Friday, September 9, 2011

We didn't get lost even once!

Where do I start?  Everything went like clock work today.  We had a nice breakfast at the hotel (50% discount since I'm a Platinum Priority Club member--Yes, you can be impressed), found our train with no hassle or chaos (like yesterday), got to the Budget rental car place in the airport without a setback, and then started on our way out of Dodge.

The rental car guy was darling.  I'm sure he took pity on two idiot American middle aged women because he upgraded the size of our car.  Trish reserved a "mini 2 door" auto.  It wasn't until yesterday that she thought that this might not accommodate 2 old women, 3 roller boards and 2 carry ons.  We came to the conclusion that we would either have to tie the luggage to the roof or I would have to sit on it.  Our sweet Budget guy gave us a 4 door with not only a back seat but also a trunk!  Who said Europeans hate Americans!?

Trish drives like a bat out of hell when she's in Europe, so we actually got to Haselünne in good time.  Matti called me when we were about half way there and asked me where we were and how much farther we had to drive.  Apparently, he couldn't understand me when I answered "Zwolle" but didn't want to criticize my pronunciation.

I can't believe that we didn't get lost even once!  Haselünne really is out in the middle of nowhere.  Almost as soon as we got into Germany the "highway" we were on became a 2 lane road.  Of course, we were behind a slow moving truck most of the way.  Even the "big" town of Meppen only has one intersection off this road.

Wilfried immediately came over to our car as soon as we pulled into the parking lot.  He looked at me and said, "Marti?"  Well, I thought he said, "Matti."  So I thought he was the German I've been e-mailing.  Then another guy walked across the street, and he was the guy I thought was Wilfried.  Nope.  Completely wrong.  The first guy was Wilfried, and the second guy was Matti.

Trish and I checked in, dumped our bags in this fabulous hotel room, stopped for a bite to eat and some coffee (tea for moi) and then walked around a bit of the town with Wilfried and Matti.  I must admit to getting a overwhelmed when I was inside the church.  I could just picture Casper the Casanova marrying his 40 year old woman (when he was 27).

We also saw the spot where the Kerkhoff home stood at 4 Hasestraße.  It's now an eye doctor's office (built in the late 1980's), but Matti found a photo for me showing me the actual home as it once was.  I called Dad as I stood across the street from it.

The church is absolutely gorgeous.  In all seriousness, to see the baptismal font where my great, great grandparents and great grandfather were baptized is incredible.  How many people can say they've seen that and touched that?  To know who stood in the spot I was standing in!  As I walked around the church courtyard, I couldn't help but imagine Anthony running into his school or going to mass.  I think of my great nephew and great nieces with my dad, their great grandfather, and I envy them this bond they have with him.  Even if they don't remember him, they will have photos with him.  Know that he held them.  But I don't have that with Anthony.  But my relationship to him is the same as Konrad's bond with my dad.  Or Ali's.  Or Karenna's.  Or Olivia's.

I also saw the spot where the Latin Boys School used to be.  This is the school that Casper, Anthony, and John would have attended.  It was bombed in an Allied bombing raid in 1945 and was completely destroyed.  It's literally next to the church, and it's amazing the church wasn't also destroyed.

We went to dinner at a very nice place about a 5 minute walk from our hotel (I don't think there's anyplace that's more than a 10 minute walk from here), and had a great time.  Wilfried sat next to me and, through his broken English, immediately got to the heart of the matter.  "Are you a Democratic or Republican?"  Well, I didn't want to get into a political "discussion," so I tried to lightly answer.  He would have none of that.  I had to answer this German truthfully.  "I'm a registered Republican."  I have no idea if he liked the answer or not, but he assured me the mayor (who's running unopposed) would be a "conservative Republican."  Now I can go to his reelection party with a clear conscience.

After a nice walk back past the non functioning train station, Trish and I have settled in for the night.  I don't think I've ever stayed in a hotel with a chandelier as your overhead light and can't remember the last time I had to use an actual key to get into the room.  But that's the way you roll in Haselünne.

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