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We made it home late last night. It was a long day (31 hours!). Our flight from Munich was delayed by 2-1/2 hours, but it just meant that much shorter a layover in Detroit, which was still over 2 hours--plenty of time to get through Customs. Our luggage followed us without problems. Now we're just trying to get things put away and caught up here at home, and looking forward to meeting Baby Joanna.

We had a wonderful experience in Wittenberg, and look forward to going again in the next few years, whenever WEM needs us and our other commitments allow.

Posted by susanharold 14:35 Comments (0)

Munich

We woke before our alarm went off this morning. We had plenty of time to get ready and to do last-minute packing and cleaning. Good thing, because the taxi we’d ordered for 8:30 showed up at 8:00 and didn’t want to wait. Thankfully, we were out the door about 8:05 and at the train station in plenty of time. Plus, our train was 5 minutes late. When we boarded, the seats we’d reserved were occupied, but the people moved without argument. The ride to Munich was uneventful.

We walked from the train station to our hotel a few blocks away. That’s not fun with two heavy suitcases (at least they roll) and other things to carry. Although it was early to check in, we did get directly to our room. We dropped off our things and left again.

We walked about a mile to the marktplatz we recalled visiting last year. It was very busy, as they were celebrating their Pride Weekend. Lots of food and drink vendors, information booths, a couple performance stages, and people in all sorts of dress. We caught a glimpse of one guy in chaps and nothing else (maybe the same one from Wittenberg?), but otherwise nothing too outlandish.

We went to the Hofbrau Haus, because we’d recalled being there last year. It’s ginormous, and always busy. We each had a beer and some good German food. Then we went walking around again. We happened by the Munich Cathedral and wandered in to see it. The choir was warming up, then rehearsing in the loft, accompanied by a brass ensemble. The sound was glorious! We just sat there and listened for a while. I could have stayed a lot longer, but it was beautiful outside and we were in Munich.

We left the cathedral and went to a nearby cafe that had a neat fountain area. It was shady and much quieter than the Hofbrau or the marktplatz. We had another drink and just watched the passersby. One thing we noticed is that there is *a lot* more diversity here. Just sitting at the cafe, the people on one side were speaking German, on the other some Middle Eastern language, and across from us Italian. There were all different ethnicities throughout town. Signs and flags in support of Ukraine. And we heard lots of English, mostly Americans, but also some Irish and Scots. We’re just not used to that.

We saw some double-decker, open-top city tour buses, and we thought about taking one (we’ve enjoyed them in other cities). We looked up how long they last (60-80 minutes if you stay on) and how much they cost (€25 each—$45 for the two of us). We debated about whether we’d done that or not when we were here last. Then we checked out photos from last year on my phone. We took the bus then, and had photos of a bunch of buildings we didn’t remember or recognize. We decided that if it hadn’t made much of an impression, it wasn’t worth doing again.

We stopped for one last ice cream cone, then strolled back to our hotel for an early evening. Shortly after, we received an email, then a phone call, from our friend Carol, our Delta connection. There was a sudden and large change in seat availability on our intended flight to Atlanta tomorrow. So now we’re flying back through Detroit. Making that flight looks probable, but then Detroit-KC is questionable. There are no backup plans, so if we can’t get on the flight to KC, we’ll have to spend the night and try again Tuesday. A pain, but it won’t kill us.

We made train reservations to get us to the airport in the morning. That was an adventure in itself. The DeutschBahn app can be pretty slick, but also confusing, especially since it’s all in German. We’ve gotten better, but it’s still a challenge. Anyway, our flight doesn’t leave here until 11:30am. So we won’t have to get up TOO early.

Posted by susanharold 18:52 Comments (0)

Last (Satur)day

We slept well last night. The weather (heat and humidity) has broken. It's been a beautiful day, clear and in the mid-70s. We ate breakfast at the apartment. Harold went to put signs out while I started laundry and got showered and dressed. We knew we had lots of cleaning and our packing to do, so we got started on that. It went surprisingly well and took less time than we’d feared. We headed out to the office for the last time. The staff was too busy for more goodbyes, which may have been just as well. We cleaned up the office, deleted unneeded files and our browsing history.

