. One day shortly after my return, Katharina and I decided that we should go for a drive to do some exploring. In their kitchen was a very detailed map of Germany, showing just about every little town and village around. We decided, with the help of Ester, that we should drive up to Stade, in the north along the coast where we would be able to see the cargo ships coming and going through the channel towards Hamburg. We woke up early that morning, and headed into Rottenburg to stop in the market to get some fresh cheese, fruits and bread. I must say, now that I am actually gone from Germany, I really really miss that feeling of being able to go to one location and walk around from little shop or booth to the next. It is such a pleasant change from your monster grocery stores. I also really miss the cheeses. mmmmmmm. I could eat brie all day long! So once we had gotten everything we needed, Katharina, Palmero the dog and myself headed north. The roads were snow covered, but this didn't phase me at all. It was no different from back home when I would do the long snowy road trips to Ottawa for Christmas time. Zigging and zagging through several other little towns, and trying to stay off the autobahn as much as possible to see more of the real country side, Katharina navigated us to our destination with perfect precision. Now when we arrived, the wind was blown quite strong because we were right by the water, but it was still nice to get out and stretch our legs. It wasn't exactly the most spectacular setting, but it was still very interesting to see
. It was deceiving, because the landscape was so flat, and you could hardly make out where the land ended and the channel begun because you could clearly see the other side. But some how in the little channel, these monsterous cargo ships could pass through. From a distance, it almost looked as though they had run ashore. The road came to and end where there was a ferry you could take to cross, so I asked Katharina if she knew where it would end up.....she didn't know. We decided to go and park our car on the edge of the water and have our little picnic in the car as it was WAY to cold and windy to be doing it outside. It was a perfect little setup we had in the Volvo, and even Palmero got to have himself some grub. It was a perfect day trip. After we finished up, we decided to make our roadtrip a little more exciting, by taking the ferry to who knows where. I mean why not.....its not like we had anything else going on. We got in line and drove aboard when it arrived. We paid out 12 euro to go across, and it ended up taking us to literally no where. Infact, all we had done was make our ride home about double the distance as we would now have to drive through Hamburg. Oh well, lesson learned but neither of us seemed to get too worked up over the whole thing. We just laughed about it on the way home. I really had a fatastic day just cruising around with Katharina and Palmero. It's funny how sometimes the small things are some of the best things. Time to shift gears to a different type of event. As I mentioned before, it was getting close to Christmas time while in Ahausen. Which meant there was a Christmas concert being put on at Esters' school. Now since she worked for a school for children with special needs, the majority of them are such severe cases that they never really get to go out for even dinner in a restaurant during the year, as they would just throw things or make a scene. So the school puts on this christmas dinner in the gymnasium for all to attend, with some of the less severe children putting on a show for the rest of them
. Esters class was to be preforming, and since I had such a good time with them, I decided to join them and to see if there might be anything I could do to help. To my surprise, all of the students remembered who I was. We made it there just in the nick of time because of a snow storm. There are only 4 roads coming in and out of town and each one was backed up for miles. Germans being the people they are, were still riding they're bikes in the crazy snow, and in fact, going faster than the cars were. Katharina was also preforming at this concert, so we were really gettting pressed for time. I drove up to the front door and Ester and Katharina jumped out to go and take their places. I parked the car and quickly followed. I went to the back room to help the class get ready, spiking some of the guys hairs, putting maky up on them. I brought my camera as I thought it might be cool for the students to get some pics of them preforming when it was all said and done. When I pulled out my camera at first, many of the students were too shy and didn't want their picture taken, which I respected. Bt after they saw me goofing around with them, by putting head bands on that hold your hair back....and being bald, they were laughing and opening up. They began posing all together, and didn't want me to stop taking pictures of them. They also wanted to have a picture with me which was rather sweet. I somehow in the madness organized everyone to get together for a big group picture before they went on stage
