Visit to Wayne's Relatives in Kiel

Michael, Peter, Marika, Renata
Wayne, Kirsten, Uncle Ernst

Michael & Marika's house (and a little snow coming down).

Michael looking out his dining room window.

LOVE this room!


Neat building from 1775 (if you look closely at the top you can see those numbers)

Rathaus (city hall) Kiel

The Nord See (North Sea), Kiel

The "Boat House," I took this one because Graham and Myra's house in England is called The Boat House

Homes along the shore--all different styles

The beach (im Winter)

A cute house I wanted Wayne to take a picture of.

Kirsten, Michael and Marika in front of church

Cute church I wanted to see--on an angle??

Myself, Wayne & Marika in the church


Markia, Wayne and myself in the U-Boat

Me under the spikes--there to deter invasion (the spikes, not me!)

This past Friday we drove up to Northern Germany to visit relatives of Wayne's. His great uncle Ernst Victor (his father's uncle) turned 102 in November, and we wanted to visit him as soon as we could. Ernst was featured in a clip on the local news and an article was written about him in the local newspaper, as he has witnesses a lot of interesting Germany history in his lifetime. The news broadcast focused on the German Revolution of 1918, where Ernst narrowly missed being hit by a stray bullet as he ran away from the fighting. The newspaper article pointed out that Germany still had a Kaiser when Ernst was born. He is amazing for 102, but he is bothered by the fact that he can't really see anymore. We had a very nice visit with him.

Wayne looked up Kaiserslautern to Kiel on MapQuest and reported that it was only a 5 hour drive. Great, no problem. We rented a car because the BMW isn't THAT great of a car and the Audi hadn't arrived yet. We got a late start, partly because it was hard for me to get up in the morning (tired stage of 3rd trimester pregnancy and just 2 days back from our trip to England), and partly because of the way military/government benefits are handled. Let me explain...gas in Germany is much more expensive than in the US. One of our benefits is that we can buy gas here at American prices--on a military base, or at an Esso station with a special gas card that has to be preloaded with money. Each car that is eligible for one of these special gas cards has to be registered to us or with a rental car, we have to get a special document and gas card saying that we're eligible to use the card at Esso stations with this particular rental car. We found out where to do that on Ramstein Air Base (the closest one to where we live), so we rented a car from Hertz, which is right by the entrance of the base. I thought, no problem, we'll swing by that office on the base and get the special document and gas card, load it with money at the gas station on that base, and fill the car up. Well, that process took TWO HOURS. So, we got a late start and after 3 staus (roughly translated as traffic jam, but Wayne swears the words aren't equal because a German stau can last for an hour) it took NINE hours to arrive at our destination.

Michael (Uncle Ernst's son) and Marika were so gracious, waiting for us with a wonderful lasagna dinner when we arrived. I'll take this opportunity to tell you about their house--I loved it. It was originally built in 1776, yup that's the year our country was founded. It was renovated first in 1922, and then again about 10 years ago by Michael and Marika. They did a wonderful job, as you can see from the pictures. I commented that it could be in a magazine in one of those articles about how to live beautifully in a small space. Wayne had said that Kiel (the biggest city near all the relatives) would be somewhat like Norway, where I have relatives because it's so far north and right on the North Sea (and Ost or East See). Their house definitely had elements of Scandinavian design, which I loved. In general, I thought the houses in that part of Germany were much cuter than here. They use mostly brick and tend to be smaller in scale. Here most houses are of stucco (with REALLY thick walls) or an ugly siding and are bigger and often duplexes.

The next day we had our visit with Uncle Ernst and then Peter and Renata (Michael's sister) showed us around Kiel. We went to their Wienachtsmarkt (Christmas market--most cities and many small villages too have them) and ate lunch at the Ratskeller (Rathaus is city hall and keller is like basement). It was a nice restaurant with traditional German food. I tried the duck and Wayne had a plate with sausauges, fat back, and grunkoln (kale). We then went to a cafe/chocolate shop for kuchen (cake) and coffee. Then they pointed out an apartment where they used to live in Kiel and where Andrea (Wayne's sister) lived when she was a student at the university there. We also went to the restaurant where Andrea was a waitress and had drinks. Wayne's family jokes that in Germany it's always essen und trinken (eating and drinking) and this day proved that right! Renata pointed out that there's also laufen (walking), which must be how they do that and stay fit. We also got to see the Ost See and where the Olympic sailing events took place in 1936 and 1972. They dropped us back off at Michael and Marika's that evening, and we were very grateful to have time for a little nap before dinner. Marika made Wayne one of his favorite German dishes for dinner--Rolladen, beef roll ups.

Sunday Michael and Marika took us to a nearby village where there was a tiny Wienachtsmarkt and a castle, which was closed for renovations, but we liked seeing some of the neat buildings in that village. We went and walked along the North Sea and went inside a German U-Boat. Wayne was thrilled because we missed going in the captured U-Boat that they have at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, so he finally got to see the inside of one. We had lunch at a fish restaurant and really enjoyed our white fish meal--see something, I've already forgotten what the fish was called. Then we relaxed a little back at the house and enjoyed a delicious dinner of chicken with tomato sauce and rice. We enjoyed so much our time there with the family, that we were sad to have to leave on Monday morning. After our late arrival on Friday, and having to have the rental car back by 4 pm, we left before 7 am on Monday. We made it back just in time to return the car, and even spent a half hour in an IKEA on the way back, picking up a few essentials for our house.
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