We went to a museum we just learned about; Vaclav pointed it out Thursday on the way from S’Mack to Stammtisch. There’s an area called the Arsenal, extending a couple blocks behind the Alte Rathaus. It was a Soviet arsenal/camp during the GDR days. After reunification, the city decided to build a shopping mall on the site. (It’s very nice; we go there regularly.) When they were excavating, they came upon some archeological finds and had to stop digging to investigate. They identified artifacts from the ice age through medieval times and into recent centuries. They are now housed in this museum, which showcases Wittenberg history from its first habitation through the Reformation. We paid to go in, and it was good. But nearly all their signage was in German only, which meant we had to translate using the app on my phone (and that concerned them at first, since they have a strict no-photo policy). Within an hour, Harold was "museum'ed out" and wanted to get back outside to enjoy our last day. So we left abruptly. We'll have to go back on a future trip to take it all in.

We went to Il Castello, hoping to see our landlord Amor, but he wasn't there yet. Gianni/Johnny waited on us instead. We just had a drink and some appetizers. We told Gianni that we were leaving in the morning, and he soon came back out with a full bottle of the wine I've enjoyed there, as a gift. What a pleasant surprise! We're going to try to get it home, since there's no way I could drink it all tonight. There were a couple of American men near us at lunch, and we had a nice conversation with them. They were in Wittenberg for the day, on a business trip to Berlin. They're in energy technology, and do a lot of work with Kiewit and Black & Veatch in our area at home. After we finished lunch, we walked down to the Lutherhaus for the last time and sat in the courtyard for a while.

We came back to the apartment and relaxed for a while. We left a bit after 4:00 to go to the Town Church to prepare for worship. We had 14 in attendance today, mostly American, but also two from Switzerland and two from Australia. The organist was new, an intern, and his rendition of "A Mighty Fortress" and the postlude were outstanding. Everyone stood around for a while afterward visiting; we had to shoo them out of there. We walked back to the apartment to leave the offering and worship supplies, plus Pastor Craig's robe, and the lanyards from the Nehrings and us, for the Kukuks to deal with tomorrow. We also gave them one set of our apartment keys; we'll leave the others on the counter when we leave in the morning.

There was a choral jazz concert at the Castle Church this evening that we decided to go to; the Kukuks came too. We weren't sure what to expect. It ended up being a 3-piece ensemble: keyboard, string bass, and a drum set, and the keyboardist sang some too. They were all very talented. The introduction and explanation of each piece, plus any sung lyrics, were all in German, so I'm sure we missed a lot. It lasted later than we expected, so we came straight back to the apartment without stopping for a late dinner as we'd thought we might. We still have some cleaning and packing to do before we can leave, and we probably ought to try to get some sleep.

Posted by susanharold 19:51 Comments (0)

Final Friday

Harold went out to put signs out this morning; he took Steve along so he could note anything that had changed since last time they were here. Then they went to the office. I was dressed and ready by then, so I went and met them there. We spent some time going over the books and procedures, asking and answering questions. It's a bit cooler today, but the humidity is still high and it's overcast; it was certainly looking and acting like it could do something.

We came back to the apartment for just a few minutes, then headed out again to the Castle Church for noon worship. We went to the Tourist Information Center, across the street from the church, to watch and listen for Americans. We found a group right away, eight from Georgia/Florida who were traveling together. They were already aware of the service and planning to attend. When the doors to the church opened, we went in and started setting up. A few more people came in. Then a guy stepped in and said he would attend, but he wanted to check with others in his tour group to see if they wanted to come. They did. Then another group came in, and another. Then I got a message from my friend Robert Moore from Leipzig, saying he was in town and asking where we were. About the time I was responding, Harold saw him outside, with a group from his home church in Houston, and they came in. Harold ran across the street to the office twice to print more bulletins. We ended up with 65 in worship, crushing our previous record. Mostly Americans, with just a few Germans and a couple from India. It was so cool! "A Mighty Fortress" was a capella (we only have an organist on Saturdays), but with so many it was still great. A guy threw in a descant on the last line, and there was harmony throughout. Very moving.

Afterward, Robert said he'd reserved a large part of the Wittenburger for lunch and invited us to join them. Can't go wrong with a group of young people (and oldsters like us) with great burgers, fries, beer and fun conversation. We wished Robert a happy retirement and promised to keep in touch and to look him up if/when we return to Germany. By the time we left the Wittenburger, it was drizzling, but it had finally gotten cooler.

