Wednesday, June 30, 2010

GERMANY TRIP BLOG – DAY 6 - 5-28-10 WIESKIRCHE CHURCH IN THE MEADOW, OBERAMMERGAU & 6 HOUR PASSION PLAY






Matt woke me at 7:30. Bright, sunny day (though it turned out to be temporary). Getting more and more tired. Wasn't this bad when I was in Italy 3 years ago. I know it’s just the stupid accident from a year ago, taking its toll. Feel like I'm on a boat, going up and down on waves. But head is fine. Just wish I had a day to sleep. Still, every month I’m better than the month earlier, so eventually I’ll be back to normal. Not everyone is so lucky.
Wanted to wash my hands and the faucet in the sink wouldn't work! I was fine earlier. Figured I was doing something wrong. Matt couldn't get it to work either. We learned our room, and Mom and Dad's room, suddenly had no water service. Glad I showered last night.
Buffet breakfast. Matt loaded the car. I had a few minutes wait so laid on the bed and rested a few minutes. Bliss! We finally got in the car. Mom suggested I get rid of the bananas, so I gave them to an American family also heading out to Oberammergau.
30 minutes later we arrived at….

WIESKIRCHE CHURCH IN THE MEADOW
Drove through farm land to a large, fancy church. Seemed out of place. In 1738, a statue of Christ after his flogging was created for a parade. Deemed "not fit for public display in a church" (too horrifying) it was stored in a barn. The owner saw wet on the face one day and claimed the statue "cried tears".
Pilgrims came to see and were healed. So many came, that a small chapel was erected to hold the statue in 1739 (still on the property - we saw it after touring the big church).
Even more pilgrims came to view the statue. The Zimmermann brothers were commissioned to build a larger building from 1745-1754. (We saw at least 3 churches they designed on our trip.) Grand and gorgeous. Even the choir loft was spectacular.
No photos allowed so Matt bought me a book about the chapel. Fabulous pictures. Back in the car, I looked through my new book and read interesting bits out loud. (Earlier my parents wondered how such an amazing church came to be in the middle of a farmer's field, rather than in a town or city).
30 minutes later we arrived in Oberammergau.

OBERAMMERGAU
We arrived too early to check in, so wandered the town. False 3-D architecture, due to a clever paint job outside some buildings.
There was a shop filled with carved wood objects. FILLED! Crammed with carved objects on shelves. Even mountain climbers clung to ropes suspended from the ceiling.
Went to a building where craftsmen worked so the public could watch. Saw a man carving a life-size lamb and a woman painting butterflies on glass.
In The Pilatus House, a museum, I took a lot of pictures of the Way of The Cross. 16 little pictures of Christ carved into it.
There was a yard with a large, brown guinea pig in it. Mom and I asked the three German kids (4-8) what "guinea-pig" is, in German. "Small pig" is the translation. In German, I asked if it was a brown guinea-pig, and they replied, "Yes!" Sort of a silly discussion, but when it overcomes a language barrier, it’s neat.
Meandered to the car. Unloaded into our rooms. Finally time to eat lunch (already paid for with our Passion Play ticket package). While eating, we decided to skip Vienna, to save a day of traveling but not seeing anything.
Back in our rooms, we rested. I typed Diary really fast. Matt figured out what to do instead of Vienna. Falling asleep and had time for a quick nap. 20 minutes of bliss.


THE PASSION PLAY – HISTORY
In 1633, during the Black Plaque, after people in Oberammergau started dying, the town prayed, and promised God if he’d save them, they’d perform a Passion Play every 10 years. They kept their promise. They perform it for 100 days, from May – October. You have to have been born in the town, or have lived in it 20 years to be a part of the play. 4000 people in the town. 5000 people each day in the audience. The town does everything – crew, cast, singers, and orchestra. This isn’t even what the town is known for. Over the centuries, they made money by selling wood carvings.

