Michael's Europe 2000 Tour - Week 7


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    Mon, 11-Sep-2000

Got up early for a change, even setting an alarm. Instead of being late for breakfast I was early, but I didnīt get a chance to eat for Ludger arrived to take me to his work for a day.

He works for a telecoms company and I wanted to take a look around. Unfortunately he works in SAP support/maintenance which isnīt really what I am interested in, and he didnīt know the people in the development area. Nevertheless I got introduced to some of his colleagues and I had some interesting chats.

The afternoon I spent in front of a computer, surfing the net and catching up on email and stuff.

By the time I got home again dad and Opa had already left to another wedding anniversary to which I wasnīt invited. Instead I spent a lazy afternoon outside in the sun reading my book. For dinner I invited Edith to a local italian restaurant. Unfortunately it was closed, but another one around the corner was open and turned out to be quite nice as well. A relatively early night followed - I had been totally tired all day from all my late nights recently.

    Tue, 12-Sep-2000

Today was our last day at Opaīs. I stayed and helped with the washing up and stuff while dad collected Arnulfīs car again. Then I sat down to talk with Opa. When dad finally got back he first wanted to clean out the car before we took off and by the time we were ready to leave Edith had prepared some lunch which we were then obliged to eat.

We did finally manage to get going - we had been invited to my godmothers for afternoon tea. On the way we stopped at a big shoe factor to exchange some shoes and ended up moderately late after a bit of a stressful drive. First things first, we had a nice big relaxing beer at Christaīs before getting into coffee and cake.

Since it was a nice day outside again we walked down to the Rhine and settled in a beer garden for another beer. Unfortunately we couldnīt stay long as Christaīs daughter still had to do her homework and itīd be pretty bad form not to do it in her first month of schooling.

We ended up staying for dinner before heading on to Helga and Stefanīs again. From here we are planning to stay until the end of the week and visit more people in the area. Looks like time is running out for a quick side-trip to Holland for me. Ah well.

Now we are sitting on the terrace, listening to the light rain, drinking beer, chatting, and Iīm tapping out my diary on a laptop. Life is hard... *grin*

    Wed, 13-Sep-2000

Slept in a bit this morning, but still managed to get up in time to catch breakfast. After breakfast dad and I went into town to take a look around. We climbed up to where the ruins of the Godesburg are, parts of which have now been converted into a restaurant and hotel with horrible-looking concrete extensions. But at least the main tower is still more or less intact. Unfortunately it is only open to the public on weekends, so I will have to come back another day to climb it.

From the ruins we had a great view over Godesberg towards the Siebengebirge (a local mountain range of seven mountains), so we settled down to enjoy the view and the sporadic sunshine. I ordered a hot chocolate, dad got beer, and we wrote postcards and letters while we took it easy.

On the way back down to the town we walked past an old church of which I took a piccy, of course, and the first building dad worked on during his builders apprenticeship. After more of a walk around town we stopped to have lunch, and then slowly made our way back home.

Dad took the car to buy some stuff, and I settled down to do some serious reading in the fourth Wheel of Time book. By the time dad came home it was already getting dark, and the other had come home as well. We had a little something for dinner, and then they all sat up chatting while I caught up on email and chatted to some friends over the internet... till about 3am... ahem.

    Thu, 14-Sep-2000

I slept rather later this morning due to my late night, but still managed to get some breakfast. Dad was feeling pretty tired, so after I had a shower and got ready for the day I headed into town by myself.

The main reason was that I wanted to get some information about the trains and to get a hold of a train timetable, but I also took the chance to look around more. I popped into some shops, bought yet more postcards, and finally settled down in a coffee shop with a nice hot chocolate to write them. After posting them (the same lady that had served me yesterday served me again today, and couldn't believe the number of cards I had been managing to send off!) I slowly headed back to the apartment, walking through some nice gardens and stuff.

when I got home, dad was playing Battleships with the boy, and then it was time for lunch. After lunch I tried to settle down again with my book, but they dragged me into a game of soccer in the backyard, ick, running around! It was fun though... despite the excercise.

