6 January 2006


This post and the 2 after it are in descending chronological order - because I didn't get to post them as the events happened - so here they are, all together!

We finally made it out of Berlin and took the train to Gottingen – a city almost in the very center of Germany. Another train-ride then took us to the town where J’s parents live, and where she grew up.

Christmas Day was spent with her entire family, and it was a great day. We ate and ate….and ate and ate! It was like that for the entire visit – J’s mother ran on clockwork for the meals. If we were late for breakfast, then breakfast was quickly followed by lunch which was always served at the same time – no matter what!

On Boxing Day, we escaped out of the house by borrowing a car and heading off into the countryside. The roads were really icy – black ice everywhere and J had to be extremely cautious. We drove through the Hessian district which is famous for the Brothers Grimm who lived in this area. All around we could see “reminders” of this fact – there were murals and statues of the various characters about whom the brothers had written.

M will never be able to tease or complain about her father again. Whenever we went anywhere in NZ with Dad, we always had to stop to see whatever hydroelectric power scheme was in the area – now we visit forts in Oman and castles in Germany with the same intensity!

Sababurg Castle is special – half of it is still in ruins and the other half has been converted into a hotel. We walked around the ruin area and up the South Tower before noticing that the weather was getting bleaker by the minute. We decided to head home before the snow came – but not before stirring up a lot of memories for J as we drove past her old school and she reminisced about her youth!

We made it home just in time. Within 30 mins it was snowing, and within 3 hours the garden turned from green to white.
Snow is a novelty for M – as she grew up in the tropics and in NZ, and to see snow in NZ meant that you had to make the effort to travel up some high mountains to the ski-field areas. It actually gets warmer when it snows – strange but true!

The next day, we went swimming! The town sits on a natural hot saltwater spring, and the council has built an amazing indoor complex for the people to enjoy. There are 3 different large pools of varying temperatures and salinity. 2 of the pools have outdoor swimming areas – and it was fun to swim outside for a while, surrounded by snow, with our bodies warm underwater and our heads freezing!

There are also fantastic sauna and steam rooms of varying temperatures and aromas, and a quiet meditation crystal room. We had great fun before going home...to yet another meal.

The 29th came quickly, and we said our goodbyes to J’s parents at the train station before heading for Stuttgart and our New Year’s Eve adventure.