Also, sorry in advance, because this is going to be a very long and badly written blog post.
Deutschland was gorgeous. Unfortunately (and embarrassingly), I've pretty much forgotten how to speak German over the past six or so years. I pretty much learned German alongside English as a first language when I was very young, but I haven't spoken in years and so I've largely forgotten it. Luckily, by the time I left, I could at least understand most spoken German, but it's still difficult to speak. It's very tempting to take some German classes the next few semesters.
I arrived sometime on the 28th, early in the morning. For four days, I stayed with a close family friend in the town of Nagold, not far from the vast Schwarzwald (Black Forest) and also not very far from the Alps. I timed my trip very well: every two years, in the German province of Baden-Württemberg, there is a garden show, hosted by one of the various cities or towns in the province. This year it just so happened to be in Nagold. I'd been to the city often, on every previous visit to Europe in fact, and it really impressed me what they had done. Decorative flowers all over the place, and wonderful new technologies and creations all over. It struck me that the show wasn't so much about gardening, but about a whole new way of life; one in which humans respect nature and thrive in it, rather than use and destroy it.
My hosts were Ursula Christa Schmidt (Uschi) and her son Marcus. Part of the reason I had come to visit was because Uschi's husband, Helmut, had died of a heart attack a few months earlier. It had been completely unexpected, as he had been in perfect health the day before, and even the morning of.
|Uschi and me|
|Marcus and me|
The garden show was spectacular. They made some incredible sculptures (I have a few earlier in the post) and built some very interesting structures. For instance, they built, out of wood and meshed together with a number of living flowers and trees, a small outdoor church that holds services every three hours in the daytime. They had also replaced an old playground that I remember climbing on and running around on with two new ones, in two different sides of the city.
|The Schlossberg overlooks the town of Nagold from the top of a large hill|
I could say a million more things about Germany, but that was only one leg of my trip, so I'll cut it short here.
|From left to right, my grandfather, my great-aunt |
Nuria, my grandmother, and my cousin Saskia
|The truck-stop (our business venture)|
|The wedding tent. The lights in front are a|
sea of candles lit as a surprise for the bride.
The day after we arrived, we were all rushed off to a wedding. This is probably a pretty good example of what Romania's been like so far for us three grandchildren (Byron, Saskia and me). We have no semblance of what the plans for the next day might be until that day comes; in general all we can do is be told where to go, and when to be ready to be picked up by whoever might be driving us around. It's really quite confusing and overwhelming. Anyways, we went to a Baptist wedding at a house on a hill that Daniel has constructed. Since it was Baptist, there wasn't much drinking. (I couldn't tell you why, since I'm not a Baptist).
|Robert (Daniel's son). His uncle is a pastor. (Like, actually)|
Finally, on the 5th was the dedication. a small crowd gathered, including several journalists, as a memorial to my great grandfather was opened. The mayors of two different towns gave speeches, as well as a historian who had done research on my grandfather's family for a book about my great grandfather. (My grandfather says that she probably knows more about his family that he does himself). The memorial was quite nice, containing numerous photographs of my grandfather or his factories and steel mills. In one room they even had a perfect replica of his desk (or perhaps the desk itself).
This part was a little bit overwhelming. There were photographers everywhere, and I must have had my picture taken a million times. Apparently, I might also be on TV here...I don't think I much enjoy being a celebrity, even if only a minor one, so I'll be happy to leave that behind when I go home.
|Some buildings in the city are |
ugly and dilapidated
|Others are nicer looking|
|An entertaining parking sign.|
Anyways, that's my Europe trip. Sort of. Pardon whatever typos/grammar errors there might be...I don't really want to go through and proofread.