Many years ago my husband and I watched the British Open. David Duvall was struggling. The TV commentator had an Australian accent and he was obviously running out of things to say to the world as the wheels fell off this professional golfer’s game. After each attempt the commentator would say something more or less positive but around the fifth attempt he said something that Scott and I have laughed about for years. “I’m struggling to find anything good to say about that attempt.” It doesn’t seem that funny in writing but the way the guy said it and with his accent; it was so funny.
It’s been one week since we left our sweet little apartment in Oberammergau and one week since I have blogged anything, since the kids have done much schoolwork or we have eaten healthfully or exercised on a daily basis. We have spent a lot of time in the car and on the computer. Our wheels have fallen off and we are struggling to find anything good to say about the last few days (I wish I could write in that great Australian accent), well except for all of the life lessons we are learning. Yes, I am being sarcastic, we are learning lessons by the handful, but how fun is that on our journey this year? Scott has stopped using the kids’ names and instead just calls them “kids” like Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s European Vacation because he thinks the last few days may be less scarring if he refrains from using their actual names.
I’m not even sure where to start. I’m a week behind on our adventure blog and we’ve had some great times this past week but we are struggling to get some footing at the moment. I think this week really began when I decided that we would visit Wiesbaden, Germany, during our trip planning stage way back in the spring. I was born in Wiesbaden, but my parents moved back to the states when I was a baby. I visited Wiesbaden in my early twenties on a trip to Europe, but it was just for a couple of nights and now the only thing I remember is a beautiful park my buddy and I wandered through. I was excited to go back to my birthplace with my husband and kids and ironically we would be there during their birthdays (yes, all of them). It seemed like an epic thing to experience.
I was a little bit offended when my father-in-law (who suggested Oberammergau) mentioned in an email that Wiesbaden was just too big and not that interesting. Then a good friend of mine gave us a Rick Steves Germany travel guide and Rick’s advice was to skip Wiesbaden. Fine, but I had a reason to visit Wiesbaden, I was born there after all, and I wanted to share it with my family. So, I booked an apartment for a week there after our stay in Oberammergau. Here, my friends, the lessons begin, or maybe the first lesson was if your father-in-law (who lived in Germany for 3 ½ years) and a professional travel writer say skip it, plan a day, not a week.
I was so excited as we drove towards Wiesbaden that I was taking pictures of road signs. I was imagining how meaningful spending a week in the place of my beginning with my own family would be; I would find that beautiful park again, we would wander around and discover interesting things and I would feel the presence of my parents. I ignored the graffiti on every spray-paintable surface and the adult stores and the trash and rundown buildings as we drove into town. I focused instead on the beautiful church I could see in the distance.
Next lesson is not everyone is trustworthy, nice, or professional. We all know this; it’s just no fun to be reminded. I rented our Wiesbaden apartment through Airbnb. I am an Airbnb newbie, but I thought I would try it (Adventuriety!). More on that later, but suffice it to say that I am currently experiencing mediation through Airbnb and the jury is out in more ways than one.
We spent about an hour in Wiesbaden. We showed up at our apartment and the “housekeeper” let us in. It was not what was advertised. The “housekeeper” called the owner and I chatted with him. Grant said the trip to Wiesbaden was totally worth it just to hear me talk to this guy. All I did was tell him that the apartment wasn’t what we agreed on and I wanted my money back, but I guess that impressed Grant. So, I feel good about the fact that my kid saw me stand up for myself. Sadly, I learned the important lesson of taking pictures. I will not make excuses that I was hungry, tired, frustrated and disappointed, but people, TAKE PICTURES!
We drove away from that apartment on a bit of an adrenaline high. We were tired and hungry (we’d eaten fruit from a farmer’s market for lunch in the name of health) and now we had no place to stay for the night or for the next week and we had just drug all six of our bags through a parking garage and a department store and downtown Wiesbaden to an apartment and then back again. It was almost 8 o’clock and we had no Plan B. Later, this was a reflection point for us. Remember, we are not really planners, and this thing that we had planned was a no-go. What is the lesson here? You remember that Hoher Fricken hike (Meet Hoher Fricken, My Bad Boyfriend)? There are some journeys that you just get through and decide later what you learned.
The Wiesbaden fail was Friday night, August 21st, and today is Tuesday morning August 25, 2015. We left the parking garage in Wiesbaden, stopped once at a Best Western on the edge of downtown, but the parking was beyond complicated and we just gave up and drove out of Wiesbaden. A little over an hour before I had been so excited to be in Wiesbaden and at that point I was completely finished with Wiesbaden. I was having some kind of serious closure. I was born in Wiesbaden and all of the sudden I had no attachment to the city what so ever. I no longer wanted to share my birthplace with my kids; I wanted to get far away from that city. I wanted something small and clean and quiet and friendly or at least trustworthy. We drove.
We found a little village not far from the city and followed our navigation system to the only restaurant. We took a wrong turn and ended up a street away from the restaurant but it looked inviting, we could see fairly lights and outdoor seating in a garden. Food was near at hand; we could rehash the last two hours and reevaluate our strategy or maybe come up with a strategy. We found the correct street and pulled into an extremely crowed restaurant with lots of very nicely dressed people staring at us. Our cozy little restaurant was actually a ritzy wedding reception. There was no turning around so Scott slowly backed the car away from the venue as everyone watched. We had to laugh and take a picture.
We drove some more. We drove through another small town. It looked like there were some restaurants open and look there was a hotel! There was a restaurant at the hotel! There was no room at the hotel but it was a small operation and the people were so nice that we decided to stay for dinner. Dinner was interesting, we ordered three meals and ended up with five, but two rooms became available with breakfast included for an inexpensive price while we ate dinner. Maybe we passed some kind of test? We were just thankful that we could take a shower, get on the internet, get a plan and go to bed. We weren’t able to make a plan, the internet was not working, but we did get a great night’s sleep. It was quiet and comfortable. The next morning we chose a larger town, Koblenz and found a hotel there for two nights. We would have two nights to form a plan and get back on track.
Before we set out for Koblenz, we decided to have a little fun and take a stroll through Bad Schwalbach to find the mini golf course.
We found the mini golf…
and then a little humor…
and some ice cream for lunch. Stay tuned for the next part of the adventure. It gets even more educational.