We have been very busy and therefore have had no time to share our adventures with all of you! Last time we wrote we were heading off to Lyon, France. What a gorgeous city! We enjoyed touring around the city and seeing all of its splendor with Yvan. His parents and friends met up with us that night to see the fireworks display for Bastille Day. It was a lovely evening. One kind of cool / strange thing that happened is that an older gentleman continuously ran through the crowds to loud cheers and clapping. Apparently, this gentleman runs daily a lot and has become a bit famous there and the people he passes by cheer him on! Loved it!
Now for the fun part . . . we missed our train. Oh wait, that wasn’t fun at all! We couldn’t for the life of us find the train station or where to return the rental car and by the time we found a very nice lady who spoke much better English than my VERY rusty French, we had missed it. Oh well, we eventually made it there and got on another train (at a little extra expense of course). On to Tours, France to meet with BFF’s French partners.
In Tours, we were graciously greeted at the train station by our new friend Marie! She is amazing! I’ve worked with her for a long time, but had never met her. She showed us to our hotel, let us have a few minutes and then whisked us away to dinner at the absolute coolest crêperie ever! All the rooms in Mamie Bigoude’s were part of a house. You could eat in the bedroom, the bathroom, the laundry room, etc. Google it, check it out, and GO THERE if you are ever in Tours! However, the best part of our evening is that we also got to meet Marie’s soon-to-be husband, Marc, who is just one of the nicest people ever! And of course no dinner date is complete without an organic homemade ice cream cone in the city center.
The next day I met the staff at the French office which was terrific! I then went to Château de Chenonceau with my colleague and new friend, Nelson. Nelson is a full-of-life 20-something who works in the office during the summer while earning extra money for his life as a student. I enjoyed his company immensely!
After shopping for my next castle ;-), I had a little down time at the hotel and then it was off to dinner with my friend, Beryl, the head of the French office. Hanging out with Beryl is always a blast. I enjoyed our time together so much! We had a great dinner and walk back to our hotel. They really know how to host a friend in town! I felt very loved and taken care of. They were so attentive that Marie and Nelson both met us the next morning and escorted us to the train station to help us make sure we didn’t miss another train! Talk about service!
We were on the train and to the airport to fly to Munich, Germany. Once we landed safely in Germany, we were taken by private car service to our German partner’s office / home in Regensburg. Petra and her son, Alex graciously invited us into their home for two nights. They fed us and Petra helped me do our laundry! This may seem like a small thing to some people, but believe me, it wasn’t. Thank you, Petra, if you read this. Petra showed us around their beautiful city center and told us all of the wonderful history of this gorgeous place she calls home. She took us to her favorite restaurant, where she’s known the owner for 40 years! It was amazing, truly, our short time in Regensburg definitely makes me want to return. Great place! Fabulous people!
Speaking of fabulous people, besides Petra and Alex we also got to meet her colleague, Laura. Laura is a fascinating lady with a deep knowledge of European history, languages, and a laugh that is simply contagious. As if this wasn’t enough fun to pack into two days in this city, we met up with a previous exchange student, Ricarda and her boyfriend, Vincent. We had a birthday celebration dinner with them in our first German biergarten. We had schnitzel twice as big as our head!!!
The next day, we left Regensburg and although you might think that we would be sad to leave such a lovely place with such fantastic folks, you have to understand we were on our way to DRESDEN! That’s right, Dresden, Germany where we would be picked up by our VERY FIRST EXCHANGE STUDENT EVER, Karolin! You cannot imagine how excited I am to be here with her, in her grown up life, in her home! I’m so happy to just be in her physical presence. Today we went up the hill on a “flying train” (her words, not mine) and had a lovely view of the city, had a snack at her favorite biergarten, and then headed off to her parents’ home about 1/2 hour away. It was great to see old friends again and to meet her grandma too! What was most cool for me though was to see the scrapbooks her mom made of her adventure to America 9 years ago and in it was our ORIGINAL HOST FAMILY APPLICATION. Seriously, it’s amazing how 5 pieces of paper can change the trajectory of your life forever! We will stay here with Karolin and her boyfriend until Thursday morning. We will spend tomorrow touring the city of Dresden and Wednesday will be spent in the mountains. Looking forward to more fun with the one who started it all!
Until Cologne . . . .
**** please see more pics on FB page tomorrow . . . blog is being weird and not letting me upload certain photos.
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Sisters reunited . . . last time Karolin saw Emily she was 6!

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Emily and I with Karolin’s grandma, dad and mom

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Emily and I in a courtyard in Regensburg

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Birthday dinner with Ricarda and Vincent.

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The river running through Dresden.

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Lunch in Regensburg

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Karolin, me and Emily on the top of the hill looking over Dresden!