“The suitcase. We left it on the bus!” Stephen rushes up to the bus door pounding on it before the driver can pull away.
We, Mom, middlemost child Stephen and myself, are in Germany only a few hours and already the comedy of errors is in full swing. We have gotten on the bus because the train master advises that our strasse is close by and we can save cab fare by using public transportation. Then when we ask the bus driver where to get off he looks confused (later we find out that Van Sparr Strasse is only three blocks long). A passenger lady tells us to walk, it is that close. More money saved. We exit the bus and in our jet lagged state leave the suitcase behind.
Emily & Lydia are headed to Germany for Lydia’s graduation celebration from 5th grade German emersion school. When the kids got into the German immersion school Emily & Marty decided that upon 5th grade graduation they would each take the respective child on a trip to Germany. Marty & Martin went two years ago. This year it’s the gals turn.
Head back to 2001 and travel with me, Mom & Stephen on our own trip to Germany. Mom has always wanted to go. Heritage on her daddy’s side, Edward Dyott Boschen, is rich in Hannover. Stephen Dyott has talked about going to Munich since he was a tween. I have a German artist friend who has an apartment in Koln. She rents it occasionally. It’s not occupied the month of August. I book it. Donny finds us mostly affordable tickets. We secure our Eurorail passes before we leave the states. Upon advice of Rick Steves whose guide I come to rely on as my bible.
Mom cannot believe that she is actually going. Donny & I pick her up at her home in Reedville Virginia. We head to Dulles where we catch our flight. We meet up with Stephen, who is coming from Raleigh, in Chicago and head across the pond to Koln.
It is literally on the trip to Dulles that I truly realize that Mom and Stephen will be looking to me to make the specific plans about what we do each day. We could just tool around Koln but no, that is not what our trip is about. Rick Steves has plenty of good suggestions and what I like about his books is that all conversation is centered around the local train station. We will blitz Germany! I begin making notes.
I quickly assess that Mom has too much luggage even for us having a home base apartment. She good naturedly starts pulling things out of this bag and that and consolidates. She’s a veteran traveler. She knows how to power pack.
Back in Koln we are trudging along a beautiful city street for quite a while and decide that we have gone too far. We turn around and head back where we have come from. All we have to go on is a tiny hand drawn map and occasion advise from the occasion shops we pass on this residential street. We then learn that we have not gone too far and turn again. Mom is about to shoot us and convinced that the strasse and apartment are a myth. We get her some ice cream at a convenience store and sit on a low wall eating our treat. We begin again. Finally we find Von Sparr Strasse 50 and the deli that has the key to let us in the main building. (We have the apartment keys.)
Slightly begrudging us our success but happily so, Mom opts for a nap. We have sorted out sleeping. Mom and I take the bedroom. I pull the top mattress on the floor for myself. The under mattress is very soft and will give Mom more room. Stephen takes the couch in the tiny living room. We are cozy and happy. We are on the third floor. We have an on demand shower. A little kitchenette. And a street view.
I go out to find some help with directions and public transportation. And to get a few groceries. We are in what I call the Brooklyn of Koln. Nice neighborhood. Mix of people and life styles. We are on the other side of the river that dissects the city, not centrally located at all. We have few clues how to get anywhere. Later Mom meets a lovely lady named Gina in the common garden created by the backyards of our several buildings. She says to come to her place on the next block and she will give us her local train/subway schedule. We do. She does. We see that the closet train is a few blocks away. It’s the end of the line. Or the beginning depending on which way you are going. It’s not elevated and above ground. From there we can reach the world. And the rest of Germany!
We are ready for the blitz!! Below just a FEW of the places we visit. More about them and the rest in my next post on our whirl wind generation trip.