The Adventures of BJ and Tony Morris

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Wehrheim, Germany
October 2007
"Attending a Wedding, the SMART Way"

When friends asked us what we were going to do on our trip to Germany, we said we were going to a wedding. The next question was always, "Oh, whose?" The answer always brought some puzzled looks. "Our daughter's mother is getting married."

Carina, an intern who stayed with us for 8 months and adopted us as her American parents, invited us to this very special occasion, the marriage of her mother.

We thought the timing would be just right for us to combine the trip with a visit to Oktoberfest, but alas, once again it was not to be. We have tried to get to Oktoberfest numerous times but so far, either our schedules or flight availability has interfered. This time, the problem was mostly our schedules, but as it turned out, I don't think we would have been able to get on a flight to Munich anyway. The wedding was on a Tuesday near Frankfurt, so we planned to go to Munich Friday, spend a little time at Oktoberfest and then drive to Frankfurt. Wouldn't you know it, we got invited to 2 parties that wouldn't let us leave town until Sunday? We're just too popular!

Leaving Atlanta on Sunday, didn't give us enough time to get to Munich, so we flew to Frankfurt. The flight, in Business Class, was delightful, as usual.

We rented a SMART car from SIXTI Tony had been looking at the SMART car for a number of years and had just recently signed up to get one of the first ones to be imported to the United States This would give us an opportunity to drive one before buying!

We have to give SIXTI a thumbs up on the rental process. It was exactly as expected and very inexpensive. There was no hassle over insurance or additional drivers. The only caution we would give for renting from SIXTI is that their included mileage is VERY restrictive (100km/day), so if you are planning to do a lot of driving, you may be better off renting from a different company.

We were very happy with our little SMART for TWO with the exception of all of the decals. We were a rolling billboard for SIXTI! Ordinarily this would not have bothered me, but I was a little concerned that it might not be appropriate for a wedding.

071001 (00) FRA Tony SIXTI Smart Car.JPG (55643 bytes)

The SMART had just enough space for two suitcases in the back. It was very basic; no glove box, no drink holders, no tachometer (Tony seemed to think that was important). When we get ours, we're going to upgrade to get whatever extras are available.

071001 (01) FRA SIXTI Smart Car.JPG (54544 bytes) 071001 (06) FRA Smart Car.JPG (58780 bytes)

071001 (07) FRA Smart BJ Tony.JPG (51049 bytes)

We were very happy to see Carina and her family. Carina was gracious enough to share her apartment with us once again. We took a drive to Bad Hamburg and enjoyed sitting in the sunshine with Carina and her sister Sandra at the Od-Odal. We had a freshly baked VERY HOT pretzel and a beer so we could pretend we were at Oktoberfest.

071001 (13) FRA Carina BJ Sandra.JPG (92536 bytes) 071001 (12) FRA BJ Bad Hamburg.JPG (84677 bytes)

Back at home, we took a short nap and then had some delicious Gulaschsuppe that a friend had sent over! We met the new step-siblings of our daughter, Steffi and Swen. Does that make them our step-children? Maybe. We are growing quite a German family. We have our daughter Carina, our younger older daughter Sandra (she's our youngest because we met her after Carina, but she is Carina's older sister), our son Thomas (Sandra's ex-boyfriend), our possible son-in-law Sinad (Sandra's current boyfriend), and lots of other "kin" of unidentifiable relationship.

Tuesday, the day of the wedding, we slept until 10AM! We're blaming the room-darkening shades. We weren't the last ones up though. Steffi had gone to Frankfurt the night before to party with the champion Women's Soccer Team and hadn't gotten home until the wee hours of the morning. We met for breakfast at the home of the Happy Couple, Christine and Bernd. They had been up since seven when Bernd had surprised Christine with a call from the local radio station. She was on the air for several minutes. This was not only her wedding day, but her birthday as well. They played the tape of the radio show for us, but of course, it was in German so we didn't understand it.

We wanted to get out of everyone's hair so they could get ready for the wedding, so we took our little SMART car back to Bad Hamburg for the afternoon. When we arrived, there were fruit, vegetable and meat markets set up all over the place.

071002 (01) FRA Bad Hamburg.JPG (75121 bytes)

We took a long walk through the town and then headed back to the same place we had been the day before. We were looking forward to another freshly baked pretzel, but this time, we got the "day old" version.