. Language barrier or not, it was a great feeling and I felt lucky that I got to be a part of it. One of the best parts of my timings of being in Ahausen, was getting to be there for Katharina's 18th birthday. The day before her brithday, we decided to bake some cakes for the milestone birthday. I decided to make a cheesecake that my mom used to make as it was my favorite, and I thought it would be a nice treat for the ladies. Since I had no clue how to make a cheesecake if my life depended on it, I thought a phone call home to mom and dad was in order. Not only to get the recipe, but to say hello and see how they were doing and give them my weekly update as well. One thing I forgot to check was the time difference. Just as the phone started ringing it hit me. It was a few mins before 7 am Toronto time. A very tired sounded dad picked up the phone, but of course was happy to hear from me. My mom immediately knew that it was likely me calling, and she was I think a little less than thrilled of the timing of my call, but she was still happy to help me with the recipe. "Who else in the world calls at 7 am for a cheese cake recipe from the other side of the world??" she said. That's me. You just never know with me, I think its fun because I always keep people guessing. So once I aquired the recipe and from her, I bid her a good day, and off to the grocery store to buy the ingredients. Due to a small mathematical error, /like we were crazy when we came home with 8 packs of cream cheese
. Looks like we may have been having cake for a week. Katharina and I got cooking in the kitchen, and a big mess later, we had a cheese cake and a chocolate cake that she had made herself. Even though everytime I left the room, Katharina was messing the recipe and adding things, it came out looking perfect. Now just wait for a day until we can get our grubby little hands on them. Katharina was very much looking forward to her birthday as well, because at 18, is when you are finally able to drive by yourself. I was going to miss driving her to friends places and school, even though I only got to do it for a month and a half. Sniff sniff......she's all grown up now :p That night Ester and I decorated the kitchen with all kinds of balloons and streamers and ribbons. As usually, we were up late talking about who knows what over a tea. She told me that at 6 am, she was going to go into Katharinas' room to sing happy birthday before she went to school, and of course I wanted to be apart of that. So off we went to bed to get a couple hours of sleep before up to do some singing. When the alarm went off at ten to 6, it was rough waking up, as I think I went to sleep somewhere around 4:30, but this was one event I didn't want to sleep in for. I met Ester in the hall and we got everything ready, cake with candles, sparklers, princess tiaras....and when we were fully equiped we walked in singing. Katharina knew that it was going to happen, but she still woke up groggy with a big smile on her face. We had our breakfast in the decorated kitchen before the sun came up, then the two girls got ready for school and work, and I got ready to crawl back into bed. But before I went to bed, I ran out to catch a picture in the foggy wet morning of Katharina driving herself to school for the first time. One of the nights there too, Ester decided to host a raclette party. Raclette is a lot like fondu, except instead of dipping your bread or food in cheese, you had a pleathora of options to stick together into a mini pan, and melt it all together
. It made for a very social dinner, and afterwards we played some dice games and a stick like game that was a bit like jenga. Sounds easy enough, but after a few drinks and bellies full of tasty food, my hands were not exactly steady. Now hanging around the germans had started to rub off on me more that I thought, or maybe it was just Ester and Katharina that were the influence. They seemed to ride their bikes everywhere. I am so used to Canada that if you want something from the store, you just hop in the car and go. But for these ladies, an 8 km ride to town was nothing. I wanted to get back into riding a bike since it had been ages that I had really ridden a bike, excludiing my brief time in Holland. I had told Ester that I just wanted to go to the local bike shop to see what kind of bikes they had to offer there. And it just so worked out that she was friends with the store owner, who agreed to even reopen the store after hours just for us to come in and test some bikes out. When we arrived, a nice fellow by the name of Jens was very eager to show me some of his bikes, but even more so to do it in english. He already had a few options pulled aside for me. I test drove a smaller frame one down the road, and it felt alright, but a little tight for my frame. I then took a speed cycling bike for a quick spin down the road, and I actually scared myself, because before I even hit the top gear, I was going faster than I had ever gone by pedal power. Those things are super light and scary fast. As easy as it was to go quick, I needed something that could carry some luggage. That was when I test drove this Stevens bike, it was clasified as a trekking bike, and seem to suit all of my needs. Fast, luggage ready, bright lights, and felt amazing. I was sold right there. Even though I didn't have all the money on hand to pay for the bike, Jens totally trusted me to come back in the following days and pay him the remainder. So instead of putting my bike into Ester's bike VW bus, she suggested I should ride it home and get a feel for it
