It's my birthday! Today we celebrate the day my strong momma literally pushed me from the dark and into this world, the light. I feel extra loved today as we sit in Cafe L while sipping a [caffeine free, dairy free - don't judge me] cappuccino at a long wooden table with sun warming me.
Last night Tony [long time friend], Max [German student, Tony's roommate], Loren, and I sipped Spanish wine and toasted Happy Birthday, Gubertstag, at midnight -- apparently you celebrate into your birthday here. I found myself sitting among 3 amazing men while they sang to celebrate me in two different languages, and the appreciation was real. I won't soon forget this birthday.
So much has happened since Saturday the 18th at 6 am. We traveled a good long while...the hours calculated, I am unsure. The flight from Seattle to Frankfurt was 10 hours and sometime during those hours we gained half a day and were 9 hours ahead. When we landed at 11 am, my watch read 2 am.
We made our merry way to the baggage claim, brushed our whites pearly, and set off for what we thought were simple directions to our first stay [Vilma, Air B&B]. Vilma has been writing in German and sticking those words straight through English translator; this is all good and cherries until google translates walk [street] names or tram stops into English. Exhausted and ready to sleep for years, we didn't think to take notice. By the grace of God we got off at the correct tram stop. As we released tourist-like semblance, an African refugee woman took us under her wings and stepped in as godmother. "Your host lives on a cemetery?" She asks bewildered. "No, no, she simply put the German through google translation and that is what it came out as. Do you know a street named 'Forest Dig?'" Shaking her head, she was clearly flabbergasted and wonderfully delightful. As we slowly paced our way, Loren mentioned something about us being foreigners. That is when she lulled the now legendary, "Oh child, we are all foreigners."
When we found Vilma's home, it was similar to finding gold while panning in the river. She welcomed us with open arms and warm hugs; it was as though we were old friends visiting from ages past. Immediately we were encouraged to remove our shoes and step into her slippers. It's the German way, we learned.
Our stay with Vilma in Frankfurt was perfect for our jet lag recovery. We went on long walks through the nearby parks, which were full of pigeons, trees, flowers and benches. I could see myself living there very easily as I fell in love with the simple neighborhood, welcoming to families and a quiet lifestyle.
Our room at Vilma's was on the third (of 4) small floors of her home; windows big, inviting sun, fresh tulips, and birds showing off their gifts of music. She invited us to sit on her back patio in the garden area and sip [carbonated] lemon water. When Vilma sent us off on our cheery way, Shem quickly put together an amber heart necklace, which I later learned is a huge act of kindness and love in the Lithuanian culture [where Vilma grew up].
Tuesday we traveled to Tony [one of Loren's best friends] who currently lives in Tubingen. This town is pure romance for us tourists. Cobble stone roads, old cracked buildings, absolutely breathtaking. It reminded me of Brugges, Belgium. We explored the Tubingen castle, an ancient monastery in a near by village, and old town.
Tony invited us to join him for his worship night Tuesday, put on by his student group, Unterwegs, which means "along the way." Their office is great - in the basement is where worship was held, but they also watch movies and have a kitchenette down there. The main floor is open for students to hang out and use their wifi, sip coffee or tea. Upstairs is the office. So much light through the windows! We also joined Tony last night [Wednesday] for Cafe English at one of the pubs. Basically, it's an event Unterwegs hosts to invite students to - it's a time to practice their English and learn about American culture through games likes scategories or trivia. Our table had 4 German students, all studying American Studies. It was an odd moment to realize that their entire degrees are based off of and learning about our American and English culture. Are we that interesting?
Tubingen's mark platz.
I met a new friend, Jasmin [pronounced Yaz-mean]! She contacted me via this lovely space of mine awhile ago and lives in Tubingen. Jasmin is wonderful and beautiful and all things lovely. She even loves Jesus! It's wonderful meeting people face to face. Turns out, she sees our friend Tony nearly everyday. This world, so small. Our God, so big.
Sadly for me, I won't be posting this on my actual birthday. I forgot my phone in Frankfurt which has been a mixture of not mattering at all and yet a hassle at times, since it carries vital information and some fun photos of travels. I also forgot my USB card reader. Therefore, I ordered one on amazon because amazon owns the world and it should be arriving tomorrow, along with my phone, in the mail! What what.
Loren is about to take me on some boats....I know, so romantic, but I want to add in some first impressions I wrote down along the way. Impressions are just that: impressions that are subject to change.
Ready? First impressions:
1. Everyone we have asked for help from has been welcoming and kind; though not all of them have been able to help because of language barriers, we did not leave their presence with sour tastes.
2. Germany loves fresh flowers! There are flower stands everywhere, along with fresh fruit. It's refreshing. In nearly every home we have been in or seen, there have been fresh tulips. Even in the windows, there are masses of flowers. I love the flowers and fresh fruit stands.
3. We walk way too fast. We noticed that we are just going going going, while everyone around us seemed to be taking it slow, strolling to their destination and enjoying their time walking.
4. Take your shoes off right when you walk in a home and leave them by the door.
5. LACE. All the lace. I loooooove this part - in nearly every window there are no blinds, but only lace or sheer fabric. It is elegant and quaint and I plan to bring some home as a souvenir for our home. Because why not.
6. A lot more people smoke than we are used to, which is fine, just an observation. also, you can smoke in restaurants if you're sitting outside. Same with alcohol - there is no brown bag law.
7. America is so far the only country I've been to that has toilet seat covers - not Germany, England, Belgium, France, Canada, Mexico. We are really worried about our butt skin and not the environment.
8. There are never paper towels to dry your hands...just odd blowers that disguise themselves as long metal sticks that are attached to the facet.
9. The public restrooms toilet paper isn't locked up...they trust us.
11.The sleeping patterns are as follows: bed time - 1 am to 2 am, wake up - 9 am to 10 am.
I adore my husband and am so honored to be a foreigner with him. He has been practicing his German for awhile now and is doing a superb job of getting us around as well as making sure I eat non-poisonous foods. Well!
Off to boats on the river and new exploring. My soul is full.