K2inCanada's Blog

August 26, 2018

Back from the land of beer

Filed under: Germany, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 9:26 AM

Well no, I was not going back to Belgium but Jeff and I did a quick trip to Germany in the 2nd half of July. And I very much enjoyed doing nothing but drink, eat and sleep – in that order – for 10 days straight! We were totally spoiled by friends and family! Many thanks to everyone named below! And it was incredibly hot almost the whole time.

The first part was about visiting friends from my University days. My best friend Gulli turned 50 this year while his wife Anke turned 50 last December and they were celebrating their 100th birthday together. We flew into Frankfurt, on July 18, where my other best friend Katja picked us up from the airport. She lives a good 60min drive away! In a very small town, which is considerable older than Canada, by several hundreds of years, near Braunfels in the beautiful Taunus region. We spent a couple days/nights with her and her sun Livius and husband Dirk (also an ex University buddy of mine). I have not seen them in years, we maybe email each other once or twice a year but it felt like the old days right away. We talked a lot, walked quite a bit, went swimming together in an outdoor pool, played Minigolf, discovered Weilburg and Wetzlar, and off course ate and drank a lot.  It was awesome. It was hot. I enjoyed it very much and was sad for not having more time to spent with Katja and Dirk.

On Saturday, July 20, was the big birthday party. It was a 2.5hr drive away from Katja’s place. Again we got very lucky to hitch a ride with yet another couple and great friends from University. Beate and Reinhard got us safely to Eggolsheim, near Bamberg, in their absolutely fancy, hi-tech BWM. The car practically drove itself – all Reinhard had to do was steer it. Officially, the area we went to is in Bavaria but the people who live there don’t really like to be called Bavarians. They are Franconians, living im Frankenland. Our hotel was situated in an old manor in Buttenheim. The room was huge! And pink :-). But very quiet and clean and not all that expensive given we are in Germany. But of course no air conditioning. We didn’t really need it because that Saturday was the only rainy day of the whole trip. And of course the big party was outdoors. When we arrived at the party at about 7:45PM, it was already in full swing. There must have been well over 50 people with family, friends and all the neighbours. They had set up a big white party tent so we all stayed dry. I don’t remember the last time I partied until 4:30AM! And I drank more beer than in the past 10years combined I think. I should have passed out but neighbour Udo’s gyros kept us functioning. He is a hobby BBQ chef and had his own gyros machine. Once he discovered our table liked it, he came around with a pound of meat every hour. Somehow, that kept us going. I even survived the pear schnapps that friend Armin made me drink. He is from the Black Forrest region and grew up on that stuff. I don’t think I fought too hard though. All in all a great party, seeing faces I had not seen in 20 years and meeting some of Gulli’s neighbour. Franconians are fun people! Lucky for me, no pictures exist of that night. Most people spoke English and I think Jeff also had a great time.

9:30AM and we were up again since breakfast in the hotel was only served till 10AM. Oh well, we had promised to help with the clean up anyhow. Head felt sleeping but the anticipated headache stayed away. Must have been the Gyros. The rain had stopped and it turned into a nice sunny day. Around 1PM all the neighbours showed up again and another 20l keg of beer was cracked open. That was a bit too much for me. Jeff and I went for a walk back to the hotel, about 75min, and had a snooze. After we woke up we tried one of the local pubs – they call them “Keller” in the summertime. They are all open air seating and you can get some pretty good “fast food”. I had elk with red cabbage and dumplings while Jeff tried a traditional German Sauerbraten. It was not too bad but too much and even though we tried to wash it down with the local beer, we could not finish it. Shortly after, Gulli picked us up, escaping the neighbours for a bit, and we tried another Keller and their local beer. That one had a better view. And then we joined the neighbours again that were still hanging out at Gulli’s place and drinking. The “after” party went on till almost midnight. Most people had to go to work the next morning. Impressive.

Jeff and I spent one more night in our pink room and spent Monday morning with Gulli without any neighbours before we hopped on the train to go North to Oldenburg to see my parents. I love taking the train in Germany. It took less than 5hrs, all trains were on time (even though I heard that’s no longer the norm) and we mostly got lucky and found good seats. Only had to stand between Wuerzburg and Fulda for 30min. Note to myself – buy train tickets online at least 4wks before or the cost quadruples!

We actually only spent 1 day in Oldenburg, visiting the city centre, which is a great place to shop – all pedestrian and no cars – or to sit outside in a Cafe for breakfast. Jeff was supposed to buy shoes but only me and my mum ended up with some new shirts. It was HOT though and in the afternoon we took off to go to the trailer park in Dangast, right along the North Sea. Well almost right along it, it’s on a large bay that only has water in it for about an hour twice a day. Due to the tides it usually runs dry for most of the day and exposes the wadden or “Watt” in German. It’s actually a unique environment and part of the quite large National Park “Wattenmeer” along the Northwestern shores of Germany (Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein). As a kid I loved to play in the mud, which is what the Watt is. I tried to get Jeff into it but he wasn’t too keen :-). We spent the remaining 3 days we had in Germany with my parents in Dangast. It was unbelievable hot. 38C is unheard off for that area! They had not seen a drop of rain in many weeks – also very unusual. We mostly sat in the shade and drank beer or went for walks to get ice cream. A couple of times we took the bikes and rode along the dyke. Once towards Varel where we visit an old Windmill. The bottom 3 floors were full of historic farming, fishing, crafts memorabilia. Pretty cool but the best thing was the private tour we got all the way into the top. Most of the mechanisms are still as they were when the windmill was build in 1847. Heavy wooden beams and gears. Begs the question on how they got them all up into the roof. Quite amazing. On windy days they STILL operate the mill. Too bad it wasn’t a windy day.

