We really enjoyed our time in Germany. It has definitely been the place most like home so far. Partly that was due to the fact that people look like us, partly that Germany is clean and orderly, but mostly because we stayed with very good friends with access to the American Army base. The night previous to our arrival we had missed one of the big football games of the year at home, so it was great when upon arrival our friend, Andy Buzbee, took us straight to the Weisbaden vs. Heidelberg army base football game (Weisbaden won - go Warriors!) The base is definitely like a little piece of the U.S. smack dab in the middle of Germany. Everyone is American, wearing American clothes and eating American food. You pay in dollars and have access to a large selection of the things you would at home. Lucky for us Andy's wife Mariola is a very good cook, and so we had the pleasure of having all those American groceries turned into fabulous home cooked meals - the first of which was tacos, making us all (but especially Peyton) very happy. Wilder and Mark were similarly thrilled to have milk for the first time since leaving home.
Peyton's New Shorts
Andy and Mariola have two kids, Marcos and Isabel, and so we were all happy to have someone new to socialize with. The first day the kids went on a really cool ropes course strung high in the trees of the forrest (the pics are just of them on the training part - the actual course was way up high.) They had a lot of fun, but Wilder came home with a chipped tooth. The cosmetic dentistry needed to fix it will have to wait until we get home.
On day two Andy took time off work to drive us to Heidelberg. I was so excited to see my old stomping grounds and drug everyone around until I had located the house I lived in (Moore Haus - still utilized by Pepperdine's program today) and, just as important, "our" pub where we spent many hours that summer of 1986. The whole day I kept getting flashbacks and all of my fellow students (and the faculty family) were much on my mind. To those of you who read this blog - nothing much has changed in Heidelberg (it is still picturesque and impossibly wonderful) and I still think back on that time as one of the most fun of my life.
Another day Andy took us to Rudesheim, a pretty little town on the Reine river. We had Federweisser (very new wine) and sampled the local ice-cream as well as the local brandy (was good, we decided, together!)
On our last day we went on a long hour hike in the forrest that surrounds the Buzbee's home. We really enjoyed the trees and our commune with nature as well as the up hill work out. Wilder used the time to make a list of things he's afraid of in the forrest (topped by Dick Cheney and flying ticks - they only seemed to land on him). Mark and I attempted to sing all the tunes from the Sound of Music - at one point he was dancing - see pic. The kids also had races - Peyton hung in there pretty good but Wilder won. After emerging on the other side and finding the miniature golf place that was our destination closed, we opted instead to eat lunch at an old hunting lodge turned Beirgarten/Restaurant. The food was great and, after relocating Peyton's seat so that she didn't have a direct view of the stuffed (but previously alive) animals, even she managed to retain her appetite.
To be honest we mostly enjoyed Mariola's cooking while in Germany, but we did get a chance to sample some German specialities - Snitzel, bratwurst and cuchen (which is cake) and Apfelsaft - that's fresh squeezed apple juice (not beer) that the kids are drinking below. The last night the grown ups left the kids at home and went out for a wonderful Indian meal.
Wilder's favorite part of our stay (other than when he located a Guitar World issue in English) was undoubtedly getting to play Andy's collection of guitars. Bringing a guitar along with us on our trip really was not a practical option, but Wilder has been suffering without one. He played every night, and sometimes we'd have to send him to use the headphones to give us listeners a break. My favorite part though was when Andy and Wilder played together, the highlight of which was a rousing rendition of the song Andy used to play me in the old days - Wild Thing.
We really really enjoyed our time at the Buzbees. They went out of their way to step and fetch for us and cart us around, not complaining once about how much we were interrupting their routine. It was so nice to spend lots of time and conversation with good old friends. Special thanks goes to Marcos who's room Mark, Wilder and I kicked him out of and Isa who let Peyton bunk down with her. Auf Wiedersen Germany and the Buzbees!
I have been hard at work now making forward plans for the reminder of our time in Europe and they are, thus far, as follows. First we will head to Prague for 3 days, then Budapest for 5, followed by a town in the mountains outside of Bucharest (close to Transylvania) for 7. After that we will catch a plane to Santorini for 4 wonderful nights and will hopefully squeeze in another Greek island (still working on) before heading to Athens to meet my parents and catch our Meditteranian cruise on October 25th. My choices have been based primarily on what offers I received on fabulous discounted accommodations (they continue to come in to my surprise and delight), and part of me wishes we could be in the area another month to get to all the wonderful places we are missing. Alas we only have 9 months, and it is after all a very BIG world!