Monday, February 09, 2015

There and Back Again

Well, yes, that was the alternate title of the J.R.R. Tolkien's classic novel, The Hobbit, over-filmed over the last three years by Peter Jackson. But it serves as a reasonably good title for my first post since last Monday ... brief though it will be.

Once again, thanks to all of you who expressed your condolences on the deaths of Agnes's and my fathers, by comment, e-mail, card, letter, and Facebook post. You are truly great friends, virtual or not. We just got back from Germany on Saturday night, and my brain is still not quite sure what time zone it's in, so I'm just going to share with you a few brief observations about the last week. I'll try to do better tomorrow.

1) It was as cold in Germany as I ever remember it being, and I lived there a long time. On the day of the funeral for Agnes's father, it was so cold and windy that the holy water in the bowl at the cemetery froze .. the celebrant had to break the sprinkler loose from the sheet of ice that had formed around it in the short time the water had been out in front of the burial niche.

2) A large and loving family is a treasure beyond price. So are good friends, live and virtual.

3) Germans are always amazed when they find that an American speaks their language. When we went through passport control in Frankfurt on our way home on Saturday, my passport was inspected by a young female police officer. She asked where I'd learned to speak German, and I told her that I'd studied it in college and had a German wife. She replied that it could be dangerous to have a German wife (and the officer at the next window agreed with her). I said that it was not that bad, and that Agnes didn't hit me more than twice a day. The second officer said that was pretty good, and I was lucky. The first one stamped my passport and started to hand it back, then quickly pulled it away and asked if I wouldn't rather stay in Germany ... I told her that it would be too dangerous not to go back. Agnes, of course, was standing on the other side of the barricade (having gone through the EU-citizens line rather than the darned foreigners line) listening to the whole thing. That was interesting ... not everyone manages to joke with the inspectors at passport control!

4) German beer is wonderful.

5) So is German food.

6) German trains have gone downhill considerably over the years since the system was privatized. When I arrived in Frankfurt on Thursday morning I bought my ticket to Singen and headed for the right platform ... where I was met with an announcement that the train had been cancelled. I waited for the Ersatzzug (replacement train) for about 20 minutes, long enough to miss my connection in Stuttgart* and ensure that I arrived in Singen nearly two hours behind schedule ... bad enough, but when your trip is only two days long, it's extra annoying.

7) When you leave Washington on Wednesday afternoon, arrive in Germany Thursday morning, attend a funeral on Friday afternoon, and fly back to the States on Saturday, it really messes with your body clock.

8) I am still jetlagged and am running out of coherent thought, so I'll quit here while I'm ahead.

Have a good day. More (and, hopefully, more coherent) thoughts tomorrow.


* If you are traveling by train in Germany, avoid the Stuttgart main station at all costs. I can tell you stories that would curl your hair.


eViL pOp TaRt said...

I'm glad you made it back, Bilbo. The rail delay must have been doubly frustrating because of the jet lag! You gave a nice recount of your hurried trip.

Are you going to work while still getting over jet lag? I hope you have one more day.

Linda Kay said...

I'm guessing you have returned to work on this Monday morning, and I hope you make it through the day okay. We have several German food establishments in our little Fredericksburg, and I am a big fan. Germans settled this area many years ago, and many of the rules and regulations in the town reflect that. Glad you made it back safely.

KathyA said...

So when did incoherent stop us? :)

Chuck Bear said...

German beer is wonderful!

Mike said...

Welcome back. Take a break. You need one.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

Welcome back. I could use some German beer :)

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Welcome back, Bilbo.