Germany 2002 - 2004

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August 1st 2002
Published: April 20th 2009
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Ruhr River ValleyRuhr River ValleyRuhr River Valley

This once industrial area is lovely - it is green with rolling hills; has a lake nearby where we often walk the lovely path, dotted with cafes and kiosks, that surrounds it. There are sail and paddle boat vendors - lots of activity


Again, this is part of my attempt to chronicle our five years of living outside the USA (June 2001 - June 2006). I've already done our final year, which was South Africa (click on "Previous Entries" top left of this blog page and you can see other blog entries). Now I'm going back, looking through old journals and photos to put our adventures, one by one, into blog form.


Originally written in 2002 - 2004

We moved to Bochum, Germany from Leiden, The Netherlands the end of August, 2002 after Bernard finished his thesis and received a master’s degree in Public International Law. Bochum is in the far west of Germany (North Rhine-Westphalia), northeast of Dusseldorf and northwest of Frankfurt, see map above. It is hilly farm country with some industry. This part of Germany was bombed extensively during WWII because it
Heidleberg w/CastleHeidleberg w/CastleHeidleberg w/Castle

Bernie taught here several times, so we took the opportunity (with Vicky & Marcela and others) to spend time here. This was also our first stop with Ken & Tandy after we picked them up at the Frankfurt airport and headed to Bavaria
was a big coal producing area with a large industrial complex (Krups is there). The mines have been closed and the main industry is car-manufacturing, with two Opel plants as the core.

The second largest employer is Ruhr University where Bernie (and I, to a much lesser degree) works. Bernie is the Head External Lecturer in International Humanitarian Law for the Institute for the International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict. That means the largest part of his teaching duties has been preparing and giving seminars in various locations throughout Europe. These lectures have been anywhere from two to eight hours long, and on a variety of subjects. He tailors his subject based on what has been requested. In Heidelberg, for instance, he addressed a group of medical workers with an emphasis on their responsibilities and rules covering their safety in armed conflict situations. In Hamburg his audience was a group of students studying international relations. In Prague he spoke to Caritas, which in the U.S. is called Catholic Relief Services. His subject there was the code of conduct for NGO’s (non-governmental organizations - charities) in conflict situations. In Frankfurt an der Oder he taught IHL at a university
Mosel RiverMosel RiverMosel River

The Mosel River Valley is one of the prettiest in Germany, and the wines some of the best. We toured extensively with RoseMarie & Sally Ernst, even finding a vineyard of the same name
to students in a master's program on national security. We went to Venice, Italy for a week in November for a seminar. Several lecturers from his university spoke, but Bernie and Noelle Quenivet were the ones who were there all week as coordinators. He also gave lectures on prisoners of war and related subjects. I got to go along to, let me see, help, or no, wait a minute I remember now, to TOUR! While Bernardo worked I got to “do” art museums and shop. A friend from Argentina, Carlos, was in Italy at the same time attending a law seminar and hopped over to Venice to spend a few days with us. Too fun.

When I start listing all the places where Bernie taught (and thus we toured) or we visited on weekends on our own and/or with visitors, it appears we must never have stayed home. Dusseldorf was the closest large city, so we went there frequently; visited Aachen (on the border with the Netherlands); Berlin; accompanied a group of students to Jena to watch them perform in a moot court competition, and visited Weimar on that trip. Had a lovely weekend at the spa
The Fischer FamilyThe Fischer FamilyThe Fischer Family

Prof. Fischer with wife, Renate, and two daughters, Victoria and Sophie - a delightful family. I tutored Vic & Sophie in English
town of Bad Teinach (in the Black Forest) where Bernie was speaking; did a day trip to Tubingen from there. Went to Koblenz and Hamburg several times, and to Lubeck once. When Ken & Tandy visited, in addition to the places mentioned below, we spent time in Baden-Baden and Rothenburg - both gems. And of course there were all the lovely towns, farming villages and cities we drove through coming and going - I've only listed the ones you all might recognize.

