MY GERMAN SOJOURN

The past 2 weeks have been filled with new people, new places, old friends and hot, HOT weather.

I left St. Ost, France on June 24th and flew to Basel, Switzerland.  From the airport I hopped the shuttle bus into town and to the train station (Hello Basel!) and caught a train to Frankfurt, Germany.  FYI, my 2 1/2 hour train ride was more expensive than my flight from Toulouse to Basel.  Switzerland and Germany are known for their very pricy trains.
I was met in Frankfurt by the daughter of my oldest and dearest friend.  Cindy and her husband Jim have now been my on-and-off again hosts for the past 10 days.  They live south of Wiesbadden in one of the most beautifully decorated and furnished rental homes I have ever seen.  The owner is an artist and when she wanted to start a new home project, she just left everything, includling the art, in this house and chose to rent it ‘as is.’  Jim is a biggie with GM (Opal in Germany) and Cindy has become a castle affecinado -determined to viist as many in the surrounding area/countries as she can find!  FYI – there are 100’s!!! 
For the past few years, they have made their home in Seoul, Russia and now Germany.  Cindy is the gatherer of history and facts about their new locations and therefore is a great tour guide!  Since I arrived we have ‘done’ Wiesbaden, Mainz, Eltville and Frankfurt. We have shopped,toured numerous   cathedrals, taken afternoon coffee and beer breaks, wandered through an amazing-smelling rose garden and I have enjoyed Jim’s grilling and Cindy’s cooking.
The roses at the Electors Castle in Eltville.
The cathedral in Wiesbaden 
The Carnivale fountain in Mainz
A little mermaid fountain on a small side-street
The glorious Chagall windows in St. Stephens
The ceiling in the Baroque St. Augistine’s Church in Mainz.
A staute of St. Barthelmus in The Dom
Cindy & I at the Stock Market in Frankfurt.  Chose to have our pix with Da Bear! instead of the Bull.
On July 28th, I boarded a bus with 16 other Anglos and headed to Laubach – an hour northwest of Frankfurt – where I would once again spend my days teaching English – this time to Germans.
Englischhausen is part of DIVERBO, the company that owns Pueblo Ingles in Spain but it’s run a bit differently.  Though the curriculum is almost exaclty the same, it is squished, as this program is only 5 days in length, compared to the 8 days in Spain.  They don’t pre-screen the participants as carefully for their English-speaking ability.  It was so hard on 2 of the participants (and on the Anglos too) who barely spoke any English and understood even less.  But the German students were wonderful.  So fun and interesting, from all over Germany, each with varied backgrounds and work expereince.  

We were housed in the lovely Waldhaus hotel outside of the village.  We each had our own rooms and they fed us quite well!  This time on ‘German time.’  Breakfast was at 8, lunch at 1, dinner at 8.  Most nights I was in bed by 10 – where in Spain we hadn’t been served the 2nd course yet!

One scorching afternoon (its was 94º) we walked into the village of Laubach to view it’s very own castle.  The Earl, who still lives there, is from the original family that goes back 100’s of years.  From what our tour guide said, his family has always been very kind and generous to the villagers – in comparison to some others who were awful!  The town is filled with the very quaint half- timbered homes. 

FYI – Did you know that the timber in these homes were quite valuable?  When the owner was forced to move, they would just tear down the home – the white space between the timbers only being a straw and mud plaster – and take the valuable timbers with them to be used in their new home.  You can tell the age of the home by how much their timbers have sagged or bowed out from the plaster.  
Now I want to share with you one of the best ‘it’s a small world’ stories ever!  We had been asked to post a small bio on the Diverbo websiste so that our fellow Anglos would know a little about each other.  When I boarded the bus I found myself sitting next to Don and Dennis, a fabulous couple from the San Francisco Bay area. We started chatting and Don said he had read my bio and wanted to know how I had started my business.  I told him that my husband and I had moved to Brussels in 1972  and I had joined the American Woman’s Club. 
 At that point he got the biggest grin on his face and said “Where did you attend church?”  Now that might seem strange unless you knew that the American Protestant Church in Brussels was the home of every American, and a bunch of Brits too, of any and all denominations, because it was THE social gathering spot of Brussels – and it was the only church that was  heated!  Turns out ‘young Donald (age 17 at the time) was the cocktail-hour piano player at the AWC, attended church with his parents (I knew his mother!) and went to the Internaltional School of Brussels with all of the teenage children of our closest friends.  We spent the entire week coming up with more and more names we rememberd and things that had happened while we both lived there.  What a wonderful way to remember some of the best years of my life.
Cindy was kind enough to pick me up on Friday afternoon when the program concluded – after stoping to tour one casle and one palace along the way.

 We were so happy to spend the time in her cute Opal Adam with the air conditioning blasting as it is now 100º in Franfurt and nothing is air coditioned except the cars!!!!  IT”S HOT – and sticky.  

So what do your do in Germany when it’s so hot and so sticky that you can’t stand it?  You go jump in the pool – the community pool that is – that is large enough to hold hundreds of happy German’s and few, much cooler Americans celebrating the 4th of July!
This photo was taken as we were getting ready to enter and it shows only about 1/2 of the complex.  German’s don’t believe in heating pool water, so on a day with when the air temp is 100º, the pool was a wonderful 76º!!!  Too many people to swim laps, so we just stood in water up to our shoulders for about 3 hours and let our body temps cool down.  
To celebrate the 4th, Jim and Cindy treated me to a delicous dinner at Baiken.  As you can see, this restaurant is sat, literally, in the middle of the vineyard.  It’s a ‘farm-to-table’ experience, including the fresh grilled trout I had that had been caught in a local stream.  
The view from the patio window next to our table was ‘framed’ by vines.  It has rained earlier but the sun came out just as I shot the photo.
                                        
And we concluded the evening watching fireworks over the Rhine!  Though the locals were only celebrating the first weekend of the month, we really knew they were celebrating our Independence Day!  Streets and sidewalks were packed, so Cindy and I took advanage of the great vantange point by sitting on the back of Jim’s convertable!  

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.  Back to the States for the wedding – then Denmark.
Until next time……

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