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Wednesday, March 27, 2002 5:53 PM
I apologize for the group letter, the typos and
the grammar in advance. This
is long and of course time is limited as always. Please feel free to forward
to anyone and everyone as I am working from memory on email addresses.
We arrived in Frankfurt on Mar22 at 0900 (approx
0300-USA time). It was a
stressful and crazy trip. We were supposed to fly direct to Frankfurt from
Charleston, but ended up getting detoured through Atlanta and having to check
all our luggage out and then in again. One flight attendant made us sweat
considerably as she almost didn't let Koshka the cat get on the flight with
us. We were our usual persuasive selves and needless to say she made it
over. She was extremely put out about having to be in a cage for about 24hrs
before being let out and promptly peed on the carpet of the Captain she is
staying with from Treb's office. I was ofcourse, mortified--since that time
Koshka and Cpt. Ruckno have bonded and I wonder if I will ever get my cat
back! We are waiting for permanent quarters before being a family again! I
miss my cat!
The Friday we arrived was unbelievable.
It is so hard to describe b/c I was
so tired. I slept about 3-4hrs on the plane--Treb slept intermittantly. We
took our first drive on the Autobahn from Frankfurt to Wurzburg. It was
rather dissapointing. I don't think we went over 140kph. The cars over here
are so Euro....Some really ugly Fiats, fords, mini's and smart cars abound.
HOwever, there are also really sweet looking beemers and mercedes. Treb is
dreaming of a "mac daddy" 750 Mercedes the XO is trying to sell. He also
would settle for a porche!:) Once we got to Kitzingen (our post town) we
drove all over inprocessing and meeting people and seeing things. I was
definatly on over drive and had met my cupful. I was sooooo TIRED! Our
sponsor was trying to keep us up past 1900 so we wouldn't get jet lag and I
was about to die. We finally got into our guest house about 1700--our sponsor
wanted to take us out again at that point, but I had had enough. I freely
admit I cried, begging just to have a shower and rest a bit! We decided to
call it a night. I finally got clean after about 36hrs w/o a shower and felt
more refreshed. We went to a local pub and got our first german meal--
bratwurst and fried cambert and ohhhhhh ymyummmmmmmmy the BEER is SOOOOOOOO
good! I think our first beer did us in and we stumbled back to bed to fall to
sleep for a blissful 15hrs!
On Saturday, our sponsor family picked us up and
we again rode to post to play
in the gym and then to another base to go to the commissary. I wish I could
describe everything. It is beautiful, unbelievable, but frustrating. I
wasn't prepared for the amount of culture shock that I am experiencing. It
drives me nuts not to look at a menu and know what I can order! The Germans
are also a lot colder and not as approchable as a lot of americans. You don't
say hello to people when you pass them and it is rare to see a smile.
Cultural and driving practices are so different.
Sunday it snowed a bit. It is soooo cold.
I havn't adjusted to the fact that
70-80 degree weather is over for awhile. We stayed at home and were bums most
of the day. Sunday, everything closes in Germany and we like to call it
walking day b/c everyone gets out for a walk. We did as well and it was quite
brisk. the town we are staying in, Ipofen, is an old walled town dating from
the 700's. It even has an old moat that is not filled in. It is very pretty
with cobbled streets and a bakery within walking distance. Oh, I just found
out that in Germany it is illegal to wash clothes on Sunday...get that!
The language as been more frustrating than I
thought. People speak less
english than I imgained. I've learned to order Ein Bier, Ein bratwurst, ein
salat, und ask for die richtnung (the bill). Pizza is very big over here and
Sandra would LOVE the salad the italian place makes....it was great. The
local wines and beer are good--note to jim and julia--COME SOON--die bier ist
Treb and I have both passed our driving tests
and are now German drivers...it
is so different and feels a little backwards. We will be driving on our first
Autobahn tomorrow when we go pick up the car. We are still looking for
housing, but as soon as we have something, feel free to visit. Much love to
you all and we miss you. Write soon and we also will send more news ASAP.
a and Treb
P.S. The military beauracracy is as bad as it can be!:)
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Sunday, March 31, 2002 5:47 PM
Happy Easter Everyone! We finally got to a computer again for an update,
unfortunatly our communications will be sporadic until we get better
equipment, probably when we get a home. You can forward this again, and
please do, b/c I still don't have my email set up w/o my computer. We are
having a good time. It has warmed up to the upper 60's and no further snow
since our first saturday. We have been out walking about as that is the
national pastime after drinking beer and making wine. I still havn't gotten
used to some of the German mentality, but we can live with it. We definatly
feel more free since having our car, she LOVES the Autobahn and the
roads....it's amazing how cars remember where they came from :) We have had
some funny things happen. Treb went out one day last week to the Pizzeria to
get food and bring it home--i was feeling kind of under the weather--he was
speaking to an Italian that didn't know much German or English. I had told
him to get me an artichoke, onion and mushroom pizza (I had gotten this before
and we knew what we were ordering) however, when he got home he had a
anchovie, caper and onion pizza gross!!!! his pizza was ok, but that whole
day was kinda crappy and just topped everything off! Learning to recycle has
been tough. The German recycle 70% of everything they use and they do it
themselves. We went out to the recycling center with all our garbage
yesterday and was dividing it all out. One guy was trying to help us and at
one point, just took one bag said, "shhhh" and dropped it in a container! it
was funny. Shopping is also huge here too and I can't wait for CC to go with
me to downtown Wurzburg. They don't have malls here, so the old shopping
district is this cobbleston area with shop after shop. it's really neat. We
had this delicious sausage on a hard french roll from a vendor that was sooooo
good. We havn't gotten used to no ice in drinks yet and the coke here tastes
like crap--it's like the recipe they came out with in the 80's. Speaking of
the 80's, the germans are stuck on some really weird music. Cindy Lauper,
Elton John and Billy Joel are played all the time here with some mowtown and
beach in between. We have a line on a house in Volkach about 15 minutes from
Treb's work and 25 from Wurzburg. I still don't have a job, but Treb's boss
is trying to get me into the clinic here. The nursing economy is a lot
tighter here than I thought. Still no word on Grad school, will let you know
more on that. We definatly won't be moving into anything until after 15th of
April, so keep in mind that communication will continue to be sporadic. Y'all
can use the cell phone number we sent, so go ahead and set up international
calling if you love us that much! When we get out phone set up it will only
be like 4 cents a/min so we will call much more. Koshka is doing well and
misses living with us. WE will write more, but that is about all the news
right now. We love you and miss you and can't wait for the visits.
lvoe a and t
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Saturday, April 26, 2002 1:47 PM
We had another good and busy week. It's
beautiful here and the weather has
been perfect until today when it got cold again--it's still beautiful and
sunny, but since we don't have access to Weather.com, we weren't really
prepared for the cold snap. All the flowers and trees are blooming and it
just incredible. I started off today going to the local German market. You
take a basket with you b/c you have to pay for a cart--one day we didn't
this and Treb and I were carrying around our groceries in the store b/c
neither of us had a one euro coin on us...it was pretty funny. I now have
shopping basket--I am becoming very euro.....We have both fallen in love
being able to get a hot bratwurst on a hard french roll...we usually get it
when we are in the downtown Wurzburg area in the marketplaz....It is sooooo
good. Better than anything in the states....the italian food is also fab
around here. neither of us are really having problems eating! it's a good
thing we walk everywhere b/c we would get fat otherwise! AFter the
market...we drove into Wurtzburg to see the Bishop-Prince REsidenz
Palace...man o man....it's really pretty and amazing the restoration they
done where it got damaged in the greatwar. it also emphasizes how corrupt
religious sector was at that time. It was pretty cool and the gardens on
grounds are great. We are on post now, going to run some errands and then
see the cat. We think we have found a home! It is in a tiny town called
Frohstockheim about 5-10 mintues from where Treb works. i will have to walk
to another near by town to go to the market, but it's got a great view.
a 2 bedroom flat in a row of houses about the size of you little house in
The kitchen will be difficult, as it doen't have much storage room. I will
definatly have to buy a china cabinet while I am here. We will also have to
get another wardrobe as the German's do not build closets in their homes.
other than that, so much of everything around here reflects German
practicality. It's hard to describe. They are smiling more now that the
weather is nice. Treb says that I should tell you all my embaressing story
about going into the backeri and trying to order in German...I accidently
ordered a "shit croissant= scheis croissant" instead of a schoko
croissant=chocolate croissant---we have laughed about this a lot, the funny
thing was, I didn't realize what I had said until I related the story to
Treb...it explained why the woman at the counter was laughing at me! This
certainly goes down into funniest German stories.... now I am kinda of
to pronounce anything! We still havn't found Treb a car or me a job, but we
are just both enjoying our experience a lot. There is a nice group of
around here we are looking forward to knowing. Treb was promoted to Captain
officially Friday....I got to pin his bars on him and everything. it was
and they had a reception and stuff. I know I will be asking for clothes for
Christmas, b/c I just can't find stuff i like here. it's not very normal
looking to me. I probably will be asking for my favorite stuff too, b/c
not always easy to find stuff here. i have no idea even what size I where
the european equiv. to US women's sizes it's another number I don't
understand and I don't know what size shoe I where either. I am a little
chicken to ask b/c the German's are so stern, but i will get the nerve up
soon. The toy stores are great--the nieces and nephews will get some cool
gifts this year i promise and Alice will die over the chocolate....Someone
also needs to teach these people how to drink coffee out of a BIG to go cup.
Here you have to sit and drink out of a small demitasse cup. It's the very
proper thing to do. anywya, people are waiting to use the computer and I
think I have said enough. Love to everyone and please please please share
stuff with family and friends.
a and t
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Thursday, April 11, 2002 4:30 PM
Among the other interesting words in german--guten fahrt means good ride....
We have find a home! It is in a tiny town
called Frohstockheim, right outside
of Kitzingen where Treb works. It's about 1000sq feet. 2 bedrooms and huge
living room, 1.5 baths and balcony a kitchen and a breakfast nook. Most flats
in Germany are the top part of another persons home. It is very rare to find
single family homes here. There also isn't much class strata that we can
tell. We are really excited to have a home and move in on Monday. If we can
find Treb a car and me a job then we will be cruising along nicely! We are
just ready to get settle so that we can start traveling! it is so beautiful
here, but it has gotten cold again and we are really ready for some warm
We have been in a german cultural and language
emersion class all this week.
it has been good and we really have learned a lot. Today we went on our field
trip to town and got to see the burial site of Dracula. He was good friends
of the king of bavaria and was visiting when a bunch of people finally killed
him. It's kinda cool and really spooky...definatly worth a visit when you
We had another cultural moment the other night.
Treb picked a new bier off
the menu to try and found it was a mixture of sprite and some cheap beer.
Let's just say milwauke's (sp?) beast tastes better! it was pretty gross. I
had putensnitzel today which is a fancy name for breaded turkey breast. Treb
got the weiner snitzel which is the pork version...all very good. Actually
all the food has been great and we have this one gasthof we want to take
everyone to, mostly b/c we know the menu at this point pretty good! Also will
go to the local pizzeria--we have definatly learned that pizza is the world's
most perfect food b/c no matter where you go, everyone loves it!
We are doing well otherwise and miss everyone.
I don't really feel like i'm
in anther country--I don't feel like I am so far away really. The hardest
thing is that there is no episcopal church here--well a reservist is supposed
to come and have an episcopal service on Wen. nights at the hospital for 4
weeks and we will go to that, but we tried to protestant service and there
wasn't much more than singing and sermonizing to it. Then we went to the
Lutheran service and enjoyed that better. It's very similar to the episcopal
service which helps a lot. Right now a local German priest is in charge of
the lutheran service which is pretty cool.
I still don't have a job, and the beauracracy
of the Army is killing me. We
have being trying to find a higher-up to go through, but nothing yet. The sad
thing is that there are jobs available, but the red tape stinks. Oh well.
Please pray that I find something I can be happy with. Still no news on grad
school and that is frustrating as well. We also have not recieved important
mail that is supposed to get forwarded. Not having a phone is extrordinarily
difficult as well as not having easy access to email.
Anyway, my time is about up. Love to all
and we miss you and can't wait to
share this beautiful country with everyone! WE will have a guest room monday!
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Tuesday, April 23, 2002 3:28 PM
Re: Guten Tag!
Sorry it has taken so long to get back in terms
of news. Everything has been
nuts and busy and crazy. I don't really remember where I left off, so I will
just start at the beginning..ehehhe..just kidding. Anyway, I will start with
what I think I remember....
We moved into our home last Monday. It was
quite a hectic day, some damage to
our things, but nothing major. Our moving crew wasn't great and less than
friendly, but that goes with the business. We were just thankful to have our
stuff and finally feel as though we were settling down. Our place is about
1000 sq. feet. 2 br, 1.5 bath and huge living room and kitchen/breakfast room
combo. Considering how efficiant the German's are, it drives me nuts that
they just about ALWAYS place the washer machine in their bathrooms and their
dryer in the kitchen. This drives me bananna's...however, even though their
washers are TINY..they wash clothes great. I have an american dryer, b/c the
German dryers supposedly take 2 hours to dry clothes. Nuts!
Anyway, it took us about 4 days to get everything
unpacked and more or less
settled. The packers come back today to remove the boxes and that will be a
huge load off my shoulders. I will be able to vacuum and clean the floors and
it will look much better. We are also suprised at how small everything seems
now that we have our stuff in our home. We were also suprised at how much
stuff I put into storage and how many things I SHOULD have put into storage.
It never occured to me that my crock-pot or electric frying pan wouldn't work
here. Thank goodness we have a huge attic to store things in!
During all the house mess, we were also in the
process of buying a car. Treb
decided a clunker BMW wasn't good enough for him anymore and splurge and
bought a 91 750 iL. For those of you that don't speak car, it is disgustingly
arrogant car. 300 horsepower, huge, leather seats, all the gizmo's...it even
has a ski bag between the trunk and back seat so we can take the car up to the
alps!:) We hope to get in converted to American specs and bring it home with
us. That we will see when it happens.
We have really enjoyed being able to cook our
own meals again, or rather, I've
been cooking. As much as well like the food around here, sometimes home
cooking it the best. We ate bacon and eggs the other morning and it was
I have a lead on a job at the local clinic.
We found out rather quickly that
critical care jobs were basically non-existant here. i still don't have
anything solid, but we continue to pray that something comes through.
Unfortunatly, with one pay check coming in, money is tight. I think my
paycheck will be the travel paycheck if I ever get one! So please pray for us!
I can't think of any funny cultural shock situations
that we have gone through
lately. I havn't cussed at anyone in German accidently....hmmmm. I drove on
the autobahn for the first time last night and it was awesome.....I won't tell
you more b/c my mom has heart palpitations everytime she thinks of us driving
on the autobahn...
Another cool thing, you can get 20 one litre biers
here in a case (mix and
match, or all one flavor) for about 13$--plus when you return the bottles you
get 15 cents back per bottle for recycling. We recycle everything now. It
kinda annoying b/c we have to split everything up. 75% of all waste is
recyled. It's a huge job figuring out where certain things go--and they only
pick up plastic, so we have to take everything else to the dump.
We climbed our local mountain this weekend.
It's so cool, we can actually
strike out from our house and climb up it! I can walk to 4 different towns in
four different directions. How cool! I think I have told you all the Sunday
is walking/biking day in Germany. I've really come to think that's why these
people don't stress so much...that and the amount of bier they drink.
Everything closes down on Sunday...everything. It's really nice to see
everyone get out and get excercise. AFter all there is nothing else to
do...you can't even wash your clothes on Sunday!
If I could describe what the town's look like.
i think if you looked at the
moveies from WWII and the towns in black and white....everything looks about
the same. Minus the cars and take away the color...it's like stepping back in
time. Even the old ladies are still on their bikes or feet with their baskets
going to the market. Even though the towns rebuilt after the war, they still
used the same architecture and from the outside you don't see many modern
structures. alot of the houses where simply rebuilt on their previous
foundations. In addition, it's odd to see or be in a town that dates from the
700's. We think in America that 1700 is old, but here things are even older
and it is mind boggling.
Well, I have written a bunch. I even used
paragraphs this time b/c I've been
getting pinged, for my grammar and technical use of the english language. I
am sure my spelling is still terrible. I still think faster than i type. We
miss you all, and there are definatly creature comforts in the US that I
miss,but being over here is exciting and different. I love being able to go
to the town square in Kitzingen to shop and buy flowers and bread and stuff.
It's totally different than at home. The worst is being apart from family and
friends but even though we are having a great time, know that you are never
far from our thoughts and prayers.
Will be in touch with more stories. Somebody
needs to save these so I can
write a book from them one day!:)
Love to all,
A and T
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Tuesday, April 30, 2002 9:11 PM
Re: Guten Tag!
Guten Tag! We just had a Great Weekend.
I was so sorry to see it end! We
started the weekend by having some good friends over for dinner on Friday
night. I made spaghetti and it was sooooo good. It was the only thing I
could cook as Treb's friend is a pickier eater than he! Hard to believe it,
but there are worse appetites out there than my sweetie! This guy doesn't
even eat chicken. Anyway, they approved of my pasta and we had a good time.
They have 2 kids and one on the way!
On Saturday, we got up early and walked from our
house up our local
mountain. It is about 2.5 miles to the top and then there are trails up
there we walked around. It's and unbelievably steep trail but the views are
gorgeous. We can see our house from the top! It had also just rained the 2
days before so we were slipping and sliding in the mud the whole way. it was
fun but messy! I just can't get over being able to go hiking straight from
my house. it's such a cool thing! We have pictures of the view that when we
get everything working will be up on our website for everyone to see. The
digital camera I gave Treb for Christmas is being put to good use.
That afternoon we went to a JAG cookout for a
new lietenant that has just
arrived. She is from RI and we chatted about the area from when we lived
there growing up. She has such a thick NE accent, I had forgotten what it
sounded like! She is really nice and we look forward to getting to know her
better. The cookout was a lot of fun, but it was sooooo windy and cold that
we all had to go inside. This is a great group of people that we work with
and are very blessed by the nice people we have met.
The coolest day was Sunday. Our neighboring
town, Rodlesee, just across the
highway was having their "Fruhling fest" or Spring festival this weekend. We
went over and what a crowd! We were drinking beer in the streets and eating
bratwurst hot off the grill, it was so good. The backeri had a stand and we
got fresh baked goodies and there was a meat and cheese stand and Treb got
some cheese and schinken (think sliced ham) and some salami--oh how our
cholesterol climbs! It's good thing we can go walking a lot! We bought some
plants too and some local honey. They had a booth from the local winery and
we tasted 2 different vino's--they were pretty good, but takes time getting
used to the different flavor. I think it is sooo neat to be able to go
walking up and down the vineyard. There was an old man making baskets in the
fair and another old blacksmith pounding out horseshoes with a portable
blacksmith's fire. It makes you think about how time's have changed. There
were lots of arts and crafts as well and tons of stuff for the kids to do.
There was a little train that went through town and you could even take a
ride in a two seater motorcycle with a side car! I refused as I thought I
would feel silly.....but it did look like fun. They had a bunch of cars on
display--German's like their cars...We got fresh hot cotton candy and another
beer and took a walk home to walk it all off! It was the most fun I've had!
The same town will have a wine festival in the beginning of July so we will
definatly check that out!
Yesterday I found out I got into grad school at
the Univ. of Wyoming. I will
be able to study for my Master's online and that should be cool. I still
don't have a nursing job, but i do have a temporary job as an e-filer for the
governement. It will give me some pocket money until something more
permanent comes through! Please Please Please pray that I get the job at the
Kitzingen health clinic as it seems the best job I have seen so far.
This weekend we head to Heidelburg for the JAG
ball and to visit this lovely
town. Next weekend I head for a shopping trip to Poland then in 2 weeks we
hope to go to Venice. We have all the Trips lined up, I just need the job to
pay for them all!:)
WE hope things at home are going well. There
is a lot of unrest in the world
and we pray for the safety of our soldiers. The more I am in this life, the
more I realize what a sacrifice so many Americans make to serve their
country. We miss you all and hope all is well. More good tidings later!