In the evening I did get a chance to do more reading while dad and Stefan played chess. Later on after a very late dinner I got to play Stefan, and even managed to beat him in one game. Now it's quickly tapping out the diary before I head to bed as well - it's gotten quite late again!

    Fri, 15-Sep-2000

Got woken up by dad in time to watch the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games in Sydney. The ceremony was quite spectacular, but I'm sure I didn't miss anything for watching it from halfway around the world rather than just from 1000km away...

After the ceremony I had a shower and something to eat (breakfast went for most of the morning), and then I spent the afternoon awaiting a phonecall from my cousin while watching a documentary about whales. By the time I finally got through to them after getting tired of waiting for the call I discovered that the night's entertainments were cancelled.

Instead I headed via train to Engelskirches, north-west of Koeln, and got picked up by Bille, the mother of two of my cousins twice-removed or something like that. They live way out in the sticks, quite beautiful but not the sort of place you'd want to live if you have to commute to the city to work and stuff.

Anne, the younger of my cousins, was getting a surprise going-away party from her friends. She's heading to Dublin for a year to work and look around. The party turned out to be quite nice despite the age difference between me and most of the attendants, and the survivors headed to bed around 3am or so...

    Sat, 16-Sep-2000

Got woken up semi-earlyish (10am) for a nice breakfast while watching some olympic games events on the tv. Breakfast dragged out for quite a while, and afterwards we did a bit of cleaning up from the party from last night.

Kaethe and I headed out to nearby castle Grimborn in the drizzly weather. When we got there after navigating tricky one-lane roads through the hills we found out that the castle isn't actually open to visitors. It acts as a function hall or something, but that didn't stop us from wandering around the outside and taking a couple of pictures. That didn't exactly take all day, so we headed back home.

For the afternoon we finally settled on going to the House of German History in Bonn. Hmm, funny that, that's where I just came from, Bonn. Seems like I'm doing a bit of zig-zagging here.. The museum was quite interesting, covering the period from the start of the second world war to the present, illustrating in particular how East and West Germany's division started and grew, culminating in the Berlin Wall, and then on how the two halves reunited. There was too much information for one day, but the glance through it that I got was very informative.

From the museum we headed to a Thai restaurant in the centre of Bonn. The service was somewhat questionable, but the food was great. I tried some fried duck with vegetables and rice, Kaethe had some sort of vegetarian dish.

After dinner we headed back home. Kaethe wanted to try to find her way via Engelskirchen, a route she had never gone before - for good reason as we found out. We only had a high-level overview map with us, and got quite lost in between all the little villages connected together by windy little country roads. The dark, rain, and fog wasn't particularly helpful either, nor was the fact that the fuel-gauge was rapidly declining. Panic-stricken, we finally saw a friendly sign pointing to castle Grimborn, where we had been earlier, and only one wrong turning later saw us arriving back at her parents place with only a breath of fuel left in the car. We had made it out alive!

Not quite ready to sleep, we ended up watching old movies until about 3am or so, including 'The Colour Purple' - quite interesting, in german...

    Sun, 17-Sep-2000

Slept in a bit this morning, and then helped to set up the breakfast table. Kaethe didn't wake for at least an hour or so more but that was ok because I had some interesting conversations with her mother and step-dad, including genealogy. He's a count, so somehow somewhere I have important relatives I guess...

After a very slow and relaxed breakfast which included looking at some holiday pictures of theirs it was picture taking time, and 3 cameras flashed away for a while. Then it was time to head back to Bonn. Kaethe had to get going back to her place in Tuebingen where she studies history. She ended up dropping me off at Koeln on the way through, easier highway-wise, and I caught the train back to Bad Godesberg, and soon enough I was back at Helga and Stefan's.

I got roped into helping Stefan sort out his computers, and while we did that we also played some chess. I ended up winning 2:1, but I think that was more good luck than good playing since we were both a bit distracted. After dinner dad came back from visiting people as well, so we're all set to head off into the former East tomorrow morning.

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Last updated: 17-Sep-2000