The kukuks came back to the apartment with us to see it and so we could share instructions, hints and tips. We also made arrangements for the switch on Sunday, the exchange of keys, etc. We already have leftover food of theirs in our refrigerator, that will be waiting for them when they move in.

We counted offering, then went to the office to record it and the attendance from today. While we were there, we also had one of the girls schedule a taxi for us for Sunday morning, to take us to the train station. We're getting ready, physically and mentally, to return home. We'll do some cleaning tomorrow, although the place isn't TOO filthy, and will need to pack as well. Plus, we found out there is another free concert at the Castle Church tomorrow evening. Some kind of choral jazz thing. We'll probably try to go to that if we can.

We ended up watching the news late this afternoon, because of other things going on. Nothing materialized for dinner plans with the pastor or the Kukuks. We were glad to stay in and finish our leftovers from S'Mack from the other evening. Then for dessert we had some Czech wafers that the Richters had gifted us with that evening. The box held seven of them. They're big--6-7" in diameter--but light and crisp and barely sweet. Very good, and we have more left for tomorrow.

We went for a walk because the rain had ended and I still needed some more steps to make my goal for the day. I'm now at 47 days in a row. I'm sure I won't continue this EVERY day once we get home, but I'm determined to keep it up until then. Now we're back in for some television and/or reading.

Posted by susanharold 17:52 Comments (0)

Last Thursday

We've been gradually planning for our departure and the arrival of new DDs, Steve and Deb Kukuk. We got up this morning and ate breakfast in, getting rid of some of the food we've accumulated. I got dressed and ready while Harold went to put out signs. It's warm and very humid here today, with a chance of storms and maybe even severe weather tonight and tomorrow; it will only be in the mid-60s tomorrow. It was miserable when we were out running around, made moreso by the fact that there's no air conditioning to escape into.

After Harold got back, we went to the grocery to cash in our plastic bottles and to pick up some bananas that we can eat in the next few days and/or take on the train with us Sunday. We walked to the train station to meet Steve and Deb; their train was late and seats were double-booked, so they had a miserable trip. They were exhausted and opted to take a taxi to their hotel. We decided to walk back to our place; because of their train being late, we had to miss our last free Thursday noon organ concert at the Castle Church.

As we were walking, we got a message from the Kukuks that they'd decided to have some lunch and invited us to join them. So we met them at the hotel and went to a sidewalk cafe. We had kind of a rushed lunch because we needed to be at the kapelle in time for our 2:00 service. Harold had met a couple from Atlanta who said they might come, but they didn't. While standing by the kapelle, we encountered a family of seven from Montana, and we pressed them to attend worship. So we were all set for a crowd of nine Americans (counting Steve and Deb), but then the Montana family said they were hungry and needed to eat (we're not sure if the kids were "hangry" or if the parents merely used them as an excuse), so they left before service began. No one else came, so we called it a strikeout and we all left too.

We returned to the apartment, where Harold dozed and I read. He left to go put signs away. We left together about 4:40 to walk to a restaurant called "S'MACK," a Ukrainian place which has been here for a while (since before the war). We'd arranged to meet Vaclav and Paulina there for dinner; we weren't sure what Ukrainian food entails, except that we saw borscht on the menu. After, we planned go to Stammtisch together. We wondered if Kukuks would show up, or if they would just go back to their room and collapse.

We had a wonderful meal at S'MACK (not sure what that means). They brought shots of vodka with our meals, and if we drank any, they refilled. It's just part of the service. We had food and vodka leftover. Paulina said her goodbyes afterward; she wants to improve her English (which is already far better than our German), but doesn't feel up to Stammtisch yet. It was a great turnout tonight, with lots of the regulars and two new people (a theology prof and his wife from the States who come to Wittenberg regularly). Steve Kukuk made it, but not Deb. We had fun and great conversation. We're trying to talk Vaclav into coming to KC to visit; we've promised him great barbecue, and we're looking for a good concert to bring him to (he's a great American rock fan).

We'd heard there were storms in the forecast this evening. Some at Stammtisch were skeptical, but it began blowing about 9:30. We helped get dishes and tables inside, then walked home in the rain. About the time we got to our street, it opened up and poured. We were soaked, but the drop in temperature will make the sleeping much more comfortable tonight.

Posted by susanharold 19:57 Comments (0)

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