A and T
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Tuesday, April 30, 2002 10:34 PM
Things are finally falling into place here.
We finally got internet service
at home, so I was able to upload some of the pictures that we took with our
digital camera (Christmas gift that has been boxed up with everything else we
own for the last few months). Unfortunately, we lost our address book when
we loaded up Windows XP, so please forward this to anyone we don't have on
here. Hopefully we'll get that recovered soon.
The pictures are here:
You may want to view the gallery first so that you can see thumbnails of all
Anna will be mad because she wanted me to leave
out the picture of her on
Schwanberg. I meant to, but the program and I didn't communicate too well
and it uploaded a few pictures that I didn't want uploaded.
Hope you can follow the pics in our house.
They are sweeping panorama shots
of about 270 degrees, so you can see a whole room. Same with the picture
from our porch.
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Wednesday, May 08, 2002 8:44 AM
Fruhling ist hier
This will be my second attempt at this missive,
as the other was deleted,
courtesy of my web mail..ahhhhhhh. I will write this in Word and copy and
paste, so hopefully this one will work.
It is about 0815 our time and I am starting my
second day as an E-filer for
the Tax Center. Military personnel over-seas do not have to have their taxes
in until June 15th ,so tax season continues. I have found that I am not
equipped to sit behind a desk for 8 hours looking at a computer screen and
typing in numbers. However, the job is temporary until the end of June and it
does give me some pocket money. Hopefully, I will hear something about a
nursing job in the next couple of weeks and will be able to go back to
sticking needles in people! There is nothing like inflicting bodily
discomfort on someone to make your day! Eheheheheh (just kidding)
This past weekend was a blast. We went to
Heidelberg for the Europe JAG corps
ball. There were JAG officers from all over Europe there, but the BIG RED ONE
JAG office definitely ruled the dance floor and the "party part" of the ball.
We had a great time. Looked great and we are blessed to have a wonderful
group of people in our office to make any event a good time. The food was
lousy-I have to say b/c everywhere else the food has been great-however, the
Army was cooking, so that probably had a lot to do with it.
We had spent Saturday daytime before the ball
in downtown Heidelberg in the
shopping district. It was great. I bought a pair of popular German shoes
that are so ugly they are cool. They look like bowling tennis shoes. CC you
will be so proud of me!J it was pouring down rain the whole day, but that
doesn't keep the Germans from doing their shopping. I don't think anything
stops them! The town of Heidelberg itself, is probably the most beautiful and
picturesque German city we have seen. A huge castle overlooks downtown and it
is unbelievable. The River Neckar, flows right past the shopping district and
mountains cut up both sides. It was the first time we felt like we had seen
anything really German and touristy. It was great and we hope to go back
again. We headed back to Kitzingen on the Autobahn and Treb hit 195 (kph) as
the traffic was sparse and the roads and car begged for cruising. The
landscape looks like a patchwork quilt of farms and rolling hills. I have
never seen so many shades of green in my life!
Once we got back to Kitzingen, we got dressed
as we had a dinner party with
the General of the JAG corps at the Marinburg Fortress in Wurzburg. This was
just an incredible experience as the fortress overlooks the town. After a
fabulous German dinner (Daddy would have LOVED the warm apple streudel served
for dessert with home-made ice-cream) we went out on the terrace and drank
beer as the sun went down over the city. You can see the Bishop-Prince palace
and really the entire city from where we were. It would have been the best
place to have a wedding reception. We ate dinner in a medieval hall basically
and there were all these winding corridors and turrets and everything. I
hope I will be able to enjoy a dinner like that again. It was all in all a
terrific weekend and I hope next weekend will be just as good with my trip to
Poland. We hope you all are doing well and we ask that you pray pray pray for
a good job to come open for Anna. She really isn't cut out to be a number
cruncher!J Much love to you all and we miss you.
A and T
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Monday, May 13, 2002 9:06 AM
Re: Fruhling ist hier = Spring is here!:)
What another fantastic weekend! I took a "girly" trip with 4 other officer's
wives to Poland for a Polish pottery trip. This kind of trip can put new
meaning into "mad-cap shopping trip." It's shopping like no other shopping
you have ever done before! We left after work from Kitzingen at about 1815
We made really good time and drove to Dresden, GE in about 3.5 hrs. We
stayed at an Autohof-a fancy rest area off the autobahn, at the Best Western
there (this makes traveling long distance quicker and easier than having to go
into a town off the autobahn.). We got to sleep about 11-12 and then got up
at 0500 to start our day. After getting dressed and having a wonderful German
continental breakfast-we headed out about 0645. The drive to Boleslawic,
Poland took about 1.25 hrs, and then our day of shopping began!
Poland is extraordinarily poor. It has yet
to recover from WWII or the Cold
War. The houses are drab and often falling apart. The area is very small
and although the country- side is beautiful, there is something very desolate
about the towns. The cars they drive are not nearly as nice as those in
Germany, the houses are shabbier and the people look kind of sad. This is not
everyone, but most of the people and area appeared this way. The young boys
would swarm on your car at light stops or when you got out between shops to
clean your car or wash your windows. Even if you told them not to do it, they
would do it anyway and then beg for money-we often gave away food we had, as
we were told not to encourage the begging. We were in town about 10 hrs and
this happened all day long. If you didn't have money, they wanted coca cola
and would only grudgingly accept something else-it was quite and experience!
We went to a billion stores it seemed. While
Poland on the outside might be
drab, they do an incredible job on the hand-made pottery and glazing that they
do. There are a million different patterns, and it kind of all blends
together after a long day! I think I saw patterns in my sleep for 2 days
after our trip! I was the most miserly spender of our group, and I still
bought a lot of stuff! I think I knocked out a good bit of Christmas
shopping! Ehehehe. I, of course, couldn't resist a few pieces for my own
collection! I have even started a wish list of things that I want to get
before we leave. We even have plans for another trip around the beginning of
December! It was so much fun. The second place we went, a busload of tourist
showed up and I mean, these people push and shove and fight there way through
the displays. The shop owners only put out what they are going to sell for a
day, so if you want something you have to grab it up. You also don't stop for
lunch. One of the wives packed sandwiches and you eat when you get hungry
from shop to shop! You just don't stop! I was so tired at the end, but it
was so great. Sallie and Evie and Alice would love the experience.
There was this one shop; we dubbed the "Jerk shop."
A lot of the places have
broken pottery you can pick up and take for free. My friend and I decided we
were going to take some and tile a table top-we got permission from one guy in
the store and loaded up a box of broken pottery and then took it up to the
front to check out. A different man was at the front and started shaking his
head and saying, "no, no, no, " at us. He wouldn't let us take the broken
stuff! It was kind of humiliating and both my friend and I were rather mad
There was some really great pottery in this store that we were going to buy as
well, but we both decided it wasn't worth it, after that guy treated us badly-
for the rest of the day, we lamented the cool stuff that got left behind
because of "the jerk!"
If anyone has any pottery they would like, you
can send money and I will go
get you some! Oh, I am so excited writing this, I wish I could go back now!
I have to add that the prices are really good-this one girl spent about
$1,000, and had sooooo many boxes of pottery-she is leaving in January and
wanted to pick up all the pieces she could in this one pattern she has been
collecting. It was so funny to watch. The ones that are afraid they won't be
coming back have an air of desperation and frenzy as they go about looking for
the stuff they want. Needless to say, if you want to take the trip, it is
worth a go when you visit.
We left Poland about 1730. Getting back
through the German border took
forever, but they didn't search us, or anything, it was just slow. Can you
imagine traveling between each state and having to stop at every border to
check ID's? That is what it is like in Europe. On the way home we stopped at
an "American Bar and Grill." It was great. I hadn't realized how much I
missed a big juicy hamburger until I bit into one. It was heaven!
Sunday, we went to the Lutheran service on post.
It was nice, but we found
out the service is closing down in 2 weeks as the chaplain has moved to
Schweinfurt, GE! ACK! I think we will try one of the German services in our
town next. This has been a truly frustrating experience.
I don't think we did anything else that was exciting.
You know there will be
another installment to the story next week, but since we don't have anything
planned, I don't know how exciting it will be! We ask that you keep Treb's
grandfather in your prayers, as he has been really sick. This has been very
frustrating being apart from the family and not knowing what is going on with
pop pop's health. He seems to be doing better and we pray that he continues
to do so. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all! Tschus! Until the new
Anna and Treb
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Monday, May 20, 2002 8:41 AM
Well, there hasn't been a lot of excitement around
here, but I will give you
some of the scoop.
Last week, we kept with our tradition of going
to the first showing of Star
Wars at the local German theatre. They had a midnight showing, so we actually
saw it before anyone in the US saw it. HAHA! Treb got to drink a beer during
the movie, because they have a bar there and a café. It was quite and
interesting experience. The Germans also use assigned seating in the movies
and even if there are only 5 people in the theatre, supposedly, they will
still sit in their assigned seats! It was a great movie and we really enjoyed
seeing it. Treb liked the first one better, but I say anything that shows
Yoda kicking teezie like that is one cool show! After staying up to 3 am, we
got up about 4 hours later and headed back to the grindstone of work.
The temperature hit the upper 80's for 3 days
this week. It was so
wonderful! I was basking in the heat, because I know it won't last for long.
I really do believe I like hot weather best! Along with the higher temps,
clothing in Germany gets shed. In fact our next-door neighbor stripped down
to some extra small, extra tight, neon green, tiny Speedo-like underwear to
mow his lawn. Every now and again there would be a little giggle of love
handles in time to the movement of the lawnmower-it was quite an eyeful!J
What else? We really took it easy this week.
We had some friends over for
dinner and had a great time just hanging out. Our house is in order and I
think we are settling in. I had my first bought of homesickness this
weekend. Treb and I had put in the 2000 Clemson-Carolina football game to
watch (we still don't have TV) and I started bawling at the end about how he
took me away from Clemson and I wasn't going to be able to go to football for
3 years. It was pretty sad display of tears!J Treb just laughs at me. It
will be a rough fall though.
We head to Prague next weekend-the trip to Venice
got changed, as Venice is
booked. This is the Pentecost holiday season and everyone goes on vacation
there. Prague is supposed to be very cool though and we will let you know in
our next installment of the Courie News.
Love to all,
Anna and Treb
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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 11:29 AM
Re: hey y'all
Well, I have been putting off writing my next missive as to garner my
thoughts, take a deep breath and start on a long message. As usual, the
Courie Adventures cannot occur without mishap and we have learned to grin,
laugh and pray that God continues to get us out of our messes!J
Our holiday weekend started out with my interview
as Health Promotions
Coordinator. It was a good, but extremely tough interview. She really did
challenge me. I thought it went well and I should know something this week
about whether I got the job or not. I, however, feel that there is probably
someone more qualified to take the position. I will continue to keep my
After my interview, we headed to the train station
in Kitzingen and started
our 7.5-hour train ride to Prague, Czech Republic. It is only about 4.5 hours
away, but Treb really liked not having to drive and it was enjoyable trip. The
countryside was beautiful-lots of rolling hills and blooming flowers and small
forests. Our train stopped a lot, because we were cheap and got the
inexpensive slow train. I think it would have been worth the price to pay for
a faster train and we think when we go back, this is what we will do. The
ride was pretty uneventful until we reached the outskirts of Prague (Praha)
Here, we pulled a Courie event and got off at the wrong train station.
Luckily, there was a train 4 minutes behind us that would take us to the right
train station-so we got there with only a little irritation-however, it gets
A note on trains: the German trains are
fabulously clean (although I don't
think I will ever get away from smokers) always on time and smooth and quite.
The Czech trains are a lot louder, not so smooth and not quite as clean. The
Czech Republic is still recovering financially from the fall of the iron
curtain. I would say they are probably a socialist democracy with an elected
president. The city of Prague has a lot of income and relies greatly on
tourism for its industry-however, on the outskirts and countryside; houses are
often shacks with (probably) no running water or heat. The yards usually have
a small garden scratch out, but everything looks really dirty. We really
don't realize how good we have it in the US when you see some of the squalor
of a nation rebuilding itself. Prague is also known for its car thieves and
the mob is usually a big criminal problem. These are remnants of the cold war
and hopefully with time, will improve.
Ok, back to our time line.we got into Prague train
station where we are
supposed to have our hosts pick us up-we never did find her, although she said
she was there with a sign. We ended up taking a taxi, and unfortunately, were
dropped off at the wrong place. Here, we are on the side of the street in an
unfamiliar town-screaming with our suitcases: "Come get us, we're tourists."
No one was answering at the address we were given and Treb's cell phone
doesn't work outside Germany. So we trekked around, until we found a hotel
and tried to call our hosts. NO one answered, and we were starting to feel
scammed when the third or fourth number worked. Our host picked us up and
took us to the apartment we were staying at a couple of blocks away-There are
smart ways to travel-this is not a good example and I encourage going through
a travel agent you know-not some who is advertised on the internet.J Our
apartment was clean, nothing special, although if you looked at the outside of
the building it looked really bad. I was really thinking we were going to be
staying in a rat whole, but they had kept the inside of the room looking up-to-
After we got settled in, we went to a restaurant,
down the street,
called "Mama Lucy's." It was funny, because it was supposed to be a take on a
western/Texas/southern kind of place. We drank good beer, ate nachos and had
ordered a marinated beef dish with jalapenos that we think might have been
smoked, but really we think was raw. It was so tender and good; we really
didn't care if it was raw. We also figure we are going to die one day and
well, Treb's family does eat raw beef all the time.The lesson here: figure
out what you are ordering before you order it if you are afraid..
I was very surprised about how big and westernized
Prague was. I didn't going
in absolutely loving it at first sight, but it grows on you and we definitely
want to go back. We think next time; we will go when it is not tourist
season, because fighting the crowds is a drag.
The next day, Saturday, we got up early, ate at
a local café (cappuccino is
soooo good here and so cheap, not like that crap at Starbuck's) had some
wonderful homemade pastries and set off to work on those calories. We started
with a walking/bus tour of the city. We rode around everywhere and really got
an appreciation of the whole area. Prague started out as a bunch of towns
that in the 1700's incorporated itself under one leadership. However, they
maintained the different sectors and we visited Old town, New town, Lesser
town and Jewish town. The trip culminated in a visit to Prague castle which
is the largest palace complex in Europe. Everything in Prague is fabulously
in shape and of its original structure-except with minor restoration-because
the Czechs are known to have let the nazi's and communism take over their city
w/o a fight. Czechs are non-confrontational historically and it has maintained
their city in its original splendor as a result.
After that, it was shopping time! I could
have bought and bought and bought
had I not been on a budget. I think I might have my Christmas shopping done
my July! Czech is known for its crystal and we got to seen one of the crystal
workers working. They have to work in front of a fire 1400+ Celsius-it is SOO
hot! The worker had his beer (pivo in Czech) and a comment was made that the
beer was the most important process of the glass industry! We were all
sweating by the time we left.
That night we ate with some friends that were
also in town-I had roast duck-
mmmmm-we learned quickly that the tourism industry has corrupted the
supposedly cheap prices of things in Prague. Everyone comments about dime
beer in Prague-which is true on the outskirts, but if you are in the city you
have to pay $2 for .4L-rip off! We stayed out late drinking beer alfresco on
Embassy row right across from the Italian embassy-it started to rain at that
point and we headed back to be let off again by the taxi driver in the wrong
part of town. We had a fun time running through the rain in the streets of
Prague-you could write a sappy love song on it!J
The next day, it rained all day-we did some more
shopping in the rain-and I
fussed at Treb because he had refused his jacket that morning and he got
soaked. It was fun though. We also went to the Jewish quarter and toured the
Jewish cemetery. Remember, in the Jewish quarter, the Jews were walled off
from the rest of Czech society and had to be self-reliant in their area. As a
result, in the cemetery, Jews are buried 4 layers deep with tombstones stacked
on top of each other because as time went on, they ran out of room. The last
person was buried there in the 1700's and many famous Jews are thought to be
there. It was very sad and solemn experience.
That night we went to this ultra cool pivogarten
(beer garden) that was truly
our most Czech experience. You sat down on trestle tables that ran the length
of the room and everyone ate and sang and drank together. They had an
accordion player there playing tunes and we sang and swayed with a bunch of
old men that were well on their way to being drunk-they couldn't speak a word
of English-but that didn't stop them from flirting with me!
When you sat down at U' Flecku'-the pivogarten-that
plopped brimming steins of
dark homemade beer they have been making since the 1400's. You can order
something else to drink, but the charm in the restaurant is to drink the beer-
they make sure your glass is never empty-they also have an aperitif that they
offer-which is some of the strongest alcohol, that I have every tasted-you
need the beer chaser, just to get it down. The waiter some around with the
glasses on a silver tray and teases people into taking a glass. Some people
even got a little huffy, when he wouldn't take no for an answer! It was
great! Everyone had smiling red faces by the end of the night! We ate roast
chicken, potatoes and sausage and beer cheese for dinner and were so stuffed.
Right next to our apartment was an Irish bar and
we stopped by for a Guinness-
the smoothest, sweetest beer on the planet. We met some other Americans there
and caught up on being an ex-pat and felt wonderful talking to someone else
that spoke our language. We stayed up for a couple of hours talking to them.
They were from NY and had been there when the towers fell-it never ceases to
chill me to hear a first hand story. Not everyone in Europe feels hunky-dory
about Americans. A bunch of Irishmen came up to our compatriots and told
them, "Osama is right, Americans are shit." I am just so glad he didn't say
anything to Treb or there might have been a terrible fight. It has been
really eye opening to realize the number or people who really do not like
Americans. Not everyone realizes that democracy=personal freedoms. We said a
special prayer on Memorial Day for those who lost their lives in 9/11, and for
our soldiers past, present and future.
Well, we are back at work and sorry that our trip
is over. It has been our
first real holiday and we had a fabulous time. We look forward to going back
and especially hanging out in U' Fleku'-the beer garten-if you go to Prague it
is worth the trip. We also-shhh, don't tell Treb-will be going back for some
crystal for ourselves.J
Much love to all and many thoughts and prayers
your way-we will be in touch
with another missive-although nothing planned until the end of June, so they
might not be very exciting.
Anna and Treb (CPT and Mrs. Adventure)
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Monday, June 03, 2002 8:21 AM
Re: hey y'all
There isn't much to tell with this week's news.
Well, that's not true, I got
the JOB!J I will be working as Health Promotions Coordinator for the Base
Support Battalion. I will be coordinating wellness and health events for the
soldiers and their families. I am a little nervous, but also excited. Next
week I head to Bad Kissingen, Germany about an hour away to go to a training
conference for a week. I will let you know more on that as the job unfolds
I forgot to tell you that we got to watch the
Czech version of "Who Wants to
be a Millionaire?" while we were in Prague. It is especially funny, because
after the conversion of one million Czech crowns to dollars, you only have
about $30,000 (before taxes). It amuses us to see American pop culture in
Treb picked up his civilian Intern on Friday from
the airport. We are his
sponsors and he will be staying over here through the summer working with the
JAG office. He is in law school in CA. and considering a JAG career. On
Saturday we went to the First Infantry Division (which Treb's office is a
part) "Hail and Farewell" party for all incoming and out going soldiers We
had a great time and it was a great way for our intern to meet everyone in the
JAG family over here.
We have updated our web page www.courie.com, with
our home and Prague
pictures. If you have missed any of the installments of our Germany Journal,
you can also find that online as well. We will have a better letter in the
coming weeks. Much love to all and more news to come!
Anna and Treb
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Sunday, June 09, 2002 11:32 AM
Sprechen Sie Englisch?
A short note, as I leave in about 3 hours to go to Bad Kissingen for a week long conference on being a Health Promotions Coordinator. I am excited about the conference, but not excited about being away from Treb for a week. I don't quite feel as independant as I did at home and it is very daunting to be taking off by myself in a foreign country. It is only 1.5 hours away, so I am mostly being a chicken.
I finished up at the tax center on Friday--yeah! I am so happy to be out of there. Two of the girls took me out to lunch for some extra work that I had done for them and that was really nice.
