Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mein Ravensburg

The long awaited Germany post!

How about I give a very brief overview and skip right to the pictures. So I arrived via train to Germany where my cousin picked me up to drive me to Ravensburg. The train ride was wonderful with the most incredible beautiful scenery of mountains and lakes! This train ride was nothing like the Ukrainian trains on my mission--so much more luxurious!

The point of this trip was 1) to visit Oma and 2) to experience Rutenfest, the annual festival of my mother's hometown Ravensburg. Ravensburg is an old medieval town that still has the original towers and part of the city wall. The town itself is quite charming and everything a German town should be. Rutenfest is a festival honoring the cities history and culture. There were tons of music, parades, events, and food to celebrate. The Fahnfare is the iconic part of Rutenfest with trumpets and flags, which you hear all weekend long. The weekend itself was a blast, but the best part was spending time with Oma and hearing her stories.

Downtown Ravensburg waiting for the Rutenfest opening ceremonies

Watching the parade with Tante Lizzy and Wally

The "Beer Garden"

 My "cousins" Jessica (and baby Gabriella) and Sabrina

Eating some Hungarian food...fried dough with cheese and sour cream- healthy, right?  It tastes good for about 5 minutes before you start feeling sick, but don't worry, I finished the whole thing. I couldn't let the relatives down.

The Fahnfare on our street. They came and played "Mein Ravensburg" the town's song and performed other numbers as well. Groups like this came around the town all weekend. You can actually request a group to come to your neighborhood.

 Tante (Aunt) Lizzy and Uncle Karl-- my great aunt and uncle. I had dinner with them and interviewed them for family history. It was a bit more challenging than it sounds. I speak very little German and they speak less English. Karl was a soldier during WWII and was in Belarus and then was a prisoner of war in Belarus and Kazakstan (yeah, I learned all that talking to them). Because of that he spoke a few words of Russian and somehow we had a trilingual conversation. Miracles happened so I could speak with my relatives. German words and grammar came back to me that I didn't even realize I learned. It was awful German and probably painful to hear, but somehow we communicated. It was a MIRACLE!

 Yes, it's a bit fuzzy, that isn't your eyesight. Oma's caretaker and friend Frau Punko is still learning how to use a camera. :)

Me and Oma! It's hard to get pictures of Oma because she is going blind and you have to tell her where to look and when to smile. She doesn't hear well either, so communicating is a bit tricky. I love my Oma and am soooo blessed to have spent five whole days with her in Germany. She's an amazing woman, so strong. I got some great pics and recordings from her, plus some quality time.

There you rundown of Europe 2011! This trip was challenging with language barriers, family obligations, and more, but I am incredibly grateful I had the opportunity to go. Thanks USAID!