Recently Bernie began his actual classroom teaching duties at the university lecturing to the NOHA (Network of Humanitarian Assistance) students. He and his colleagues are giving them the basics of International Humanitarian Law. I’m teaching these same students, well, “teaching” isn’t exactly the word. I am “facilitating” a class on Conflict Resolution that is a vehicle to get these students to practice their English, but with a focus subject. Only a few are native English speakers, although the others must have a high degree of fluency as all the classes at the Institute and NOHA programs are in English. Professor Horst Fischer, Bernie’s boss and mentor, required this because international law is almost always conducted
Cochem CastleCochem CastleCochem Castle

In the Mosel River Valley Deb & Mark Hansen and we hiked to Burg Eltz, one of the prettiest castles in Germany - you can drive there too, but the hike is spectacular
in English. He feels that giving the students the material only in German would be less useful and ultimately a frustration to them. So I’ve been having classes with the students getting them to role-play and discuss problems. Next semester I’ll conduct a technical writing class. Aid workers have to make endless reports, and we’ll work on substance, form, etc.

I am also tutoring Prof. Fischer’s two teenage daughters, Sophie 13 and Vicky 16. They are wonderful, bright young ladies and I enjoy my time with them. I spend two hours a week one-on-one with each of them. Sometimes we work on their school English assignments, but if they don’t have any questions or problems, we talk or work on assignments I bring.

Settling In

Settling into Bochum our biggest frustration is (you guessed it) language. Compared to Holland where everybody speaks English, Germany has been a hard adjustment. I am taking German language classes several times a week. The other students have become good friends, which is hysterical when you realize that our only common language is very bad German. Daniela* is from Bulgaria, Aneta from Poland, Fuyla from Turkey, Patricia from Spain - these young ladies

This wonderful town is just outside Hamburg on the Baltic Sea - we spent an anniversary weekend here. Notice to the right the medieval towers - the old city gate
became my closest friends. There was also a Filipino, and a Russian. See a recent photo of Daniela, her daughter and husband in Bulgaria, and one of Fuyla and her new daughter at the end of this blog.

A paramount reason for wanting to take language lessons is that we are going to be living in Germany for two years - we might stumble through one year, but for two years it would be a shame not to learn the language. Bernie committed to Prof. Fischer to two school years, which means we’ll be here until August 2004. The Prof is trying to talk Bernie into completing a doctorate - keep ya posted.

*March 09, Daniela and I "Skyped" - she has been studying English so we actually had a conversation; she is a great linguist. We visited Fuyla & her husband, Emre, (who became Bernie's good friend) last year in Germany and hear from them often - they have a daughter now. The rest I've lost touch with. My German never got very good, but I had to use it for shopping and getting around because in this part of Germany, English is

Dresden, in the old East Germany, is a gem. How it could be so is amazing since it was the focus of extensive fire-bombing during WWII
NOT widely spoken (except at the University), unlike southern Germany where all the U.S. military bases are.

Stateside Visits

Both Bernardo and I were able to get back to the states for short periods over the 2 years. In June 02 Bernie went to Tucson for a week to take care of taxes and other business. When we left for The Netherlands we never thought we’d be extending our European stay from one to three years, so Bernie needed to get our affairs sorted out. It was a whirlwind trip, not to mention hectic, and he didn’t get to see as many friends as he would have liked. He did ascertain, however, that the house was still standing and in good repair. Actually we had no worries on that score because good friends, Bill & Barbara Pageter,* are leasing it, lucky for us. They have agreed to continue leasing it for the time we are in Germany. Talk about being born under the right stars! They are not always there (live in Alaska and use our house as a vacation get-away) and that is how we got to stay in our own home when we each went to
Bernard's ColleaguesBernard's ColleaguesBernard's Colleagues

These are the folks Bernie worked with, minus Kate who had already returned to Australia when this was taken
Tucson. They were kind enough to arrange their schedule to accommodate us. Again, are we lucky or what?

*Pargeters continued to lease our home for a fourth year - when we were back in Holland (more on that later), but not the fifth year when we were in South Africa.