The worst thing this week is that Treb lost his grandfather this week. We were unable to come home for the funeral and that was extremely tough. Especially for Treb as they were very close. We know though through thoughts and prayers that he is in a better place and that God is taking care of him. We pray that the whole faimly finds peace.
Two weeks ago, we had planned Treb's promotion party. Traditionally in the Army, you have to throw a party and spend as much as you pay increase that you get when promoted. So last night was that party. We had a really good time, but it didn't turn into the crush that we had anticipated. We had over 35 people RSVP, but only about 1/2 showed up. We have so much food and beer, we could float our house. We can have many parties many times over before it is all gone! We had a great time with those that did come though and we are again thankful for the great group of people around here.
That is about all our news. We are hanging
in there. Looking forward to our trip to Greece in a couple
of weeks and then I gear up to start my job seriously. We
want to remind you if you are missing any of the shories they are
online at www.courie.com , along with some pictures we have taken.
We miss everyone and know that we think and pray for you all frequently.
More news, next week!
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Monday, June 17, 2002 9:24 AM
Das Courie Zeitung
Well, this could turn into another long missive. It's been a long week! Last Sunday, I left for a training conference for my new job. It was in Bad Kissingen, about and hour away, and was a beautiful picturesque German town. As soon as I turned off the Autobahn, there was a hill in front of my, all green, with this medium sized castle perched on top! It was such a cool sight! I knew then, that Treb would have loved to have been able to come with me on the trip.
In the town itself, I stayed at this posh hotel called the Hotel Frankenland. It was very nice. After getting all checked in and meeting all the people I will be working with, I took off to the pool. OOOH Lalalalala! This pool is so awesome. It is an indoor/outdoor pool connected by this alley of running water that you can swin to and from each pool. The indoor pool had a cave built into the side of it with a water fall and boiling jets in each of the little caverns. There was a treee coming out of the pool and it was all in this curvy shape to promote relaxation. All along the sides of the pool were button to push to start up jets. The walls and ceiling were painted in a medeteranean theme and there were sparkling lights on the ceiling. It was so cool. The hot tub over looked the whole area. It was just too awesome for words. After a good swim and soak in the pool and hot tub, I headed off to the sauna room and got a surprise. There is nothing like two big, saggy European women steaming naked in the sauna--and to top it off, they looked at me like I as crazy for keeping my bathing suit on! I guess they havn't heard of keeping your sag to yourself!:) it was funny. The sauna room also had an aromatherapy steam room for 2 euro. I tried that out on the second day. I thought I had pushed the lavender aromatherapy button, but it certainly didn't smell like it! The next time, on day 4, I tried the eucalyptus smell and that was much better.
This place offered a lot of therapies--beauty treatments, massages etc. Unfortunately, the conference was so tightly booked, that I didn't get a chance to try them out. I was terribly upset and included that on my evaluation form! It's really neat to know that the German health plan will include up to 6 weeks of these naturopathic treatments for their people. Their government is very concerned that everyone enjoy life and be as healthy as they can be. There were a lot of disabled and elderly people in the town, coming for the restorative powers of the mineral water and baths. The whole concept is so different and awe inspiring. The whole town was so incredibly beautiful. They have these winding trails that follow the river to the next town. It was so cool. i could have spent another week there just enjoying being in such a relaxing town.
Another interesting note--the Germans don't have a capitalistic bone in there body. They wouldn't extend their hours to accomodate extra treatments for us after conference hours. Even when some were willing to pay more! They also didn't offer services on the weekend. Nothing gets in the way of a German and their private time. Another couple of irritating things happened (from a capitalist American point of view)--first, my alarm clock battery died--it took 2 AAA batteries and I went down to the front desk to ask for some extras. The portier took out a bag of about 10 AAA batteries, showed me them, handed me 2 of them and then took them back and said, "No, No, you have to go down to store and get them yourself!" I was so upset--I even offered to pay for them and they wouldn't take my money! They said I had to go and get my own!
The Germans also have a tradition called Stamtich (sp?), in which if a local comes to town and has a particular table/room they use frequently, they will kick you out of their place to accomodate the local. Well this happened to me. They had messed up my reservation and put me in a Stamtich room. I had to move rooms in the middle of the conference to accomodate the local. This was really annoying too, and they didn't even offer me any compensation! How different mentalities are!
The food was great in the hotel and the beer of course never disappoints! I am so glad I worked out every day while I was there, other wise I would have put on so much weight! There was an endless stream of food available.
I learned a lot in the confrence and feel more
comfortable about my job and was really inspired with some ideas.
I will be ready to start when we get back from our trip to Greece.
We leave Friday. I have to get my eyes checked and my hair
cut on the local German economy. I am really nervous.
I will let you know how that goes. Hope you all are well and
we really miss everyone. Treb has been staying up at all hours
to follow Clemson's progress in the College world series. With
the 7 hour time difference, he has been up to 3-5 am waiting to find
out who wins! So far so good! Go Tigers!
love to all,
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Tuesday, July 02, 2002 7:28 AM
ATTN: This will be a long post--I suggest you print it, bind it and curl up by the fire with it! Just kidding, but it will be long--so much has happened since I last wrote!
BTW: I forgot in my last letter to say that Germany broke 100 degrees for the first time in over 50 years--and we DON'T have AC! How about that for experience!
We arrived in Greece around 1230 am greek time--the taxi ride was like any taxi ride around Europe--scary. Our hotel was great and we would recommend it to anyone going to Greece--It was the Athens Center hotel, within walking distance of the Acropolis with a cool rooftop view of it too! Athens is older than dirt and the Acropolis is made of that old dirt and it is still standing after 2000 years. Whatever is in their water works good for building things that's for sure!
Anyway, I am trying to go in chronological order, so I need to retrace--once we got to the hotel, we died for the night and got up later than we had anticipated and set out for downtown Athens and the Agora--a long the way we stopped and got sausage wrapped in pastry and cheese pastry and it was so good. I am afraid to say I gained 3 pounds on this trip. After our breakfast/lunch--we walked through downtown--there is no zoning in Athens so food stalls/butchers/veggies are all mixed in with shops and animal stores and live animals for sale and everything. It makes me think of the pictures I have seen of Israel before it was war-torn--there are narrow streets with canopies--large buckets of olives in vinegar--veggie stalls. We saw them butcher a chicken (already dead) into parts to sell a customer. It's loud and crowded and awesome. it's more middle-east in flavor than European--although Treb tells me this is the Mediterrranean flavor--I will say it's a mix. The architecture (other than the ancient structures) is med.--all while painted blocks of cinder. Everything is square with the occaisonal arched door or window thrown in. The shutters and trimming are usually painted blue as Greece's colors are blue and white.
Ok--back to where I was, we shopped around trying to find our direction to the Agora--you would think that being able to see it above us would get us there--the streets don't work like that in Athens and we finally bought a map. We got there finally and entered the Agora which was the lower area around the Acropolis where the ancient market, shops, meeting places, etc were located. The Theater of Dionysus sp? was also there. My favorite thing was if you touched the morter area between the blocks, is was just dirt--they used mud to hold these structures together and it is still there! Most buldings were made of marble and limestone I think. There was a lot of marble in the ground and it has been rubbed slick with all the tourist, some of the walking was treacherous!
After the Agora, you headed up the hill towards the Acropolis and Parthenon--for those of you who are like me, and history is a mystery to you, the Acropolis is just the area of meeting below the PArthenon, the parthenon is the actual structure of colums and rooftop and stuff that you always see in your text books. I was amazed, because I thought is was more intact than it was. It is under constant excavation and restoration in the area. The books show a completed picture--not usually what is actually standing. For all that, there is still a significant amount of buliding there. You can only walk around it--not in it, and like I said the restoration and excavation is a constant presence in all of the ancient structures. Next we saw the temple of Athena and we looked over the cliff into 2 of the theaters--the seating is still intact and the greeks have summer concerts there. We then headed to the Museum of Antiquities (I think that is what is was called) and saw all of the preserved carvings removed from the excavation process. We overheard the guide tell a group that you always see the Greek male form nude because they thought it was much more attractive that the female form and as a result, women were usually covered in their statues--at least until closer to "modern" time. Seeing the Parthenon is an experience I never thought that I would have. Even with all my fantasy traveling and adventuring that I wanted to do, it never crossed my mind that I would get to Greece and be walking amongst the ruins. I really expected to turn around and see toga swathed Greeks talking and shopping and discussing the mysteries of the universe. There is a flavor of that which is old and before time that penetrates the air there. It was a marvelous experience. We walked and walked and walked. Although Athens and the islands are by the water, they are very rocky with coarse brush and trees. It is not tropical in all, but beautiful in its rugedness.
We hiked up a near-by hill for a long view of the Parthenon from above. After that we walked around the Agora and then headed back to town for shopping! Lots of greek goodies coming in stockings this year! The coolest thing was how the vendors would step into the street try to get you to come into their store. They would also tell you, "Special price for you," trying to get you to bargain for you goods. I think I could have shopping for the rest of the week I had so much fun talking to these people! And of course, "special price for you," are magical words.
We stopped and ate gyros--which are surprisingly as good as those at home--the feta cheese in greek and the tzakiki sauce however, are much better in Greece than anywhere else in the world and I literally crave it as I write this. The local beer is Mythos--a lager--and sadly it isn't nearly as good as German beer. However, it got us through our trip and had us hungering for the real thing once we got home again!
We headed to the hotel late that afternoon and had drinks on the rooftop terrace--with the most magnificent view of the Parthenon in the distance. As the sun went down, it lit up and will be forever in my memory how beautiful, enduring and peaceful as it resides upon its mountain top.
The next day we took the train the Pireus to catch a 12 hour ferry to the island of Leros. The ferry ride was neat, but nothing special and we both agreed that flying over and using the time sight-seeing would be more productive. However, it was cheap and it got us there and it was on water, so there you have it. We arrived in Leros at 1 am.
Leros is a small island all the way across the Aegean from Athens--over 100 miles. It has about 8000 inhabitants and is one of the larger Dodecanese (twelve) islands--about 20 miles by 2 miles.
A note: for those of you that know us, it's a standing joke that Treb and I cannot travel w/o mishap. I held my breath, as things were going so well, to have them crashed at Leros. Nothing bad, but enough to make us chuckle about our travel demon being in our back-pocket. Our hotel was supposed to pick us up at the ferry. They weren't there, so we got a taxi to take us to the hotel. No one answered the door, no one ansered the phone, etc etc etc. I was about to blow a gasket. Our sweet taxi driver, called another hotel and finally got us a room and we fell asleep some time after 2.
One other note: That was our second near-mishap of the trip. THere had been a general strike going on in Greece the week before--it shut all the ferries down. People had been stuck on the islands wanting to go home, and people had been stuck in Athens wanting to go to the islands. The strike ended a couple of days before we got there. Although we were repeatedly assured that taking the ferries is never a problem, it was tough for us to find a ferry to Leros because of everyone scrambling when the strike was over. After we called a few places in Athens who told us their ferry was booked, it took an early-evening metro ride down to the port to get a ticket.
We borded our boat, a 55 foot Atlantic yacht, at 12 noon Monday. Our crew, Matthew and Jill (Matt's from the UK, Jill is from Holland) were awesome. Our mates: Heather and Craig (American ex-pats living in UK embarking on a 6 months round the world back packing trip); Judi and Ross (Seattle, WA) and Liz and Greg (Seattle, WA). The Seattle folks in their 30-50's knew each other and ended up bailing out of the boat on the 3rd day leaving a note and taking off without seeing our captain, saying it wasn't for them. I could say a lot, but won't, but let's just say they weren't cut out for a sailing trip and wanted the 5 star bit. Heather and Craig and our crew were all our age and we settled in for a rockin' trip.
We caught a slow but fair wind to the other-side of Leros and anchored off the beach for some fabulous swimming. We hiked up to the castle that was built to defend the island from the Turks--it was closed unfortunatly and we headed back. After we wore ourselves out we got cleaned up and went to dinner which was set up by the restraunt on the beach. We ate a great meal on the beach (which felt like a deserted island) with the moon rising above us. Romance! Greeks keep GMT time which is Greek Maybe time--the equivalent of island time. They are slow to get going in the morning but go all night. We were sitting down to eat between 9-10 pm and this is normal and was what most nights were like.
A list of things we ate over the course of our
olive paste mmmmmmmm
cheese and more cheese
and I am sure there is more
After dinner, we headed to a local bar to have flaming lamborghinis--you mix kaluha, vodka and sambuca--light it--drink it with a straw and the waitress pours a shot of milk and blue curacao into the glass as it goes down. All the couples shared one of these as one alone might do you in. It was pretty good, but mostly tasted like licorice. After that I got to talking with a German, an English and a Danish girl and we yakked until 4 in the morning. other than myself, Treb, our captain and first mate, the rest of our crew had headed back to the boat. We had a fabulous time talking with people from all over the world and learned to say Cheers in about 5 different languages. It was a blast.
The next day we sailed from Leros to the island of Arki--there wasn't much to Arki--a cool church on top of the hill which we watched the sun set from. Only about 40 people live on Arki. The sailing that day had been pretty good. I had the helm most of the time and loved it. Matt told me I was a natural sailor and quite good. We then went to the local taverna for what Treb and I think was the best meal of the entire trip--lamb and fried potatoes. mmmmmm my mouth waters to think of it. The four from Seattle didn't want to eat with the rest of us, so they went off on their own. Tonight we got in around 1 or 2--no more flamin lambourghinis!
The third day we headed to the island of Patmos--the most touristy of the islands we went to. It is quite beautiful and I got a lot of great shopping done. Some cool pieces of jewelry and pottery. The biggest thing about Patmos is the monestary of St. John. It is dated from 11 century and is old. Many people of the Greek orthodox faith pilgimage here to kiss the foot of Mary/Christ or their patron said that is painted on the walls of the church. The wear is visible on the icons, but they are incredibly beautiful and you know that you are in a holy place. There is a treasury at the monestary with many priceless christian relics and objects of the orthodox faith. The other biggest sight (my favourite) is the cave of the Apocolypse. There is a cave down from the monestary where St. John wrote the book of Revelations. There are two indentations in the wall from where he rested his head and placed his hand to list himself up. There is a notch in the wall where he wrote the text and a large crack running the ceiling of the cave where St. John heard the voice of God calling him to write Revelations. It was an unbelievable experience to be in something like that. It says to me, "God is Alive!"
We rode around Patmos on a scooter and went to the beach and watched the cup and all that good stuff. Another good dinner and another late nighter in a local taverna playing silly games with our friends. Matthew, Jill, Craig, Heather, Treb and I all bonded and had a fabulous time even without the others. We are a laid back, free-wheelin lot that was just out to have a great trip.
After Patmos, we set sail to the island of Marathi--Treb manned the wheel and we had the most fantastic day of sailing with 30 knot winds, 25-degree heel on the boat--we had to reef the main as the winds were so good and we were pitching and rolling through the waves and giggling with glee as the water showered us. We were hooting and hollering through it all and all agreed it was better than an roller coaster. We responded to our late night and rolling waves with a 3 hour nap by all in port. Once we got ourseves going again we ate a the most scenic restraunt of them all with all the ambiance California strives for and never reaches. This was the taverna or tavernas and you wished you could stay there forever. Marathi is a neat little island--there are only three families that live there, and two of them have tavernas with little motels. Boaters and vacationers go there to get away from everything.
From Myrathi, we sailed to the island of Lipsi known for its 42 blue domed churches. Treb and I joked that they had one church for every inhabitant on the island! It was great. We say a goat farm and hiked around checking the island out and having a good ole time. The winds were gusting 30-39 knots and it was rough on the boat. Docking was an adventure we all sweated through as the boat kept beating against the quay. We had to slowly push her off against the wind with a line for counter-balance and then swing her around to the other-side of the cay. For those of you who are sailors, this is a test of strength, patience, preparedness. Captain Matthew told us the saying they use in the UK Navy, the six P's--Preparation and Planning Prevent Piss Poor Performance! With that motto in hand, we pulled the boat around and got her docked safely. We cracked open the beer at that point for some de-stressing.
We left Lipsi the nexy day for Leros--it was our last day of sailing--and we made some stops along the way. The first was at some cliff islands--uninhabited--that had and underwater cave that you could swim down and under to a swim hole on the other side. This was the scariest thing I have ever done in my life. With snorkeling gear on, you dive about 3 feet down and through the cave opening for about another 9 feet until you surface in the swim hole. The scary thing was that you had to clear the cave--if you came up, you hit your head--and well you have to hold your breath that long--I did it, with a few cuts and scrapes and had a nice swim and then had to talk myself into doing it again to go back. I lost my flipper on the return trip, but made it through and I have never been so proud of myself. It was one of those things in life that screams, "ACCOMPLISHMENT!" I had used up my stores of adrenaline, so the rest (Treb stayed with me) climbed up the cliff and jumbed 35 feet off the cliff into the ocean. NUTS!
We then went to another cove that had great snorkeling and beaches. We just took it easy as we were all worn out from our adrenaline adventure. As the sun went down, we sailed for Leros for our final night. We all had long faces as we pulled into port and all were trying to find ways to stay for a few more days. We packed up our stuff and headed out for one last night on the town. And it was a blast of a night.
One thing about the trip--it was HOT the whole time. Highs in the 90s and no relief from the sun--we didn't see a cloud the entire time we were on the boat. Surprisingly, though, the water was a bit chilly--low 70s. Not uncomfortable, but not as warm as the SC beaches. Then we realized that Greece, for all its tropical appeal to the Europeans, is farther north than SC.
Sunday, we got up, said our teary farewells and headed to the airport. We flew from Leros, to Athens, with a 4 hour layover to watch the World Cup final (Germany lost :( ) and flew into Frankfurt at 1915. We are home now and trying to get back in a working mode. I start my job tomorrow and am a littler nervous. I hope it goes well. We will post the pictures from the trip as soon as Treb does his part of putting them on the pooter. That might be a while, though--we're off to Normandy for the 4th of July long weekend. BTW--please send me your snail mail addresses, as when Treb loaded up XP it erased all our address files. Imagine that! I am sure I have forgotten something, but will add it to the next missive. As usual, we love you all and miss you and the only way we deal with it is to travel! The same company we sailed through has a Turkish coast sailing trip we are looking into for next year. We highly recommend SeaScape Sailing for the adventure vacation of your dreams. Check their website out: www.seascape-sail.com
We will be in touch.
yemissee! (cheers in greek)
Anna and Treb
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Monday, July 08, 2002 6:28 PM
Dear Friends and Family,
Treb and I had the opportunity to visit Normandy over the 4th of July weekend. It was quite an experience.
We left Wednesday after work and headed towards
Reims, FR; where we had a
hotel. Unfortunately, we encountered a traffic stahl around Frankfurt that put us 1-1.5 hrs behind. We were both testy and antsy after a long day at work and this wasn't the way to start a road trip! The French autobahn also has speed limits, so it was much slower going! It drove us nuts! We finally got going and arrived in Reims around 12-12:30. However, our directions were incorrect and we road around Reims for an hour trying to find our hotel. I was ready to give up at this point. We got directions from another hotel and finally arrived at our hotel for the night.
We got up the next day to head to Normandy via
Paris, as that is the only
way to get anywhere on the west side of France. We road through Paris around
mid day, saw the Eiffel Tower, stuck our tongue out at the Parisians and
were in another traffic stahl as we made our way through town. This trip
was feeling like a disaster in the making and was far longer than either of us thought.
We had decided to detour to south Normandy to
see Mont St Michel, one of the
most beautiful castles in the world. It dates from the 11th century and sits
on a rocky precipice off the coast of France. It is unbelievably huge and
the legend says the Archangel Michael appeared to the bishop of the abbey to
inspire him to build this castle/abbey. We arrived in Mont St. Michel about
1600 and had 2 hours to tour the place before it closed, so we did a whorl-
wind tour. The abbey had the American flag up honoring Independence Day.
It was cool, but we were both missing the river, beer and Barbecue. Check out
the pictures at www.courie.com in a couple of days.