Carina wanted us to ride with her to the wedding, but Tony decided that we should drive separately in case we wanted to return home early. (This turned out to be a very good decision since we got home at 1AM and Carina didn't get home until 5AM).

We drove to Hessen Park for the wedding and helped unload the supplies. Christine's friend (the matron of honor) had her car loaded down with Champagne, Orange Juice and Pretzels. We loaded everything into a rickety wooden wagon and pulled it about a quarter of a mile down the cobblestone streets of Hessen Park to the little chapel. It took 2 trips to get everything delivered. I was glad I had listened to Tony's advice when he suggested I go with a pants outfit and comfortable shoes for the wedding!

071002 (09a) FRA Carina Tony BJ.jpg (55623 bytes)

The ceremony was in an old old building. Christine's dress was a beautiful quaint antique gown that went perfectly with the surroundings.

071002 (08) FRA Hessen Park.JPG (77897 bytes) 071002 (18) FRA Bernd Christine.JPG (74265 bytes)

The couple was seated during the service while the woman presided read from a 5 page document (in German). Occasionally they would stop to sign something or speak. A few times, there was laughter. Tony and I didn't know why they were laughing, but we laughed politely too, hoping that was appropriate. Carina later told us that one of the times they were laughing was when they noticed that Christine had signed the paperwork with her old last name instead of her new one.

 071002 (20) FRA Bernd Christine.JPG (63231 bytes)

Carina's friend Katherine surprised the couple with a song from the balcony after the ceremony.  She has the most beautiful angelic voice you ever heard, and to our delight, the song was in ENGLISH!

071002 (22) FRA Katherine.JPG (49710 bytes)

After the wedding, we all went out into the courtyard for a champagne toast. Tony and I helped open and pour the champagne. Every one stood around drinking champagne and chatting until it was time to leave for the reception.

 071002 (23) FRA Carina Hessen Park.JPG (57474 bytes)

We loaded up the wagon with all of the leftovers and headed back to the cars. our little SMART car in the procession between Sandra and Steffi. We drove, honking and waving, through the little town of Wehrheim on our way to the castle for the reception.

071002 (26) FRA Christine.JPG (68118 bytes)

The reception was VERY fancy! There were 3 sets of musicians, an elaborate buffet dinner, two slide shows and dancing. We were seated at a table with some very nice people who spoke pretty good English. German people are always apologizing that their English is not very good, but I am always amazed that they can carry on a conversation. My German conversation is limited to ordering beer, finding accomodation, eating (basic foods) and toasting!

Christine and Bernd went to each table and introduced all of the (~100) guests. We couldn't understand what they were saying, but when they got to our table, we were introduced as Carina's "American Eltern".  Everyone treated us like celebrities and seemed impressed that we had traveled so far just to attend the wedding.

071002 (38) FRA Christine.JPG (59876 bytes)

After dinner and the slide shows, the dancing ensued. Following the couple's first dance, Bernd danced with Sandra and Cristine picked Tony to dance with! Dancing is not Tony's favorite activity, but after a little encouragement, he whirled her around the floor a few times. I thought it was very sweet of Christine to choose Tony for a dance!

071002 (65) FRA Christine Tony.JPG (58504 bytes)

The party was still going strong when we left, but we had an early flight the next day so we said our good-byes. It was still a short night.

Carina got up to say goodbye to us the next morning, promising to come and see us again very soon.

The flight, which had looked very good the night before, was looking pretty iffy when we got to the airport. It started to look like there would only be one Business Class seat available for the Morrises. We wanted to be prepared to answer the dreaded, "Would you like to sit together in coach, or split up?" question, so we decided to flip for the Business Class seat. I wanted to play "Rock, Paper, Scissors" but Tony thought flipping would be easier.  He chose "tails" and wouldn't you know it? It was tails. The agent was surprised when we gave our answer almost before she asked the question. She laughed when Tony explained that we had flipped for it.

Coach wasn't so bad. I got an aisle seat and had a good book. Tony loaned me his new noise-cancelling headphones so I could barely hear the screaming baby in the row behind me!

It may be awhile before my next trip. I am trying to build up some vacation! I have made the statement that I am not going to take any vacation for the rest of October. Think I can stick to it?

The American Parents
BJ and Tony