. This I knew because it was her license plate back in Canada. Greeted on the platform by Gunda, Erika, and Mareike. After getting hugs out of the way, we hoped into the car and drove back to the family home. It was nice to see familiar faces, especially during the holidays. The village itself when we arrived was even smaller that I pictured. It was maybe a village of a couple hundred people at best. I don't even think I saw a store while there. It mostly consisted of a collection of farms with dairy cattle and maybe half a subdivision added on at the side of it. It was nice and peaceful with the snow covered fields. I think the only traffic we saw was a few people getting dragged behind a tractor on a tobogan. Inside the home was different. There seemed to be family almost packed in every room you went into. Oma and Opa Herzog remembered me, smiled at me, said something german, and the only part of it that I really got was my dad's name.....Mego. I smiled and told them they are good and send their regards. Seemed to fit the situation. We went into the living room and took some pictures with everyone all together for the holidays in front of the tree. Gunda handed me a care packaged that my mom and dad sent with her to give to me. Marc and Andrea spoiled me too by getting me a gift. Very nice of them, but I would have been happy enough just seeing them again. We all settled down on the couches and got caught up. At the table, the Herzog crew was working on somwhere around their 5 puzzle of the holidays, which was a world map
. I remember someone asking where Ulan Batar was to try to put together some pieces. "It's the capital of Mongolia!" I answered. "Only you would know that!" Kevin exclaimed. I must say...My geography is getting to be top notch. That evening was Andrea's birthday. We all piled into the very large dinning room. There must have been close to 30 people spread out over the two tables. Everyone was laughing, drinking, eating....probably in that order. I have known these people basically my whole life, it was nice to finally see where they came from. They made me feel right at home. After the meal was done, we got the gifts and cards out of the way to start the party. Andrea being the good sport she was, even put on an adult diaper she got as a gift. It accented her pink cowboy hat perfectly. The party went into the night with people stopping by to give their birthday wishes. The night came to an end when the birthday girl was cut off for alcohol. She still had some party left in her, but I think around 2 am, everyone threw in the towel and called it a night. I stayed up with Marcus and Mathias, Gunda and Kevin's oldest two, doing some more of the puzzle late into the night. We were feeding of each others goofiness as I remember us trying quite hard to keep it quiet. Joke after joke, we decided to call it a night before we got into trouble for waking others up. These boys are like my younger brothers, so it was good fun hanging out. In the morning, everyone was moving a little slow
. I only had sometime to shower and pack my things before we headed back to the very train station I arrived from, hardly 24 hours prior. It was a lot of traveling to get there for one night. Brussels-Amsterdam-Rotenburg-Hamburg-Tensebuetle, which equalled somewhere around 14 hours one way on a train. And now I had to turn around and head all the way back to Amsterdam for New years. But it was completely worth all every second of it. Thanks to the Herzog family for everything, great to see all of you again. Hope to see you again sometime soon on the road. You tell me where next ;) Completely random side story that happened on the way to Tensebuetle. I was trying to figure out what platform I had to get on to take the train back to Germany. An older couple Wolfgang and Rene, saw me lost at Amsterdam Centraal. They looked at my ticket and told me to follow them, as they were heading in the same direction and could show me where to get off the train. Wolfgang was German obviously if you couldn't tell by the name, and Rene was from France. I sat with them on the train for several hours getting to hear some of Wolfie's stories from when he was younger and traveling. He had some good ones of his own. Rene and I spoke in french, about all kinds of things. She even spoke with the conductor to see what they could do for me, and train times because of all the delays caused by the snow. When we had to change trains at the Dutch and German border, they made sure I was with them and even saved me a seat with them on the ICE, the super fast train. Being in a train doing somwhere along the lines of 200+ kms is a wild feeling. The trains are so comfortable, it feels like you are in your livingroom with the world flashing past outside. I think the reason the were so helpful, other than the fact that they were just sweet people, was because I was the same age as their sons. They were such nice company and I just wanted to thank them for everything. Merci mes ami.
Tensbuettel......I didn't even know if I was pronoucing it right let alone geographically where it was. I had a clue that it was Germany , because I knew it was the home town of one family friend/nanny. She and her family are close enough friends that they may as well be family. It was also her sister and brother in law, Andrea and Marc that I stayed with in Olching, just outside Munich. Gunda and her gang from back in Canada, were all coming home for Christmas. It just so happened to be right around the time of Andrea's 40th birthday party. Since I only got to see all of them for maybe a day when I was home in september, I thought it would be nice to see them while away from home. They invited me to join them in Tensbuettel, which is in the north of Germany quite close to the sea. I arrived via train as I usually did anywhere in Duecthland, and knew immediately I was in the right place. I saw people walking around with winter beanie hats that said "moin moin". This meant hello from their area of the country