Whenever I’m in Germany, I get the experience that’s called “serendipity” at least once. The word was first used by Horace Walpole, in reference to the Persian story of “The Three Princes of Serendip” (present day Sri Lanka) who used to make discoveries of things which they weren’t in the quest of. In present day the word is used in the sense of finding things where you least expect it.
So here I was in the morning wondering what to do here at Walldorf – a small town in Germany – whose fame lies in being the headquarters of the software company SAP. So I searched the internet to find if there is at least one thing that I could go and see and found the name “Astorhaus”. If the name “Astor” sounds familiar to you, then you are on the right track. Walldorf was the birthplace of one of the richest Americans – John Jacob Astor – on whose name is based the name of the city Astoria, Oregon, USA!
Astorhaus was originally an orphanage in Walldorf, built out of donations by Astor. Today it is a nice museum.
So why am I calling the experience serendipity? I’ll tell you why.
a) I couldn’t find one website where it gave the timings of the place or what to expect on reaching there.
b) I first went to a small forest near my guest-house, because I wasn’t sure of the location of this place.
c) I got bored in the forest so I decided to give it a try and look for the Astorhaus. And on reaching that place, I found that it is open only between 3 PM – 6 PM on Sundays, and I was there at the right time!
Luck by chance!

The hosts were very nice and they explained to me each and every exhibit in the museum. They had lots of fossils from the different times of the earth, along with one of mammoths tusks! There were artifacts from the Roman times. Also there were a lot of tools used by smiths, weavers, cobblers, housewives..

After the tour, I found other people from the neighborhood also present there and enjoying what is called the “Waldmeisterbowle” or the May Wine – Waldmeister leaves are soaked in the wine to give a lovely flavor to the wine! They offered me a glass too. I was treated like a guest in one’s home instead of a tourist. I was really touched by the hospitality of the people. So the day that began with uncertainty, turned out to be a really wonderful with one thing being certain – you would find nice things where you least expect them! And that is serendipity :-).
So the next time you are in Walldorf on a Sunday and don’t know what to do, go to the Astorhaus and be pleasantly surprised!


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