I made a short trip to the states the end of September/beginning of October 02. I stopped in Washington, D.C. to surprise Marcela, our Argentine daughter, on her wedding day. What a hoot. I was a “Mystery Guest” and she had no idea I was coming. Because my plane was late I missed the civil ceremony, but popped up at the dinner catching Marcela and Tim with mouthfuls of food and totally unsuspecting. Marcela first looked confused, then startled, and then she burst into tears as she ran towards me. It was PERFECT!

I wrote in my last missive about our wedding trip to England (Robert and Jo’s wedding) and my lost luggage, so just wanted to say here that they lost my luggage AGAIN on the way to Marcela’s wedding in D.C. When we go to Argentina
Kate GreenwoodKate GreenwoodKate Greenwood

Kate was a classmate of Bernie's in Leiden; Prof. Fischer recruited both of them to come to teach in Germany. We were so glad she accepted as we enjoyed her very much
(see below) I’m not going to check my luggage if I can help it! Weddings and my luggage seem to create a counter-magnetic reaction, i.e., I go to one pole and my bags to another.

We are going to Argentina over Christmas 02 for Marcela and Tim’s big church wedding. That is the reason Bernie wasn’t too upset about not going to the one in D.C. Marcela’s twin, Vicky, tells me that there will be over 400 people at the celebration in Cordoba. Our niece Denise and daughter McKayla will join us there. Party time. (See some photos at the end of this blog.)

I flew to Tucson from D.C. for routine doctor appointments (healthy as a horse), and to do some things around the house and patio. I honestly didn’t have time to see many friends. Part of that was because the only other weekend (first one was in D.C.) I had in the states I spent in Washington State. I flew up; daughter JJ flew down from Anchorage; and we stayed with daughter, Christina, and her husband, Mark, in Seattle. It had been WAY too long since I’d seen my girls so it was a much-needed
Noelle & IvanNoelle & IvanNoelle & Ivan

Noelle (French) was a colleague of Bernie's (and good friend) so when she and Ivan (Russian) decided to get married we were included in the festivities in Strasbourg, France
visit, but of course, WAY too short. We all managed to get over to my sister Mary Jean’s new place in Gig Harbor, and my Aunt Betty came too - a real family gathering that does a heart good. Lots of food and fun, not to mention the laughing as when we all get together it is one guffaw after another - we bring out the clowns in each other. I love it! (I'm not including any photos here as they were in the holiday journal.)

When I got back to Tucson a friend I’d met in Holland and is now living in El Paso drove up for a visit. It was so great to see Mara and I’m grateful to her for coming, for many reasons. One was that it forced me to relax a little and enjoy Tucson - went to some nice restaurants and to Trader Joe’s shopping. The weather was perfect; we were in shorts and sandals the whole time, and I was reminded of why I love the Southwest so much. I kept looking at the surrounding mountains and remembering all the great hikes we’d done, and would do again once we returned. Mind
Kathy's ClassmatesKathy's ClassmatesKathy's Classmates

Here are my German language classmates and spouses, plus Daniela's sister
you, Holland is completely flat, as is the area of Germany we are living in, so after a year our mountains looked doubly enticing.

Bernie was in the states again in November 02, this time to Alaska for a friend’s funeral. Jack Butt was only 66 years old, but had been sick for quite a few years (heart and diabetes). He was a dear friend and one of Bernie’s first clients in Alaska. It was a four-day trip, so fast and furious, and he spent time with Jack’s family and with JJ, so unfortunately didn’t have much time to visit other friends.

In October 03 were once again in the states, first stop in Asheville, North Carolina for the wedding of Thomas Tyrrell, youngest son of Bernie's sister Claudia, and Kim's wedding. They had planned everything beautifully and it went smoothly. The weather, however, was unseasonably warm - in the 70s & 80s - and Kim commented that she'd chosen November because June is too hot. As it turned out, it felt like June, not humid though. Thomas & Kim's theme was autumn and the trees certainly didn't disappoint. The drive from Charlotte to Asheville was spectacular -
Nicole ErdmannNicole ErdmannNicole Erdmann

On the left is Nicole, an American married to a German (so is the other gal, but I cannot remember her name) who befriended me and was a huge help in my settling in Bochum. She remains a dear friend.
the colors not peaking yet, but darn good.