THE PASSION PLAY – ACT I
No picture-taking allowed during the play (for obvious reasons). The play is in a huge building. The end where the stage is can be open to the sky, but is covered with a top that can be, I think, removed. It's made of a metal skeleton that has plastic over the top. It was also used to create the sound of thunder after Christ died. It doesn't join the walls, so air and wind blows in.
We followed the dialogue via English text in books (provided as part of the package we paid for). There's a chorus of probably 40 singers, wearing white robes with strange hats that went over their ears, were flat on top, but pointed in the rear. Great singing and acting. Probably 50 actors played the townsfolk, plus 20 soldiers (who sometimes monitored crowds from the top of the building wall), 20-30 priests.
Judas was portrayed as expecting Jesus to establish his Kingdom on earth and destroy the Romans. In his mind, Jesus just abandoned his disciples and everyone by not ruling and freeing the Jews. He didn't expect the priests to have Jesus killed. The actor actually used his long scarf (used as a head covering when in the temple, and praying) as a rope to hang himself in a tree. Impressive acting. Outstanding!
Jesus rode a live donkey. Some rulers rode horses. During the trial before Herod, there was an adult and baby camel. When Jesus was in the temple, there were sheep and goats. The animals were quietly controlled by adults. There were also lots of kids in the cast.
When Jesus got the attention of the crowd during the "driving the money changers out of the temple" scene, he broke a large, red pot. Outside the playhouse, there's a tall glass case with broken pottery (I assume from the play).
When the disciples prayed, they spoke in Hebrew. Jesus actually washed every single disciples' foot. He cupped water out of a bowl and onto the feet, then wiped with a cloth. Sped the process up, but still took time, and no one spoke while he worked. Impactful.
At the beginning of each scene, the choir sang 5-10 minutes. While they sang, they’d part in the middle and step back. Then the curtain behind them would open and show actors frozen in a scene from the Old Testament. They held their position for a minute or two, then the curtain closed, the line of the choir closed ranks as they continued singing. The scenes were impressive. Nearly every scene had at least one angel in it.

The first act was three hours. During the 3 hour intermission, we ate dinner. Took the waiters about 30 minutes to find us a seat, and longer to get us food.
We still had time before Act II, so I took a luxurious shower.

PASSION PLAY – ACT II
Took photos outside and inside the building, before the play started (the usher said it was ok).
It started to rain and there was thunder during one of the priests’ discussions. The actors shouted, but they were still hard to hear for about 5 minutes. We could see the rain running down the plastic.
The soldiers had their backs to us, hiding what happened as they pounded nails into the crosses. When the crosses were raised, it looked like there were thick nails going through the middle of bleeding flesh. Not sure how they did that. When the soldier plunged his spear into Jesus side, it wrinkled and broke through the “skin”, and liquid poured out. The actors on the crosses were in harnesses, but I couldn’t see anything breaking the illusion. The actors still had to hang on their crosses for 30 minutes. Couldn’t have been comfortable.
As it got darker, it was harder to read the English translation in our books. The last half an hour, we finally just shut them. The wind blew in and Mom shared her blanket with me. I was cold, but the play was worth it.
At the very end, Jesus walked from the back of the stage, cleaned and robed, and stopped in the center of the stage. None of the actors came out for a curtain call.
Act II was supposed to take 2 hours. We got out 3 hours later – at 11:00. Felt sorry for all those who were bussed into and out of town.

Great to snuggle up to Matt and get warm. (Snuggling with Matt is my #1 favorite means of warming my body.) Fell asleep around midnight.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

GERMANY TRIP BLOG - DAY 5 - 5-27-10 - Rothenburg – Xmas Store – City Wall – Fussen – Mary’s Bridge - Neuschwangstein Castle







Alarm at 7:30. So hard to get up (still recovering from Post-Migraine-Wipeout). Glad I was mostly ready for today. Even managed to stretch some of my legs before breakfast. Feeling disorganized and a little tired.
After breakfast we checked out and Matt moved the car to a paid parking lot (nervous about leaving it on the street after checking out of the hotel). Started to rain. My Sonicare never recharged so Matt bought me a regular toothbrush. Looked at getting a new Sonicare, but they cost over 100 Euros here! My teeth will survive a few weeks without it.

ROTHENBURG CONTINUED
SEVEN VICES AND SEVEN VIRTUES
We stopped at the 7 Vices and 7 Virtues statues. They are only imitations - the real ones are in the town museum).


LARGE CHRISTMAS STORE
We went back to the bigger Xmas store and gawked at the enormous displays. Matt wanted to buy a bunch of ornaments, but refrained. My Dad’s Mom would have bought everything in the store. Matt said his Dad’s mom would have moved in.
We saw a huge rocking horse and giant wooden, fan on top, circulating tiered wood carrousel. Probably 10 feet tall. Never seen anything like it.


