Two weeks ago we embarked on a sentimental journey. We traveled to Germany to visit the family that we had lived with when my husband was stationed at an Army base in the historic city of Worms am Rhein. OK, so it’s a funny name but Martin Luther was tried for heresy there and Charlemagne was married there. Our oldest child was baptized in the very church where these two events took place.
We started our trip with a visit to Berlin (saw what’s left of the wall), Prague (beautiful city and fabulous beer) and Garmisch (went to the top of the Zugspitz, highest Alp in the country). We had an experience with a Czech guard as we crossed the border by train sitting in one of those compartments right out of every spy novel I had ever read. He flashed his knowledge of U.S. state capitols and we were impressed. I think he was having a little fun with us. But he didn’t really smile much.
We found out the hard way that Prague has three main railroad stations and they all say Main Railroad Station. Our hotel was on a street that had the same name as four other streets planted throughout the city. We learned about how when you buy a subway ticket, it has to be validated on a little machine or you get thrown off the train, like we did in Berlin. But the woman train policeperson felt sorry for us and let us go without charges.
We learned that what we had heard about German trains always being on time is absolutely true.
We found out that all hotel rooms include lavish breakfasts of meats, cheeses, cereals, fruit and fantastic coffee. At a sidewalk café you can have a roll warmed up with Camembert cheese or you can sit by the Rhine, watch the barges, munch hot, soft pretzels and sip the wine that is made just down the street.
We learned that the Germans really appreciate it when you attempt to speak auf Deutch. And that little kids sound so darn cute when speaking another language. .And most everybody is extremely polite, friendly and helpful.
We learned that Germans and Czechs really like Americans and really don’t like our president.
We had not see our German family for 46 years so it was good we had exchanged pictures by mail. Richard picked us up downtown in a lovely Mercedes and drove us the three miles to the neighborhood where we had first started out our life as a family. When we had lived there the house was a modest stucco affair, pretty identical to most of the homes in the surrounding area known as Karl Marx Siedlung.
We had been afraid that the development might have gone down hill during so many years and were pleasantly surprised to see a sparkling upscale neighborhood with a brand new school. The streets were all paved in brick and gardens flourished everywhere. The stucco homes so amazing in pale pastels colors.
Our house had been completely modernized and what had been our bedroom was now a formal dining room. And the bathroom was indoors…It hadn’t been when we lived there. We had a lovely dinner and took a stroll around the neighborhood. We reminisced about the good times of years gone by and mourned that passing of older members of the family.
We will exchange pictures and Christmas cards as we have over the years. I will always treasure my other family. Maybe we’ll induce them to make the trip here someday.
It was indeed a sentimental journey.