After Mont St Michel, we decided to go find our
next hotel in Cherbourg, FR
No problem there! We ate our first "french" meal at the hotel restaurant,
which was overpriced. I had a pretty good omelet and Treb had his usual
sausage and chips and a nice white wine. We rounded the meal off with a
great creme brulee and cheeses. The French eat so much food and such high fat
food; I don't know why they all are not fat!
The next day we got up early and headed to Omaha
beach. The American
cemetery for WWII sits on the bluff over Omaha beach. 9,386 American soldiers are
buried there from the WWII campaign. Approximately, 2,000 of them died 6
June 1944 from storming the Omaha beach sector. The crosses are arrayed in the
memorial similar to Arlington Cemetery. Row upon row of crosses and Star of
David's fill the area. The total memorial is 176 acres big. It was extraordinarily quiet. It's eerie how beautiful the whole countryside has become. The wild flowers bloom riotously, the birds' nest and sing and yet when you walk the paths you realize someone died where your feet tread. The country is exquisite. Farms and lush greenery line the road as well as many trees-Treb says the streets of France are lined with trees as the Germans liked to march in the shade. There are also hedgerows everywhere, which
from a tactical point of view was very difficult for the Allies, as you never
knewif friend or foe was behind the line. The weather for the trip, especially the first day, was wet, rainy, overcast and fairly miserable. The sun shone at a minimum and reflects the somber feel of the area. You look at the beach and ocean and your mind does not reconcile while the waters and sand are not red. I looked to the horizon and expected to see battleships and I kept listening as I expected to hear more than the silence of a deserted beach. This beach, despite being pretty, is virtually free of beachcombers as the respect for the area permeates and one realizes this is not a vacation resort. We lost so many soldiers here as the geography was so rough. There is a sheer rise of rock and brush rising off the beach and the soldiers had to fight 25 ft waves and variable tides along with the enemy.
Treb got a jar of sand, and I picked up two rocks.
We walked around the
beach and the memorial. The 66 Infantry Division was prominent and the wall of
those bodies never recovered as their battleship the Leopold was sunk by a
German U-boat off the coast of Normandy. Only about 1/4 of the division
bodies were recovered for burial. There were also a lot of crosses/stars that had
the inscription: "He who rests here is known only but to God." It and the
other inscriptions on the memorial are immensely powerful. It's truly a
trip worth taking.
We left Omaha and headed to Utah beach.
The troops of Utah beach actually
landed 2000 meters south on the coast of where their landing was supposed to
be and as a result their casualties were less, as they weren't where the
Germans expected them. A ranger company south of Utah had to scale this sheer face of cliff called Point du Hoc to capture a German gun. There is a memorial there as the 250 Rangers that scaled the rocks, only 90 of them lived to find out that the gun bunker was empty and a decoy. You can see this memorial and sheer face in our pictures too.
Along the way, we stopped at multiple museums
and memorials of the war; we
saw a lot of uniforms, equipments, weapons etc. Treb was in heaven and I think
this was a bit of a dream come true for him to see what he has studied for
We ate lunch at a little crepe shop-I had a buckwheat
pancake thing stuffed
with salmon and spinach. I thought it was going to be healthy but they put
so much sauce on it! I don't think I am a huge fan of French food. That night
we had tried to find a good restaurant to go to, but ended up in an
Americanized "Fifties Diner" as we couldn't find the pizza place we were
looking for. We got hamburgers and a good beer-wish I could say the burger was good!
The next day we headed to some more museums and
to the British and Canadian
beaches of Gold, Sword and Juno. We were so amazed at how different these
beaches are. They are much more gently sloping-which is a reason why they
had fewer casualties, and they are much more populated by tourists and those
coming to the area to go to the beach. We were a little disappointed. The
British and Canadians are remembered here, but the beaches do not have the
quiet solemnity the American beaches have.
We also went to see the Bayeax tapestry, a tapestry
that is 70 meters
long-3/4 the size of a football field. It depicts William the Conquerors invasion of
England and is so old. It is in great condition and really cool. The town
of Bayeax had a medieval festival going on and we walked around a bit-we
stopped at a pizzeria for lunch and were told we couldn't share a pizza! The stinky
French! Our waitress was a mean little thing. I don't think she liked
Americans. But then the French hate everyone!:) And for all that Treb got a pizza and I got a salad, none of it was very good!
We stayed in the town of Caen that night.
We ate at the Buffalo Grill and
had a great meal. We have both decided we aren't huge French cuisine fans; bad
Americans that we are. The wine and desserts they do great though. We got
up early Sunday morning to head home and the trip back was much better.
All along the way we had tried to find pizza places or McDonalds for our small meals to save money. We either couldn't find the pizza places at the time and ended finding them several blocks later after our meal, or arriving at McDonald's to find that it was closed--one French McD's didn't open until 10 and then when we went back we couldn't get lunch until 11! Another wasn't open inside until after0730, but you could get drive through. It was really nuts.
The Normandy trip is a must and we probably will
go back. It is important
to see how heroes are made and what real sacrifice is like. It really pisses
me off when people diss the military. When you give up that much for your
country, some respect is deserved whether you believe America should be
militaristic or not. I wish I could say it was a fun and restful trip-it is
not. We packed so much into such a short period of time. Plus, it's very
emotionally and mentally wearing between the driving and everything you are
seeing. However, as I said, it is a must see. The beauty of the French
countryside does not reconcile itself to the horrors it has seen. God
certainly heals as is evident in the abundance of growth and lushness of the
I will close with a poem that is on a card I picked up:
"If it rains so often here (Normandy)
is it to wipe out the blood
That soldiers shed
A long time ago..." Paths to Freedom by Jean
Love to all,
A and T.
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Monday, July 15, 2002 7:38 AM
Snails and Slugs
Well we havn't been to any exotic places this week. I just returned Friday from orientation all week in Landstuhl, Germany. I wish I could say it was exciting, but mostly I just hung around an Army post learning the billions of things that I need to do for my job. It is exciting and a tad overwhelming. I however, have a fantastic boss and I think that this job will be great for me. I will let you know more as it develops, but mostly I have a Combat Expo and a Civilian Physical Fitness Program to get together for September.
We have had a lot of rain around here. I went for a walk the other day--well you know how it rains at home and the worms come out? Well here, the slugs and snails come out and let me tell you, squished slugs and snails are far worse that squished worms. Just don't look too close at the bottom of your shoe...
On to other pleasant stuff. This weekend was the Iphofen (the town we stayed in until we got our home) Weinfest (Wine festival). All I have to say, is that if an itty bitty town can get as crazy during a winefest, I can only imagine what a huge city like Munich will do for a beer festival! This town rocked! We went with some friends from work about 1900, got some dinner and wine and sat down in the rows and rows of tables in the town square. it was packed. There was a band set up, playing traditional German tunes and there were many people dressed in traditional German garb. If you can imagine the advertisements you see of Germans swaying, laughing and dancing at their festivals, well, it's true! Their usually dower selves, turn into some real party, happy people! They elect a wine princess from every town to go around drinking with everyone. She has to know the most wine making lore--this ain't no beauty contest....
Well after awhile, it started to rain. The umbrellas came out and everyone continued to have a merry time. Some of our friends brought their kids (it is a very kid friendly festival as well) but they had to leave b/c of the rain. So it was just Treb and i and we were adopted by a German group. One of the guys, about 20 years older than myself, Seiggi, had quite a crush on me. We chatted and he waltzed with me in the square and we had a grand time. Even Treb danced with me!:) Well the rain continued, but enough people left that groups of people took the empty tables and stacked them in such a way to make a shelter out of the rain! it worked so well, we stayed fairly dry.
As the night went on, the Germans start to play their favorite American hits with their own version interjected from time to time. They LOVE John Denver, his song "Country Roads" and also they LOVE the song, "Hey, hey Baby." But they put this weird, "OOmph, ahhh" after the "hey hey baby" chorus. It is so funny. They sway and dance and clink glasses. Truly a fabulous cultural event. We've even been told Oktoberfest is over rated and that the true festivals of fun are these winefests. The next one is next weekend in a town 4 kms from here called Grosslaingheim. We hope to see our German friends there. We had a great time and finally got home aroune 0130. Our cab driver ripped us off, but we just let it slide. It was a wonderful fun filled evening and if anyone comes to visit around winefest time, we will take you to one!
Hope you all are well. Much love,
anna and Treb
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Monday, July 22, 2002 5:45 PM
Viva la Vino!
Addendum to Snails and Slugs and the Normandy letter… (things I forgot)
I completed yet another work week. It has its ups and downs, but mostly from new job stress. I really like my boss and the people I work with, and as I meet more people in the hospital, the more comfortable I get with my community. I hope that I will do a good job. It is a big responsibility.
On Tuesday, I went for my morning walk and would you believe it, I got attacked by a hawk! This hawk dive-bombed me for about ¼ mile while I was, "hiyah, hiyahing" it with my arms flailing in the air. I think it got about as close as 3 feet from my head. I was so incredulous that a stupid hawk was dive-bombing my head that I wasn’t scared until I got home. It was like out of The Birds. I had nightmares of my eyes getting clawed out. Stupid bird, it either didn’t like my warm-up suit, or I smelled, take your pick!J
We took it easy this weekend. We took our intern to the Grosslaingheim wine festival on Friday night. It wasn’t as good as the Iphofen wine fest, but we had a great time. There was a parade around the town of the local dignitaries, including some brass from the base, and they marched around with the band and the wine princess. We also found out in hindsight, we weren’t supposed to start drinking until this was over, but since no one told us, so, Viva la vino! We weren’t adopted by any Germans, but I think this is mostly because we were with a bunch of Americans. We must have not looked too lost!
Saturday, Treb and I went for a long bike ride—I am getting better at the two-wheeled thing and no hawks were chasing us. Other than a sore butt, it was a great ride and we hope to do that more. We didn’t do anything special that night, just played Might and Magic 9 and read books. Quite boring, but nice—I’ve been so tired from all our gallivanting around!J Sunday, we got up early to drive to Landstuhl, GE—about 2.5 hours away to go to church with our Reservist priest. He is great at giving a sermon and one of the few I actually listen to. He is the hospital chaplain and will be leaving in September. We will surely miss him! After church, we went with some of the members to brunch at the O-club. This post has it good. We ate chilled shrimp, crab legs, omelets, Belgian waffles and so much more! Hog heaven! There are advantages to being an officer! We got home around 1530 and didn’t do much of anything.
Today was actually a good Monday. One of my friend’s dad was over here on business and Treb and I got to have lunch with him. He actually was over here on an installation review and a lot of brass were with us at lunch. It was a little intimidating and overwhelming, but it was great to see a friendly face! Hopefully, Alison and her dad and the rest of her family, will come visit us again! Thanks Mr. Fiori!
Can’t think of much else. Love to all and send us some good information!
A and T
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Tuesday, July 30, 2002 9:08 AM
"Wake up and get out of bed"
Dear Friends and Family,
I cannot say that we had an exciting week this
week! No more hawk attacks
and no wine festivals. We took it easy. I am definitely getting into the
groove of a workweek, but the whole office concept of drinking coffee and
chatting escapes me. I am so used to working straight through my 12.5
hours, that not doing work, during work hours makes me feel guilty. It's
nuts! I wonder exactly what percentage of our work time we actually spend
working. However, being the work nut that I am, it keeps me ahead of the
game and right now, I am really not drowning. Hopefully, I haven't spoken
too soon and all hell will break loose!:-)
Treb is doing well. Working hard.
He will also be
gone all of September for field training.
We went to a great cookout Friday night with friends
and met some of the
incoming JAG officers. They seem like a nice bunch and also said farewell
to some friends that will be leaving. It is amazing how hard it is to say
good-bye, even when you have known people for such a short while.
Saturday, we went for a long bike ride and cleaned
the house and just hung
out. We actually stayed at home to watch movies that night. Sunday was
more of the same, except we went for another bike ride. The hills around
here are deceptively steep and as a result we both have sore teezies and
legs! What a workout it was! We biked halfway up the mountain and all
through the vineyards. It was like being in God's country the weather was
so perfect and vines are ripening and the grapes are growing. Magnificent!
However, my mantra up the hill was, "I hate this, I hate this, owww, ughhh,
God, what am I doing in the name of exercise...ahhhh, I hate this, etc."
Down the hill: "WhEEEE, this is fun, gosh, no work, my legs are still
shaking though and my heart is hammering away. I am soooo old." But I did
it, and will keep doing it until these legs are as good looking as Lance
I think that is about all the news in the world.
We love y'all and miss you
and hope you are thrilled to be back to work on a beautiful Monday.
Anna and T-boy
to topMonday, August 05, 2002 7:10 PM
YMCA and other stories
As the dark of night approached, a chill rippled
through the air, foreboding of evil things to come....
I played hooky from work on Friday along with most Army personel to go to Organizational day--a day of picnics and games put on by each individual division or department of the Army. While the hospital had one, Treb and I decided to go to the JAG event as we hadn't seen many of our JAG friends in awhile. It was a fun day! Treb may seem to you to be one of these slow, sweet boys, not real competetive and just out to have a good time. Well, put him on the basketball court, 3 on 3 or the volleyball court and well, you have one mean dunkin' machine!:) Treb BB team got beat out by the 2 place team and we were all really impressed. Even Treb's intern comment about, "he plays better than he lets on!" However, the mean, jumping machine PFC for Gieblestat had about a 2 foot higher hang than our boy and they lost out. The food was good and we had a great time seeing everyone. We left around 5 to drive back to take our intern, Sean, for one last weinfest in Sommerhausen--a nearby town.
We got to Sommerhausen and things were still slow, got our wine and some eats and sat down to stick out like a sore thumb, an American thumb that is...we were proud to realize though, that there was another American couple (tourists) there that stuck out even more. We invited them to sit with us and we chatted about Americana for awhile. They were headed to Prague the next day and left early--we told them they would have a blast. We were also befriended by another German, Karin, that once she got over her shyness, chattered away at us in a hodge podge of German-English--she thought we could understand far more German than we did, but we found that if we laughed when she laughed and smiled and nodded when she nodded, and kept filling her wine glass--all was ok!:) In fact, as the night went on, she is the only woman I've ever known who could make Treb stand on a table dancing to YMCA--not only once, but TWO TIMES! However, we did the learn the trick as to how Germans can drink so much for so long, they buy bottles of mineral wasser and fill their glasses 1/2 with mineral water and 1/2 with wine or bier--they last longer that way!!!! We also, get this got to hear TIGER RAG played by the German band! We were just sitting there and the next thing we know we are clapping and wooping with the Germans to TIGER RAG! hoowah hoowah! The grandoma of the weinfest was there being the grand dame owner of the local vineyeard--she was older than Grandmama and was dancing on the tables along with us! It was another great night and a great send off for Sean.
The next day, we got up and took Sean to the airport in Frankfurt for him to fly home to CA. We then spent the day wandering Frankfurt--we went shopping and ot the flea market (flohmarkt)--but headed home because the crowd was too much. We spent a wonderful evening together just relaxing. The next day we played more Might and Magic IX and then had the Midgley's over for dinner--the newest Midling is 2.5 weeks old and is as cute as could be! We also went for another Lance Armstrong workout and the weather has been perfect.
Today was a training holiday for Treb, but not for me--I was off to work and left Treb in charge of many chores--about 1/2 were done, so he did pretty good!:) Plus he made dinner so that was good too. We will celebrate our 4th anniversary on Thursday and I am very blessed that God sent me such a wonderful husband--Among all our fantastic trips and adventures together, I am reminded that the BEST has yet to be! Truly a fabulous 4 years and I know many more to come. We will head to Chiemsee, in southern Bavaria for the weekend and so there might be some good stories there. Much love to you all!
--CPT and Mrs. Adventure
to topMonday, August 12, 2002 7:05 PM
The Hills are Alive....
Dx: Monday morning, coffee all over my shirt and losing computer programs.
Tx: Go home and start over again tomorrow.
Notes and Notables:
--Treb and I went to the Dutchman's for our anniversary dinner (the
guesthouse/restaurant that we stayed at when we moved here) and what should
be hanging on the wall of this fine establishment, but a beautiful Tiger Rag
that we had presented our host with on the day we left. It is such a
beautiful bright orange that blends with the décor.
--Last week the German Administrative Assistant for Preventive Medicine got mad at
me, telling me I say, "huh?" and "excuse me?" too much-he said this makes
him and other Germans self conscious and upset-he was really ugly about it
and aggressive. My sweet southern self, turned and said, "Well, I'm sorry,
it makes me self-conscious and upset that I have a hearing impairment and
have a hard time understanding YOU." He turned beet red and we've gotten
along famously ever since.
--It's been COLD-we luckily hit 72 once we got into Wuerzburg when we were
driving home from our trip. This past week, I've worn long sleeves and
pants every day!
Work has been really busy. It is quite a
challenge to be a director of a
wellness program for my area! In one area alone I am responsible for about
18,000 people! It is so hard to target them all! I enjoy my work, but it
is such a change from anything that I have ever done before. It is
definitely not critical care, but there are rewards in encouraging people to
lead healthier life-styles and make positive changes in their lives. I have
several big projects on the board and I think they will only continue to
Treb is getting ready for his training exercise
in the beginning of
September. He will be gone for a month.
We celebrated our 4th anniversary this past Thursday-how
really does fly. Treb got a DVD player and I got pearl earrings and
flowers, so we spoiled each other as usual.
Friday we left town to go to Cheimsee, GE in southern
Bavaria. The Cheimsee is an American
Resort owned by the US Army that was built for Hitler. We captured it during the war about the
same time we captured Hitler's famed "Eagle's Nest in Berchesgarten. Unfortunately, we are turning
Cheimsee back to the German government next year, but will hang on to the Eagle's Nest. We
haven't been there yet, but it's on our list of places to go. Chiemsee is about
an hour from the Austrian border and one of the most beautiful places. The
area is known for Cheimsee Lake, aka Bavarian Ocean, as it is the biggest
lake in Germany. It is so peaceful and wonderful-it's the first time I have
relaxed in awhile! We went down so that Treb could start the process of
becoming an American Red Cross Certified sailor. He was certifiable
yesterday as he sailed all day in the cold, pouring down rain! While Treb
was playing Popeye-I signed up to go on the "Sound of Music" and Salzburg
I left Saturday around 0830-the weather was chilly,
but sunny. We headed
out with our tour guide Ann Marie and Bavarian and our bus-driver Bennie-a
Prussian. As we drove a long, the Austrian Alps, rise from the horizon. It
is magnificent. They are larger than any mountains Treb and I have been to,
except for maybe Mount Mitchell. The fog surrounds the peaks as though they
are smoking, and as the cloud cover lifts and pink sun shines through,
clouds appear to be stuck on the mountaintop like bits of cotton to a
scruffy beard. Austria is the most beautiful of all the places that we have
been to. Salzburg is fantastic; I could spend a week there. It is
everything that you think Europe is going to be. The area is known more its
Salt mines, hence the name Salz-burg as well as skiing. You can see the
course of the slopes, as they are visible through the trees on the mountain.
I can't wait to go skiing! It's about the only thing I look forward to as
We first went to a place right outside of
Salzburg that housed the gazebo
that was used in the movie where they sing, "I am Sixteen, going on
Seventeen..." It was given by the movie company to the town and many people
come to see it. It lies at the bottom of a cliff, where a very small castle
as been built. The bishop of the area built the castle, and I quote our
tour guide, "Fur heez hanky-panky." :-)
After that we headed out to see the Von Trapp
family castle-it is not open
for visitors, as it is privately owned, but we got to see the outside and
where filming occurred and the long driveway, the children rode their bikes
down singing the "Doe a deer" song. They played the soundtrack from the
film on the bus and had a signed headshot of the actor who played Rolf-he
lives in Concord, NC, FYI. Our tour guide said the movie was mostly
correct, but she states, "Dee movie, it teels vone small lie, dee Von
Trapps, deed not valk to Svitzerland-do you know how far Svitzerland ist
from heer? Svitzerland ist very very far-dee Von Trapps, day take dee train
After that we went to the church that I think
Maria and Mr. Von Trapp got
married in. There was a wedding going on and we got to see the bride and
groom and we learned a lot of German marriage customs. They get married
early in the morning, party all night and then they have to be the first
ones at church the next morning at 0700! If they are not there it is a big
After the church we rode around the countryside-which
is beautiful, and then
headed to Salzburg. I saw the burial place for Hayden and Mozart's sister.