Thomas & Kim's rehearsal dinner is probably the most unusual we've ever been to as it was held on Halloween, so, yes, a costume party - too much fun!

Seeing all of Bernie's family was the best. We met for the first time a grandniece and nephew (Jonna and Thomas) - I like being a Grand-Aunt ( not "great" " mind you, but "Grand" with a Capital G), plus all the older ones were there too. Bernie's brother Tom and wife Janet were there, which was especially nice as Tom had been ill recently - the both looked fabulous!

After the wedding we flew to Tucson for our annual doctor appointments, etc. Bernie had only 10 days as he had teaching obligations in Europe. I stayed until Nov. 24 and then flew to my sister Mary Jean's near Seattle for Thanksgiving. Daughter Christina and husband Mark were living in Seattle; daughter Jannay/JJ few down from Alaska. Both of my sister's sons, Daniel and Matt, were there, as was my brother, Cliff, wife Terri and their whole family. Mary Jean and husband Buzz are extraordinary hosts
Daughter Jannay (aka JJ) & JaxDaughter Jannay (aka JJ) & JaxDaughter Jannay (aka JJ) & Jax

JJ and friend Jax came for about 10 days, so we drove to the Netherlands also - here they are in Amsterdam (ask me about our "experiences" there sometime)
- everyone agreed it was the best Thanksgiving ever.

April 04 found Bernard at a conference in Washington D.C. While there he stayed with niece Regina Hall, husband Tim and their four kids, plus he saw niece Adrienne and her family when they came up from Richmond, Virginia to visit - always a good time.

Right after Bernard flew back to Germany, we got the call that his Aunt Anne had passed away. So, back on a plane to New York - funerals are very important to Bernie; his last chance to show his love and respect. He was quite the zombie after two trans-Atlantic trips in under one week. Back in Germany he was so exhausted and sleeping so soundly his first night back, that he hadn't even woken up as over an inch of snow accumulated on his head! Our bedroom window was open and the breeze just enough to blow in the snow cover. He didn't even wake up when I, trying not to laugh out loud, brushed it off his poor balding head and closed the window.


While I was in the states in October 02, Bernard visited his family
David SimonDavid SimonDavid Simon

That is the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel rivers behind David & Bernie. We explored Koblenz with David - he was our first guest
in Poland. He caught a performance with both Jan and Marysia, a premiere of a play made for television with Jan, and a housewarming party (Jan & Teresa’s newly built - BEAUTIFUL - house) in Krakow. He, naturally, visited Karolina* and the rest of the family in Andrychow too. You know he loved it, as he always does.

*Karolina died in December 2003 and we attended the funeral - see separate blog: Poland & Croatia 2003.

Travels in Europe

While living for two years in Germany, we had a car so took advantage and explored many parts of Germany. We spent a wonderful winter weekend in Munich, Bavaria (thank you Petra, Jan & David). In January to Oberstaufen near the Austrian border to join our Israeli friends, Ofer & Tamar and two of their three sons as they saw snow for the first time and learned to ski. We then drove over the mountains to Switzerland to visit good and dear friends Emil and Renate Frehner. When Ken & Tandy came we did Heidelberg and the medieval towns and castles of Mad King Ludwig in the south of Germany. With Deb & Mark Hansen we hiked in
RoseMarie w/mom, Sally ErnstRoseMarie w/mom, Sally ErnstRoseMarie w/mom, Sally Ernst

RoseMarie and I went to high school together. She still lives in Fairbanks, but travels extensively. Her mom grew up speaking German, so it was fun for her to visit Germany. Here they are in front of the sign to "their" vineyard.
the Mosel River Valley and visited Trier, which has some of the oldest Roman ruins on the continent, and also saw the castles along the Rhine River. With Jannay (aka JJ) & Jax and Don & Karen we explored many of the moated castles of Muenster (yes, where the cheese comes from), not to mention taking almost every visitor to Cologne to see the famous cathedral there. With RoseMarie & Sally we explored the more dramatic cliff-hanging castles in the mountainous region around Cochem on the Mosel River.

