Sunday, May 20, 2012

Stuttgart for the Long Weekend

This weekend is a big weekend for me! I am going to Stuttgart, well, actually I'm here now! Thursday was Father's Day and so, I got the day off from work. I also get two vacation days per month so I took Friday off work and came down to Stuttgart to visit some GREAT family friends. The Reiting family lived in America for five years or so and our families became good friends during their time there. They have two children, Johanna and Philip, who I used to babysit . Now they're all grown up and it is very strange to see them. I think Johanna was maybe in the 2nd or 3rd grade when I last saw her and now, she's 14. Quite the lady, she just had her "Konfirmation" - yeah, nearly the same work in English - Conformation.

Stuttgart Hbf
I looked into taking a train from Paderborn to Stuttgart but it was nearly €200 so I took a ride from a "student" in Paderborn named Philipp for €50 round trip. I met him at the main train station in Paderborn and we were on our way. He was very nice and spoke English well and his German was of course good, but he comes from a town in southern Germany, near Bavaria and so he also spoke a dialect called Swebish (not too sure on the spelling there.) He works for Siemens Enterprise and works with hardware on computer systems, he listens to "punk" music and bands like "Flogging Molly." We talked for some of the trip but the car soon fell silent. It wasn't a bad drive, maybe 5 or 5 and a half hours. Once we hit Stuttgart though, there was a lot of traffic (Jörg (Joerg) later told me that it is always like that. There are a lot of people living in Stuttgart and with it being a holiday the next day, everyone was either coming in or going out of the city.) I arrived at the train station around 6 PM and waited on Jörg to pick me up. I was in a parking lot and he was in a different one so we decided to meet in front of a hotel across the street.

He arrived in a Mercedes M-Class and we threw my bag inside and off we went to their house. They live in Göppingen, a smaller town outside Stuttgart. It was maybe a 20 minute drive to the house. When we got there, I was very warmly greeted by Tanja, Jörg's wife. They thought that hamburgers would be a good first meal for me so we had them for dinner. They apologized for them not being as good as an American one, but it made no difference to me. It was just good to be with family! After dinner, I got to see Johanna and Philip for the first time, woah, they're BIG! We played Dominos, or Mexican train to be exact, a game we used to play all the time when they were in America. I stayed up a bit later with Jörg and Tanja and then it was time for bed. It had been a long day!
On Thursday, I woke up at seven or so and just laid in bed for maybe half an hour. What a good feeling! The room that I'm staying in here is nearly twice the size of my apartment and the bed is HUGE! It feels good to sprawl out on it, so much room! I got up when I heard Jörg come back from his run, he went out and bought some bread and when he got back we had a nice breakfast outside on the deck. Tanja had made a strawberry torte and we had bread and, well, everything else. Jörg went for a shower and then we were off to Neuschwanstein, my mother's favorite castle. It is Bavaria (southern Germany) near the black forest.
We thought it would be fun to go into the castle but the line was VERY long so we didn't wait. It would take an hour in line to get a ticket then another two or three hours until we could go in. We, instead, walked up the mountain and looked around from the outside. It was maybe a 20 or 25 minute walk up and we went into the courtyard. On the way up there were a lot of souvenir shops and we stopped at one. They had a deal that for €5 you could get a coffee in a mug and a piece of cake. The mug was then yours to keep and had a picture of the castle on it. W continued up to the castle and I took a TON of pictures, they're on my Facebook if you want to see them (here's a link.) After seeing the front of the castle, we walked another 15 minutes maybe and there is a bridge where you can see the whole castle. We went out on it and, man there were a lot of people there, but we took photos. It was from the side without construction so they turned out great. After more and more and more pictures, we walked down the mountain on a different path, "the short path" and it was very steep. We got to the bottom and went back up the other side of the valley because there was another castle on the other side. After walking around there, we went back down and were extremely tired. We bought some bratwurst (but they were more like kielbasa) and ate them at the table there and went back to the car. It was only a two hour drive back to the house and I think I slept for most of it.

When we got home it was 6:30 or so and we had dinner. Bratwurst, salad, and fries. Yum! By the time dinner was over, it was 8:30 or so and the kids had school in the morning and both Jörg and Tanja had work in the morning. We watched some TV, Germany's Next Top Model, and then it was bed time.

