Saturday, June 25, 2011

a little bit of home.

sunday, 12 june 2011 – germany

my next stop was a tiny village in western germany called mehlbach. and when i say small, i think there are like 100 people who live there. the reason it was on my itinerary at all was thanks to my boyfriend. or, really, his mom. when she learned i’d be in the neighborhood (ie – europe), she said i had to go visit their old neighbors from huntsville. they moved here just 6 months ago, but it’s the family’s third time moving to germany. drew suggested nancy, the mom, to me on facebook in february.. and we’ve been in contact ever since! she was more than happy to welcome me at their home for a few days, so it went right on my list. i said goodbye to katherine on the train and got off at the kaiserslautern station. it was easy for nancy to recognize me, considering i was the only person who got off the train! she flagged me down and gave me a welcome hug, which only confirmed my suspicions that i’d made a good decision in coming to visit! i love hugs. we walked to the car and drove back home. the village is about 20 minutes from kaiserslauten. their house is lovely – very new, clean lines, and in typical germany fashion, very sturdy. i even have my own room with a huge, real bed! the bathtub is gigantic, too. i met nancy’s husband ross and their temporary dog, a white german shepherd named apollo. a few minutes later, their boys came upstairs – don ross (12) and liam (10). they are both sweet kids, eager to talk with you and share their knowledge! i’d forgotten how influential the presence of a “cool older person” can be on young kids, though! they attached to me pretty quickly.
after a bit of visiting time, nancy and i left again to go visit the ramstein military base, except the visitor check in was a 2 hour wait! we decided to wait until later in the week to visit the base. she offered to take me to a town called trier instead. it was about an hour away, but that’s pretty standard for the area. we got there around 14h30 and wandered around for a couple hours. we saw the ‘porta nigra’, a roman ruin from the 2nd century ad. the town cathedral houses a very special relic – the tunic of christ. the cathedral itself is gorgeous – lots of detail and cool door handles! there was this awesome mechanical arm thing outside, writing out the bible on a big scroll in perfect calligraphy. we got some tasty ice cream, too. as we left, we walked through a little carnival – it reminded me of the main street festical so much. we got back to the house around 18h30 and nancy made a FANTASTIC dinner – steak, potatoes, salad, chocolate cake for dessert. so simple, so good. after dinner, we sat and talked for a while befor ei went and watched half of ‘a knight’s tale’ with the boys. after such a long day, i was exhausted by 23h and went to sleep in my big, comfy bed.

monday, 13 june 2011

since the night-night shades were down, it was tough to get up! i finally went downstairs around 9h45 and visited with the family. nancy had made crepes (bless her), so i ate a light breakfast. apparently, liam had eaten about 15 of them! tiny kid, too. i took a bath and then got ready for the day. nancy took me out to Heidelberg, also about an hour away. the town is so, so pretty and there was a castle tucked into the mountainside above it. the castle itself was totally different than what i’m used to seeing – made of the indigenous red clay brick and very stocky. we had to climb loads of stairs to get there, but the views were totally worth it. one part of the castle had an ‘exploding tower,’ which had been attacked by the french and blown to bits, thanks to the gunpowder stored inside. the view from the garden over the town and river was picturesque. we walked back down to the town and wandered through the streets before stopping for lunch. the restaurant was a mix of germany, Mexican, and Italian with a very rude waitress! i got chicken nachos. we left after ‘lunch’ and headed home. on the way, we stopped by the smaller military base near the house. nancy had to go in person to report a stolen GPS, which ended up being a big hassle. the two airment in charge of the paperwork were funny, though. after the police station, i finally got the experience the glory that is the commissary – it was so surreal to see american products and american prices. cheez-its, hershey syrup, poptarts, kraft mac n’ cheese.. everything. it reminded me how fat americans are though. we bought things to make dinner and headed home. when we got back, i started fixing dinner pretty much right away. i made the guacamole first and then made fajitas. they turned out well! the boys are quesadillas and nancy, ross and i ate the real meal. for dessert, i replicated the mascarpone/jam/strawberries idea from earlier. it was really nice to cook for my hosts, since they’d been so great to me! after dinner, i went upstairs to catch up on blogging before bed.

tuesday, 14 june 2011

i woke up around 9h30 and went downstairs to eat waffles with the boys. we all got dressed and the boys came with us to ramstein for the day’s outing. nancy drove us around and gave me a little etour of the place. we went to the base’s shopping mall, called the BX, to get a new GPS and some taco bell for me – yes. the taste of summer. i got a few souvenirs as well. it was super weird to be in such an ‘american’ place in a foreign country. i also go to use the library computer for a little bit while nancy and the boys went to get groceries. i just checked my emails and whatnot for about 20 minutes until they came back. once we got home, i took another bath (yay baths!) and read for a while before setting myself down to finish catching up on the parental visit blog. i even got through typing up my belgium post! i played rummy with nancy and ross until dinner time. she made this chicken dish with sundried tomatoes and artichoke.. SO good. after dinner, i got to take over the kitchen and bake!! i made chocolate chip cookies, mostly because they’re so easy and delicious. they went over well with everyone, and i got my baking fix! nancy helped me buy my train ticket to st. gallen, switzerland for thursday. i stayed on the computer, searching for couches and talking online, until about 23h45 and then went to bed.

wednesday, 15 june 2011

last day at the ratcliffe's! it was a lazy day. we basically sat around the house.. i cleaned a bit, did laundry, blogged, and worked on the computer. it was so cute, apollo was trying to fight with the vacuum, and then he would go hide behind an armchair if i 'attacked' with it. :) i finally got all my blogging 'caught up'! nancy and i went to the vogelwah base to pick up some forms and we stopped at the commissary as well. for dinner, we had p.f. chang's general chicken (i forgot the name!) and rice.. talk about a blast from america! it was delicious. i made a rockin' cookie sundae for dessert. we sat and watched top gear for a while, and then i went to go take one last bath. i finished reading 'the screwtape letters', which was phenomenal! i used the computer to do more couchsearching, but the internet died before i could post the last blog. whoops! i finished packing and fell right to sleep.

thursday, 16 june 2011

i woke up at 7h30 to finish my internet stuff.. once i sent everything off, i gathered all my belongings and we headed to the train station. nancy and the boys dropped me off around 9h outside the station.. we said goodbye for now and i continued on my way!

*germany was awesome, thanks in TOTAL to the ratcliffe family. they housed me, fed me, drove me around..  i could never thank them enough! i can't wait for them to move back to huntsville so i can see them again! :)

(up next, switzerland!)

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