Friday, August 12, 2011

History not found in a book...

James 'Großmutter, als "Mamaw" oder "Sommersprossen" bekannt ist, aus Deutschland. Sie traf ihren Mann, Ron, oder "Papaya", als sie 17 Jahre alt war, heiratete ihn zwei Jahre später, hatte ihr erstes Kind und zog in die Staaten......

Unless you speak German, that's exactly how we felt - "Huh?!?"
*And maybe even if you do speak German because I used Google translate which does not always translate 100% accurate, hah!*

Anyway, James' grandmother kept forgetting to switch back to English when talking to us and it was very entertaining at times!

So, let's try this again...

James' grandmother, known as "Mamaw" or "Freckles," is from Germany. She met her husband, Ron, or "Papaw" when she was 17 years old. The couple got married, had their first kid and moved to the states within the next two years. There they lived in Kentucky, had five more kids- and the rest is history. Since Papaw passed a few years ago, Mamaw tries to visit her family in Germany at least once a year. This year we decided to drop in for a visit while she was there. This trip was very special and not like any other touristy trip we have taken while in Europe.

Day 1:
We flew into Munich International Airport on Saturday morning and drove 15 minutes to the cute little town of Freising, where Mamaw was raised. We stayed at Mamaw's sister's house, Chrysantha (Cyntha for short).

Cyntha's daughter, Anita, and her husband, Willy,
also live there. Once we were settled in, we ate th
e typical Munich meal of white sausage (weisswurst) with soft pretzels and sweet mustard. I think I've decided that is my favorite German meal!
*Our friend Laura made this for us when we were in Köln in honor of James' roots, so I thought that was pretty neat that we were having it with his family this time*

After lunch we stopped by the graveyard where James' great grandmother and great grandfather are buried- James' middle name is Kaspar, named after him. The graveyards there are like nothing I've seen before. First of all, several people are buried in one plot, so they start the first one very deep so that they'll have room to fit more caskets on top later- and the head stone lists all the people buried there. Then, you have a little rectangle area of land above the grave that the family of the deceased can put whatever flowers, pics, candles, etc that they want, but it's up to them to maintain the area and water the flowers. It was actually quite beautiful. Mamaw was telling us that they have to go every other day to water the flowers- unless it rains.

Next we headed downtown, and on our way we stopped by Mamaw's sister Hela (short for Helena)'s apartment to say hello (and "nice to meet you"). She lives in a cute little second story apartment right by the downtown area that she's lived in for forty years! She didn't speak English, and James and I don't speak German, so "Hallo" is about as far as our conversation went, the rest was smiling, nodding and looking around. After a little bit of chatting (between the sisters) we headed downtown. Along the walk Mamaw told us a little about what it used to look like, and showed us where she lived as a kid.

Downtown is basically just a shopping strip, so we just shopped a little and got some ice cream. The coolest part was seeing the shop where Mamaw's wedding ring came from. The same ring she still wears today.
Mamaw said Papaw paid 10 marks for her ring, which is the equivalent to $2!

On our walk home, we passed by the church Mamaw was married in- it was sweet.
She said the outside is the same, but the inside is completely renovated and modernized- which she was not thrilled about at all!
Mamaw said that Papaw didn't understand German, so the priest nodded at him when it was time to say "I do."
*Mamaw shared several memories with us. It was so sweet!*

Afterwards we hung out at the house in the backyard and chatted for a few hours over coffee. Everyday around 4:00pm they have coffee and cake. I very much enjoyed this part of the day until I realized it made it harder for me to go to bed at night, so the last few nights we skipped the coffee. We did a lot of "hanging out" this trip, but it was cool just to be with the family. It also rained a lot so unfortunately we had to revolve our schedule around that.

That night, while we were hanging out, Anita showed us her scrapbook of her trip to the states 18 years ago. It was cool to see all the things she did. I especially liked the DC ones because they reminded me of home! She also had pics of the family... so we took pictures of her pictures:

Seven year old James:

Nine eyear old DJ (James' brother):

Some of the cousins:

Patty, James' Mom- probably up to no good ;-)

Day 2:
On Sunday's everything is pretty much shut down, so this day was mostly just a day of relaxing at the house. And it was raining, so there's not much you want to do when it's raining out. However, when the rain let up a little Mamaw took us to a beautiful church up on the hill (in Freising) where her and Papaw went to church once for midnight mass on Christmas Eve.

Mamaw said because Papaw didn't speak German, at the end of any service they attended together he would ask her what they taught about. So as usual, that night papaw asked her what they taught about and she said "Well, I don't know. They were speaking in Latin!" To that Papaw replied, "You mean I sat through all that and you didn't even understand!"

She also told us that this church is the same as she remembers it and is much like what the one she was married in looked like at the time she got married.

View of Freising from the church:

Then it started raining again so we headed home for dinner.
I realized I didn't have any pics of myself yet!