Walked around the oldest cathedral in Austria. Saw the birthplace of
Mozart. Saw the smallest building in Austria. Bought goodies, shopped,
etc. I just had a wonderful time! We headed back and got into Cheimsee
At this point, I have to admit, that all our meals
were essential good old
American grease and bar food! It was soooo good. We ate wings and onion
rings and poppers and quesadillas, just like you would get at home. It was
fantastic! We got our bit of Americana during our visit to hold us til the next time.
However, although they had bud and budlite on tap...we just couldn't bring ourselves
to taste how crappy it really is....:)
The next day, Treb continued to play Popeye and
I caught the ferry to
HerrenIsle. This island is known for the castle of Ludwig II-a copy of
Versailles. However, this king was so impetuous, he tried to build 3
castles at the same time, only finished 1 and bankrupts the treasury in the
mean time. He died at the age of 41 and only spent 10 days in the one
castle that I saw. It was quite impressive and beautiful, but our guide
wasn't very good, so it wasn't as good as it could have been. Then, I
walked down to the docks in the pouring rain to try and catch the ferry to
FrauenIsle. However, the lady at the concession stand was grossly ugly to
me. I nicely asked her pardon and where the ferry to the island was-she
then started yelling at me in German and making faces at me while everyone
watched. She continued this, even after I walked off. It was so
embarrassing! I turned snow white, while my cheeks flamed red and I thought
my cooker would pop. At that point, with the rain, the poor tour and the
evil wicked witch. I waited for the ferry home and got out of Dodge.
We headed home that afternoon when Treb was completed
with his class. He
had a blast and will head back down there on Wednesday to finish his big
boat certificate while I slave a way at work. You are to feel sorry for
Treb will put up the pictures soon and maybe next
week we will have another
good story to tell. Love to you all,
Anna and Treb.
to top Tuesday, August
20, 2002 6:28 PM
Walking on Water
Ok folks, we are going to start of with Treb's attempt at prose and his
finally helping with the letter writing!:) Then we will
get back to the good stuff and where I use my artistic license
and first amendment rights!:) So this letter my not be in
chronological order. Treb's 2 cents:
I enjoyed spending three more days camping and sailing at Chiemsee. The
weather was nice and warm,a dn we had good winds Wednesday. The winds
didn't cooperate Thursday and Friday, though, and the sailing was calm
and slow (and boring). I already knew most of what was taught during
the course, but I did learn a few new little tricks and techniques, and
it was nice having some formal professional sail instructing instead of
picking up things in books and from friends--or worse, figuring them out
myself. I ended up with a Red Cross license--so now Anna and I can head
back to Chiemsee any time and rent a boat from Armed Forces Rec Centers
( www.afrceurope.com <http://www.afrceurope.com> ).
Two things to mention about Chiemsee--the first is that it AFRC is
supposed to cease running it in 2004. It may still be a NATO/Allied
resort, but it won't be under American management. This is a shame.
It's hard to find water sports in Germany, and Chiemsee is about the
only place for many of these activities. Instead, AFRC is builing a
huge new resort at Garmisch (where there is already a resort). Garmisch
is in the heart of the mountains and, I am told, a wonderful place to
visit--but there are no summer water sports available there. I don't
think that the troops are being looked after here...
The second--the flooding. We have fortunately been spared the bad
flooding that has been hitting Czech, Germany, and Austria--among
others. But Chiemsee was definitely affected by all of the rains. The
lake was at least 4 feet higher than normal full pool. We had to walk
through water to get to our classroom, and we had to walk through
thigh-deep water just to get out to the docks. The boat docks
themselves were underwater--about ankle-deep or so. When everyone was
walking out on the submerged docks, it looked like we were walking on
water! We saw a German power boat run up on one of the docks and get
stuck a while, and we saw someone have to warn off three German
sailboats that were about to drift over the submerged dock.
The soccer match was fun. Got on the U-bahn (subway) and there was a group of drunk 16 year-old Bayern Munchen fans singing and chanting, and one Bielefeld Arminia (the bad guys) fan near us who gave every bit back to them. He sang and chanted and wouldn't shut up. The Munchen Olympic Stadium was nice. The beer was cheap and too plentiful, the bratwurst wasn't up to German par.
The match itself was a BLOWOUT. 6-2 Bayern Munchen. Elber had 3 goals and Ballack (yes, THAT Ballack) had 1. 8 goal matches are pretty rare in the Bundesleague--the most combined goals scored in any other match this weekend was 5. Bayern-Munchin (the soccor team here--it has a lot of the World Cup players on the team--Ballak is the one that scored the goal to win against the US and then couldn't play in the Finals b/c he had 2 yellow cards) had played to a 0-0 tie the weekend before, so we say something pretty remarkable. It was fun and wild, but not too wild. All of the young hooligans sit in the end zone, surrounded by fences and security guards, and chant and sing and cheer the entire match. The rest of the stands are much calmer and have regular folks--families and stuff. It's really very much like a college football game--with the students and then every one else. There is even a section in the far end zone for the visiting fans to sit, and there were a couple thousand of them. THere were 60,000 fans total at the game.
We spent the night in Munchen. Beautiful city, I think you need to head there on business to check out the NMRS office. :) Went to the Hofbraufaus. Joe (one of the guys in my office) and I had both bought B-M t-shirts, so all night we had B-M fans yelling at us and cheering and leading us in cheers and all this other crazy stuff. We didn't know what we were doing, we just followed their lead--which is much easier to do when you're drinking "maas beers"--one-liter beers. The size was okay, but what was great was how dang solid those mugs were--you could slam the glasses together or down on the table and they'd bang iwth a mighty CLINK, but they were too solid to break.
Anyway--our fun is over for the short-term. I'm going to spend most of September in the field, but we might get some traveling in during October and November. Cheer for us at the football games!
Friday was pretty boring, actually my whole week was kinda boring--I don't know what I am going to do when Treb is gone! The house is empty, clean and every thing is in order, but well, you know, there's no one to talk to!!!! It's going to be a bit rough, but I'll tough it out. I'm going to look at traveling with some friends and stuff. I did get to check out our DVD player--I put it together myself and only had one blond moment, when I realized the TV had to be on channel 00 to receive! I'd been going up and down the channels, and since 00 isn't programmed into our TV, it took awhile to figure out. I watch The Lord of the Rings on it and it was quite good! I really didn't miss much without the closed captioning on the moviescreen, but it's always good to double check the lines.
Saturday, we got up, picked up another CPT and his wife (Joe and Eang)--took the guys to a brief they had to give and then headed down to Munich (Munchin). Treb picked up a hotel on priceline at the Marriott, so we were living in high style. We picked up the UBahn and headed off to what the Germans call fussbal and what we call soccor--what an EVENT!!!
The Bayern-Munich team plays at the Olympic stadium of the 72 Olympics--if you didn't know it, and I didn't--this was the site of the terrorist kidnapping of the Israli wrestling team in which all players and one German policeman were killed in the rescue attempt. The have a large monument there written in Hebrew and German and it's very moving. It just goes to show you that terrorist have been around for awhile and will attack when you least expect it, especially if you don't do anything about them.
Ok--well, let me say that the Green bay fans can learn a thing or two--It was hot that day--but the Germans come with scarves (with the team name on it) wrapped around arms, waists, necks, head--they have vests with team patches on it and they carry team flags to wave. There's beer to drink and food to eat and it isn't too over priced. The shirts were reasonable, we got a shirt for Treb to wear with Bayern-Munich across the front and this draws a lot of friendly attention. There was even a nun decked out in her habit with a Bayern-Munich (BM) scarf around her neck! She was bringing God's own glory to the game!:) It's a huge family event and lots of children were there and everyone was having a great time. We won the game with A LOT of goals and the crowd just went wild! They have this cheer after a score--The announcer yells Bayern! the crowd yells the score (sechs), the announcer: Bellefeld (our opponent), the crowd: zwei (2), then they yell the name of who scored (Elber) then the announcer yells Danke! (thank you) the crowd (bitte) your welcome! It's great and happens with every score! If only they had played Tiger Rag! We had a fantastic time!
We then left and picked up the packed U Bahn to downtown Munich with a bunch of crazy fans. It was like being on the trolly--sort of. We walked around downtown Munich and people would occasionally say something to Treb or Joe b/c of their shirts, but we hadn't a clue what they were saying!:) Munich is a beautiful, big city. The palaces and gardens are amazing and the dern town hall is a magnificant HUGE castle smack on main street--you don't see that kinda thing in Darlington or Elizabeth City--it's beyond belief and you come up frmo the UBahn and there it is! Munich is a very expensive city with all the posh brand names: Bulgaria, Cartier, Versace, etc etc etc...my poor pocket and the lust in my heart for too many expensive toys. it's a good thing I'm frugal!
We headed to teh Hofbrauhaus (they have been making their beer since 1598) and had a good dinner and fair beer. The crowd was excellent to watch and we sat with some other expats and traded stories. All in all a fab night!
We got up the next day after sleeping in a fabulous king size bed with down comforter, to go to church at the Church of the Accension. An American Episcopal church in Munich. The service was in English, but they also read the gospel in German as only about 40% on the church has English as a first language. it was quite a cultural mix and not something you would usually see in the US. We felt at home at church for the first tmie and were comforted by familiar songs and rites. Treb especially enjoyed getting to sing in church for a change!:)
We grabbed some lunch and went to pick up our friends and headed back to home. Nothing much exciting after that! Treb leaves in about a 1 week and a half. I try not to think of it too much, but I will be so busy rolling out the Civilian Fitness Program, that I doubt time will slow for me much. I am trying to create a Virtual Wellness Center for my area, and am stumped that bummer for me, I have a NURSING degree, not comp sci!!!!:) I have the ideas, just don't know how to write it in a language this dern pooter reads!:) Well, give me some time and I will see what I can roll out.
We've missed being at home the last two weeks, as congrats go out to my cousin Edward and his new wife Molly as well as Treb's cousin Kevin and his new wife Mandy. They are all newleyweds and much love and thoughts to them! We missed being there and were hit with a bit of homesickness regarding being away. We wish them as much adventure and fun as we are having!:) Well, if they want it, that is...
I can't think of much else. Sorry for the delay, but I was wrapped up in work the last 2 days and this was as soon as I could sit and write a missive. Kudos to Treb, his note helped soooo much! BTW, we've had some heat, upper 80's and it feels sooooooo good!:)
hugs and kisses, at least to those I like:)
Anna (and Bubba)
to top Monday,
August 26, 2002 8:10 AM
What can I say? We led the life of the boring this week. It was all work
and no play and thus we are dull boys and girls!:-)
The workweek has been challenging. I was running around like a chicken with
its neck cut off, getting ready for the Community showcase-a showcase of all
the services available for soldiers and their families-The Health Promotion
table proudly had a busy booth! And Treb has been running around like a
chicken with his head cut off getting ready for his field training.
All in the space of one week, I will have to start school, say good-bye to
Treb and rollout our Civilian Fitness Program. Needless to say, I've been a
little stressed!:-) Oh well, it goes with the territory and I will be so
busy the month of September that I don't think I will have time to miss
Speaking of bench marks-we've been here 5 months now! How time has flown
Notables: Thursday I went down to Hohenfels Army Community to assist with a
health fair. It was a lot of fun and I learned a great deal on
presenting/promoting such an event.
Saturday was the Community showcase-I educated people on their percent body
fat, creating a personal fitness program, promoted the civilian fitness
program, reviewed the difference between muscle and fat and talked about
everything you didn't know about all those bad foods we love. It was a
busy, but successful day-I am just so glad that it is over!
That night we went to the Albertshofen weinfest. It was quite an event and
more rowdy than the other festivals that we had been to. We went with some
friends from Treb's office and had a good time. We have come to realize
that if German's sing the American songs as well as they do, then they know
English better than they let on! They LOVE John Denver-they play "Country
Roads" over and over around here. We had a good time and it simply amazes
us how the Germans come out of their shell at these events.
Yesterday, we helped some friends move from one government house into
another. They are expecting their second child and needed a little more
room. We got a good work out and had a fun time. It's always great to be
around good friends.
I have said my piece. It's Monday morning and time to get to work. Another
workweek is in the making. We love you all and will think especially of our
Clemson friends as Clemson takes on Georgia this Saturday night. Oh, how
our heart aches not to be there! Go TIGERS!
Anna and Treb
to top Monday, September
02, 2002 5:28 PM
Cesspool of the South
Another Courie notes and notables. It has been a good week this week. Both of us have had a chance to slow down and relax a little. My biggest accomplishment was to get my web up on the hospital Intranet. It still needs a lot of work, but it’s up! The next step will be to get it up on the Internet and then I will send you all the URL address.
We have thoroughly enjoyed our holiday weekend. On Friday (we had it off for a training holiday) we biked from our house through Kitzingen, down to Mainstockheim. We took the ferry across the Main River to Albertshofen and then biked back to Kitzingen and then on home. It was about a 15 mile bike ride, and we were surprised that we didn’t hurt too bad the next day! The weather here is beautiful and fall is coming quickly to our neck of the woods.
That night we got home and as Treb starting packing up for his time in the field, I started the cooking for our "tailgate" for Saturday night. If you have ever tailgated with the Praters, you all will be familiar with Julia’s much beloved pickle-loaf. The recipe is a top guarded secret and as far as I know, Julia is the only person alive that makes this delicacy. But, she felt sorry for us over here and fessed up the makings for this goody. The stress of making such a loaf was immense. Treb said it was good, but he wouldn’t go as far to say that it was better than Julia’s! The trouble is, European French bread is not made for fashioning of pickle loaves—it’s hasn’t the right rounded dimensions and bits of cheese stuffing falls out everywhere. Of course, if I hadn’t made so much cheese stuffing, there would have been more room for pickles and ham! However, the flavor was there and made us feel even more homesick! I made hot sausage dip and chocolate chip cookies to round off the picnic. We got chicken and biscuits from Popeye’s on post and had us a good tailgate time! I have to say that you all don’t know what you are missing in swapping a good Bitburger for a Budweiser! The only thing that was missing was a ravine to chuck the pickles into. It doesn’t taste the same when the pickle has to go onto your plate after pulling it out of the pickle loaf!
On Saturday, we drove up to Bamberg—a pretty medieval German town about and hour from where we live. We picked Bamberg as it has a military post with a military lodge that carries AFN Sports network and thus the Clemson/Georgia game. Bamberg is like most European cities. We saw the castle, the monastery and the cathedral. Ho. Hum. We did drink the oldest beer we’ve had so far and shared a mug of the Benedictine Dunkel. It’s been made since 1077 or there abouts. A fine brew. The area is also known for is Rauch beer. Literally a smoked beer. I think it tasted like you took a slab of smoked bacon and stuck it in a vat of Coors, but Treb rather like it. Gross. Anyway, after our day of walking around Bamberg, we headed back for GAME DAY!
We started to watch ESPN Game day about 1730 over here—we started in on our wonderful tailgate and I started to bawl. Bubba took me away from football and fun and family—I had big crocodile tears running down my face and was miserable. Who the heck wants to watch football on TV when it’s a glorious August day and can be at the game???? Plus, when you watch it on TV you have to listen to the inane commentary of Lee Corso—that I did not miss about football season. We watched the Michigan/Washington game and pulled for Washington till the bitter end. Then it was nap time, as we had the alarm set to wake us at 0145 for the Start of the Clemson/GA game. We need to speak to the school about these late night games. It’s hard on us so far away!J
We watched the whole game with anticipation and were hard pressed to be quiet (there are quiet hours on post from 2200-0600) during the exciting moments, the heart stopping moments and the moments of grief as we couldn’t not pull it off at the last. We definitely can see an improvement in the defense. Our O-line needs work as usual and we will continue to look guardedly at our QB—hopefully Willie just had a case of the nerves. It was a loss not to hash out the game with our friends and console ourselves with what might have been. There are 11 more games left though to hope for and well maybe Maryland will be a one hit wonder and if nothing else we will hope to dash USC against the rocks this year.
We went and bought the 700 dollar TV receiver set we needed to get American TV over here, so hopefully we won’t have to take off for the military lodgings for every game. I’ve been getting a TV fix lately off some Buffy the Vampire slayer DVDs that a friend lent me. Nothing like a little vamp TV to get you through the slow moments in life!J
Treb packed up yesterday and today I got the house so clean, I might not have to clean again for 6 months! JK—The windows got scrubbed, though, to give you an idea of how much I really did clean. I’m sore now and have been a bum ever since. We’ve both been moody with Treb leaving tomorrow and I’m really not interested in going to work after such a long, relaxing, wonderful weekend. I’ll be catching the game online ( hopefully, our Internet service has been messed up) next weekend, as it isn’t televised over here—God know what Treb will be able to do in the field.
If nothing else, people should realize the devotion to God and country that we have to separate ourselves from Tiger territory. There is nothing like watching a game from 0145-0545 to give you an appreciation for how far away you are from those you love. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. We ask your special prayers for Anna’s grandfather who lost his wife this week and for her family.
Enjoy your short work week! We miss and love you all,
Anna and Treb
PS—people have been falling on and off the mailing list—if you haven’t heard from us in awhile, drop a note. Drop a note anyway and let us know what is going on in your lives! You might think it mundane, but to us it sounds like home! If you are missing one of the weekly notes—they are online at www.courie.com. Also, if you want a Christmas card this year—send a snail mail address! Treb lost all our addresses downloading XP!!!!
to top Monday, September
09, 2002 9:02 AM
school day blues
Dear Family and Friends,
It has been a super stressful week. Treb left Tuesday for Hohenfels, GE for
field training. He is the JAG rep for HICON at the maneuver and it sounds
like they kept him busy and he said he learned a lot. I on the other hand
have been pulling my hair out with the start of school, my program and other
My master's program started Tuesday and while I thought (a bit arrogantly)
that I could easily manage school and work, I was surprised to find out how
rigorous my classes were and how structured the online environment. I have
so much reading and weekly assignments and well; there is no cutting class
for me! I try and remind myself that God would not have given me such a
good job and gotten me into grad school if I could not handle the challenge.
It will curtail a few travels probably and drive me a bit nuts, but
hopefully I can make it through the 2 years of the program and walk away
with a pretty degree!
Other than getting into the swing of school and working on local enrollment
into the Civilian Fitness Program and Treb being gone, there hasn't been
much news. The nights are getting longer already and it has been quite cool
at night. Fall is approaching and we both are missing football fiercely.
It did our hearts good to see the Chickens fall to the HOOs and an even more
warm and fuzzy feeling to have the Tigers beat the LA Tech Bulldogs this
weekend. We hope to have our TV set up to watch the Ga. Tech game on
Saturday and Treb will be in charge of the tailgate as I will be studying
Love to you all and thanks for the notes this past week! They helped me
feel a little less homesick while I was on my own! I can't imagine what
February will be like when Treb is gone to Kosovo. Take care!
Anna and Treb
to top Wednesday,
October 16, 2002 9:20 PM
Into Thin Air
It has been such a long time for a letter to come your way, partially, nothing interesting was going on in our lives, partially we were too busy to spit and partially this past weekend was the first trip we have been able to take in a long while.
Things up with me: papers papers papers, work work work. I am currently putting together a work-site health promotion program and a business/executive plan for the wellness program. We are also in the last stages for the Breast Cancer Awareness Fun/Run this weekend. Thankfully, I am not the POC for the event, but I have had a ton of headaches regarding it. It is such a shame that such a good cause can come with so many regulations. The world is out to get philanthropy. On the schoo front, I am learning a great deal about philosophy and research. I am narrowing my thesis topic and I think I will follow in Treb's footsteps towards a historiographical paper related to the influence of the military on nursing development. At least, that is the topic of the day, I may change my mind in the next couple of years!
