This will be my last blog post from overseas, but I may wrap up with a summary after my return and a long nap!
Last time I wrote we were visiting Karolin in Dresden, Germany. What a beautiful place! Thank you, Karolin, for showing us around your city.
We left Dresden and traveled by train to Cologne to visit Chris, our second exchange student. He picked us up in a VERY small car! Luckily it was a convertible, because putting the top down was the only way we could fit our luggage.
We had a much needed rest, just hanging out with Chris at his place for a while. Then Tom joined us! Tom was another German student who was in Raleigh at the same time as Chris. He came from Bremen just to see me for a night. It was a reunion and it was awesome! We went out to a nice dinner with the boys and they even paid. Cool, huh? I like it when kids grow up. After dinner, we went to a bar for a few drinks and even Emily went in. They really don’t care who goes in and I’m sure they would have served her had she ordered.
The next day, Emily hung out with Chris while I went to meet a lovely student that was in my group a few years ago, Fabian, for a great authentic German lunch by the cathedral. It was great catching up with him and so kind of him to not only meet me, but come pick me up and bring me back so that I didn’t have to find my way. What a gentleman. Sandy and Mark Tippens would be proud!
That evening Chris and his roommates had a party! It felt a little bit like living in a frat house for the moment, although admittedly, it was a small “Frat Party”. It was great to see him living his life and enjoying his college years.
The next day we had a great lunch with another student, Alicia. I was so grateful to see her and get to spend some time with her at her uncle’s restaurant. Great food, great company! After lunch, we visited the cathedral and took a walk along the river. It was incredibly windy that day and a little damp out, but the weather couldn’t dampen our spirits, after all we were in a beautiful country, with beautiful people, what’s a rain drop or two?
It was time to say goodbye again and as always it was a necessary evil! Sometimes when you aren’t around someone for a long time you forget just how much you adore them. However, we had other people to adore, so it was on to Strasbourg, France! Yep, we went back to France . . . couldn’t get enough of the croissants I guess.
In Strasbourg we had the privilege of staying with Julia and her family. Her father, Dmytro had taken a few days off work just to show us around which was so nice. Natalie, her mother, made us feel so welcomed in her home! She made amazing meals, allowed us to do laundry, and practiced her English with us. We packed a lot in to just a couple of days there. We visited the old town, the cathedral, did a scenic river cruise and small town train cruise. He told us all about the history of Strasbourg and showed us the influences of both German and French culture on this gorgeous place! We went to see a castle too. However, I really think the two things I enjoyed most were seeing and hearing about his work at the Council of Europe and of course, MONKEY MOUNTAIN! Monkey Mountain is basically a huge monkey farm where you can go and walk around with monkeys all around you. They give you a little popcorn to feed the monkeys and they will take it right from your hand and eat it up. It was so cool! As for the Council of Europe, they deal with human rights violations cases from 47 different countries in Europe. It seems like important and interesting work for sure!
We left Strasbourg and flew to Bilboa, Spain to spend a couple of days with our Spanish partners. Antonio and his daughter, Andrea, greeted us at the airport. Bilboa and it’s surround area, is a beautiful place with both mountains and ocean. I found another summer home there in case any of you would like to visit! We went to the city center for a tour, ate a lot of pintos (no not the beans thankfully, rather their word for tapas), visited the offices and got to finally meet people I’ve worked with for years without really knowing! It was wonderful! We enjoyed an excursion to Mundaka. This is a gorgeous place where the Oka River meets the sea side village. It’s world-renowned for it’s great surfing and no . . . I didn’t try it.
From Bilboa, we traveled to the south of Spain to Sax! I’ve been to this place before, but just had to come again. I couldn’t be in Spain and not see my dear friends in Sax. Noemi and her sister, Anais, picked us up from the airport and drove us to Sax where we were warmly greeted by her family, our friends. I just love this place and these people so much! I hate that we only have a couple of days to spend with them, however, we have to get back to Holly Springs for band camp.
We’ve had an amazing trip, one that neither of us will ever forget. We are tired, but that great kind of tired that comes from doing something so amazing that you become exhausted from living life to its fullest! Can’t complain about that!
Until Holly Springs . . .