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July 14th 2010
Published: August 1st 2010
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Travel to Germany

On top of the Nürnberg worldOn top of the Nürnberg worldOn top of the Nürnberg world

Here we are overlooking the Nürnberg skyline.
On Friday it was time to cross the border into Germany to make our way to the family reunion. It started out like any other train day. We had no idea of the horror ahead. Oh, the horror! We left in the middle of the day and Sem and Truss came to see us off at the train station; although no blood relation exists it really felt like we were leaving family (thanks again Netherlanders). We got on our connection in Hengelo no problem. However, not too far from Hengelo, the train came to a stop at the last station in the Netherlands before the border, causing us to miss our desired connection (fortunately it was an hourly train). Meanwhile, it is a blazing hot day, so we’re thinking “at least there’s air conditioning”. However, as we sat there we realized that it was slowly getting hotter and hotter. Eventually, the train got going again but we couldn’t help but notice how there was now no air circulation in any of the train cars. Later we heard on the news that there had been quite a few A/C failures that day; some resulting in train interiors reaching 50°. We disembarked from
Spagetti CarbonaraSpagetti CarbonaraSpagetti Carbonara

The only way to make one of Ashley's favorites better; make it out of ice cream.
our toasty train as planned in Hannover. We waited and when our connection arrived most everyone that poured off (yes, I think that’s the right word; most were soaked and more or less oozed off) stayed on the platform. We took this as an indication that we should also wait. Thank goodness the next train had A/C and got us the rest of the way to Fulda only 2 hrs late. Some off Dan’s relatives, Uncle Hart (Canadian) and Hans-Jergen were there to greet us and gave us a ride to the hotel. We checked in to our room, had a quick shower, and eight of us went for dinner; Dan, Ashley, Ed, Claudia, Hans-Jergen, Cornelia, Hart, and Lori. It was nice seeing some Canadian family there, it didn’t feel so far from home.

The next two days were spent getting to know and meet more of Dan’s extended family (my word there are a lot!!). Again we noticed our language deficiencies; thankfully there were plenty who spoke better English than we do German, and didn’t mind the practice (not that they actually needed it). We also caught the German-Uruguay match (woohoo Germany) which Germany won placing them in
Sommer in the CitySommer in the CitySommer in the City

Just some chillin' at the local beach in Nürnberg. Tiny sausages, beachy beverages, and a cool pool to boot; what could be better??
third place. Luckily for us, everyone was so friendly and by the end of the day we had four invitations to visit different families around Germany. Dan’s cousin Christoph offered to drive us to Nürnberg on Sunday and have us stay with him and his wife Sabine.

So, on Sunday we headed into Bavaria, where we learned the saying “laptops and lederhosen” referring to the contrast between Bavaria’s modernity and their traditions. We stayed in Lauf which was a short 15 minute train ride into Nürnberg. The first day Christoph drove us to Nürnberg and showed us around so we knew our way the next day when we would be going into the city by ourselves and exploring. Christoph introduced us to an ice cream shop that does fancy things with ice cream, La Gelateria. They have the regular run-of-the-mill ice cream cone and banana split, etc. But they also made fancy dishes (we can only remember pastas, but there may be other types) out of the different ice cream flavours. Kind of different but so delicious. He also showed us some of the main sights, and took us on an underground train with no driver (it was like
The #@*% ShovelThe #@*% ShovelThe #@*% Shovel

What a wonderful dish, although you wouldn't know it from the litteral translation of it's name.
being on a carnival ride) and treated us to a local brew after trekking all around the old city centre. Afterward Christoph and Sabine treated us to dinner in Lauf for some regional cuisine.

On Monday we slept in a bit (whoops, we’re making a bad habit of that) and decided to go see the Documentation Centre, which is a museum documenting the rise and fall of the Nazis located on part of the Nazi rally grounds in Nürnberg; it was one of the only museums open on Mondays. There was a lot of information on Hitler and other important players in the high ranks that we just don’t learn about in Canada so it was interesting, if not a bit depressing. To raise our spirits we decided to go to Sommer in der City afterward. There is a festival in the middle of Nürnberg where a beach scene is set up. There is sand, a pool, beach chairs, beach volleyball and plenty of drinks to go around. We had Nürnberg sausages which are three tiny sausages put in a bun like a hot dog (three small ones so that they could be snuck through cell locks to the
The AdlerThe AdlerThe Adler

German for Eagle, this was the first train in Germany. Couldn't have been driven here back then; not enough tracks!!
incarcerated) and fancy drinks in the pool area. They had chairs and tables in the pool so you could eat and drink there. For the rest of the day we walked around the old city and then headed home. About getting home…apparently there are two train stations in Lauf, which we didn’t know until we got off at the wrong one which was across town. You see, we needed to board a train that would take us to Lauf rechts Pegnitz (right of the Pegnitz river) and we got on a train that took us to Lauf links Pegnitz (left of the river). Once we figured out which direction the main square was we managed to find our back to Christoph and Sabine’s.