WALL AROUND THE CITY
Walked a little ways on the town wall. The top has a covered walkway. Matt noticed notches sticking out of the middle of the tiles on the wall walkway roof – a simple way to replace the clay tiles. Names of people who donated 1000 Euros or more get their name on the wall. Donations saved the town, starting in the early 1900's.

Drove a few hours in the car. Paid to use the toilet when we got gas. Worth the money. When you flush, an arm drops down, and the toilet top rotates – like a record player, which cleans the toilet seat.
We ate lunch in the car. For dessert, Mom passed around liquor filled chocolates (part of Marlies’s B. Day present for Mom was to load her down with food for our trip). I had a white and dark chocolate candy. Heaven! Managed to nap in the car.


FUSSEN
HOHENSCHUWAGAU & NEUSCHWANSTEIN – OUTER VIEW
Matt drove us to F├╝ssen where "Cinderella's Castle" (modeled after the real white Castle Neuschwanstein). Mom and Dad toured it when they were here 9 years ago, so they toured Hohenschuwangau Castle (tan colored) instead.
H. Castle, in Bulgaria, was where "Mad" King Ludwig grew up. When he ruled, his pet project was having the Neuschwanstein castle built. He mixed and matched styles from various decades. Murals of Wagner operas and other stories were painted on the walls of each room. Ludwig was a Wagner roadie, except Wagner performed at Ludwig’s “house.”
The Castle N. was built for 17 years, then Ludwig was kicked off the throne because he wouldn't stop spending his family's money (or borrowing additional funds). To do this, they declared him insane. So not all the rooms were finished.
A few days later, he and his psychiatrist were found floating in a foot of water in a lake. The psychiatrist sent the guards away. Both men were excellent swimmers. No one knows if the deaths were suicide or murder.
Hohenschuwagau Castle (which my parents toured) was where Ludwig grew up. Mom said it really was like a house. N. Castle was more like a play area.
We arrived early. You have to pick up your tickets an hour in advance (so you can spend money in the tourist shops while you wait). Wandered the various gift shops. Got a book for Becky (house and cat sitting for us) with pictures of the four castles Ludwig' lived in. Matt was hungry, so he got a pretzel and I got an ice cream bar. Mom and Dad took off and we arranged to meet back at the gift shops in 2 hours.
Matt founds a series of post cards for both castles, and since you aren't supposed to take pictures inside, I got that, plus a bookmark (for my collection). My feet were sore before we started the tour.
While waiting in line for the bus to Mary's Bridge I looked through Becky's book (really neat – might get one for me). The bus was crowded, so Matt let me take the available seat. He’s such a gentleman. I married James Bond.


MARY'S BRIDGE
From the bus, we walked along the road (about 10 minutes) to Mary's Bridge. It’s a long bridge created from wooden planks and metal that spans the space between two cliffs. It offers a great view of N. Castle. The wooden planks move a little as people walk on them, which made Matt nervous. (He later said in the back of his mind, he was always concerned someone would push him off the bridge.) Didn’t bother me at all.


NEUSCHWANSTEIN – TOUR
Built from 1869-1886.
Walked quickly to N. Castle and waited for our number to show (indicating it’s time to get in line for our tour). I stretched and took a photo of Mary's Bridge.
Throne Room - The enormous chandelier could be lowered to the ground. The tiers of candles lowered so they would all be on the same level, making it easy to light the candles quickly. I asked – the stones on it have always been imitations. No throne in the room (because it was never made).
Swan Room – A living room with over 100 swans painted or carved. There’s even a swan doorknob.
Cave Room – Looks just like a cave. Stalactites hanging from the ceiling. Even the back of the door looks like a cave wall!
Saw a phone from 1884 that the king really used.
Singing Room – Stage in the front, long room going back. Seats about 400. Every year, for a week, they have a concert. Wagner was the only guest in the castle. Ludwig loved hearing his music, watching his operas, and became his patron.
We watched a few minutes of the BORING movie then walked out.
Kitchen – Hot and cold running water, an auto-turning spit – King Ludwig lived built the Bill Gates mansion of his time
Saw a model Ludwig created of yet another castle he planned to build – it would have put the N. Castle to shame.