Another big thing in Germany is Beer, both alcoholic and non, so when the rain let up again after dinner, we went to a local brewery. It's the biggest and oldest in the area. It's been around since 1040. There was tons of beer... In kegs and bottles.
There was much more but I could only capture so much in one pic...

There's also a huge agricultural college up there, so we walked around and enjoyed their beautiful work:

and another view of Freising from a hill:

On the way home Anita drove us past what used to be the base where Papaw was stationed when he met Mamaw. They are tearing it down now, but James caught a little picture in passing of what used to be the barracks. It looks like it was a cute base once upon a time- and in such a cute city!

At least it was there for enough time for Mamaw and Papaw to meet!

Mamaw told us that the night that she met Papaw, he first saw her singing at a bar (she wasn't paid to sing, but anyone could sing for fun, so I'm guessing it was like Karaoke- she said it's just what they did there.) and he told his Air Force buddies that she was the girl he was going to marry. They teased him because he hadn't even met her yet, but it was fate! Of course he didn't tell Mamaw this until after they were married! How sweet!

Day 3:
This day's activity was shopping at a German department store with Mamaw's youngest sister, also with the name Anita. It seems like a lot of European countries have huge department stores, and that's how they shop, not really malls like we have all over every city in the states. (execpt maybe Italy where I can't seem to find a department store anywhere!) Every year Anita takes Mamaw shopping here and buys her something for her birthday. How cute!
After about 30 minutes of looking around James and I realized that we had to be the youngest people in the store. That was entertaining. But none the less, I found two adorable shirts and he found a pair of pants that fit him nicely- and weren't the tight ones you find in Italy! After shopping we met upstairs in the department store's restaurant for lunch. I had a chef's salad with a yogurt base dressing - delicious! ...And a cappuccino, of course. James had Schnitzle (kind of a thin breaded pork chop) with potatoes, and he drank a "spezi."
*Spezi is half coke and half orange Fanta, and it's actually listed on their menus in that part of Germany.

On the way home we stopped by the train station where Anita showed us how much of a bike city Freising is. Apparently most people ride their bikes to the train, and then take the train where they need to go. We saw a lot of bikes out, and people of all ages riding, but it was crazy to see all these bikes parked in one spot. I don't even think I've ever seen a place that could house so many bikes!
I know I parked my bike somewhere in here...

Day 4:
This was the last full day of our trip, so of course we had to see Munich. We parked at the metro station and hopped on the metro for about 25 minutes.

Munich is known for it's Glockenspiel - clock tower.
It consists of 43 bells and 32 life-sized figurines.

Mamaw and "Kas" at the


The figurine "story-telling" part only happens at 1100, 1200 and 1700.
We were there for the 1100 one:
The top story is a celebration of the marriage between the local Duke Wilhem to Renata of Lorraine.
The bottom story is the coopers dance. They were said to have danced through the streets during difficult time of a plague in Munich in 1517. Their dance came to symbolize perseverance and loyalty through difficult times.
At the end (about 15 minutes later), a golden bird above these two scenes chirps three times marking the end of the show. This was James' favorite part, hah! Hey, the bird was cute!

Other than the
Glockenspiel, we just walked around, shopped, ate and had coffee.
Here is Anita (Mamaw's niece), Mamaw and James at a water fountain downtown:

KFC? That seems a little random...

After rescuing James from this cruel live-statue...

...we were on our way back to the house for our last dinner with our family in Freising.
They cooked for us every night! They were always typical German meals and always yummy... and fun!

Day 5:
Cyntha joined us that day as we took the bus back to Freising's downtown area to wander the Wednesday Market and say bye to Anita, who works at a store downtown.
Cyntha made the sweater I was wearing. I thought it was on the professional level. So cool.

While shopping I found a 6 Euro sweater (super cheap right?), but I still couldn't decide if I really wanted it. I had already bought so much I didn't even want to spend 6 Euro if I wasn't in love with it. James is actually the one who spotted it and he loved that it was 6 Euro and cute so we took it to the register... and... it was half off the 6E! It suddenly became my new favorite sweater, hah!

After about an hour of walking around shopping we stopped by the bakery and grocery store for more soft pretzels for lunch, and we also got some goodies to take home. I found some Ecuadorian chocolate to bring home-home to my Dad. I was kind of surprised to find it in Germany. That made it double cool, hah! Then finally we got home, ate lunch and prepared to leave our awesome trip.

While at the airport with our fellow Italians, we saw some fun sights...

Like father:

Like son:

Kind of reminds me of someone else who wanted to be just like his Daddy when he was a kid:
Yes, that's a mullet, and yes, that's my James!

To all the family- you have to go with Mamaw on another trip if you can! It was an unforgettable and most memorable trip! And you'll probably see us there again if you go! *winks*

Til next time...


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