The next day Dan and I explored the city centre a little more. First thing we went to the Spielzeugmuseum (Toy Musem) which was really neat because they had all the toys divided into decades so I recognized a lot of the toys from the 80’s like an Alf doll and Paddington Bear. Has anyone heard of this little doll created in the 50’s called Barbie? She was there too. After that we headed to Fembohaus,
Fast as a speeding bullet trainFast as a speeding bullet trainFast as a speeding bullet train

Well, I didn't say I was faster, and I didn't get much of a headstart.
which is where we learned one of our most important lessons. Always, always, always use the audio guide, even if it costs extra. Initially, we were too cheap and we assumed more exhibits would be in English and we would’ve enjoyed some exhibits more had we used the audio guide. Anyways, back to Fembohaus, if anyone decides to go to Nürnberg you should go here first. I say this because the first exhibit in the museum is a wood-carved model of the city, on which they shine spotlights and explain the history of particular sights. We thought it would be a great way to introduce yourself to the city and its history. It also provides some information on what would be interesting to see in the city. That day we also fit in a trip to the dungeons under the Rathaus (Town Hall), and the train museum where Dan had fun playing with interactive exhibits and pretending he drove a train. Boy does he love trains! The main attraction at this time was the Adler, the first train in Germany; built in the U.K., taken apart, shipped, and reassembled in Germany. We capped the day off by making Christoph and
She's leavin' on a jet trainShe's leavin' on a jet trainShe's leavin' on a jet train

To bad for her it was stuck in a museum. I caught her shortly after the ill conceived escape attempt.
Sabine dinner (Spaghetti Carbonara, which is Ashley’s specialty) and finishing the movie we began the night before.

Wednesday, July 14 was a transition day, although not that hard of a transition I must say. It is so nice to have family in new places who are willing to take you in and help you find your way. We met Hannelore (Dan’s great aunt) in Munich Wednesday morning. She took us to see her daughter Anne (Dan’s cousin once removed) with whom we visited for a while. During the afternoon Dan and I toured around Munich for a while seeing our first church Frauenkirche and watching the Glockenspiel, which is like a giant coocoo clock on the face of the town hall. It provided music and entertainment for 10 whole minutes. We also went to see St Peter’s Church and we hiked up its steeple to see a grand view of Munich. Although it’s hard work I love going up church steeples and domes; you just can’t beat the view. Afterward, we went for lunch at the acclaimed Hofbrauhaus. Since it was the middle of the day, and not 10pm, it wasn’t so busy and it didn’t have the chummy, sit and chat with anyone atmosphere, that Dan experienced five years ago. I figure I should go back at some point and experience something like that too. When we were done with our lunch and the mandatory beer we headed back to visit more with Anne and her two daughters, who played shy to begin with but quickly warmed up to us and soon were taking our hands and leading us around. Dan was especially popular and got sucked into the world of a four year old, loving every minute of it; he is just a big kid himself after all.

The night ended with us taking a train with Hannelore to Ulm, where her and Gerhard live. We thought the trip to Fulda was exciting; well, we didn’t know what was in store for us this particular night. We were one stop away from Ulm, where Gerhard was picking us up, when the train made an unscheduled stop…and didn’t start moving again. Apparently, the train in front of us had hit something, a tree, an animal, a person (hopefully not) they didn’t know, so they had to investigate which meant we could be on this train for who knows how long. So we’d be a little late arriving but at least it was air conditioned. Soon the conductor announced that they were providing us with a bus to Ulm. Yay, everyone thought. Let’s just say everyone was crammed on a bus with all their luggage (it was a city bus and had no undercarriage for luggage), the bus stopped at every town between Guzburg (where the train had stopped) and Ulm; and it began to rain and the air vents in the bus were open so it was literally raining in the bus. I doubt anyone has been so happy to get off a bus as we all were that night and no one was as happy to see a bed with my name on it as I was.


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