We also drove to: Poland many times, visiting Dresden in route; Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland & Denmark; Croatia; Strasbourg, France for a wedding. We had a 4-day weekend in Paris which was heaven and would have been a disaster for our waistlines except we walked everywhere, and mean EVERYWHERE - hours every day and enjoyed every step of it.

The above trips were all by car (this was 6 years ago and gas was $6.00 a gallon and we Americans get bent out of shape when it goes above $2!), but we also flew to places: Ireland and England for visits - with Bernard’s family in County Mayo (see separate
Mark HansenMark HansenMark Hansen

When Mark and his mom Deb visited we went to Trier, which has some of the oldest Roman ruins on the continent
blog "Ireland") and friends Joanne and Robert Henshaw near Cambridge, England. To Madrid, Ibiza and Malaga, Spain where we met Bernie’s cousin Frank and wife Dottie at a time-share they have there. After going to Marcela and Tim's wedding in Argentina we flew to Istanbul, Turkey for New Years! Yeah, good times, good times.

*We didn't know it at the time this was originally written, but we were to spend a 4th year in Europe - we went back to the Netherlands, to the village of Oegstgeest very near Leiden for a year while Bernard worked on his Ph.D. Yeah, a blog entry on that is next!


I’ve put all the photos of visitors as the last photos: David Simon was our first visitor, followed by, listed in alphabetical order (but not arranged that way): Atkinson, RoseMarie & her mom Sally Ernst; Dan - my nephew; Cohn, Mara, Josh & Alicia; Edwards, Don & wife Karen Russell; Hansen, Deb & son Mark; Myrvang, Anna (Norwegian); Page, Denise; Sahade, Vicky & Marcela (Jensen); Wallack, Ken & Tandy; Watts, Jannay, our daughter, and her friend Jax.


Additional photos below
Photos: 34, Displayed: 34


Carlos Giavay-WaissCarlos Giavay-Waiss
Carlos Giavay-Waiss

Carlos was an exchange student in Alaska in 1990-01 and stayed with good friends Don & Karen, whom he is still in close contact with. We met him in Venice - in a glass store, naturally
Shamir FamilyShamir Family
Shamir Family

Ofer and Tamar, with 2 of their 3 sons, met us in Oberstaufen where they learned to ski. Middle-child Shir is in this photo and Chen, the youngest was asleep under the table at this point. Oldest son, Stav, was doing his military training in Israel and couldn't join us
Mara with Josh & AliciaMara with Josh & Alicia
Mara with Josh & Alicia

The Cohn's were in Leiden with us and have remained wonderful friends, visiting us in Germany (after they'd moved back to the states) and in Tucson many times

My sister Mary Jean's older son, Daniel, was one of our first visitors. He was about the same age of the students Bernie was teaching, so he hooked up with them and had a great time
Ken & Tandy at Neuschwannstein CastleKen & Tandy at Neuschwannstein Castle
Ken & Tandy at Neuschwannstein Castle

With Ken & Tandy Wallack we visited Mad King Ludwig's fantatic castles in Bavaria

25th April 2009

Are you sure?
Are you sure that Carlos was an exchange student in (1990-91) jajaja so, he was 10 years old when he was in AK... Ok that 's correct!! jajajajajajajajaja It is always very cool to see your travelblog!!! Miss you... los quiero mucho!!! Carlos
17th January 2020
Nicole Erdmann

hi from bochum
Hello Kathy! I got up the courage to look myself up... and found you! I am glad to see you are doing so well, and I love your blog. (I look through it a bit). I'm still here, where you met me, and glad to see that you are still leading such a fascinating life! Take care, and best wishes in 2020 from Nicole

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