Sunday, August 12, 2012

"Ma'am, in Germany you can't run red lights"...

Last weekend we decided we had had enough of unpacking boxes and being stuck around the house, so we decided to take a trip.  When you live in a place like Germany the hardest thing about taking a weekend trip is figuring out where you want to go, there is simply too much to choose from.  This is a new dilemma for us, since we have been living in places like West Texas and Oklahoma ("well...I guess we could spend the weekend in Tulsa."  But who really wants to go to Tulsa? No one, thats who, unless your from Tulsa.  Sorry Tulsa friends).  Like I was saying, since there is so much to see in Europe, you have to narrow your criteria down.  We decided that since this was the first time being out of Ramstein area, we wanted to stay relatively close.  I've been dying to see Bavaria but as much fun as it sounds to drive 3 hours, on a Friday evening, with an exhausted husband and two baby monsters (I promise we use that term affectionately) it just seemed like too much for an overnighter.  M has been wanting to see the Guttenburg Museum so we settled on Mainz, Germany, the perfect distance away.  I booked our hotel room, overlooking the Rhine and was a little nervous that it was just a single room- we got spoiled with the hotel we lived in for 3 weeks which actually had a living room and separate bedroom, it worked perfectly with the girls.  But I figured, we're not the first people to travel with kids, we just gotta make it work.  Friday morning came and I got everyone packed-up, Friday afternoon came and we were finally on the road by 5ish.  I drove out there so M could catch a little nap, now, FYI driving in Europe is crazy.  There are no rules and too many rules at the same time and there are no signs to inform you of these existent or non-exisitant rules, but they do have cameras for you every 30 feet just in case you have no clue what you are doing.  So we get into the city and I'm following our GPS to the hotel, I see a red arrow turning right and see at least the 4 cars in front of me turning ON the red light.  I figured I was out of the loop and turning was perfectly acceptable.  As it turns out, it is not.  M looked at me and said, "I don't think your allowed to do that", and I said "well everyone else was turning too!".  Which apparently means, if everyone else was jumping off a cliff, then yes, I would too. A few seconds later a car pulled up to us trying to get our attention, I brushed them off thinking "I'm only rolling down this window for this weird German if my tire is flat", turns out I'll also roll it down for the German police.  Not knowing what this person was doing, we kept driving for the hotel, and he kept following us...for about 3 blocks to be exact.  Finally he held up a "Polizei" sign and the lights went my head that is, because this police car didn't have visible lights letting me know I was being pulled over.  I explained that I'm an American and am still getting used to driving in Germany.  He told me that in Germany, they don't run red lights...interesting because its the same way in the states...I'd have to remember that.  After talking my way out of a ticket and being extremely thankful I didn't cause and accident, we finally got to the hotel.

We had dinner downstairs overlooking the Rhine and it was of course absolutely beautiful.  The next morning we headed over to the Guttenburg Museum but stopped to walk through the farmers market and the Cathedral first.  Not counting the one in New York, this was the first Cathedral I'd been to.  Having been an Art History minor, and loving every minute of it, it felt like a monumentous occasion for me.  Seeing things that are a thousand years old blows my mind.  I love my country and all, but things that are two-three hundred years old just don't impress the way a thousand year old pure gold cloak the priests wore does.  Anyways, we spent some time in the museums of the Cathedral and marveled at the beauty and the sheer size of the place.  Its amazing to think of the things, the wars, the time these old buildings have passed through.  Allowing my imagination run wild with the history is one of my favorite things about living here.  We walked through the farmers market looking at the flowers, wine, cheese, all the fresh vegetable you can imagine, it was something out of a movie. We spent the next few hours in the Guttenburg Museum until the girls, who had missed both naps at this point, were letting me know they'd had enough.  So I took them outside where they promptly fell asleep and allowed me to enjoy the most amazing peach iced tea at a little cafe while soaking up the sunshine and cool breeze.  It was such a fun weekend, M and I have commented several times that we have been thinking about it all thru the week.  The weekends at home come with a certain restlessness and a feeling of waisting time that should be spent sightseeing Europe.  But in reality, traveling with two toddlers and all the gear that comes with them is overwhelming.  We're thinking one weekend trip a month and we will be doing pretty well...we might need the other three to re-coop.