Wednesday, February 3, 2010

February 3, 2010: Germany, part three: the first weekend

Saturday, January 22nd: We drove to Almere, near Amsterdam, to visit the P family. Victor and Jörn met 20 or so years ago, and I met Victor and his wife Inge, and their then-new baby in Texas in 1996. They moved to the Netherlands about 6 or 7 years ago and we visited regularly, their children (they now have five) and ours also hitting it off very well. Being only 35 kilometers from the Dutch border here, it shortened the drive even more. :-) After lunch, we went to a nature reserve (10 children age 16 months to 13 years in a typical Dutch house with relatively thin walls make for unhappy neighbors!) where we saw quite a few different animals, the most exciting to me being the otters! And lots of snow and ice, and as we were walking back, it started sleeting. We had a great visit and safe drives both ways, despite the weather, and very, very grateful for the loan of the two cars.

Sunday, January 23rd: Helen and I took the L family's car to Düsseldorf, leaving here later than planned, as getting out of bed was quite difficult with jet-lag, or rather, by this time more of a Katie-and-Helen-lag. I missed the tram I'd originally intended to get and thought the next one was half an hour later, so stayed chatting with the L family for 15 minutes or so. I got back to the street where the streetcar stop was in time to see a streetcar just leaving--got to the stop and discovered that although the first few hours of the day were every 30 minutes, the next one after the one I'd wanted to get was only 16 minutes later, and that after that they were every 20 minutes for the rest of the day. So much for getting to church for the 9:30 service, as I didn't even get the tram until 9:40. But it was a comfortable tram and a great-grandmother had a nice time talking with me and playing with Helen, and the walk through the woods was also enjoyable. I got to church in time to hear the last five minutes or so of Jörn's presentation, but that didn't matter, as then between the services I got to talk with people who had been in the first service, and of course was there for the whole second service, and then we hung around for quite awhile afterwards.

We very briefly stopped by Judy's house and waved to Daniel from the doorway--we all have colds and didn't dare risk getting closer to Daniel, who has Leuko-dystrophy and a severly compromised immune system, but it was wonderful to see him at home, as he'd spent much of December in the hospital--and then went to Margaret and Phil's house. We still had one car, and one child rode with Janet, who was also going to their house, and someone else must have ridden with Margaret and Phil. We had lunch there and a nice afternoon, including treasure hunts for everyone (licorice allsorts for me, baked beans for Jörn, candy and bubbles for the children!), and then Jörn returned the C family's car to them (they live quite close) and walked back, and we all took the train (as always, three trains...) back to Hamminkeln. We'd had such a large, late lunch that we didn't really want dinner, but Jacob simply always wants dinner, so Margaret packed "a few things" for the train. It turned out to be Brötchen, salami, mortadella, welsh cakes, mince pies, cucumber slices, and carrot sticks. We finished the welsh cakes on Friday and the mince pies Saturday, I'm not sure about the rest. Quite a feast for a snack!

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