in a town called Bamberg. It's a beautiful, quaint town unlike anything I'd ever before seen filled with amazing medieval and gothic architecture. We strolled along the cobblestone streets in the Altstadt (Old Town). Seated on seven hills, the town was the capital of the Holy Roman Empire under Heinrich II.

There's a beautiful area known as Kleine Venedig (Little Venice) that used to be the fisherman's district. The medieval-style structures create a picturesque scene that is quite popular among the tourists.

Situated on an artificial island in the Regnitz river, Bamberg's Alte Rathaus (Old Town Hall) was first mentioned in 1387 and redesigned between 1461-1467. There are two arched bridges connecting it to the mainland which separates the mountain town and the island town. This is a great area to people watch (for a writer that's wonderful research for creating characters!). I also spotted some guys kayaking in the river just below the bridge.

My husband and I stayed there for two weeks. We visited the cathedral, the monastery, and a brewery museum. We toured palaces and trekked a mountain forest to reach castle ruins. We visited caves and a racing track. We partied in a tavern that only played 80s music and drank a lot of beer! We strolled along the streets and wandered palace grounds. We also did some shopping (I loved the bookstores!) Also, we talked with a lot of people, learning about the area, the town, the history and the culture. 

Such as one day, my husband and I sat along one of the fountains in the center of the square to relax. While sitting there eating our ice cream cones, an elderly gentleman approached us. Somehow, the locals can immediately identify American visitors. He spoke perfect English and chatted with us. During our conversation, we learned that the man had served as a German soldier in WWII. He flew in the planes that attacked London during the Blitz and was shot down. He survived with injuries and was sent to one of the English hospitals where he recovered and formed an attachment with one of the nurses. Years later, after the war, he married the nurse and they moved back to Germany where they raised their family. I thought it was a charming love story. To this day, I'm so pleased that the gentleman decided to take some time out of his day to talk with us.

The German people are probably one of the most friendly people I've ever encountered. I never felt like a foreigner there. They accepted us with gracious courtesy and kindness. I had taken five years of German in school and had a fair grasp of the language, but as soon as I spoke they recognized my American accent. All but once the person I spoke with switched to English for my convenience without my even asking them to. Such as the day we took a tour through Schloss Seehof which I wrote about in one of my previous blog posts. The tour guide who showed us around the palace spoke in German until the other couple who were on the tour with us realized we were Americans. They asked the tour guide to give the tour in English so that we could better understand. The tour guide happily switched to English and the couple even added a few details for us on the tour. It was such a pleasant experience and I will never forget their kindness.

It was really an amazing trip and one day I will definitely use it in a story. As it is, I've set the beginning of my Regency paranormal romance, The Witch's Thief, in an area I recall from my trip there. Even the palace where the hero, Basil Merriweather, breaks into is heavily influenced on the combinations of the palaces that I visited in Germany.

So, I guess, I've used some of that research material already!


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  1. Wow. I would have been thrilled. Love the pics. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  2. What a wonderful trip you had. The pics are great. I hope you can use the experience in your stories.