I don't think Ludwig was really crazy. Might have been depressed or bipolar (more likely). Mom thinks he might have been manic. I think he'd have made an awesome actor. He belonged in the world of make believe. He often acted out scenes from Wagner's operas. Matt said he was like Walt Disney, but a few centuries before his time. (Though Ludwig was very private, and Disney created for the world to enjoy.)
Looked through my photos while we waited for the bus. Took a picture of a wooden map showing both castles. (Ludwig looked through a telescope from H. Castle to watch progress as N. Castle was being built.)

Mom and Dad were waiting in the gift shop area. After some discussion, we ate dinner at a restaurant that was a five minute walk away. Dad found it while wandering.
We drove past cows with big cowbells in a field and could clearly hear the brass bells around their necks. My German grandpa put bells on his cows (so he could find them in the 5 acres of trees when it was time to bring them into the barn).

Drove to Fussen town proper. I pointed out the funky water fountain sculptures. Tall rectangles of stone. The top square rotates. Just under the rotating part, water shoots out and falls down. There are 7-8 of them. Amazing. I was as impressed with them as the castle.
Chatted with Mom while Matt and Dad walked around to figure out where our hotel was. Mom said he told her, with tears in his eyes, that he wants to keep learning German because now he belongs to a German family. (When Mom told Marlies this, and she went, "Ohhhhhhh!") Over dinner we talked about the best time for Nico (who wants to spend a month in an American school) to come to the U.S. For both countries, school starts in Sept. I suggested summer camp. Mom thinks that would be good but will look into it.
SO TIRED. When we got to our hotel, and got into our room, Matt left to get a beer. I prepped some for tomorrow. He came back to told me there are real gelatos (got addicted to them in Italy a few years ago) around the corner. After 10 minutes of debating the 20 flavors I happily devoured a double scoop. Yummy!
DIET TIP: Tour Europe. The walking more than burns anything you eat.
On Matt’s laptop, separated photos into days, dates, and places and worked on my travel diary (which takes 30-60 minutes to edit for this blog).
Got to bed between 11-11:30.

Monday, June 28, 2010





GERMANY TRIP BLOG DAY 4 - 5-26-10 - Autobahn & Rothenburg - St. Jacobs - Crime & Punishment Museum - Night Watchman Tour

Slept pretty good. Felt ok when Nani woke us up at 7:30. I got my shower stuff out, got in the shower, and couldn't figure out how to turn it on so hot water ran. Finally asked Matt for help. Ahhhhh….Clean can’t ever be over-rated.
Monk, their pet chipmunk, was up and running around his 6 foot high cage. Natasha, the dog saw him and soon they were nose to nose. Very cute. They’re good friends. Nani, Maryam, Matt, and I went to Peter and Marlies's house for breakfast. Nani stayed a few minutes, then left for work.
Expansive breakfast, like only Marlies can create – cheeses, meats, left-over scrambled eggs from yesterday warmed just for me, jelly Marlies made herself (picked the fruit and everything!). There was a poached egg in an egg cup and I spent most breakfasts in Germany perfecting my “smoothly whacking the top off the egg” technique. I averaged 3 eggs for breakfast (12-15 g of protein is average for my meal), so I got pretty good. Plus there were fresh rolls and bread Marlies bought at the store this morning! She got up at 3:00 a.m. That woman works so hard. She's amazing.
Marlies brought out the family photo calendar her other daughter, Sabine, gives her once a year, so I could "meet" her other daughter's family (they live too far for a quick visit). Sabine, like Nani, has 2 boys and a girl.
Peter, Matt, Mom, and Marlies spent some chaotic time trying to firm up plans and dates, for the Dresden part of our trip (Peter and Marlies will meet us there).
After our meal, Marlies immediately started making sandwiches for us with leftover rolls, cheese, and meat. I helped her figure out who preferred what on their sandwiches while Maryam and I cleared the table. Maryam told me Marlies cooks like this all the time.
Maryam is studying to be a midwife. Her boyfriend is in medical school to become a doctor though he hasn’t decided what branch of medicine he wants to specialize in. He falls in love with each area he interns in. Matt helped bring over the rest of our bags and packed the car. Everything fits, but it's a little scrunched. Today it was colder, and it started to rain before we left.
Marlies really wanted all of us to just sit outside for 10 minutes, but because of the weather, we sat in the living room instead. (The living room table always had an assortment of 7 different types of chocolates – half of which had liquor inside. European chocolate with alcohol makes a delicious combination.)
Marlies was glad it rained – meant she didn't have to garden today. To thank her for all she’s done, and because I suspected she desperately needed it, I rubbed Marlies’s shoulders. Peter started looking like a puppy needing attention, so then I rubbed his shoulders. He moaned and groaned appreciatively. Matt gave them the wine we brought them from the U.S. They were surprised, delighted and pleased (we knew they had a fairly extensive wine collection, so figured it’d make a good gift).
Matt followed Peter to the Autobahn, where he went 90 mph while cars raced past him. He slowed (as did everyone else) when it rained, then poured. The lanes got really skinny at one point (keep in mind, it’s hard to see because of all the water dumping on us), but the big trucks precisely stayed within their lanes. Mom promised Matt a beer for his excellent driving.
I read up on Rothenburg (where we were heading), ate one of my sandwiches, and tried to sleep, but couldn't get comfortable enough. Still tired from the flight migraine. Read a horror book I’ll review for FeoAmante.com, about the Black Plague coming to TX.
We drove 3-4 hours. I laid my head on my lap, but couldn't actually sleep.
Matt and Mom had problems trying to find out hotel. The car’s GPS and map weren’t helpful. It was still pouring. Growing more and more tired, I just tried to hang on. Matt asked for directions and we finally found our hotel. I was so tired my body ached. Went straight to bed and slept for a few hours while everyone else ate their sandwiches. Felt a lot better when Matt woke me.

