USA Bound

Day 42

Up by 5:00AM, and out by 6:10. We headed to the airport right after breakfast. All five of us packed into Annegret's car and went on our way. Annegret was driving really fast on back roads, because we were a little behind on time. When we finally got to the Autobahn, the car overheated. So, we had to pull over and give the engine some cool water. Then we were off again.

Not long after, we hit traffic. Luckily it was not at a standstill. We slowly, but surely, made our way to the Tegel exit. Eventually, we got to the terminal, only ten minutes late. I checked in and got my tickets only to find out that my flight had been delayed for another three hours. This turned out to be a good thing because that meant three hours less in Newark.

So, for the next two hours, I played Mühle with Doreen and Annegret on a miniature travel board. I also gave Mathilda a present I bought for her yesterday, a baby horse figure. Eventually the time came to say goodbye. We stood in-line waiting to go through the passport check point, while Annegret and Mathilda schmoozed with the people at the ticket counter. Mathilda had them wrapped around her finger. Before it was my turn to go through, Dietmar shook my hand, Mathilda and Doreen gave me a hug, and Annegret told me that we had a beautiful time together as she hugged me.

We both had tears in our eyes, and I was lost for words. But in that moment, we both understood what we wanted to say. We mourned the moment of departure while taking joy that we had such a memorable time together, knowing that I would come back. I don't know how to put it into words or explain why it is so important that I come back. I have discovered a part of my Oma in Germany that I wish I could have known better while she was alive. Her sprit touched the lives of so many. And as I have walked in her footsteps for a bit, I understand. I understand the beauty of the culture and lifestyle she held onto. I understand the importance she found in family and friends. I understand her soul a little bit more. And as Annegret and I shared a blurred view of eachother, I saw the love that is more valuable than any material item man could ever attain. After I went through security, I caught one last glimpse of Annegret and Dietmar. I put up my hand and made the sign language "I love You." Then Annegret raised her hand and made the same.

Today was not a goodbye. It was the day I received a key to the door that Oma and my father have worked so hard to build and maintain. Today, I have added to a legacy.

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Wittenberg, Germany (Round Two)

Day 41

I woke up this morning and worked out while packing before going down for breakfast. After breakfast, Dietmar and I went by bicycle to the newly renovated swim hall. Then we went to the supermarket so that I could buy some chocolates to bring home as gifts. We ate lunch at home, squash with duck and rice. Then after my call to America, Annegret came home with Doreen and Mathilda.

Shortly after cake, Doreen and I left to go buy a few more presents. When we came back, some relatives had stopped by. So we all took a walk to the Elbe. The weather was absolutely amazing. The sun was shining, wind was blowing, and it was warm. We threw rocks in the water and as they sunk, I started to realize that it was my last day with an amazing part of my family.

As we walked back, I realized how bitter sweet leaving is and how important the connection to my second home. Tomorrow is going to be a sad goodbye and a long awaited return. I cannot wait to be home, but I will always hold on to all that I have experienced and come to love. And I am so glad that we ended the last day playing Mühle and Qwirkle after dinner. I will miss Mühle with Annegret...until next year! Early morning and long day tomorrow...time for bed.

Berlin, Germany (Round Two

Day 40

After breakfast and a game of Mühle, Dietmar, Annegret and I left for Berlin. We took the train, and arrived in Potsdamer Platz. We looked at the Sony Center and where the Berlin Wall used to be before leaving to go see a museum in another part of the city. The museum was right outside of a train station, and after WW2, the building was used as an intake building where the people from the east had to go through before being able to take a train to the west. The museum was cool, and I learned more about how the wall fell in '89.

After the museum, we ate at a local restaurant were we had Flammkuchen, a thin pizza with sour creme and bacon. Then we headed towards the Brandenburg Gate and saw Hotel Adlon. We then made our way towards the government buildings before heading to the shopping district. We went to KaDeWe, a really expensive/exclusive mall where all the major designer stores were. We went to the top floor of the mall, where there was an American products section. There you could buy American products for a premium price. For example, a small jar of peanut butter, which is not a normal product in Germany, is 5€, which is around $8. In this section, we found root beer, Doreen's favorite drink/birthday present her parents get her every year. When we were finished, we headed back to the train station, shopped a little, then caught a train back to Wittenberg. Then back at the house, we ended the day with a Mühle battle. Last day tomorrow...bittersweet.