. It was 10 kms, which was probably longer than I had ridden in the past 10 years. The bike just felt as if it was an extension of my legs and seemed to glide through those 10 kms in no time. When I walked back into the house, and brought my new bike up into my bedroom, Katharina was laughing at me...."just going to look at bikes eh???" Before I left Germany, which was only a couple of weeks later, I had put on over 200 kms. It was a nice way to clear my head, get some excersise, and perpare for the next leg of my trip......... Thank you both you girls for putting up with me, helping me, entertaining me, and just being you. I can seriously say that Ahausen has been times I will never forget, and look forward to my return there in May. It just so happen to work out that before I left Ahausen area, Kronenberg, the bar/barn thing I mentioned in an earlier entry that has a party on the first friday of the month was going on. We went back to this place because it was likely going to be the last time I could go for a few months. When we arrived, it had more people this time than the last, and there was a live band playing some rock and roll. The fire place was pumped as it was rather cold outside, making it very warm and stuffy inside. We decided to go and play some games of pinball on the old school machine, when a funny looking character guy walked over and spoke to me in german, presumably asking if he could join in for the game. He was almost a cartoon looking like character, with a moustache that was twisted up and sticking out 3 inches in either direction, round glasses and a long twisted beard to match
. As the game progressed, we shared each others stories. He was actually a german, that had moved to Sweeden to join the circus to avoid the maditory military time in Germany, and had become a juggler. And he really looked the part. I swear, some of the stories I hear, are almost too outrageous to even make up. Some of the people that were at the bar were actually coming over to me and saying hi because they remembered me. You know that you have been somewhere for a while when you can visit a random middle of nowhere bar/barn, and people remember you. Ahausen was actually the second last place I was while in Germany, but for easiness sake, I have written all these stories together to save some time. Now I thought that I could stay in Europe because of my visit I had planned to go to Morrocco, but upon further inspection, I found out I was only allowed 90 in 6 months. This meant that I had to get out of the EU pronto, as I was somewhere around my 96th day, and in fear of getting booted out. Now I had a couple of options to look into. One was to get out now....easy enough. Second was to see if there was an extension I could obtain to stay longer...but no go. Third option.....marry someone in the EU. Now I know that my parents are likely both rolling their eyes just reading this...... but hey.....I'm crazy like that. After a day of weighing the pros and cons, I decided that it would be a lot easier and a lot less paper work...to just high tail it to Australia. It would be a great chance to visit my family down there again since it had been 11 years since my last vist. And to be honest......11 years too long. I will update the last few missing parts of my travels before getting to the Australia leg of my trip.....Coming soon I promise, as I am staying put here in Christchurch and doing some volunteering for a week to help out. Thanks again everyone for reading my gibberish, sorry again for the parts that don't make sense.....I hate proof reading......I need an editor!!! Much love from NZ.
Back to Ahausen again, but I don't say this as if it was a bad thing. I gave Ester a call shortly before my train rolled into the station and she came to my rescue....yet again. It was nice to be there, to have somewhere I could call "home" for a while, but also place that I felt so welcomed. The timing of my visit seemed to work out perfectly for Ester and Katharina as well, because I could help with the driving around, which I was glad to do as I missed driving, making fires in the woodstove, cooked the occasional meal, and Katharina's birthday was just around the corner. It's funny that a little town in the country side of Germany can hold so many stories from my trip. Where to begin telling some of these stories is the hardest part, too many highlights and great moments to remember. Instead of giving you a break down of day by day life, I think it would be more interesting if I told you MY favorite and funny moments. Now some of these stories are split up among the many times that I came and went from Ahausen to other cities/countries/towns, but you will get the just of it.....