ROTHENBURG OB DER TAUBER
ST. JACOB'S CHURCH
Altar of the Holy Blood – 35 feet high, carved wood, 1499-1504 by Tilman Riemenschneider to hold a crystal that contains a cloth with wine spilled "miraculously" into the shape of a cross (too high up to see). The figure of Judas can be removed from the carving of The Last Supper. For the 4 days before Easter, they take him out.
Huge wooden organ in the loft, across from the Holy Blood carving.
1350ish – side altar carved from stone has Father and Son connected by a dove touching both. Christ stands on a skull to indicate he conquered death.
1466 – Frecrich Herlin carved the wooden altar. Painting of Jesus face in the back has the illusion that his eyes are always looking at you, no matter where you stand. (Not spooky, just neat.)

ST. GEORGE'S FOUNTAIN
We also saw another fountain in the town. In front of many shops are fancy iron and gold signs.

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT MUSEUM
Various "masks of shame" and torture devices, plus other artifacts from the era.

In the smaller Christmas store, Matt and I got some 3 inch high, wooden, carved, evergreen trees, plus I really loved a beer mug key chain. Real liquid and foam inside the mug that moves around as you tilt it. Thick plastic on top keeps it contained. Awesome!
Mom bought a teddy bear for her dear friend Patti and went to a bank to get money to have it shipped.
We were hungry, so found a restaurant. I got the lobster soup. Matt and Dad drank tall mugs of dark beer. I hate beer. Mom tolerates it enough to sample one sip from each beer Dad bought, just to experience the variety of flavors. Bitter flavors and I don’t get along at all. I don’t do coffee, mocha, or beer.
While doing Diary in the hotel, Matt said, "For the first time, I have motivation to keep learning German, because I really like Nani’s kids and want to find out what happens to them." Aw…..

NIGHT WATCHMAN TOUR
Our tour guide started doing the Night Watchman tours 20 years ago after reading an article on night watchmen in the paper. He's from a nearby town and is completely fluent in English.
Night watchmen (there were 6 in town) each covered a district of town. Only thieves, murderers, and crooks were out at night. Watchmen made sure doors were locked, and walked around the city all night. They lit the lamps of the city too. The last night watchman stopped working in 1920.
The watchman showed us his spear and horn, which was blown if there was a fire (#1 fear). He asked if there were any fires around. I pointed to his lantern fire. He looked like no one had ever said that before, admitted it counted, and blew his horn.
We watched the Town Hall clock go off, and windows open for the "re-enactment" of the mayor drinking a huge stein of beer in one gulp to save the town from an invading force (who bet him he couldn’t do it and promised to leave if he could). Got my picture taken with the Night Watchman. Hard to hear him because people talked, and a little over half way through the tour, it started pouring again.
The Night Watchman showed us the house belonging to the richest family in town. Centuries old. Has a huge door (for carriages) with a smaller door inside it (for people). The owners, tired of tourists testing to see if they worked, have disabled the four pulley doorbells.
We saw the worm hole, where people could sneak out of town once the gates closed.
Walked through the last remaining gate of the city and it started raining. Not quite pouring, but big drops of solid rain.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

