It was a long day of driving today, marred by wrong exits (adding 40 minutes to our itinerary!) and bad traffic around cities, but we ended up in the Pyranees and the last hour of driving was absolutely spectacular. It also started off with a delightful visit to Michael’s ancestral home of Lusignan, also home of the legend of Mélusine… but before I get into that, I’m going to take you further backwards on our trip…
Our last night in my Oma’s home was also the final World Cup game. I’m generally not a watcher of sports, but it was very exciting to be in Germany, watching the Germany team win the gold. I was impressed that my Oma knew such a lot about the individual players and about the rules of soccer — pardon me, I mean football. I guess because I grew up with my dad being so indifferent to team sports, I assumed that was the attitude of the whole Fritzen clan.
Oma’s cupboard of mugs is a cupboard of childhood memories. Each of her grandchildren was allowed to pick his or her own mug from the local store called Hettig, and that was forever his or her cup to be used at Oma’s house. We often had hot chocolate from them in the mornings. I still remember that Heidi’s was the blue one with the sun and birds (or did that one belong to Johannes?), Victor had the rhinoceros, my sister had colourful balloons… Mine is the one with the multicoloured umbrellas.
Our first stop on our first day of driving was Bremen. It was fun telling the girls the tale of the Bremen Town Musicians as we drew close to the city. We impulsively stopped in the town centre since it was close to lunchtime and sought out this carillon concert (“Haus des Glockenspiels”), which Michael remembered from our visit here in 2001.
As you can see, the girls were captivated.
After lunch, the girls were delighted to see how many times they could spot the Bremen Town Musicians as we walked around town. (They are everywhere!!!!)
The Schnoorviertel is a touristy area full of shops and the girls were nearly in fits with all the things they wanted to take home. Despite that, it really is a delightful and charming place to wander, with some impossibly narrow streets (still with shops in them!) that make you feel as though you’ve discovered a secret passageway. This wasn’t even the smallest street here…
Our final destination on our first day was “Sneek” (pronounced “snake”) in the Netherlands. Beautiful architecture and canals abound, along with the singular sight of sailboats making their way across a farmer’s field (although, of course, in reality there’s a canal there, just where you can’t see it). It felt strange to me to be in a land where I couldn’t read the street signs, although Dutch is often just close enough to German (and at other times to English!) that I can figure stuff out. This jug at the restaurant De Lachende Koe (where all things are decorated with a laughing cow) made me laugh. I’ve always teased Michael that his Saskatchewan accent makes him pronounce certain words oddly. For example, he says “melk”, not “milk”. Perhaps he actually has Dutch roots?
The highlight of our brief stay in Sneek was visiting the sand-sculpting competition. This is an annual event and Michael and I both wondered how the sculptures could stay so well-preserved against the elements of wind and rain, as they evidently are viewable for a couple of months. This year’s theme was Hollywood. Halia’s favourite sculpture was this depiction of “Toy Story”.
And then the girls got to make their own sculpture!
There, now I think we are mostly caught up…
Except I haven’t shown you a thing from today, of course, and we saw some amazing sights. But now it is closing in on midnight. I am sitting on a comfortable bed in a perfectly charming bed and breakfast perched on the mountainside, with a five-year-old softly sleeping and waiting for me to join her. Outside, a rainstorm broke out minutes after we arrived, so we are soothed by the sound of raindrops on cobblestone, the rumble of thunder, and the soft, cool breeze that is a balm after two days of sweltering weather. I believe I shall sleep well tonight!