Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Whole Wide World

I've just returned from another amazing trip to Europe, with a bonus side trip to the UK!  Some highlights include... very first venture into the actual city of Frankfurt.  I've been flying in/out of the airport exclusively since 1995, but had never been to the city itself before.  Neither had Ralph, so it worked out nicely for both of us to walk around for a few hours and see the police getting ready for another Occupy Frankfurt protest.
Behold, the mighty Euro!
...another visit with my high school buddy Liz and her new husband Stefan.  What wonderful company, such laughs!  I wish the four of us all lived closer so we could get together more often.

Having a drink in a random biergarten after walking around Dortmund all afternoon
...spending a day at Europa Park, a theme park that I can only describe as the love child of Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Epcot, and Disneyland.  We lucked out in having gorgeous weather and little wait time for anything.

...visiting my cousin Elissa in Liverpool, England.  I had been wanting to go see her ever since I found out she was living there.  It was my first visit to the UK and I absolutely loved it.

Elissa, John Lennon, and me near the Cavern Club
...spending a day in London all by me onesie.  I am in love with this city, no question.  The highlight of my day (and there were many, in fact), was just after I had finished walking around the Borough Market and the Southwark Cathedral, a Brit came up to me and asked for directions to Upper Borough Street.  I had been traipsing all over the city with nothing more than a little purse and a bottle of water and conspicuously snapping photos with my iPhone, so I'd like to think that I really didn't give off the air of a tourist.  (Or an American, for that matter.  Not that being an American is a bad thing.)  Anyway, I just happened to know where he wanted to go, and was more than happy to reply!

In front of "Big Ben". (Yeah, I know that's technically the bells inside and not the clock/tower.)
...briefly visiting France (the city in Germany where I was staying as my "home base" is only about a 20 minute drive across the border)

...and, finally, I use this photo of a delicious chocolate cake and raspberry torte to represent the fact that 
a.) I ate really well for those two weeks, and
b.) I was extremely well taken care of by Ralph, and his family, and his friends.  
Mrs. M's birthday cakes were delicious! Super lecker!

We stayed at his folks' house in southwestern Germany after the initial weekend up north in Dortmund.  The last couple of days at the end of my visit, Ralph had to go to France for work, so I was there "on my own", but not really.  I hung out with local friends, the got taken on a tour of the Black Forest by his older sister and her beau, and got a ride to the airport from them later...I was in quite good hands!  This arrangement was of particular advantage to his mom, who finally had a chance to practice her English with a real live American, and likewise I was able to get some practice in on my German.   Our conversations started out with her speaking in English and me answering in German, and gradually became a mish-mash of both of us using both.  It was fun!  Yeah, all this time I could have been speaking German with Ralph as well, but, let's face it, once you establish a relationship in a language, it's very difficult to change it unless you both make considerable effort to do so.  R and I have long since established our friendship in English, so meeting his parents was an opportunity to do the same, but in German.  (In the case of pops, it was necessary--he only speaks Romanian, Hungarian, and German!)

It was a pretty fantastic two weeks with lots of walking, eating, laughing, napping, and all manner of craziness.  Next year I hope I can make it over to Spain to attend Elissa's wedding.  But, if not, rest assured that I will find some other excuse to hop back over to the EU.

Until next time!  Tschuß!