GERMANY TRIP BLOG – DAY 3 - 5-25-10 - Family Time

Woke up around 1:00 a.m. feeling better. Cleaned my teeth and sorted my toiletries bag. Put lotion on my face. Took more drugs and went back to bed. (Didn’t want to disturb Mom so I’m still wearing the same clothes I left home in.) Still, things are looking up!

Slept and woke during the morning. Dizzy. Room spinning while I was laying down. Stomach rumbled, but ignored it. I finally got up at 9:00 a.m., German time. The one good thing about getting so sick is that my body automatically adjusted to the time zone change.

Marlies showed me where all the leftover food was (there’s always plenty, including 4 desserts). She poked holes in the plastic wrap over the scrambled eggs she made for breakfast (so I could microwave the food). Matt, Mom, Marlies, and Maryam left to visit Nico in the hospital. Peter was on their deck. Dad was working on the computer.

Brought my German vocabulary books and notes to the table. Before I could dig into my eggs, Peter came over. I asked him questions about German words. He enjoyed learning and reviewing the English words and loves my “German in 10 Minutes a Day” book. We talked so much, it took a while for me to eat, but it was great to learn the proper pronunciation for words, and which neuter they were.

Peter wanted me to take a walk with he and Dad. I told him I was just too tired. He wants to take a walk with me later this afternoon. I smiled and nodded. Doubt it'll happen. Too tired, but I want to please him.

Finally able to updated my diaries. Dizzy again, so will nap before sorting vitamins. Sure hope flying doesn't do this to me from now on. Mom, Matt, and Marlies arrived just before I finished working on the computer.

Slept from 1:00 to around 6:00 pm, I think. Tried and tried and tried to wake up enough to get up, but I was so dizzy and tired. Mom came in and as I talked to her I finally woke up. Marlies made Mom a special B. Day cake that was soaked in alcohol. They saved me a piece, so I snagged it.

Marlies was in the kitchen and she sliced me some whole wheat bread and set out the sliced meats and cheese. I ate one slice of bread with some meat and cheese on it. Had a few bites of the cake.

I ate and Marlies sat at the table with me and we went over German words. I asked her how to say some things in German, and reviewed from the “10 Minutes A Day” book, which she also really liked. Trying to say “Czechoslovakia” in German is really hard – six or seven weird sounding syllables.

I'm slowly learning how to correctly pronunciate German words better, just by reading the German words. Peter and Marlies are impressed by my ability to count to 1000 in German. (I think numbers are easy to learn, in any language.)
Mom, Peter, and Dad wandered in and out while Matt picked up the car. He also visited Nico twice today. They bonded over the Simpsons. Nico’s arm is in a cast, but because bones protruded, he’s on antibiotics for a few days. Mom pointed out that in America they send the kid home with pills. In Germany, kids have an I.V. and remain monitored in the hospital.

I sorted my vitamins while Mom reorganizing her clothes, chatting as we worked. Peter wanted to leave for Nani’s (and the BBQ dinner). My stuff was all over. I quickly threw like items together (I hoped). Matt drove Mom, Dad, and I to Nani and Josef's house. Peter and Marlies arrived later.

Matt and I stayed in Joscha's room. Nico was in the hospital with his broken arm, so Joscha slept in his brother's room. I saw Maryam again. She's 19. Joscha is 16. Nico will be 15 in a week.

In the living room, I sat with Maryam and went through some German food words. Nani served punch with wine and another type of alcohol (tasty). It has a one word name in German. Nani kept asking me the English word "punch". We helped each other.

Mom, Dad, Nani, and Josef were outside. I took some pictures. Joseph showed me their pet rabbit. They had another, but Natasha, the dog, killed it. Tried to make friends with the bunny, but Natasha was also nearby, so it wouldn't come near me.