Things with Treb: work work work. Right now he is in France doing a World War I tour of Verdun, FR on a staff ride with all the lawyer offices. Let me tell you, it has put the area in a tizzie with all the lawyers off together! You have no idea how much they are needed until they are gone! And while everyone may make lawyer jokes, they are indespensible and well mine is irresistable!:)
Last Thursday we left town for a much needed break for Garmisch-Partenkirschen, GE which is in Southern Bavarian at the foothills (and I mean REAL foothills) of the Bavarian Alps. I thought Mount Mitchell in NC was tall, but when you are surrounded my immense mountains like the alps, you have a whole new perspective. When we were driving into the alps, it was incredibly foggy and dark--we had no idea what the mountains were really like until we got up the next day to take the Seilbahn (a cogwheel train) up the Zugspitze (to Germany's highest peak at just under 10,000 feet). It had remained incredibly overcast and foggy. The fog and clouds clung to the base of the mountain like a skirt that was filmy like guaze--almost impenetrable. As we ascended the mountain, there was a collective gasp from the passengers as we POPPED out of the clouds into and incredible view of the alps in all its sunshine glory. It was MAGNIFICENT. The sun was cresting a mountain and the sky was clearer than the bluest ocean. The air screamed "crisp." I had to pull out my sunglasses as the sun was so bright--you would have thought down below was going to be a typical, overcast day. That, BTW, is how high the mountains are, they are over the clouds! We reached Sonne-alpen, which is the last stop of the train before having to take a gondola up to the Zugspitz. We walked around in the snow and ice, mystified that there was snow in parts of the world. It will be good skiing this winter!!!! There is a church on Sonne-alpen to get married in. Treb and I didn't feel the need to renew our vows this time!:) We hiked around a bit, but it is unbelievalbe the body's desire for oxygen at just under 10K feet. You can feel your body working harder and your heart pumping harder, even though it is an activity you are used to. The air is thin. Such a great respect I have for those who ahve climbed Everest. If you haven't read the book, I recommend, "Into Thin Air" by John Krakau, you will get such a perspective for altitude.
From there we took the gondola up to the actual Zugspitze--Germany's highest peak. We did not go to the cross that signifies the highest poinit. Unless you are not afraid of heights (which we are) you would not either. It is a straight climb up and it looks like you are going to step off the world. The view up here is unbelievable. It was built in the early 1900's, long before the cable care. You look DOWN into the clouds and it is as though you are peering through cream soup. You feel as though you are in heaven and floating where no man has been before. It is a bit of an out of body experience and the serenity and peace is unimaginable. It is also eerie to look down and realize there is an awful long way to fall....
We took a rapid descent in a gondola down the mountain to get home. Your stomach would lurch and your ears would pop with the sudden descent. Suddenly, we were covered in clouds again and the sun was no more.
We stayed at a lovely hotel--typically German. I got my first German massage there, which was ok. It wasn't quite as good as some America one's that I have had though!
The next day we went to the Gorge which is where a stream has cut the alps in two over time. It was a Discovery show kind of place--you walked through rock and on rumbling path with a raging stream and waterfalls coming down and around. We got fairly wet. It freezes in the winter and looks like an ice palace. I have never seen anything quite so beautiful. It is amazing what God has created. We hiked around a good bit and then grabbed an old fashion carriage ride back to the car. The old German man would talk to the horses, talk to the trees, talk to people on the road, talk to the road, talk to himself and then talk to the horses again. He chattered at us as though we spoke fluent German even though we were OBVIOUSLY Amverican. Treb wanted to get a picture of me with him, but I fussed. Well....the old man fussed at me and we got our picture taken together after all...all the while he continued to talk in german to me, his horse, the trees and anyone else! What a delightful character!
The next day we got in the car and drove to Fusen, GE to see Neuschwanstein Castle (the new swan castle) that is the model for the Disney castle. It is one of 3 castles that Mad King Ludwig built while bankrupting the Bavarian treasury during the mid 1800's. Only one of his three castles was completed and is Lidorhof castle. I have seen 2 of the 3--Herrenchiemsee and Neuschwanstein and they are all perfect examples of ostentatiousness and a crazy mind. They are impressive though and another great hike up a mountain to enjoy. We also saw the "hunting lodge" (castle) that Mad King Ludwig grew up in. Some people have way too much money....
We headed home on Monday so that I could write a paper that is mostly done and write another paper that is not done enough. School continues to make me wonder if this is really what I would like to do with my life and work continues to make me wonder if I am crazy. I try and explain to Treb that I really would like to just be a wife and mom and he tells me he would really like to just be a house husband and dad!:) Does anyone want to create a trust fund for us to this? We are taking donations.
The cat continues to be fat and the butt of the entire JAG office on fat cat jokes. Everyone knows my cat. I am enjoying Treb's DVD player and not getting to read enough because of school work. The laundry piles up and I am not sure I am the best wife, but some days it is all that Treb and I can do to keep up with all we have taken on. NUTS!
We are very happy though and it is hard not to be comfortable in the European atmosphere. It is very relaxed. We could do a lot in the US simply by taking on 35 hour work week and 6 weeks of vacation! We haven't anything to say about Clemson as they stunk it up this weekend. We actually went to the American post nearby in Garmisch to go watch the game on AFN at the post sportsbar--what a loss. The weekend the Tigers lose and the Chickens win, is just a stinkpot weekend.
We'll be submitting our first absentee ballot this year. It feels so weird being apart. We do love you all and miss you. We pray especially for the Drawdy family (Mama Sandra's side) as they are having a terrible time with illness. We pray for you all and our president and that God's peace is past to all people.
Anna and Treb
to top Monday, October 21,
2002 5:40 PM
Pass the Pumpkin
Notes, Notables and Forgetables:
On our trip to Garmisch last week, I forgot another cultural moment. We are slowly learning the language. We had gone out to a very nice restaurant for dinner one night and I ordered seelachs. Lachs in German means salmon. However, seelachs in German does not necessarily mean salmon and what I got was definitely not salmon. As I am allergic to most any fist BUT salmon, my nice special dinner did not happen! The spinach turnover that came with it was very good though….
Our week in review:
It was a very busy week as Anna got ready for the Breast cancer awareness fun run/walk. It almost did not happen after a misunderstanding with one of our contributors. After some fast talk and a lot of help from a lot of people, it was straightened out and we had a very successful run with about 100 people. Treb was drafted to come help out and I owe him many hubby points for coming out in the cold wet rain to direct traffic. Despite the rain, we had a great turn out with the top time being 14.18. What an incredible runner! The route was a 5K. Hopefully we will have enough money to buy some educational supplies for our clinics as well as a donation to the Susan G. Komen foundation as well as the American Cancer Society.
Treb is off this week for Administrative law training in Weinheim, GE. He will be back Friday. I have a trip on Wednesday to Landstuhl, GE for Strategic Planning for the Wellness Program.
Treb also left last week for two days to go to Verdun France with all the army Lawyers for a staff ride. The learned all about the battle of Verdun during WWI and he can tell you more than I. He did say the ceremony at the American cemetery there was very moving.
School continues to be my bane and I am learning to write papers again. I don’t know that I will take two classes though next semester, but it depends on if Treb will be here next spring. He is supposed to go to Kosovo.
Our next niece is due in the next week and another on the way in April. We are also awaiting anxiously the arrival of several of our friends babies and at times, we both have a hard time believing that everyone is in baby stage. I still have a hard time believing that I’ve been out of college for over 5 years.
Just to annoy my brother—sorry Sim—vote Republican!
Anna and Treb
Saturday, November 02, 2002 4:38 PM
Getting old, fat and bald
I shall do my letter today as I will be going off to Landstuhl, Germany
tomorrow for Quarterly Training. I am not too happy with having
to go as life has been very busy lately. So busy, that I forgot to
write my letter last week and I had things to say!
Last Saturday was my birthday. Treb had planned a surprise party for me with our friends over here, but our silly boy sent some of the invitations home to our joint email box and I got wind of the event before time!J We still had a grand old time and went to a German attempt at a steak house. The steak was awesome, but they charge you for each little thing you order so your bill can be enormous before you know it!J We had a grand old time. I had chopped my hair off the day before my birthday and I am told it looks great. I have gotten past the age this year in which everyone still seems to think I am in my teens. Early twenties, which is ok with me! Treb gave me some beautiful hand blown and hand painted glasses that I had been admiring in Heidelberg, GE. They are lovely and I was so surprised that he got them for me.
Treb has been gone all week to a town outside Heidelberg, called Weinheim. I had had to go to Landstuhl in the middle of the week for a meeting and drove back through that evening to see Treb. We went to a FANTASTIC Italian restaurant. I swear the noodles were homemade. It was awesome. I wish we could go back. I headed back home the next day and Treb spent the last 2 days finishing up a conference on Administrative Law.
I have been planning a new health fair related to deployment health and it has gotten a lot of buzz in our little area. It is exciting when people take your work well and get enthusiastic. However, it makes a lot more work! My web page is finally up, you can click on the link below and then on the button that says Wellness Center. There are a few last bugs in it that need to be worked out, but this is what I put together in my first 2 months of work. It has links to my program pages, that didn’t link properly, but I think the BMI Calculator works ok. I am not sure if it is secured military site, but I don’t think so! Here it is: http://www.wuerzburg.healthcare.hqusareur.army.mil/ You can send me an email to my work site from the page!J
I can’t think of much else! Thanks for all the calls and cards for my birthday. If only Clemson could play better football it would have been a grand week. A lot of girls should be ready to have their babies soon too and best of luck to Jenny and CC. Two of the four expecting here have had theirs and are doing well. It just seems babyville lately!J
Well, I have 3 papers to write and about 6 more weeks of school. It has flown by. I would say that I have 1.5 of the papers written. I have no idea what I will take next year, as the class I had planned to take is not offered. I think I might stick with 2 classes and you will just have to bear with my grumpy self for 2 years of school!J I feel a little more comfortable that I am GETTING IT, but I also have a lot more classes to go.
We went to Treb’s bosses house for dinner on Wednesday night and it was great. It was a dinner for those soldiers going to Kosovo. I can’t tell you how many people come up to me and say how highly they think of Treb!J I tell him it is because he has a good woman behind him! Treb also received an award this week for his work at a Training exercise down in Hohenfels, GE. He also got an Army coin for his work (which is an Army way of showing appreciation.). They call him Mr. Utility because he will go off and do anything they ask of him work wise!
We had three German trick or treaters this year. We were told we had to get good American candy for them, because that is what they like. No tricking around here and the concept isn’t as widespread, but it might pick-up. They do need to work on the whole costume deal, that hasn’t quite sunk in as well as it has in the US.
Treb’s been sick this weekend, with a very virulent case of the flu that is going around. The first time he has been really sick since we got married and not just faking it!J He has had a bad fever and chills and the poor thing is pitiful. I hope I don’t get it as I will be gone all next week. Treb is getting a little better. He is finally asking for some food, although not much.
I think that is all the news this week. We love you all and miss you. Hugs and Kisses,
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Saturday, December 07,
2002 9:48 AM
Times and Courie Issue Infinite
Greetings Family, Friends, and Strangers from Distant Lands!
The Times and Courie was briefly out of circulation due to foreseeable issues with work, play and school. Our most esteemed writer was finding she was unable to be Superwoman 24/7 and some things got put on the backburner. That, and we really haven't done anything interesting until Thanksgiving!
A quick synopsis of life in Germany and then on to the top stories of the week:
March: Arrive in Germany--it's cold and snowing!
April--see Heidelberg, keep looking for job, moving in, it's still cold, Treb becomes CPT
May--time in Prague, get job, get into grad school, it's getting warmer
June--GREECE!!! Health Promotion Conference
July--Normandy, France, start job (ugh)
August--Chiemsee, GE and Salzburg, AU, Treb is sailing certified, I am certifiable!:)
September--Bamberg, GE, Civilian Fitness Program kicks off, school kicks off (ugh)
October--Garmisch, GE, our first snow, the Zugspitz (wow)
November--Mallorca, Spain, schools almost over (yeah)
So we are in November as of news and what Treb and I have been up to. It's been so busy. I have had so many papers due and so many projects at work that I have no idea whether I am coming or going. I missed my dentist appointment because I wrote the date down wrong. They were nice enough to give me another because I showed up so promptly on the right date!
We got to Thanksgiving time and hopefully things will be slowing up now. We spent Thanksgiving dinner at the DFAC (Dinning Facility in Civilian speak) on post. It was the most wonderful meal, but I think it is because I didn't have to cook and clean up. The soldiers have to come out in the their Dress Blues uniform and they all look so handsome and pretty. Since Treb was not in that unit, he could wear jeans. It was all in all a nice day and then we headed down to Stuttgart so that we could get a plane to Mallorca early the next morning. We rode the train down to Stuttgart. We really like the train rides!!! When we got to Stuttgart, they were having their Wehnachsmarkt (Christmas Market) and it was such a good time!!! They had all sorts of vendors out and food and we just had a blast walking up and down the stalls and I got some good ornaments for my tree. The Germans know how to do Christmas and it is just festival after festival and market after market over here. It's impossible not to get into the spirit of things with lights up EVERYWHERE and decorations and music and happy people. it's wonderful.
We left on Friday morning at 0700 for Mallorca, Spain. We spent our holiday on an island (Mallorca) in the middle of the Spanish Mediterranean (ohh la la) b/c Treb was bound and determined to have a holiday where it was warmer. I think we should note that it was warmer, but not warm. Temps were in the 50-60 range and I still think that is cold!:) Our first day there we went in the metropolitan city of Palma for shopping and walking and boat shopping. Mallorca has been around forever, definitely since the Spanish Armada and has huge fortifications around the areas that have a harbor. We were unable to enter the huge cathedral and castle as they were closed for repairs. The walls soared 100s of feet in the air in a display of pale taupe stoned strength. It's magnificent what they have built prior to technology....
The harbor was impressive. Mallorca is known to be one of the second most exclusive yachting ports in the world. This sends my husband's sailor heart into fluttering beats of love. However, being so exclusive, we hadn't counted on the fact that we would be unable to walk the docks doing our wishful "boat shopping," that we usually do in the ports of the world. From afar, the boats made us wish for open waters and carefree days of sailing. We had to console ourselves to coffee on harbor. It was lovely.
I was a bit overwhelmed that Mallorca was as cosmopolitan as it was. I was a bit disappointed to be honest. I am a small town girl at heart and like a lot of open spaces and natural beauty. The next day, we decided we had enough of city life and rented a car (a Skoda in fact, the Czech equivalent to Big Daddy's Ford Fiesta!!!) and drove around the coast line. How magnificent is God's creation!!!! Mallorca on it's Western front is incredibly defensible as it has sheer cliffs and brutal waves. The water is a beautiful clear green/blue that had us lusting for 80 degree weather and bathing suits. However, the beach area is all built up for tourist and the area we were in had few places for lounging. In fact, we have few pictures to share as the snaking road on the coastline didn't have many pull-offs and in fact the road skirted the sheer cliff in places that was traumatic for those of us who have a fear of heights! The island is rough beauty in the areas that are unpopulated. We started to get a more Spanish feel and flair the further away we got from the big city. There were lovely little shops in little towns and I picked up some interesting odds and ends. I got a bunch of candles that were dirt cheap and some pottery as well. I like that Spanish pottery as much as the Polish. I think I will have quite a collection of pottery when I get home!
We ate lunch that afternoon in a lovely cafe in a small town on the island. It was fantastic. We munched on local olives (spectacular) and homemade bread. I had a Spanish omelet (yum) and treb ate home fries and pork (imagine that!). It was all so good! The Spanish eat everything late and then they ALL take siesta from 1330-1630 everyday. That took us for a spin when we were trying to shop! It's not like we didn't know about siesta, we were just unprepared for it to happen to us!:)
We stayed at a 4 star hotel a block off the beach the Riu Bravo. It was a part of an all inclusive deal we got. For 2 nights, 3 days, we got all flights, train and subway costs, all breakfast and dinner and the cost of our room. All we had to pay for was lunch, drinks and trinkets!!!:) The bad thing was that this kind of deal is cool for seniors. I think we were the only ones under age 40 at the hotel!:) We were high-faluting with the old folks!:) The food was fair, but for the price of 500$ for the both of us for everything, we couldn't complain!!!
We flew home on Sunday and got in around 2130 after a long train ride home from Dusseldorf, GE. It was a wonderful relaxing time away from everything that I needed so desperately. I am taking off 2 weeks at Christmas to just do nothing. It's time for a break. I have 3 papers to finish up for school and I just completed one of my big projects that I crashed, burned and bombed on (actually it wasn't that bad, but since I have a theatrical, dramatic flair, I have to play these things up!) The next two weeks should be wrapping things up and getting ready for the next semester and the new year of projects. We head out to Bastogne, BE on the 20th of December for the anniversary march of the Battle of the Bulge (WWII). Our soldiers spent Christmas in Bastogne during WWII and the walk is 12 miles long, the perimeter that we had to hold against the Germans. It should be a another interesting story to tell.
On the home front, we want to say that Spring came early and everyone has been popping out babies. Here we've had 4 births in the last two months and of our friends we want to congratulate CC and Ellis on the birth of Sandra Elliott, Dave and Terry on the birth of Benner, Jenny and Louis on the birth of Louis Andrew and Jenn and Lee on the birth of Sophie. I hope I got all the names straight, I still can't get over the fact that this rowdy bunch has settled down to be mom's and dad's and we get asked constantly when we will do the same! I am just waiting for everyone to do their business so I can get all the cool hand-me-downs!:) HA! We also hear there are a number of new babies on the way. We'll see if the Spring crop will out do the fall.
I think that is all the news for the Times and Courie for this installment. We'll let you know more as things happen. Life over here is good and we miss you all. I have bouts of homesickness that are very severe, but easily distractible as there is so much to see. We are experiencing a life time of memories together and for that we thank you all for letting us be free to explore and leave all that we care so greatly about. Never think that you are far from our hearts as you are always with us no matter where we go.
If you have missed an installment, check them posted on www.courie.com
We also invite you to check out the infamous Dutchman (our host and cook while we lived in Ipofen. We go back there frequently we love him so much!) His picture is worth a thousand words and he has proudly hung a Tiger Rag in his restaurant!!! Check him out at:
We love you all and hope you are getting in the Christmas spirit. If not, come over and the Germans will get you in the groove so easily!
Hugs and kisses and many many prayers your way,
The Writer and her Husband.
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Friday, December 27, 2002 4:41 PM
Bastogne "Death" March
Happy Holidays, Good Cheer and Greetings!
I am not sure where to start with this letter as I know it has been awhile since I've written. Since last weekend was our trip to Bastogne, Belgium, and that is the most exciting thing we've done in awhile, I'll start there!:)
We had planned to head out to Bastogne around 1400 on 20 December following the Kitzingen JAG Christmas Party/Luncheon. However, good cheer and good fellowship was present twofold, and we did not leave Kitzingen until about 1530. We still had to pick up the van for all the antique purchases and get the rest of our group together. However, there were 2 big courts martials going on and 2 of the couples going were working the case. We tried to meet up with them, and as group trips go, we didn't actually leave for our trip until 1730. It was going to be a long trip if we continued to go at the rate we were!
Needless to say, with a few mishaps and inabilities to read directions, we finally got going and the trip was rather uneventful. We were staying in a town in Luxembourg (yes! two countries in 2 days!:)) about 10 miles south east of Bastogne. The fog and dreariness of the area is amazing. At times you didn't know where you were driving and the road signs are not too good in Luxembourg. I guess they think you shouldn't get lost in a country that small. One interesting thing in Luxembourg is that all of the city names are given in both German and French. Also, while the trip through the poorly-marked back roads of Luxembourg tried our patience, we were treated to one delightful moment when we came into the beautifully lit for Christmas town of Larochette. The town was brilliantly lit with white lights, and we came to a stop in the middle of the street when we saw the huge, well-lit castle or church (we couldn't tell in the fog and rain) that towered over the town.