I fell asleep quickly and slept amazingly well. I got up at maybe 8 and showered in a bathroom nearly the size of my apartment and got ready for the day. Tanja and Philip were still there but soon left for the day. Philip to school and Tanja to work. I was left alone in the house for the day. Tanja would be back around noon though so it wasn't that long.

Once Tanja and the kids were home, Tanja and I made lunch. It was a noodle casserole with ham, tomatoes, noodles, and potato soup topping. Tanja ran out to the store and I made the lunch. We even had a tomato salad. Sliced tomato with salt and pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Yum! Tanja and I cleaned up after lunch and went for a walk. I guess I never thought about how much we have in common. She lived in America and went through a lot of the same issues when she moved there that I had when o moved here. We talked a lot and walked to see a "small castle" nearby. They hold concerts in the courtyard and have food now but nothing start until late. We turn around and went back to the house where we played a game. It is called Carcassonne. You build roads and castles for points. I won every time! Finally, Jörg got home and we set up for dinner. We had bröchen with meats and cheeses and another tomato salad.

After dinner, Johanna and I watched an episode of The Vampire Diaries and came downstairs to watch some TV with Joerg and Tanja. We wound up playing Mexican train again then it was time for bed.

On Saturday morning, I was reminded again of the slow pace in Germany. I was up at eight and we had breakfast at nine an after much waiting, and a trip to the grocery store for meat for our barbecue that evening, we finally left the house at eleven thirty. We went into Ulm to see the largest Baptist Cathedral in Europe (and the world I believe.)
We continued to wander Ulm and went for ice cream in the city and walked the city wall. Eventually, maybe around 3:30 PM, we went back to the car. There is a very important FC Bayern "fußball" game today. We drove home and when we arrived, Philip had a FC Bayern flag hanging in the door.

We had a delicious barbecue with the family. We ate outside on the patio and had a salad (that I made), different types of pork from the grill (Johanna had turkey though, guess she doesn't like Pork??) and potatoes. They were more like tater-tot triangles. Jörg opened a bottle of red wine and after dinner we sat and drank wine. A friend of theirs happened to stop by and say hello and he was a strange one. He had tattoos on all of his open forearms, to the wrist, and a long silver chain that said something like "riding gospel." he stayed and chatted and eventually left. Jörg an Tanja explained who he was after he left. He was the one who bought Jörg's orange Harley. They're not sure how he has so much money, he is retired rather early. He uses to be a pimp and sell women, not his wife though. Kind of weird. Now I guess he goes around to bike gangs and preaches to them about the importance of God.

I have a feeling that one of these guys is my future husband ... Don't under estimate the sexiness of playing soccer.

He finally left and we came inside to watch the FC Bayern v. FC Chelsea soccer game. Phillip had some friends over and they watched upstairs while Jörg, Tanja, Johanna, and I watched it downstairs. It was a very close game. It was 0 - 0 for the entire first 87 minutes. FC Bayern was playing really well, they kept the ball in the Chelsea zone for most of the time and they took a lot of shots on goal but Chelsea's defense was really good at covering so it was a tough game. We were so loud without cheering in the living room that Phillip had to come down to tell us that his TV has a three second delay and we were giving everything away. Ha! It was nearly half time and the phone rang, the weird guy from earlier would be coming over.
He showed up during the half time show and had brought his wife and a friend and a friend's wife (named Gabi too) with someone's kids. His wife was plastered but we all continued drinking wine and Grappa. The game was back on.

Again, it was closely matched so no goals but quite a few attempts from Bayern. Finally with less than ten minutes in the game, Bayern scores! The room went wild! We were sure they would win! But with three minutes on the clock, Chelsea scored. The game went into overtime but it was still 1 - 1 after the 30 minute overtime. Man, it was getting tense! In soccer, when there is a tie this close, each team can choose five players from the field and each team gets five shots on goal. Bayern made the first three shots and Chelsea only made two of the three, things were looking good! Sadly, Bayern missed the last two shots and Chelsea made one. Chelsea had won by one point. It suddenly got very sad in the house. This was the Munich Final and it was home field and Bayern lost.
Everyone said good night (and weird guys wife was creeping and tried kissing me, was rubbing my back and everything) then it was off to bed. Sad night in this house.

Today I think we (Jörg, Tanja, and I) will go into Stuttgart and see a few things. More to come.

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