Inside the house is a tall cage, where Nico's pet chipmunk, Monk, lives. Monk wakes up in the morning and lets you hold and pet him. (Nico wanted an ape, but they got Monk at a pet store for him as compensation.)

While we ate, someone compared Peter to Homer Simpson, and Matt fell apart laughing, then the rest of us cracked up. I was tired, but really wanted to see Nico before we left Seigan. I knew if I didn’t see him tonight, we wouldn’t see each other at all. How could I disappoint him, when he was so sad his broken arm kept him from seeing “the Americans”? So after dinner Maryam drove Matt and I to see him.

Nico was quiet. He was drinking juice before we arrived and it splashed out the top and onto his pillow, blanket, and mattress. He’d also had a nose bleed. The his I.V. is in his hand is sore. Maryam (planning to be a midwife) hustled around, contacting the nurse, cleaning up what she could, making Nico more comfortable. He really liked the American candy I brought him.

When we got back to Nani and Yoseph’s, I finally met Nani’s middle son, Joscha. He was working overtime because he got extra pay for working at the grocery store during the Pentacost holiday. He'll use the money to pay for a driving class, then work on the machines that make doors and windows for houses. It was around 11:00, so I finally told everyone goodnight, then went upstairs to get ready for bed.

While getting ready for bed, figured I should sort vitamins tonight, in case I was too tired (and ran out of time) in the morning. Then I could just get up tomorrow. Snagged stuff in bags and went to the living room. Divided the rest of my vitamins while charging stuff. For some reason, my Sonicare toothbrush won't charge in my extension cord, but got camera, phone, and PC charged.

GERMANY TRIP BLOG – DAY 2 - 5-24-10 – Welcome to (BARF!) Germany!

I didn't wake up until the breakfast tray was right in front of us. Pissed me off, because I had to take out my Invisaligns, but didn't get to brush them. Ick.
I tried to wake up, head was pounding, and I already could tell my breakfast wasn't going to stay down. The food looked good, and I figured I should try to get as many nutrients into me while I still could. Ate delicious strawberry French toast and some fruit – slowly. Didn't read or do anything after that, because we were descending, and I wasn't feeling up to hurrying to the bathroom to clean my Invisaligns or find and take suppository pain and anti-nausea meds I had in one of our bags.

Matt watched our descent on his monitor while I snagged his barf bag and put it inside mine. Preparatory measures. I didn't actually throw up until we were on the ground (but still in the plane). The other passengers were nice and didn’t give me dirty looks. Felt some better after I puked. Take-offs and landings are the worst.

Eventually, I should recover from the accident, so flying won’t be a problem. What am I supposed to do? Not fly? This flight was worse than any other since the accident, I learned. Matt later told me that while I slept, the plane kept changing elevation. I wonder if the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland was responsible.

In the Paris airport, we had 20 minutes to get from our plane, through security, and board our flight to Frankfurt. Matt was impressed at how well I hustled after him as we walked quickly in the Paris airport to get to our next flight. I just kept him in my sight and followed as fast as I could.

I didn't think we'd have to go through security again, and we lost our water bottles. I usually carry empty bottles through security, then fill them so I have plenty of water on the rest of the trip. Not like I was drinking a lot anyway, but I got more and more thirsty. I also had to quickly move my liquids and gels back into the ziplock bag. Then I beeped when walking through the security doorway. A woman patted me down and swept me with a wand. We didn't have to take our shoes off though.

We boarded a bus that drives people from the airport to the airplane. Sat in the back. Sun was too warm and I was thirsty. We waited about 15 minutes before everyone was on. I dozed a little on our way to the plane.
Once on board, I grabbed the barf bags, but didn't need them for the flight. I read a few pages of a new book. Drank a small glass of water. Put my nuts in the backpack. Slept until we landed.

As we walked to the baggage dept., I had to stop and puke into extra barf bags I took (thank God) from the plane. Matt found me a bathroom after that, and I rinsed out my mouth, then drank a little. I also grabbed a plastic garbage bag from the janitor's abandoned cart.

Dad and Peter were waiting at baggage claim. Peter shook Matt's hand, and gave me a big hug. He kept offering to take me to a doctor and stopping at the store to get me medicine to help me. Matt and I explained, several times, I already had what I needed. He finally understood. (He’s deaf in one ear, so between that, his concern, and the language barrier, took a while for the communication to sink it.)
Peter was incredibly unfamiliar with the airport. Couldn't figure out how to get to the car. Kept asking directions. Then we had to figure out where to pay for parking. Took Matt and I pointing at the chart on the wall that stated every parking floor had a place to pay for parking before he got it. We took the bags to the car. I got in and waited while they looked for where to pay.

