Hi Everyone! Sorry it has been ages, but ever since I left for Germany back on March 13, things have been so busy. So, since I never wrote a blog post for that trip, I’ll give you some of the highlights here.
I decided to go to Germany when I discovered that my high school friend, Liza, was studying abroad in Marburg. We got in touch and decided to meet in Frankfurt. The trip got off to a rocky start. The Wednesday before I was scheduled to leave, I discovered that there was a public services strike in Northern Ireland on the exact day I needed to get to Dublin for my flight. So, the usual bus I took to get to the airport would not be running. Thankfully, I remembered that Margaret and John had mentioned a private coach bus that had picked them up at the bottom of our street on its way to Dublin. I contacted the bus service and they told me that they would do the same for me. The bus was supposed to come by around 8:20, so, I was out on the street by 8:15. I waited and waited. 8:45 rolled around and finally, I saw the bus lumbering down the lane…a bit too fast…it definitely wasn’t planning to stop! I started frantically waving my hands and racing after it, and thankfully it came to a halt.
By the time I got to Frankfurt, it was 9:30 in the evening. However, I connected smoothly with Liza at the train station. It was so good to see her! We hadn’t been together since TJ graduation in 2012. Hardly anything had changed except for the fact that I got a good deal taller!
That night, we couchsurfed with a guy named Floyd and his roommates, in his very eclectic flat. In our bedroom, Karl Marx’ stern eyes kept watch on us. Freud had reign in the kitchen, and Angela Merkel, the bathroom. Needless to say, it was a very interesting experience. In the morning, Floyd’s friend Jonas–a hippie guitar teacher with dreadlocks–came over for breakfast, which Liza and I made. I was quite pleased at my veggie omelettes, replete with pesto and arugula, turned out. Jonas brought bread and smoothies, and we four had a great time talking about culture and linguistics.
That afternoon, Liza and I attempted to walk into the Frankfurt City Centre, but of course, we ended up walking 45 minutes in the wrong direction. By the time we made it back, we randomly bumped into Jonas on the street, and he showed us around the city. In the evening, we moved to a different couchsurfer’s flat. His name was Mark, and Liza and I had so many laughs with him. The next morning, we had another fun breakfast with Mark’s friend Ivana, a young translator who spoke ten languages. Afterwards, we did more sightseeing, including going up the Main Tower in Frankfurt at sunset, to see the sweeping view of the city. Guess what? At the top, we heard some American accents and the mention of the road Columbia Pike, which is right next to TJ. I walked up to the couple talking and told them I couldn’t help but overhear, but Liza and I were from Northern Virginia too. Turns out, they used to go to McLean Bible Church! Such a small world.
In the morning, Liza and I returned to Marburg. Marburg is a beautiful college town, and I enjoyed walking around in the sun while Liza was in class at her university. Then, I was blessed to be able to join a tour with her uni group, and learn some interesting history about the city.
Around 4:30 pm, I bid farewell to Liza and headed on to Wurzburg. When I made it there, I smoothly connected with my CS host, Cecilia, a Brazilian 26-year-old earning her PhD in pharmaceutical technology. We hit it off like you wouldn’t believe. She was so kind to me, and gave me some great tips on touring the city. I really loved Wurzburg. The architecture of the churches, the Residenz, the Marienburg Forthress – all were magnificent. I had perfect weather and gorgeous sun. There were so many things to see, and lovely walks and hikes to get to them. The river view was beautiful. The World War II history was fascinating. Besides, it was so neat to think that my father had spent wonderful time there when he was young. To top it all off, I paid an unannounced visit to Klaas Rasche, a native Wurzburger who had lived with my father’s family in Indiana for a year back in the 1970s! Needless to say, when I walked into his medical practice and announced who I was, he was quite surprised.
Overall, it was a really wonderful trip. I got back in the wee hours of the morning on March 18, caught some sleep and then got up again for class at 9 am (see – I do got to school!), and then caught the bus to Belfast in the afternoon, to visit my friend Fiona. We had a lovely time together, going to brunch, vintage shop browsing and even meeting up with our friend Stuart to attend the Northern Ireland Aeropress Coffee-Making Championships!
Things didn’t stop when I returned to Derry, where I then spent the night with Diana, went to Cornerstone the next morning, then went straight to Malin Head with church friends. Malin Head is the most Northerly point on the island of Ireland.
Lots of fun…lots of fatigue 😉