The Adventures of BJ and Tony Morris

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Wehrheim, Germany
October 2006
"Mail Call"

Our German daughter, Carina, is still receiving mail at our house so we had some magazines and packages that needed to be delivered to her in Germany. It was a perfect excuse for a trip so when we found ourselves with an available weekend, we headed for the airport!

We took our seats in the back section of business class along with the other 16 standby travelers. To the flight attendants credit, even though I am sure their manifest showed that we were all standbys, they treated us like royalty! A little turbulence just as we were being served almost resulted in the flight attendant (as well as our soup and salad) in our laps, but she recovered nicely and strapped herself in while we finished the first course. After a delicious meal followed by a lovely cheese and fruit plate (we're still loosely following the South Beach regime, so no ice cream sundae for us), we finished watching the movie, "Click" and drifted off to sleep with instructions to the flight attendant not to wake us for breakfast.

We awoke just in time to raise our seat backs and tray tables for landing. Arrival at the Frankfurt Airport is very different than in Atlanta. There is no herding toward passport control and we were free to wander about the concourse before leaving the area. We went straight to passport control though, to beat the crowd. The passport official did a double-take at the embroidered passport in my shirt pocket and pointed it out to his colleague.

Tony had received a renewal notice for his discount train card, so we thought we would pay for it while we were at the airport. We took the skylink over to Terminal 1, but were told that we could not pay by credit card or cash, we would need a bank note. The agent advised that it would be easier to cancel the card and then purchase a new one with a credit card.

We had reserved a car with Thrifty, but we really wanted to drive a SmartCar, so we stopped by the Sixt counter. Sixt had no smart cars available, so we started looking for the Thrifty counter. It was then that we discovered that Thrifty was off site and the only way to get in touch with them was via a courtesy phone that was well-hidden at the corner of a small information counter back in Terminal 2. The Thrifty bus picked us up 15-20 minutes later and took us to the Thrifty site about 20 minutes away. Check-in was relatively painless, but when they brought our car around, they discovered that one of the wheels was dented. We waited as they replaced it and then were on our way. Our car, a Renault Twingo, had a retractable canvas roof, but it was raining so we didn't try it out until the rain subsided.

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Jill, our GPS, led us right to our daughter's apartment where we followed her directions from our "instant message" conversation about where to park and how to find the key.

"...you could park on our parking lot. Its the house on the corner, the parking lot is right into the field. Your apartment for the weekend (my apartment) is when you go from the parking lot right through the bushes where the window garden is the white door, or ... through the with garden door, the key is under the black candlehouse (?)"

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Carina's apartment was simply delightful! A converted garage with a sun room, kitchen and living area downstairs and a bedroom bath and study loft upstairs.  All very modern, and very German!

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I have forever been challenged to use the phone in a foreign country. The tones befuddle me and if I should somehow get a phone call through, I usually cannot understand the person who answers. But I wanted to let Carina know we had arrived, so I tried to follow her instructions about how to call. My first attempt resulted in an obvious "this phone call cannot be completed as dialed" tone followed by a recorded German voice. My second attempt connected with a human, but when I asked to speak to Carina, she said something I didn't understand, so I asked if I had the wrong number and she repeated, "Wrong Number", so I hung up. I now have a T-mobile phone with internet capability so I logged into my webmail account and sent Carina an email. She called us after that and when I picked up the phone to answer it, Tony said he had thought it was the remote control for the television. Maybe it was one of those "All-In-One" remotes like we had seen in, "Click".

We told Carina we were off to get some lunch and a beer and agreed to meet her back at the apartment at 5:30. We found a little cafe called CafeHaus Zauberkessel in Wehrheim where we had a bowl of Gulaschsuppe and Spargelcremesuppe with two beers.

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Since I knew my aerobics class was in boot camp at this time, I decided to have my own form of German boot camp.

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We stopped by the grocery store for some essentials including a bottle of Rauscher, a local young wine that has not finished fermenting yet. We did not realize that the Rauscher was not sealed (to prevent the bottle from exploding during the continuing fermentation), so we lost a little to spillage when we lay the bottle on its side in the back seat of the rental car.

We went back to the apartment and took a short nap. When Carina arrived home, we gave her all of the mail treasures we had brought and went to take a shower. Fresh from our shower, we visited with Carina a bit and then her German mother, Christine (pronounced Chris-tine-ah) came in. Christine was very pleased to meet Carina's American mother (she had met Tony a year before). She grabbed my shoulders with a firm grip and gave me a kiss on both cheeks.

Our younger (older) daughter, Sandra met us for dinner in Frankfurt at a very traditional German restaurant called zur Sonne (the Sun) where I had the best Jaegerschnitzel I think I have ever had. Apfelwein was the beverage of the region so we shared a pitcher. Sandra instructed that it was best when mixed with mineral water, but Tony preferred it undiluted.

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After dinner, we were all tired, so we left Sandra in Frankfurt and drove back to Wehrheim. Tony and I had a glass of Dornfelder wine with some 85% Cocoa chocolate before retiring.

On Saturday, I woke up at 8:10, and read my book until Carina came in around 10. We went next door to Carina's parents house for a traditional German breakfast of cold cuts, cheese and breads.

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I met Christine's friend, Berndt for the first time. He entertained us with stories of their bicycle trip through France.

After breakfast, Carina took us into town to see where the apples are crushed and made into juice or Apfelwein. Villagers were lined up with their apples for processing.