So tired! Head pounding. No time to take drugs, and not feeling well enough to do anything but follow along. Peter drives a bit like Dad – he super accelerates, then hits the brakes to slows down. I threw up twice in the car, and the drive took FOREVER. We drove on and on and on. (Turned out to be a 90 minute drive.) I dozed. Every once in a while, I'd fall asleep and wake as my head fell backwards. The seat cushions are a little forward, even for the back seats of the car.

I don't know how I made it for the drive. A few days later, Matt, tears in his dear eyes, told me he has no idea how I made it through the trip. I admitted considering jumping out of the car several times during the trip.

Finally, we arrived at Peter and Marlies's house, which is near Seigen. I got out of the car, and immediately puked on the street for 3 minutes – yellow, thick goop. They live at the end of a cul-de-sac, so there wasn’t any traffic. I felt bad, knowing what a wonderful cook Marlies is, and I just knew she’d prepared an amazing meal for us, which I, of course, wouldn’t be able to touch. I wasn’t well enough to even sit at the table.

Mom and Marlies (a nurse) were wonderful. Mom let me crash on her bed. I laid there, grabbed Mom's lower arms, and just sobbed. That awful trip was finally over.
Mom got my pain and nausea suppositories ready in the bathroom. I was too weak to open the plastic covers. Slept, woke, took drugs, and repeated the cycle a few times.

It was around 11:00 pm when Mom woke me again. Everyone was getting ready for bed, and they didn’t want to move me. Originally, the plan was for Matt and I to sleep at Nani’s house. Nani is Peter and Marlies’s daughter. She has 3 teenage kids (19-14) and a longtime boyfriend, Yoseph. Matt slept at Noni and Yoseph's. I got to stay in Mom's bed. She slept on Dad's bed. Dad refused to sleep at Noni's, preferring to sleep on the couch.

I wished Peter a good night in German. He was impressed that I knew German, even though I only know a few hundred words. I learned Nani's 14 (nearly 15) year old son, Nico, fell off his wave board and broke his arm. Both bones snapped and were poking out of his skin. The first thing he said in the ambulance was, “On no! Now I won’t get to see the Americans!” He’s a real sweety. So I was sick, and Nico was at the hospital. They had to wait to operate on him because he'd just eaten. Plus, Marlies's washing machine also quit working today (though she got it going again). What a day!

Welcome to Germany.

GERMANY TRIP – DAY 1 - Sunday 5-23-10 – Flight!

We left for the airport at 10:30 a.m.
We checked in and almost got to fly directly to Germany because they overbooked our flight, but another woman got the deal. In the lounge, I asked Matt to help me figure out "Germany time" so I'd know when to sleep and wake and stuff on the plane. Snagged some delicious chocolate with choc. chip cookies and dried fruit from the over-crowded lounge. Matt walked around the airport for a while.
I finally worked on editing one of my book reviews for FeoAmante.com. Just before we left, I overheard a woman wondering where the bathroom was. I showed her (since I needed to go too) and she called me her guardian angel. Told her I was just doing my job. "I hope they pay you well," she replied.
Matt loves the short lines in business class. On the plane, Matt cried while watching the plane take off on his mini-TV – there are cameras in front of the plane and under it. I held his hand and watched with him. Interesting to switch to speaking French (after working on German) for the Air France flight.
Matt's like a little kid on the plane. Gets excited about our goodie bags and all the interesting things that go with flying business class.
Head pain was definitely worse while we flew (thanks to being a passenger in a car accident June 13, 2009.) Took a pain pill. Could have gone to sleep, but they were feeding us in a short time, so stayed awake. Watched part of “The Incredible Mr. Fox”. So grateful you can pause the movies on flights now.
As soon as I was done eating dessert, and the movie was done, I got ready for bed. Took more pain pills as I slept and woke. Matt barely got any sleep. I was able to keep going to sleep. A baby cried. People talked. One guy was talking to another person loud enough for the entire cabin to hear him. I mimed asking him to please talk softer, and he did.