So the Internet remains dysfunctional, so I'm sending this from school once again. The weather has been so cranky the past few days, so, naturally, when I decided to walk up to the school this afternoon it started raining like crazy. Fortunately I have a good case for my computer, but it was still really frustrating. But now I'm here, so I want to make the most of my time.
Over the past week Laura's family has been visiting. It's been fun to get to meet them and to see Laura interacting with them. It's always so fascinating to me to see people with their families when I have known them only as individual entities. This week she had the added job of being both a daughter and a new fiance. All very interesting.
This has been a really difficult week for me. My Grandpa passed away on Wednesday, and I've been trying to process all everything that goes with that, dealing with being far away from family in a difficult time, and understanding how to say goodbye without being present. I'll be doing a write up about him in the near future, but I'm not quite ready to do that. Anyhow, it was nice to have a little diversion to keep me from being too overcome with emotion. So on Friday, since I had the day off, I went with Laura and her crew to Nurnberg.
I've been to Nurnberg a few times in the past for Christmas markets. They have one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe, so it's super cool. It was fun to be there on a day when it wasn't quite so frigid and we were able to enjoy more of the old town. In the end the day was actually quite warm, so that was really nice. I didn't take a whole lot of photos, Laura's mom was on top of that enough for all of us, but I did get a few in. This first one is of Laura and Dan, the soon to be husband, and her brother Jonathan. We had to take a bus the first stretch of the trip due to track repairs. The next one is of really old building on the water.
We made our way up to the castle. It was really cool and I'd never been up there before. There was this super cool tower that we climbed up and I got a nice view out the cloudy window.
Laura's family is definitely not used to so much walking, but they were good sports, and in the end, all the stairs we hiked up were enough to make even my experienced thighs burn :)
We continued around the castle grounds and took in the lovely views. I also took the opportunity to pose a bit, cause I'm cool like that. Ha!
Laura's Dad is a history professor, so he had all sorts of information for us all day. It was cool to be with someone who just knew about the architecture and things like that. Who needs a tour guide :) We went into a little museum of ancient weapons at the castle and her dad and brother were like kids in a candy store. It was really great to see how excited they got about it all.
When we finished at the castle we had plenty of time for a leisurely stroll back through the old town, looking at souvenir shops, and enjoying the general beauty of the day. We made it safely back to the train station in time for a tasty little dinner of Doner Kebabs and Dr. Pepper. Excellent!
Things were all going really smoothly. My mind was well occupied most of the time, and I enjoyed the chance to play tour guide a bit. My German skills were the best of the group (really not saying much) and I had the most travel experience, so I was happy to play the part of travel mother. I'm pretty used to it. And I didn't have much to be responsible. The main thing was getting us safely back on the right half of the train to Marktredwitz because the train that leaves Nurnberg splits. I've done this trip at least 6 times or so, because on other trips to Germany I've often passed through Nurnberg, and I felt that I should be able to manage it yet again.
As we walked up to the train I looked carefully at the signs and what was written and was pretty certain that I had us on the right half of the train. In truth, I felt comfortable enough with my choice that I didn't bother to speak to the conductor when he passed by looking at our tickets. I thought about it briefly, but it had all looked so right. Even though there was a sign in the train that said a different town, I figured it was okay, because everything else had indicated to me that this was where we were supposed to be.
We arrived in Pegnitz, I looked at the board that told what time the two trains would depart, and suddenly felt a twinge of anxiety. Laura went out for some air and I asked her to check if we were in the right half, but she had no way of knowing, and I still felt like this half was it. I felt that way right up to the moment when I glanced out the window and saw the half we were supposed to be on slipping out of the station.
Panic seized me and I rushed from the train to the conductor. Mustering what little German I had at my command I asked if we were on the train to Marktredwitz and he just shook his head. He told me, all in German, that there had been many warnings, many signs. Then I told him straight up in English that I don't REALLY speak German. I explained, again in shaky German, that we had to get to Cheb. He didn't laugh at me, but he might as well have, because the situation was just that bleak. There was really no way we'd make it by train...the last train to Cheb was heading out a couple minutes after the train we were supposed to be on arrived in Marktredwitz, and the next train going in that direction would not come for another two hours.
I felt like such an idiot! Talk about an amazingly humbling experience! Here I had all these people in my care, and rather than making absolutely certain that we were doing the right thing, I let them all down and stranded us in the middle of nowhere Germany. With our rather pathetic mixed language the conductor convinced me that the best plan was to take this train the rest of the way because that station was better to wait at. Then we'd be there for another couple of hours until we could take a train part way to Marktredwitz and then make a transfer from there. I took in his words and looked at the little schedule, and just had to hope for the best.
I relayed the news to the rest of the group. They were naturally disappointed, and a bit stressed by the situation, but were also all very kind. I'll confess I did cry a bit. I couldn't believe I'd let my pride get so out of control as to get us into this mess. Definitely a moment to take pause and reflect on my own imperfection!
Anyhow, we made it to Beyreuth where they at least had a McDonalds. I insisted on buying everyone ice cream. it was the least I could do. We sat there and I could feel myself getting into a Hungarian fogadunk! Laura, however, saved the day. She pulled out the animal game we made up on our trip back from Sumava, and we began nominating people to make ridiculous animal sounds. Soon everyone was laughing, and while I still felt pretty awful, at least we were able to make some lemonade from those lemons.
We successfully managed to get all the rest of the train transfers taken care of correctly, and arrived in Marktredwitz around 11:30, a good two hours after the last train to Cheb. The next one would not be until 7:10 in the morning. Not exactly helpful. The train station was locked up tight, and we had to decide whether to take a taxi or try to find a hotel room for the night. In the end the taxi seemed the best idea. It took a little doing to find one for 6 people, but in the end it was all sorted out and we arrived back in Cheb around 12:30. What a day!
Yesterday the family headed back to Prague, and they flew out to the US this morning. I had most of the day to myself. It was good for trying to process life and the things that have been happening lately. A lot of tears, but also a lot of really good time spent with God. These times of sorrow really help to remind me that He really is the only One who is always beside me. The only One I can really rely on.
In the evening I went to a murder party. That was good fun. It was hosted by Jonathan and Roshani, and there were 12 of us there. Unfortunately, the native speakers were too short to go around, and in these parties it can be quite a struggle if your English is weak, but I still think everyone managed to have a good time. We dressed up in costume, and had some pretty entertaining characters. I was a German soldier. The man who was murdered was actually my fiance of all things! I was supposed to be a very angry sort of person, and I got to pull out my long unused German accent. I must confess it often slipped into a French accent. Don't know why that one is easier, but Jonathan and I both had trouble keeping it German. It was all good fun, so here are a few pictures of the mayhem.