Sunday, January 11, 2009

German odds and ends

My friends have been asking me to post a little something about my recent trip to Germany. I have been back for just over a week and still I just can’t figure out what to say. Basically this was a family visit, not a vacation. You all know what I’m saying. There was no site seeing or lazy days. It was pretty much what you might expect for a visit to a family members wedding. Lots and lots of decorating and meeting with Dirk’s old friends and family. Nothing too exciting. So instead of telling about the trip, I thought I might point out some of the things I had forgotten about Germany.

First, I guess I had forgotten what a LONG flight that is. Maybe I am getting older and just don’t travel as well, but this trip felt so much longer than before. It didn’t help that we had what felt like 50% children on the flight. I had a particularly sweet little boy behind me the whole trip that wouldn’t shut with the stupid “kid” questions. You know, how do planes fly, what if it cost a million dollars for a plane ticket, that kind of thing. Then he kicked my seat for most of the trip. Right next to this kid was a crying baby. Good fun. Not to mention, Dirk did not travel as well this time either. Those of you who know him, know that he is a tad high strung, right. The whole time he was like we only 3 hours to be at the gate, we better hurry! He was constantly checking his watch and telling me to hurry. I wanted to lock him in a bathroom and leave him there!

Some things I think my memory blocked out for good reason. For instance, how awful it is to have to depend on Dirk for information. I realize that is my fault, I could have learned more German. But I didn’t. So, I am pretty much stuck with whatever information Dirk feels I need to know. For more than a week I had no idea what we would be doing that day or the next day. I just went along… kind of fun now that I think about it. But not so much at the time. More German came back to me than I had expected though. I had forgotten that all Americans use many German words because we don’t have American words for the thing. Like Rouladen. This is like really large blinds that are on the outside of the house and can be moved up or down from the inside of the house. These things will black out even the brightest sun. They are great. But we don’t have these things. Rouladen is a plural word in German, but it doesn’t sound like it to American ears, so we call them Rouladens. I had forgotten how much I love those things. You can sleep anytime of the day.

I had forgotten a lot of really great things too. For instance, everything is an event. Coffee in the afternoon. This is a several hour event with nice china and fancy platters with the cream and sugar. Normally with really great cake. Dinner is also several hours long with lots of good food and desert and coffee. The plates are prepared as little pieces of art. You almost feel bad to mess them up.

Most of all I had forgotten how soccer is a way of life. My husband actually made me drive to the soccer stadium and has his picture taken because he is afraid he will forget what the stadium looks like. We have about ten different pictures of the place.

Isn’t he cute… He has been going to games at this stadium with the same group of friends since he was in diapers. Everywhere we went people asked about which team he watches now and how he gets updates on the Monchengladback soccer team… He hasn’t been home for two years and THIS is the first question people ask.

I had also forgotten how crazy driving is. It’s so much fun to drive on the autobahn, which is what everyone asks about. But those are just highways with no speed limit. Town driving is the hard part! The picture below is a road in Dirk’s hometown. And yes, this road is made for two cars to drive at the same time.

You see, cars can park pretty much anywhere they want. The black car right in front of us is NOT moving. So, if a car is blocking you and another car from passing on the street, one of you must pull behind the parked car and let the other pass. It’s very much like a game of chicken. There are also these “obstacles” in the road when you come into or leave a village. It’s almost like puzzle pieces that are used to make people slow down. I didn’t get any pictures, but it is the same idea of one car letting the other pass.

This is a photo of a “round about”. This is in place of a four way stop. The idea is that it moves traffic along faster. The cars in the circle have the right of way. So, if you come to a round about, you wait until you can get in and the go all the way around. If you want to make a left hand turn you go right around the circle until you get to you left side turn. Actually they do keep traffic moving faster.

The only thing from the wedding I wanted to share (because this is getting a bit long) is this cool heart painting. It is just a large canvas that had squares sketched in. Each guest used paint at the reception to paint in a heart for the bride and groom, who had the painting framed and hung in their new home. Pretty cool huh.

Otherwise the wedding was pretty much a wedding. It was a two day event with the legal ceremony, lunch at a restaurant, then cake and coffee at a second location on the first day. Then a large evening reception on New Year’s Eve complete with fireworks and champagne outside at midnight.

It was a pretty good trip and I am sure not the last. I hope everyone else had a great Christmas and New Years!

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