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The apples are weighed and the owner is given a receipt. Then they stand in line with their receipt and are given juice in exchange. There is a platform above the apple crusher where observers can watch the process. We returned some bottles and bought some juice and apfelwein.

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Carina, Christine, Berndt, Tony and I went to Hessenpark, a village of old buildings which had been relocated to create a historic area.

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We relaxed at home for a little while until Sandra arrived with Rocky, the Rottweiler and Senad, the new boyfriend.

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We had coffee and desserts and then took a walk through the fields. Sandra taught me that cows do not have upper teeth. I told her that I grew up on a cattle farm in Georgia and I never knew cows had no upper teeth. I think that in Germany, they pull the cows teeth!

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Tony, Carina, Sandra, Senad and I went to the Magic Bowl in Oberursel for a few games. The shoes were really slick, so we did some acrobatics while we bowled.

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The next lane over was filled with little children who were hoisting their balls over their shoulders and throwing them. Sometimes they would bounce across the lane in front of us as we were bowling. We have grown accustomed to Sandra beating us at all sports endeavors so we were not surprised when she beat us again, but none of our scores were anything to be proud of. We had some obligatory beers at the bowling alley and Sandra made sure we toasted correctly by looking each other in the eye while we said, "St÷▀chen".

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Carina's friend Katrin joined us for the second game and then we went to the local Brauhaus for dinner.

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I had Schnitzel and Tony had Sauerkraut with Nurnberger Rostbratwuerstchen. The food was good, but we had more fun playing with it than eating it!

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The beer from the Brauhaus was very mild and had a pleasant taste, but we preferred wine with our dinner. Katrin knew the proprieter, so after dinner she got permission for us to go upstairs to see the historical rooms.

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We were not quite ready to go home yet, so we stopped by Das Boot for a few games of tischfussball (foosball).

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Back at home, we opened the Rauscher, ate some chocolate and talked until 2AM.

Sunday, we had agreed to meet at 9:30 for breakfast but all of us were very tired. Christine and Bernd had gotten home from a relative's wedding at 3AM. After breakfast, it was nap time. We met back up at 12:30 to go to Bad Homburg for some sightseeing.

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It was a beautiful day. We took a rest stop at the Petit Cafe.

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Then we walked through the KurPark, a park located amongst medical facilities where people spend time recuperating. Inside the Kurpark is a mock Roman temple, a Siamese pavilion and the oldest Spielbank (casino) in Europe. We took turns posing with the statues in the Kurpark.

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When we got home, it was so pretty, we sat outside and had more Rauscher with bread and cheese while Sandra took Rocky for a little walk. Tony, Carina and I watched "In Her Shoes" until it was time for dinner. We had Christine's delicious spaghetti and salad. Bernd showed us his new wine opener that he had gotten for his birthday. He started to tell us a joke, but realized in the middle that it was not very flattering for Americans so he could not finish it. We watched Fluch der Karibik (Pirates of the Carribean) after dinner. It was dubbed in German, so I tried to use my lip reading skills to tell what they were saying. 

Christine dropped by to show us the outfit she had worn to the wedding.  Wow!   Looks like she upstaged the bride!

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The shutters in Carina's bedroom are the wonderful German room darkening kind, so Monday we slept until 10AM when the phone awakened us. Thomas, our German son, picked us up at 11:00AM and we took Rocky to Saalburg for a walk.  Rocky made sure to mark his territory at every opportunity.  "That's mine, that's mine, that's mine, that's mine..."

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We had a nice lunch in Miltenburg at the restaurant CentGraf. German restaurants are very pet-friendly so Rocky got to sleep on the floor next to our table while we ate.

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Thomas has lost 12 kilos since we last saw him!

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We took a little walk around the vineyards at Furst Winery before tasting the wine.

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For the first time, we tasted some really good German red wine!

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We bought a couple of bottles and Thomas bought a couple of cases. We dropped Rocky off at Thomas' house in Gross Auheim before going to dinner.  Thomas showed us where he sometimes takes Rocky for a walk.

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We arrived early at the restaurant Adolf Wagner where we were to meet Carina, so we had a few glasses of wine and bought some cheese bread from the roving pretzel man.

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The restaurant was another traditional Apfelwein restaurant, but we skipped the Apfelwein since we had already tried it. Thomas recommended that we try the beef in green sauce and the roast pork with sauerkraut. Both were delicious.

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Back at home, we finished watching "In her Shoes" and celebrated Bernd's birthday with Champagne and chocolate.

Tuesday morning, we got up at 7:00AM when our first alarm went off. (We had set 4 alarms and asked Carina to knock on our door, just to be sure the room darkening shades didn't make us miss our flight.) Carina left a sweet note and a egg carton full of kindereggs for us. She's a good daughter!

German security required that we put our liquid toiletries in their zip lock bags and they took my hair-spray, because the label said it exceeded the 100ml limit by 10ml. There was probably only 10ml left in it anyway. On the way home, between meals and naps, we watched a couple of decent movies, Little Man and The Break-Up. We were herded to a very crowded Immigrations line and then we had to wait in line again for another security screening just so we could leave the airport.

It was a great trip! It is good to see that our German children are doing so well. When we got home, our mailbox was chocked full of mail.  There's probably some for Carina so we'll have to go back soon to deliver it!

The American Parents
BJ and Tony
bjandtony@bjandtony.com

 www.bjandtony.com
bjandtony@bjandtony.com