We were all talking about how we hoped to get in early enough and we were all praying that our hotel had a restaurant, b/c all we wanted was a good beer!:) We arrived at our hotel about 2230--and God looked kindly on us, our hotel was fabulous and had its own little restraint. The proprietor said the kitchen was closed for the night (none of us had eaten dinner) but he whipped up the best ham and cheese sandwiches ever! These were great. A funny "American" moment came when the proprietor asked if we wanted ketchup with our sandwiches "like all Americans." We politely accepted, and he gave us a side of ketchup which--we guess--we were supposed to put on our ham and cheese sandwiches. The requisite beer was also present and we all chatted the evening a way. We will definitely go back to this place next year, but arrive earlier for more fun and fellowship. The rest of our party didn't arrive until about 0130.
We were unsure on what language to speak on this trip. Depending on the town you live in, you could speak French, German, Flemish (in Belgium) or some mix. In Bastogne, French was the predominant language, but up in Tongeren everyone spoke Flemish (like Dutch and distantly related to German). Treb would speak French to them, I'd try German, and half the time they knew English better than either of those two! Our hotel proprietor told us there is a language called Luxembourgan, but I am not sure that I believe it. It's probably like European gullah or something. Our proprietor's son speaks 7 languages. It's a diverse area. In fact, on our way to Tongeren/Tongeres (the antique market), we saw the name spelled in 3 different ways depending on the town/county you were in. NUTS!!! We joked that in Europe you don't have to get all the letters right to get to the right place.
The next day was the 25th anniversary walk of the perimeter of Bastogne. Bastogne was the center of the Battle of the Bulge during WWII in which the Germans "bulged" our line to try and retake Antwerp. The 101st Screaming Eagles Airborne Division (now housed at Ft. Campbell, KY and are now air assault from helicopters instead of airplane paratroopers) held our line around Bastogne without camouflage, backup and diminishing supplies. There were also soldiers there from the 9th and 10th Armored divisions. The worst snowstorm in Belgian history also hit the area and our troops were woefully unprepared for this assault. Luckily, being the pretty cool Americans that we were, we held the line and eventually pushed the Germans back. There was a commemorative walk for the Battle of the Bulge, and over 700 people of many, many nationalities participated. Lots of folks were dressed up in WWII US Army gear, and there were real working jeeps and stuff driving around. We walked the perimeter that the Americans held. 12 very long miles in the muck, hills, rain and cold. My knees ached and still do. It was a brutal life that these men had and they were stuck here through Christmas. It's called the NUT walk because the Germans asked the Americans to surrender and the General replied "NUTS!"
We shopped around Bastogne for the afternoon, saw a parade of different local militaries. During the walk,.a Dutch soldier asked me to go to the dance with him that night, but I declined--we were off to Tongeren, and I don't Treb would have been too happy!:) There were memorials and tribute to General Patton (Patton's Third Army finally arrived to relieve the 101st and push the Germans back, therefore taking credit for winning the battle.) and another memorial to General McAuliffe who was in charge of the 101st. There was a parade of WWII military vehicles. The mayor threw NUTS (walnuts) from the balcony of the town hall and we ate the most magnificent belgian waffles cooked right on the side of the road. I can't begin to tell youhow fantastic these things were except that we ate 2 and my mouth waters at the thought. It was hot, sweet and ohhhh so good. We definitely needed these fantastic waffles after having Belgian "hamburgers" for lunch. (We were starving after the walk, and hungrily ordered some hamburgers at this restaurant--but they were more like soy-burgers or something; I think they were meat, but I'm not positive.) The waffles more than made up for the "burgers," though.
That night, we dragged our aching bones back to the car and headed up the road with some really bad directions to Tongeren, to attend the mother of all antique markets! Vendors from all over Belgium and I guess other places come to Tongeren every Sunday morning from 0600-1200 to sell their wares. It is bargainville and so much fun to barter with the Europeans!:) There are two large warehouses and the vendors set up in tents up and down streets and antik shops as well. It's overwhelming and antique heaven. For under $300 I got a huge antique solid wood trunk, 2 marble topped wood bedside tables, a gilt framed mirror and 3 pillow covers. Everyone said I got the best deals!:) We will definitely go back as Treb needs a new desk and I still need a china cabinet. It was great fun. We had lunch and again set out for home later than anticipated. It takes a lot of doing to get that many people organized and together! But all in all, it was a great weekend with a great group of friends.
We went to our second German Church service on Christmas Eve. Our first was a German-American Christmas service on 15 December. Then we went to Midnight Mass at the Evangelisher Stadkirche der Kitzingen. It's a Lutheran church, but a bit different from other Lutheran services that we've been to. The singing was out of this world and brought tears to my eyes. The sort of Christmas music that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up with its otherworldly beauty. It was a bit disconcerting not to follow the service (it was all in German), but I think God understands our trying. We sang O come all ye Faithful and Joy to the World in German. There was another Christmas song that they sang, but we didn't recognize. All in all a wonderful way to celebrate the birth of Christ and his redemption of the world.
Our Christmas was truly blessed this year. We were a bit homesick and lonely for family, but we have had enough things to do to keep us distracted and busy. Treb went back to work yesterday, and I am enjoying the time off. I plan to read, eat, sleep and watch TV and force myself not to think about work. I'm a bit of a workaholic. Our friends and families have more than spoiled us this year with gifts. We think maybe that moms and dad were a bit feeling a bit sorry for us being by ourselves this year we got so much stuff. It was a great Christmas morning!!!! Thank you all! I have been a bit slack in getting the Christmas letter out this year, so I am making a big faux pas and attaching my note to this email. It seemed kind of redundant after my much more interesting weekly emails. We've also got pictures up on the website www.courie.com from Bastogne, Mallorca and my birthday with some good shots of our friends.
We love you and miss you all and we pray for a very safe, happy and blessed new year. You all are never far from our thoughts and prayers. No big trips planned anytime soon as we will be getting Treb ready to deploy to Kosovo. We both will be on work travel the second week of January to Heidelberg, GE and then will go on a Rodeling Trip with the JAG office the weekend after that. More on that later.
love, hugs and prayers your way,
Anna and Treb
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Friday, January 24, 2003
The Jewels of the Alps
Guten Tag Meine Freunden!
Life in Germany goes on. It's been very busy since the holidays and things
don't look to be slowing down for a while! Since the New Year, Treb and I
have been on TDY to the Heidelburg area in a lot of snow and Ice. That week
it had flooded in Kitzingen. The Main River rose and flooded the lowlands.
When we got back to the Wuerzburg area, a snowstorm hit us after several
weeks of below freezing temperatures. The average temp for a while was in
the 20's. That's cold on these southern bones! Needless to say, when it
started snowing, it stuck like crazy and all that flooded water froze over.
People were ice-skating over land! There were terrible wrecks everywhere
and they had to close down the autobahn. Like any government agency, it
took the roads freezing over before they sent us home for the day at about
1400. It took me 1.5 hours to get home and I was not a happy camper! The
snow and cold lasted for about 2 days and then it decided to get warm. Just
in time for our Rodeling Trip to the Alps!
On 17 January we headed to Meiders, Austria for a rodeling trip. Rodeling
is the Austrian version of sitting on two runners, help together by a woven
seat and trying to steer down a 4-mile hill with your feet. It's better
than NASCAR racing at TTT!:-) (Note to Stacy: must come in the winter,
can't wait to see you run head first into a snow bank!:-)) The rodelbahn is
basically a 4+-mile road that has frozen over on the side of one of the
alpen hills. Lots of curves and steep hills to make the descent
invigorating! You hold on for dear life, try not to shut your eyes too much
and watch out for the steep cliffs as you go around corners. For a while, I
was beating everyone down the hill, but as my bruises mounted, everyone was
beating me soundly to the end point! It was still great despite to sore
muscles and bruises. Because of the way you sit on the mini slid (rodel)
you are in a constant crunch position. I've got abs of steal now!:-) We
rodeled all afternoon Friday and then most of Saturday. Saturday afternoon,
we attempted a go at down hill skiing. Neither Treb not I have skied in
about 7-8 years. It was embarrassing. I fell off the T-bar lift and again
coming down the mountain. My sore muscles didn't want to do what I was
telling them to do and also the bunny hill stunk. I've never been on such a
steep bunny hill. Bunny hills are NOT supposed to have moguls. NUTS!!!!
We gave up after one try, but on the next ski trip we are going to look into
cross-country ski lessons and maybe down hill.
We were still very sore on Sunday and took it easy sledding with the kids in
our group and hanging out with friends. We drove around the Alps and I have
to say that the Alps are truly one of God's most beautiful creations. They
are unlike any mountain range I have ever seen in my life. My heart beats
irregularly to watch the peaks sore into the ski, often above the cloud
line. The air is brisk and cheeks are constantly ruddy from the crisp air
and cold wind. Toes and fingertips turn into mini-icicles and are only
warmed through frequently chaffing and gluhwein! The Alps in turn make so
many small things in life seem insignificant. It's quiet in the mountains
and for once, man does not seem to be an intrusion on God's creations. That
afternoon, we signed up for a snowshoe hike through our mountain. It is
truly the most magnificent sport I've ever tried. It goes right up there
with kayaking in my book. It is strenuous and vigorous exercise in which
you strap on snowshoes (now made of plastic with teeth for grasping the
snow) and carry poles. Our guide headed straight up the mountain and when I
say straight, I mean straight! We went up and we were all huffy and puffing
and wondering how out of shape we must be! The air is slightly thinner and
you can feel a difference as well. We had two Austrian guides and all I
have to say is that Austrians walk faster than Germans!:-) We carved new
paths into the snow and we went where no man has gone before! We literally
tromped through unbroken snow exploring where only animals have gone. It
was silent and the trees crowd around. Snow falls from the limbs tickling
your nose. When we reached our destination, we could look all around to see
the German, Austrian, Italian, and Swiss Alps all around us. The ski is
bright blue and life seems to go on forever.
The trip down hill was literally straight downhill. We went down mostly on
our butts. Half the fun is in falling and I had more snow down my jacket
and pants than was on the mountainside. Our guides laughed at our antics
and I think they thought we were crazy Americans. We stopped for some warm
gluhwein on the way down. The finale of the trip was a last rodel down the
mountain in semi-twighlight. The rodelbahn takes on new meaning when
We've been so tired, it has taken me about 4 days of 9-10 hours of sleep to
catch up. I won't mention the good food or good beer as we've been declared
beer snobs and everyone is rife with jealousy!:-) Austria is what I thought
Germany would be like. The countryside, the mountains, the snow and the
architecture are all what I think of when I imagined living in Bavaria.
Austria is probably one of my most favorite countries. The people are
friendly and life is snow.
We have several long weeks ahead of us and work keeps us busy. We have no
new trips planned as things are always up in the air. We think of you lots
and as our year mark comes around, we realize that part of the honeymoon is
over and we (or at least, I) feel homesick periodically. Good trips and
good friends take care of us and we know that there are only 2 more years
left!:-) Many thoughts and prayers your way.
Anna and Treb
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Sunday, February 02, 2003
Don't Eat Yellow Snow
Treb and I have had a nice lazy time this weekend, which has been wonderful after a very hectic week. Things around here are going at Warp speed and we are just trying to stay caught up! Both jobs are keeping us busy and between that and my new year's resolution to workout, we don't get home until late. It can make for some grumpiness, but since we are both grumpy and aware we are both grumpy, we just say a little prayer for patience!:)
Friday night, we tried German pizza delivery for the first time. German efficiency was sadly lacking. They haven't quite got down the ability to keep the food warm and get it to you quick. Oh well. At least I didn't have to cook!
Saturday, we went to Rothenburg, Germany. This is Germany's premier, preserved medieval walled town. It even has a moat! Although it was frozen over! We walked through the cobbled streets as snow fell around us and had a wonderful time enjoy the fact that there were very few tourists. We started off by visiting St. Jacobs cathedral. It is famous for a massive, hand carved alter made by a famous artist in Wuerzburg. It was consecrated with a relic that supposedly held a drop of Christ's blood. Very holy place to go. The stained glass windows were magnificent. Daddy, this one would have been right up your alley!:)
We walked the ramparts of the city wall and enjoyed the snowy view. We toured a farming museum and bought some Christmas presents, although this place is way over priced!!!! We climbed about 266 stairs up to the top of the Rathaus (town hall) for a magnificent view of the countryside. Then we visited a medieval museum of torture and criminal proceedings. I really had thought that medieval chastity belts were a joke until I saw one preserved and on display. GROSS!!! There were also lots of torture devices and the spiked chair was pretty cool. I'd love to have one for when Treb's in the hot seat!!!:)
Today I am working on school work and procrastinating as I write this letter. We're off to a Family Readiness Group (FRG) meeting at 1500 with the JAG office and then Treb has to go to a meeting.
The most interesting thing lately is that we've had snow for 6 days straight now. Unfortunately, it melts by mid-afternoon, so we go to bed with no snow and wake up to about 1 inch. NUTS!
Lastly, we are greatly saddened by the death of the 7 astronauts yesterday. I never thought that I would live to see such times. We pray for them, their families and God's ever present grace. We also pray for our president, that God will be with him and his cabinet through these difficult times. Our love and prayers to you all.
A and T
PS--Check out the Rothenburg pix at www.courie.com. The Austria pix are up there too if you didn't get to see the.
Back to topSunday, March 02, 2003
My mom tells me that I have not been writing my letters/stories lately and she misses them. I keep telling her that I have no news, so now she tells me I must make up stories! It seems that I am entertaining!:) If only it paid well!
Let's see. It's been a week and 3 days since Treb left. 10 very long days. We are both staying busy. I stay busy with work, friends and school. It seems Treb stays busy with war and Turkish rugs salesmen!:) He was gone a week and I already have a hand knotted rug! This is Treb we speak of! it's beautiful with lots of red and blue and tan and green. I am just so amazed that the King of football, baseball, basketball and soccer spent 45 minutes drinking (tea) and haggling with the Turkish salesmen to buy me this most beautiful rug. I did a jig in the mailroom when I got it!:) They thought I was a little crazy. My friends are trying to get Treb to buy them rugs, but he might be moving out soon. I've told him to buy as many as he wants for us! He did so good! I have a great husband to think of me! He doesn't even have a mailing address for me to send him anything. Oh well. I have no problem with people sending ME the care packages! The spouses have come to the agreement that we suffer far more than the men down range!
Other news. Treb is now bald. The big, manly, macho thing to do is shave your head. At least amongst the JAG staff. I am told pictures are on there way! I can't imagine a bald hubby, so I've told him not to come back until it grows in again. he says it's fuzzy right now. Gosh, fuzzy.
I can't think up a fake story. I've seen Greeks, have a Turkish rug. No sheiks in site. Turkey is a pain in the chicken. Life goes on, and war, politics and Europeans are the topic of conversation at most tables. Not a day goes by in which it is a part of our lives. It is even more close to home when part of you is out defending the war on terrorism. We pray each day for God's strength and peace in the Middle East as well as his presence in the decision making of world leaders.
I continue to cook all things that Treb won't eat with a 10 foot fork. Lots of vegetables. Perhaps I will be tiny when he comes back!:) We thank you for all your love and prayers and we hope you know that our thoughts are with each of you and our heart warms with your thoughts, prayers and kindness. I am ever blessed to have friends and family around the world that keep me strong with prayer.
Lots of love,
PS--if you haven't heard yet, Treb is in Turkey for the time being. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org If you don't hear from him, it means that he doesn't have computer access at that time. Will let you know when he has mailing capabilities.
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Thursday, March 13, 2003
Bald is Beautiful
Spring is beginning to show its colors across Deuschland. Crocuses
are blooming, Germans are planting their gardens and the sun begins to
rise earlier each day. My mind is not quite ready for winter to be
over as it doesn't seem right to be starting our second spring in Germany
without Treb by my side. People remark on how well I handle Treb being
gone. To me, that just goes to show what a great actress I am!:)
Never a day goes by that I forget that I am missing something. I have
a new and abiding respect for the trials and tribulations of being a military
wife. However, I am finding new strength, new friendships and the
grace of God each day to just try and live life as normal. The only
time it seems more different, more pronounced is when I am in the house
by myself with little to do. An apt comparison would be of Koshka and
I in the house is similar to the dice in a Yahtze cup. We rattle around.
There are only so many times you can clean a house and straighten and do
laundry and then it is all done. I've taken up making CDs. I've
tried to write a book, but I don't think I am very good with dialogue.
Prose is ok, the rest is crap!:)
School continues on. I have a lovely group of professors so far this semester and I am really enjoying the classes. I think I have my thesis topic nailed down and it will only be a matter of writing it soon. it's a shame that I cannot turn in my stories for an English Thesis. However, my poor grammar and spelling may get me thrown from such a department! So much for character writing!:)
This has been a tough week. I haven't been good on my diet and I've been unable to workout as I hurt my back on Monday. There is nothing worse that hurting, feeling sorry for yourself and having no one to milk for sympathy. Pitiful is not so cool when the cat just meows at you.:) I am finally, however, able to stand up in a semblance of straight although they say I still walk like a duck.
We are doing Civilian Fitness Program enrollments currently at work. It's keeping me very busy. If i had a dime for every time i heard, "I just haven't had the time to work out" I would be a very rich woman. If you want to know the tip to working-out, schedule it. It will happen.
Treb is doing well. Busy and at times bored, but doing well. No new rugs, but I got a Turkish pin that is supposed to ward off evil. It's kind of cool. He has one attached to his hat. If you would like to mail him small letters and whatnot, use the below address:
CPT Treb Courie
HHC, 1ID (Forward)
APO AE 09341-2000
I've also attached a picture so you can see his pointy, bald head. He knows he is not coming home till it's grown out again!:) They live in Tent city, which can't be described by pictures nor words. I can't think of much else to say, except thank you so much for all your love and prayers. They get me through each day and I've never doubted the wonderful family and friends that I have. God has surely blessed me. The cat says hello too!:) Much love to you all. Will be in touch, no news is good news!:)
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Sunday, March 23, 2003
News From the Rear
I just want to thank you for all your love and prayers and notes. It helps to get me through each day. Treb and I are both doing good. We are busy with work, but are safe and as happy as we can be considering we are apart. Treb is getting emails at times, but he is busy writing legal opinions for his bosses, so he may not be able to respond. He does thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers and notes as well. The last he passed on:
Now that efforts to secure basing rights in Turkey have been abandoned, more
than 30 cargo ships carrying heavy combat equipment for the 4th Infantry
Division that waited for weeks off Turkey's coast are beginning to move
through the Suez Canal, heading for Kuwait.
"We will still have a northern option at some point," a Pentagon official
said, but declined to provide details on when might happen.
Needless to say, Turkey is a long way off from the war and he loves to tell me that war is not made for TV. You can reassure yourselves that he is no where near anything that you are seeing on CNN or FoxNews. He is maintaining is dashing wit and humor and his bosses tell me that he does great work. I haven't gotten any more rugs, but I have gotten a lovely turkish shawl. It's got lots of blue in it, so he must remember the color of my eyes!:)
Thank you again for all your thoughts and prayers. We continue to pray for a fast end for this confrontation as we are both ready to be out and about for traveling. Nell has been telling us wonderful stories of her trip to Italy and I am anxious to be on my way! I don't have nearly as many good stories to tell without our misadventures in lands far and near.
love to you all,
Saturday, April 12, 2003
Axis and Allies
It's been a long time for a note I guess. What can I say, when my inspiration is off roaming foreign countries and what not, I don't get around to weaving a fine tale as often!:) To bring everyone up to speed (my friends tease me about all the military lingo I use), I think the last email was about 2 weeks ago. Since that time, I went back to Poland on a weekend trip. In hindsignt, I found out that no cars are covered under insurance in Poland. Treb's precious BMW was our vehicle of choice. Luckily nothing happened, but from when we were there before kids come up begging all the time and there are usually a fair number of hooligans to be seen. Well Poland is coming up in the world. I can't tell you have much progress they've made in less than a year since I was there last. It's awesome. Much cleaner, new buildings. Incredible. Unfortunately, with all this captalist expansion, the price of pottery is going up. The Poles have wised up to American military women loving the Polish Pottery. Our spending sprees there are the equivelent of donating to a third world country. It's obvious too that it's working with all the improvements. Most of our shopping (which we did do a lot) consisted of discussing how high was too much to pay for the pottery considering the 5 hour trip. When we got home, we got online to compare prices. Let's just say that for $5 buck (they were $3 before) that I payed for some mugs, the are going for $34 in the US. It's still good, but it used to be WAY cheaper.
