June 2003: Germany

Thought it was time to update you on where I've been in the meantime… I still haven't gotten all pics from Egypt from Sibylle, so that will have to wait a bit longer – but just this month I took two short trips to Germany.

The first one was to my good friend Märrie, who lives in a village near Bonn. We had a wonderful time again – her family is lovely (and loving) and we drove all over the place, did some serious sightseeing and had generally a lot of fun together. She'll be coming to visit me again in October (when I'm back from my two months trip to New Zealand and Australia) and I can't wait!

We went to Aachen, where Charlemagne was crowned – a city full of interesting fountains, like the Puppenbrunnen (dolls' fountain).

On the way to Aachen, we stopped in Kornelimünster, a very picturesque little town.

Another trip led us to the imposing Marksburg, a still intact medieval fortress above the Rhine.

I felt very much at home with Märrie's family – they even invited me to a festive Whitsun lunch!

In Bonn there was a fascinating exhibition with replica of the famous clay army of the first Qin emporer. In fitting with that day's theme we went to see the movie 'Hero' that evening, which plays just during that time of Chinese history, before the kingdoms were united by the Qin.

That day in Bonn was an exception weatherwise – it was pouring as we walked through the gigantic park along the Rhine (the Rheinauen), and amused ourselves on a very funny playground… 🙂

Märrie also went to visit my grandparents' grave with me and helped me plant a rosetree there – it was a hot day, and afterwards we had icecream in the café at the village square. Childhood memories…

The second trip, following right after I returned from Märrie, was a trip to Dresden with my family, to a family reunion. My dad was born in Dresden in 1936 and lived there until after World War II, so it's a lot of family history on top of being a very interesting city in itself.

We were about 25 people this time around (it's the third reunion of that kind that my dad has organized) and were staying on a hotel ship, anchored on the river Elbe. We had a good 2 1/2 days together, and afterwards my family stayed for another 2 1/2 days. I had been in Dresden before, on the way to Prague in 2001, but my brother hadn't, and it was an interesting week, all in all.

Our complete family group on board of our swimming homestead, a YMCA ship on the Elbe.

An evening spent playing cards in the common room. Starting with myself clockwise around the table are my cousin Otfried, my uncle Gerhard, my brother's legs, my fourth (or something like that) cousins Maximilian and Arvid, and my second cousin Paul-Philip. You can't see my aunt Monika and Maxi's and Arvid's sister Franziska, who were also playing – other than myself. I amused myself by watching and peeking into other people's cards. *g*

But my favorite pastime however was looking after my youngest second cousin, Leander, the most content and happy baby on this planet (even if he doesn't look it in this pic).

After the reunion my parents took us to see the Elbsandsteingebirge, the famous 'Saxon Switzerland' – it was a lovely walk up a mountain, through a wonderfully shady forest.

Once we had reached the top (where we met up with uncle Gerhart and aunt Monika), we had a lovely view over cliffs and the Elbe. The yellow sandstone is typical for this area – most historical buildings in Dresden were built with it (as was the royal castle in Copenhagen). Unfortunately it turns grey, as you can see clearly in this picture .

At the moment I'm slowly growing more and more excited about my trip down under.

The first month I'll spend in New Zealand with friends that I met in California after graduation, doing what is called a 'field trip exercise' for my university major Cultural Anthropology. That means that I'll have the chance to learn about Maori culture, especially about the means and importance of transmitting identity-forming knowledge. Will be very interesting, I'm sure, and I am very lucky and grateful to have found in my friend Denise someone who knows a lot about these things and has great connections, enabling me to go to a camp for young Maori and talk to older Maori women.

After that I'll head over to Australia and will travel around the east coast there – and hopefully I'll see Adam and Willa again, who I met in Washington D.C. last fall. So yeah – this will be my big trip of this year. Can't wait and am enjoying the planning immensely (as usual)!

Hope everyone who reads this is fine and enjoying summer – and if you're interested in reading about my day-to-day life, you can check out my weblog on my new domain, chocolate dream. *hugs*

Edited with two more pics from Bonn that Märrie just sent me – plus I made an entry about her last visit in Basel.