Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Country #2 - Germany (Dusseldorf and Hoeve de Linde)

Germany 24th August - 10th September 2016

Catching up with family in Germany

Dusseldorf: We departed Madrid early. We arrived in Dusseldorf early. When we booked our flights we had two options, an early morning flight or a late afternoon one. Since we planned to meet the Mum, Dad and Hannah in Dusseldorf airport we figured we should book the early flight so we wouldn't keep them waiting. Instead the opposite happened. Shortly after we booked the flight which was due to get in around 11:30am we found out the family would be arriving at 5pm. We therefore spent the entire afternoon cosied up in our blankets on a bench outside of Arrivals playing chess, trying to nap and using it as an excuse to eat McDonalds. There should have been plenty of time to visit and explore the city for the day and be back in time to meet them but with our big old bags it wasn't really a possibility, or at least we didn't fancy it, we were knackered having got up at 4am to get to Madrid airport.

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Tired airport faces

In any case eventually the time passed at it is prone to do and we successfully met them and everyone was happy to see each other. We hopped on the train heading for Bielefeld, dad insisted we have a beer or two and we all had a good catch up.
Never having been particularly confident with people meeting extended family is always a bit of an awkward business for me (imagine my shock when on the first time meeting Sarah's parents I also met her grandparents, great aunty and family friends on the same day) and arriving at our hotel was no exception. Thankfully Mum and Dad made for a good encyclopedia of the extended Wellmer family and friends. Once my initial awkwardness had started to subside and things became a little more relaxed it was good to see everyone again. Time for schnitzel and more beer.

There was of course an entire role reversal for Sarah and I. For the past 2 months every time someone had spoken to us I'd helplessly turned to Sarah for an explanation and translation of what had been said but now it was the other way round. The problem was that I was not used to being in the role of translator and I still turned to her with the same motion as before expecting her to have understood everything. Much to her understandable annoyance. I got better at it eventually.
Also swapping from Hola to Hallo is a absolute dyslexic nightmare.

The evening after the funeral service bit by bit people started heading their separate ways again and we prepared for a weekend with the Koepps (sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew) and the Aacheners (uncle, aunty and cousins) on the German-Dutch border at a small collection of guesthouses/converted farm houses in the countryside. We spent the next couple of days going on walks through the fields, BBQing, sleeping, playing games and fighting mosquitoes. It was an excellent weekend and a proper chance to unwind and have a catch up with everyone.

We spent one of the days at a lake an hour or so drive from Hoeve de Linde. Uncle Micha said I could drive his car there (with Mum, Dad and Sarah as passengers). I figured he must be joking, entrusting me with such a nice new car. There are certain times, especially when I'm surrounded by family that I forget that I'm actually (supposedly) an adult rather than still a child and am therefore confused when people treat me like a grown up. I think by default I asked mum and dad's permission if I was allowed to drive the car. In any case Micha very generously wasn't joking and he was quite happy for me to drive; thank you, uncle. Fortunately with him leading the way in their car and mum helping me navigate I didn't have to think too hard and the trip went smoothly, even if I did occasionally slam my left hand expecting to find the gear stick and but instead being greeted by the door handle. But anyway not bad for my first time driving on the wrong right side of the road. Sarah and Dad's white knuckles however told a different story.

A successful drive, a day at a beautiful lake and finished with a Spaghetti Eis. What's better?

(A note to myself, Phase 10, which Sarah and I played with Lena and Kolja is a game I definitely want to remember and play again).

Soon enough it was time to leave again and say goodbye to the family once more, this time for more than 7 weeks. For us we were heading to Friedburg for a week with the Koepps. Sarah took the car with them and I waited for the bus to Frankfurt and train to Frieburg as the car was full. It was strange, this was the first time in 7 weeks that we had spent more than a few minutes apart from one another. I would like to have joked that it was pure bliss but it ended up being quite a boring journey instead. Probably a good sign of things to come I guess.

Until then,

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