(Originally posted on Sunday, August 21, 2005)

Well, we had two days until the civil ceremony and had rented a car so we could explore the surrounding area in central Germany… But, the best laid plans do go astray!

We woke up on Wednesday morning to rainy whether… We went down and had breakfast in the hotel restaurant; I had many options that kept me on my diet, fortunately. The restaurant was actually located outside the hotel, the Mövenpick, was located on one side of a local shopping mall, a small one, with a much larger mall across the street… The restaurant was actually off the mall, not within the hotel, per se… After breakfast, we went up to the room and got ready to go to Weimar…

We got in the car and started to leave the parking garage when we discovered that we needed to put our parking ticket into a machine on the mall and pay for the time we had been parked, €8 for the overnight stay from 19:00 to 11:00 the next day… So Heather went up, talked to someone who helped her put the money into the machine, and brought back the validated ticket… In the meantime, I was sitting at the exit gate unable to go forward or backward, and basically ‘stuck’…

Once out of the garage, we headed to the A7 autobahn that lead to Weimar. The trip to Weimar, the home of Goethe and Schiller, was about a two hour drive. It was still raining! Now I had always pictured the autobahn as this wide smooth road that permitted speeds of up to 150 kilometers per hour… Well, guess again!

The way to the actual autobahn required me to traverse at least one roundabout. When I encountered this roundabout, I didn’t see that the traffic signal had turn red for me, since my eye level was such that the top of the car roof cut off any view of the signal… I almost had an accident within ten minutes of driving in Germany! Fortunately, I didn’t since I was able to brake in time and finally got onto the correct leg of the roundabout…

This leg, while it would turn into the autobahn, was undergoing extensive repairs, even in the rain. I was trying to get used to the six speed transmission and diesel engine… I was trying to watch my way on an unfamiliar road… I was trying NOT to attend to Grace who was actively signaling with her hands to break, be careful, and otherwise nervous as could be! Poor Gracie, she was very uneasy with this, especially in light of her accident.

Anyway, as we proceeded, the rain got heavier and there were periodic sections of the autobahn closed (the left lane of course) for repair… Heather and Grace were both extolling me to drive carefully; NOT TOO FAST… About 10-15 kilometers outside of Kassel I decided that I did not to endanger either myself or my family by continuing this drive in an increasingly intense storm… I put all pride aside and turned around and returned to Kassel…

We got back to the hotel and I went back to the room while Heather and Grace went window shopping in the two malls… Weather the next day was not much better and I decided not to go to the little cities north of Kassel (on the ‘Fairy Tale Road’) or to the university town of Göttingen…

Grace and Heather went to the place where Tasha was staying to help with wrapping honey jars. I stayed at the hotel reading and working on the computer… At least the hotel had wireless that allowed me to connect my IPAQ with the net to check email and complete a number of other tasks. Grace and Heather returned in the mid-afternoon and we went down to the mall to have a coffee.

We got a call from Tasha’s good grad school friend, Ana Marie, who said that she and Rudi, her German husband, would like to take us to dinner that evening. We agreed and were to meet in the hotel lobby and then proceed to the restaurant for dinner. When the time came, we went down to dinner and had a delightful time.

A little about Rudi… He is a web designer and he, Grace and I had much to talk about… I showed him some of my toys and he was fascinated. We talked with Ana Marie, the matron of honor at the wedding about all the plans. About 21:30, Tasha and Isti showed up unexpectedly and we went through a series of photo shoots and captured much on film (both real and digital)…

We departed late with good feelings all around and looking forward to the civil ceremony the next day. We arranged for Rudi to come by the hotel and drive us out to the location of the civil ceremony, since he was familiar with the area, at least much more familiar with the driving habits of the Germans!

More on the civil ceremony in the next installment…

Jerry