We have made it successfully to Germany! Currently we are living in Solingen which is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia. It is called the City of Blades because approximately 90% of all German knives are made here in Solingen. Solingen is beautiful and the people here are very generous.
Mandie and I, before our departure made a road trip to visit friend and family along the way. I would like to thank Quile McCamerson, Tanya & Sarah, Daniel Robinette (congrats on the novel), Brett, Erin & Skip Campbell, Cleo and crew, Roy, Brock (best of luck in Belize and Nicaragua!) Linda & Joe, Trish & Rochdi, Mr. and Mrs. Pietranski, the sharks in the gulf at Venice Beach, Nanny, Aunt Sandy & Uncle George, Richard & Kelly, Rich and Ginger (and the mittens), Debbie, Doug, Nick, and Kaye for your generosity and making our road trip and last few weeks in the US exciting and meaningful. Our road trip was long and extensive. We put over 2000 miles on our rented silver pontiac G5. Also in Venice, we found about 500 sharks teeth! It was exciting to get to see everyone before our departure. We miss you all and are thinking of you!
About three days before the day of our flight, we realized that we did not know where our passports were. We searched through everything, our room, our cars, the attic, the fridge (you never know), and our storage unit, turning up nothing. So we made an appointment in Washington DC at the passport office to get new ones. After a long day of searching, exhausted from both the road trip and the unpacking and repacking of everything we own, Mandie found them in an obscure kitchen drawer. Of course the memory of me thinking that this drawer was the perfect safe-place to store our passports came rushing back to me. So thus, I almost lost our passports and thankfully a trip to Washington was avoided.
Our flight out of Raleigh was canceled. Since we were flying standby, and the hurricane scared the airlines into canceling certain flights, and all the people on the canceled flight moved to the other airplane. To remedy this we went to Greensboro and switched our standby status to a different flight going to Atlanta and it worked, we flew out on schedule and made the connecting flight to Solingen. We were seated in first class! This was exciting. We were wined and dined the whole way through. As soon as we boarded they were serving champagne. It was the first time that I actually wanted to eat all the airline food. It was delicious. The flight was long, we reached altitudes of 40,000 feet and outside temperatures of -17. It as an amazing feeling looking out as plane rose above the clouds. As everyone was sleeping I listened to the Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails on the touch screen display unit. Over England, I watched the sun rise over that wide arc which is the faint curve of the earth. We landed here early in the morning. and Anna picked us up from the airport She brought us home and gave us a tour of her family's beautiful home.
Solingen is wonderful! Aside from not knowing the language, I feel right at home. It is much cooler here. Feels much like autumn. We went to a diner party with some of Fred and Regina's friends. It was fun to meet people and spend time talking and sharing stories. It is very different not knowing the language. Random people will talk to me, not knowing that I am foreign, and I just stand there looking all confused. I tried saying hello to strangers, but Mandie laughed and said that it sounded like I was yelling the word Tag at them and that I need to try it a bit softer and quicker. I have noticed that through body language, volume, and random bits of information I am able to follow along much better than I thought I would, but I obviously do not know the language so I am looking into language classes. The food has been delicious! I have not had a single dish that I have not enjoyed.
I have noticed that all the cars around here are for the most part very small. It is awesome, there are so many makes and models that do not exist in the states. I will make a list of names later. Germany seems to be keen on efficiency. As we were landing I noticed a wind turbine in the distance, and solar panels on some of the houses. This is a good sign for me, at least that is if I do pursue a job within my field of study. I have been in two homes so far and noticed that the fridges are smaller than they tend to be in the states. More energy efficient and healthier too. Lots of the food I have eaten so far came from local gardens, either in the community or from the back yard. Delicious!
The home that we are staying in is a four story house that is divided in half vertically in a sort of duplex style. We are staying on the attic floor in a room that has a window that over looks the garden in the back, and also has a nice view of some of the homes in the neighborhood and off into the countryside. Mostly there is hardwood floors, but there is tile in the kitchen and the bathrooms. The house it decorated in a sort of modern/traditional blend, at least if I were to describe it from an American viewpoint. There is a sun room that opens out to the garden that is nice for sitting and enjoying the company of others. In the basement there is a wine cellar and a sauna. It is a very comfortable home.
Thank you Fred and Regina for opening up your home to Mandie and I. We appreciate it very much! Also, Thank you Anna for meeting us at the airport and for the generous welcome gifts! Sarah, we will see you soon!
(The photos are, in order, me on the plane probably over canada, back yard and garden, Klosterkiche in downtown, view from bathroom, house we are in, view from our bedroom, view from music room, Fred and Regina's home, garten, und Anna in das garten)
Hopefully I will be able to post frequently and I will try my best to not make it sound completely like a diary. I miss everyone and am thinking of you all! Keep in touch and spread word about this blog to anyone that you think may be interested in our travels in Europe!