After that weekend, I headed out to Landstuhl, GE ( a lot of demonstrations in these areas) for work travel. I spent a week with all the other Army-Europe Health Promotion Coordinators re-writing policy for the Army related to Health Promotion Programs. Always a fun treat! I've been to Landstuhl so many times that I don't find it very exciting anymore, but they have some of the BEST italian restaurants ever. YUum yum.
I got home the following Friday and had a rather boring weekend. My friend and I watched movies and did a little antique shopping (although we didn't get anything). My friend headed back to the US for a 3 week trip. Her hubby is in Iraq and we pray for his safety and the safety of all our soldiers down there. Although it seems things have gone very well so far, it's the quiet time that stupid things tend to happen and people get killed or hurt.
The best news of this letter is that Treb came home about 0030 Thursday morning. We finally got settled and to sleep around 0300. Since then, I've been trying to pick up all his gear and clean up and restore some order to having him back! I wouldn't trade it for anything else though! The army finally declared that nothing was going to happen in Turkey and they finished off the business that they were working on and started sending people home. While he is home for the foreseeable future, do not be too surprised if he is often on another adventure down the line. For the meantime, we are in plan mode for all our trips and hope that you will think of joining us!
Things are the same around Germany, although these big "Pace" (peace) demonstration flags are being flown from more and more windows. We have 3 now in our neighborhood and it's the first time I've felt uncomfortable and not welcome around here. It all makes me so mad. I keep telling Treb that one night I am going to sneak out and rip them all down. But then, they are just practicing their democratic rights that we provided for them. The same as Turkey. I'm sure Iraq will be the same one day.
Thank you all for the prayers that brought Treb home safe to me. Continue to pray for all our soldiers, the war ain't over yet. Love to you all and we pray for you too.
Anna and Treb
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Friday, June 27, 2003
Belated Courie Zeitung
Dear Family and Friends!
It’s been a long time! Time has just been FLYING by! I think it is because I have a husband back and he keeps me VERY busy! No complaints though. I would rather have him by my side that in the middle of the desert. We continue to pray for our friends that are serving proudly in the Middle East. They are doing us proud and we ask that you keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
Where to start? Treb got home around the middle to end of April. He looks good, had lost a lot of weight, but was very happy to be home and out of a very frustrating situation. He proceeded to inform me of everywhere he wanted to go and I was a little overwhelmed! We proceeded off to the lovely city of Vienna in Austria the week after he returned. We’ve been up and running ever since.
Vienna was fantastic, on the banks of the Blau Donau (Blue Danube). You could still feel its past—when it was the seat of the Hapsburg monarchy, it was perhaps the most important city in Europe. While there we went to a Good Friday night Mozart concert by an orchestra dressed in period costumes. These concerts are supposedly a big tourist trap, but it was great to hear and see Mozart performed in Vienna. We went to Easter Service at the Anglican Church in Vienna and then drove home—and back to work.
I completed another semester of my Master’s Program and hope to finish up next Spring. I’ve also been working on some HUGE projects with work. My number one project was development of a pregnancy/postpartum PT program for my community. It got of the ground and keeps me going each day. I’ve been revising policy lately and it’s making my eyes sore! I also helped plan our Retiree Health Day. Among all of this, wine season started and Treb has been taking us all around to the different festivals.
During May, one of the female captains in Treb’s office married a local German man. We went to the wedding, and it was interesting seeing a wedding in both German and English and seeing the mix of American and German wedding customs.
The first week of June, I was in Chiemsee, Germany for a conference. Treb made me jealous as he was able to go sailing every day with a week of leave he took. He has now completed the intermediate sailing course. He talks more about having a boat than a baby when we get back! We came back to a very sad farewell of our friends that will be heading back to the states and then the following day we kayaked down the Main River outside Kitzingen, GE. We could not have asked for a more beautiful day, nor more beautiful weather.
This past weekend we visited Trier, GE; the country’s oldest city. Constantine settled here at one point and many ancient Roman ruins are scattered around the city. We had great fun exploring and enjoyed wonderful food and shopping. While it is still a great place to visit, it hasn’t topped some of my favorites! From there, we headed up to Cologne, GE to see Europe’s finest (it is truly AWESOME) cathedral. We also visited a chocolate factory and I could have gorged myself on the luscious stuff. The cathedral is known for several relics it owns including the bones from the three wise men. It is by far the largest cathedral that I have ever been in and I’m a bit surprised that my dad didn’t take us there when we lived in Europe! From there we headed home with a quick stop in Remegen, GE to see the first bridge the US captured during WWII in an attempt to cross the Rhine River. If you saw the sheer cliffs on the opposing river front, you would see the unbelievable valor and audacity of our soldiers when attempting this strategic maneuver. Many historians claim that then end of the war was hastened by the capture of this bridge. To say the least, Treb was so excited to see this!
We’re back at work now and I am mooning over the need to write a thesis/nonthesis paper. I’m really not thrilled with any of my choices, but hey, that’s class. We will be hanging around town enjoying the wine festivals over the next coming weeks before heading off to Russia from 6-16 July. It should be an interesting trip.
I’ve decided that I’ve been in Europe too long as the splendor of each town seems almost common place now. The facades that are so impressive to new eyes appear the norm. Treb’s new OIC (Officer-in-Charge—aka, "boss") is in town. We were going through some small, picturesque nearby German villages, with castles on hills overlooking the villages, and he was so excited and enjoyed the beauty of it all. We hate that we’ve lost some of the adventure and newness. I have to remind myself to look at these towns through "American" eyes to see the true impressiveness and age of each place we visit. It is truly a whole new world that we live in and I’ve become horribly used to it! Perhaps I will be going through reverse culture shock upon my return!
Anyway, we’ve got pictures up of all of our latest adventures (Vienna, Nürnberg, Chiemsee, and Köln/Trier) on our website. We’ve also got a few random pictures of local fun. Since it’s now weinfest season, hopefully we’ll post some weinfest pictures soon too. Oh—and Treb has some pictures from his little adventure down in Turkey posted too.
I do know that I miss you all and while we will never forget our experiences in Europe, sometimes Home really is where the heart is. Reminder! We’ve only got 1.5 years left, so book room now! We hope to see you sometime soon.
Anna, Treb and Koshka
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Sunday, July 20, 2003
I see you've been to Russia, Mr. Bond
Bear with me. I will be covering 10 days of sights, sounds and experiences from our trip to Russia after going on a 20 mile bike ride and beginning my thesis today. If I ramble, I ask your pardon.
They call Russia "Mother Russia." She has at times been a loving and caring figure and at times a brutal and distant driver. So much of the experiences of Russia history is reflected in the society in which they live and the culture of its people. The trip was an amazing experience. At times it was a sad experience, at times, the blinders were lifted from our Western eyes and at other times, it was an experience of the impressive ability of a culture to maintain existence through multiple eras.
We flew into St. Petersburg on 6 July. The sun at 2300 is still almost visible in the sky. We might have had 4 hours of "night time" which played havoc with our internal clocks--and it never did get completely dark, just dusky, in the north. It does give you many more hours to experience the city though....St. Petersburg is a contradiction of history. On the out-skirts of the town, the remnents of communism exist in the utilitarian, conformist structures of tenement buildings that are an eye-sore to an otherwise beautiful city. 3 or 4 families would be crammed into a 3 room apartment and expected to share a kitchen. The people worked for the home land only and for the betterment of their country. There was nothing that the country did for the people. If anything, the experience of Russia is a testament to the luxury that we have in America.
St. Peterburg is littered with war memorials. They continue to mourn their dead from world war one and two. 1 million people died during the German siege of St. Petersburg (Leningrad during the war). Some died from the battle, but most people died from famine. Adults were rationed to a max of 4 oz of bread per day. To this day, there are few men over the age of 60 in Russia. A generation of women went without having marriage or a family due to a paucity of able males.
Reading back, you would like that St. Petersburg is dark, dreary and depressing. As I came into the city the first time and saw the tenement buildings, i was afraid that this was going to be it. So very wrong. While the outskirts may be a testement to human misery, the city center has been maintain, even through Soviet times with magnificent facades and tributes to Peter the Greats vision of making St. Peterburg a window to the Western world. In fact, downtown St. Petersbug was very similar to Vienna. Walking through the downtown, I did not feel quite so removed from Europe.
Our arrival to our boat, the MS Mikail Solokhow, was amusing. We had figured (with our usual Courie audacity) that there would be English speaking people on our boat, despite having booked through a German travel agent. What a wake up call! The only two Americans with a group of Germans and a small group of Japanese. In fact, the boat staff thought we were on the wrong boat when our very poor German failed and we had to revert to a mix of English, German and Russia in which to convey our needs. The next time, we will go with an English group simply for the ease. it did not detract from our enjoyment of the trip however and we were more amused by the German responses to lack of driving rules in Russias.
The Top Ten things I learned in Russia:
1. McDonald's thrives in a free-market economy.
2. Developing countries think fruit is dessert
3. Eastern block countries are unafraid of rules, therefore, there are no rules of the road, the survival of the fitest on the road drives German's crazy.
4. Treb will try new food if there are no other options.
5. You can get great bargains in St. Petersburg, but there are no markets in Moscow.
6. Russia hasn't _quite_ gotten pandering down to tourists, it's still an adventure to find out when things are open and how much English you can use.
7. Children are children no matter what part of the world you are in.
8. Real Russian vodka is superior to the junk they export. And, yes, they do serve it with every meal except breakfast.
9. There are still sickle and hammers all over Moscow, less so in St. Petersburg. Lenin is still in his tomb and is statue is still in St. P's.
10. When in doubt, developing economies have McDonalds, Pizza Hut and TGI Fridays.
Going back to our itenery: The second day began with a round trip tour of St. P's and a visit to Tsarkoe Selo. TS is a village about 30k's on the outskirts of St. P's. It is the Summer Palace of the Tsars. Yet another palace modelled after Versailles. Unbelievable the audacity of monarchs to build monstrosities (beautiful ones) while their people suffered under the yoke of serfdom.TS began as a wooden structure under Peter the Great during his reign and developed into the palace grounds it is today. It is beautiful. Unfortunately it was damaged badley during bombing of the city by Germans and only has a few rooms opened that have been renovated. St. P's was built by Peter the Great. Also know as Lenningrad during Soviet times. Peter the Great decided to build St. P's in order to compete with Western standards. In the building process, he killed 10's of thousands of his people to meet his dream. St. P's was celebrating it's 300th anniversery during our stay. There was much more civic pride visible in St. P's than Moscow.
Our second day in St. P's we decided to strike out on our own, knowing that we do a pretty good job of getting around cities. We hit the metro. Oh my. I've read the phrase, "myriad smells assaulted by olfactry endings to the point I wanted to gag." I had never experienced it however until riding the St. P's metro. I won't go into a description of the individual smells that did the assaulting, but I think you get the picture. We were packed like sardines into the train and headed into the city by a 25 minute ride. Surprisingly, the city's metro system is incredibly effecient and on time. I'm sure the German's appreciate this!:)
We wandered around Peter and Paul fortress and toured the Cathedral of Peter and Paul where all the Tsars and their families are buried. Saw the tomb of Peter the Great (Ivan the Terrible is in Moscow), Catherine the great is burried here and this is also the final resting place of the Romanov family that was murdered by the Bolsheviks in Ekatrinburg (Nicholas and Alexandra Romanov--last of the Romanovs--their daughter Anastasia is the one that people thought lived in the US, but was bunk. Her remains were found in a grave with the rest of her family outside Ekatrinburg. They were shot down in a basement of a house in Ekatriburg and then thrown into a mass grave). From the island we walked around Nevsky Prospekt, did some fantastic bargain shopping in the markets (I could shoot myself because I kept from spending money thinking that we would have shopping in Moscow--not so. ugh.) Then we saw the Winter Palace. Unbelievable palace that sits on the banks of the Neva. It now houses the Hermitage. Treb and I both decided that neither of us are artistically enough appreciative to spend the money on the Hermitage and (gasp) turned down the option to see Rembrants and Da Vincis and all sorts of good stuff like that. I like art, don't know that I like it enough to spend 4 hours in an art museum though. Guess I am not culturally diverse enough yet!:) We ate the russian version of ice cream everywhere we could--it's great--and enjoyed it every chance we got. The only thing in St. P's that is vaguely Russian looking it the Chapel of the Spilt blood where some Romanov was shot down and murdered. His mother erected the church in his memory and it is so classically Byzantine/Russian architecture, it just sticks out in this very Western city.
We left St. P's that night. We did a great deal of our cruising during the night, but we were able to enjoy many pleasant cruising days as well. It was rather cold in St. P's and on the rivers until we got to Moscow. I was in long sleeves most of the time. We hit our first Russian village on our first day of sailing. The best cultural market that we went to with great shopping. The poor town however is struggling under the poor economy. The old ladies were trying to make ends meet by selling wildflowers that they picked. Treb, with his ever present soft-spot, bought some for me and I quite enjoyed them in our cabin. That night we went to our first "Wodka Probe" or vodka tasting. Now, if you are like me, you never thought there was much to taste when it comes to vodka. Not so. The real russian stuff is so superior and so smooth, it really is a treasure to sip/drink. We tried a pepper-vodka, a apricot vodka, a brandy vodka and another one that we couldn't quite figure out the translation of what it was. Every lunch and dinner, they served the clear (traditional) vodka as a palate-cleanser. it was quite fun! We had great staff on the boat, although they didn't always speak very good English, but we got by. The food was fair. Although towards the end, enough Russian and German food drove us to desperate measures. I've had enough cabbage for awhile, needless to say, but Treb did try the borscht!:)
Over the next couple of days on the river, we saw magnificent churches. In fact, on island Kihzi island, that we went to, had been turned into a museam where a HUGE completely wooden church complete with onion domes was built about 300 years ago. They had great examples of peasant houses. Because of the cold winters, the animals were housed in the basement portion of the home and everyone (often a family of 6-10) lived in 2 large rooms above.
Another town/villiage had a magnificent Abby/monestary that was closed by the soviets. You could see the pride that old Russians took of their churches as the outsides are painted and often covered in the most glorious tiles. We went through a museam and saw a multitude of icons. Some of the most impressive icons ever, covered in gold and jewels.
The last town we hit was Uglich, outside of Moscow. We took a toor of the town which was having a huge party in celebration of its anniversary. There is another magnificent church that we went too where we were treated to a group of tenors and barritones that sang the most beautiful Russian hyms to us. The skin on the back of my neck rises in memory of being surrounded by religious artwork and the beauty of these voices. Rachel--a must do for you!
One of the most interesting things I found as we cruised from the Neva to the Volga through a series of canals and locks was that these rivers freeze over during the winter. Barges with ice breakers have to come through to make the river navigatable, and in some areas, people go from town to town by crossing the river on their sleds. It's a very fast moving river and i am completely awed that it freezes. It was so amazingly lush and beautiful during out trip, I have a hard time imagining it covered in ice and snow and with as little as 4 hours of daylight during the winters.
We arrived in Moscow to torrential rains and massive flooding. Trees were being hit by lightening and I guess the ghosts of Soviet Commies were frowning on the presence of Western corruption!:) During this, we were taking a Bus tour of the entire city. After seeing everything by bus, we decided that we would again strike out on our own for a bit of adventure. Before, that, the boat had arranged a tour of the Moscow metro. supposedly one of the greatest in the world. One of the most interesting things about communism is that on the surface it looks good. They spent thousands of dollars on public works, but at the expense of the people's happiness. They had no social strength or national pride. The metro is covered with works of art and soviet symbols of nationalism, but it is a crumbling relic and many of the cars need refurbishing. However, it is still efficient and well planned out, so we did our metro thing all around Moscow the next two days seeing things off the beaten path. That night, the boat also did an night tour of Moscow and one of the most impressive things we saw were Red Square lit by night with St. Basil's cathedral in stunning relief against the clouds. There is also Moscow state univeristy: amonstrosity that houses 40,000 students in one building, but which used to be one of the finest education institutions in the world. it is lit by night and guards the city by touring on the horizon.
The following day in Moscow we went to the Kremlin. While we could see Red Square from afar, the area has been closed due to Chechyne bombings in the city. The Kremlin is quite facinating as there are only certain places that you can walk and the guards will holler at you if you cross the line. It's a very austere and overwhelming complex. The biases that I held (completely unfounded) of communism made me feel as though the KGB should be hanging from ever rampart. While this is not so, the Kremlin continues to be the seat of government in Russia, but it is so very different from DC. For one, the complex has about 10 churches. All filled with beautiful icons of course and are national treasuries. The grounds are very well maintain, which is surprising, b/c that has not necessarily been true for many of the places that we've seen. BTW, anytime you think yard work is bad, we saw kids being paid to clear brush using a hand held scythe. This was on the endless grounds of Tsarkoe Selo. Imagine clearing the great plains by hand.
anyway, We toured the Kremlin for awhile, wondered the grounds. Unfortunately got dragged into two different malls--which didn't have ANY good shopping at all and then we headed off on our own. We decided to go back to the Kremlin to check out the Armory, which was great. Lot's of jewels, more icons, weaponry and armor from ancient times. We got to see the faberge egg collection and were planning to go to the Diamond vault to find that we had to pay extra and that the tickets could only be bought by a certain person at a certain time. This was one of many examples of how parts of Russia are not quite perfectly tourist friendly yet. In fact, we couldn't take bags in and had to go through a search point in order to enter the Kremilin.
Well, after all this walking around, we were quite hungary and thirsty and there just HAPPENED to be a TGI Fridays in Moscow and well we'd been so good trying ALL that Russian food (herring, cabbage, some caviar and some things we are not sure what it was) that it was time for some AMERICAN food. YumYum. I groaned with pleasure over a junk food platter of wings, monzarella sticks, potatoe skins and friend shrimp--we did share this so my wasteline didn't hurt too much). But the best thing--ice with drinks and EXTRA cold beer! The Russians usually servce all drinks room temp--ugh.
After rolling ourselves back to the boat, we packed up as we would be leaving the next evening and had to have our bags out for pick up. We headed out the next day for our final excursion and went to the Moscow WWII memorial in memory of the estimated 27 million people in Russia that died during the Great Patriotic War. It's a huge park with a great museam and monolith to the dead. It also has one of the BEST (please note this is a woman claiming this--so no small feat of declaration) WWII parks showing the different kinds of planes, tanks, copters, cars, trains, etcs used during the war. I've been dragged to a lot of these parks all over the WORLD and this really is great. We wish we had known it was there and would have spent and entire day there. Unfortunately, our trip was coming to an end and we had to grab one last quick late lunch at TGI Fridays (yes, we ate there twice, it was so good) and then grabbed our bus to the airport. Unfortunately, huge traffice jam on the way. it took us twice as long to get to the airport than it was supposed to, but we still had time to pick up some duty free Russian vodka and hop on the plane. We flew Luftansa, which we've decided is the best airline in the world and will consider flying it from now on. Regular class is like first class on delta almost. Open bar the whole way home, although we had to drive and couldn't enjoy the hospitality.
Our trip came to a close and we are back to work with many emails and things piled up to take care of, a thesis to write and Treb will be starting as a Trial Counsel tomorrow. He is taking on the job of Command Judge Advocate for Giebelstadt Airfield and will start a 30 minute commute to work. We are doing well. Missing home and praying that you are all right. Some friends have come back from Iraq and others have headed down. Please continue to keep them in your prayers. We love you all and miss you and if you are wondering when we come home, we are half way there!
Anna, Treb and Koshka
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