Another day, us and my dad biked to Wilhelmshaven, which is located across the mudflats, a 30km return trip. It’s not many kilometer but in that heat and with absolutely no shade we had to stop twice – once for ice cream and once for beer. Actually we had Alster which is a mix of beer and limonade and absolutely perfect on hot days.

The time went by way too fast and soon enough it was Friday and we were scheduled to leave from Bremen Airport on Saturday morning 10:55AM. We spent the Friday night in Oldenburg. Tried to see the lunar eclipse which you may think should have been easy since the land is absolutely flat – biggest rise is 10m above sea level. But the opposite is true. Every tree, and there are many, is a major obstacle to see the horizon and so we missed it. Watched the bats chasing insects within the trees instead.

Time to get back home. My parents dropped us off at the airport, it’s only a 45min drive. There was a long lineup to check in so we sent them home right away rather than watch us standing in line. I hate saying good bye! Anyhow, they left but the line did not move at all. I was getting worried we may miss the check in time. I checked the flight board to see which flight could be ahead of us to cause the delay. Bremen is a tiny airport, mostly offering connecting flight to other German cities. We were going to Frankfurt to catch a 2PM flight to Vancouver. And that’s when it hit me – our flight and a couple others on that board showed “CANCELED”. WTF!? I grabbed the first LH person I could see to ask what’s going on and all they could tell me is, “Sorry but you have to wait in line to get re-booked”. Great! I checked our emails if we actually received a cancellation notice but there was nothing. So we waited for another hour and a half until we finally got to the check in counter. The people behind the counter were doing an awesome job. Even after dealing with a lot of stressed out passengers already they still were extremely friendly and helpful. They sure earned their paycheck that day. First it looked like we may actually still get a flight out – apparently we had been re-booked already on a flight to Amsterdam and from there to Vancouver. But wait, that flight to Amsterdam had already left (since we were standing in line for 2+hrs).  Now I got worried. Flights to Vancouver are typically hard to get in the midst of summer but our friendly agent found us a flight, leaving Bremen to Frankfurt at 5:30AM the next morning with connection to Vancouver that same day. All we had to do was kill one more day in Germany. I thought about calling my parents but it was already mid day and we had to be at the airport by 4:30AM again. LH paid the hotel which was just across the road from the terminal. They also gave us a 20Euro food allowance each which almost paid for the dinner at a fancy restaurant on top of the hotel with a view over the airport and surrounding area. We spent the afternoon discovering the City of Bremen. Even though I grew up 45min from here, I had hardly ever been to Bremen. So this was just as new to me as it was for Jeff. We did all the tourist sights: The medieval Schnoor Quarter with its many small half-timbered houses from the 15th/16th century along tiny streets; market square with the UNESCO World Heritage listed town hall and cathedral; the Bremer Town Musicians – apparently an internationally acclaimed bronze statue as shown by all the people wanting to have their picture taken in front of it; “Boettcherstrasse” with a carillon made of Meissen porcelain; yet another windmill; finishing it all of with a walk along the Weser. I never knew there was so much to see in Bremen :-). All I learnt in school was that it was an important trade city in the middle ages and part of the Hanseatic League (like Hamburg). All in all a pretty nice day – and sore feet from all the walking. We had to hide out in a small mall during a short thunderstorm with heavy rains listening to great fiddle music and eating an awesome Mediterranean wrap.

Despite its historical character, Bremen is also looking toward the future. Anyone interested in seeing what it’s like to conduct research at the International Space Station can take a tour of the EADS Astrium (Airbus Defense and Space). We only saw it from the outside at night since it was right behind our hotel – but those pictures are lost among some other I took that evening…maybe a reason to visit again 🙂 But what pictures I saved you can look at here:


We made our 5:30AM flight okay the next morning and were on a plane to Vancouver by 10:40AM which got us home by lunch time the same day. Plenty of time to get a paddle in in the afternoon! But it was a long day and I wish I wouldn’t have to go to work the next morning…

By the way, we finally did get an email that our flight had been changed – about 9hrs AFTER we were supposed to catch that flight. Someone must have thought that sending it in the morning Vancouver time is the same as sending it in the morning Germany time. Oops.



February 25, 2018

Oh so close

Filed under: Canada, Germany — K2 in Canada @ 3:02 PM

Olympic Ice Hockey History was made yesterday. The German men’s ice hockey team came as close to the gold medal as possible, being beating in overtime by OAR. It was a super exciting match to watch and I cheered for the underdog Germany not only because I was born there. They played with so much heart. And I am not even a big ice hockey fan but how can you not know about it living in Canada. Mind you, it was a bit bittersweet when they beat Canada in the semi-final after defeating Sweden in the quarter finals. Both teams that were favourites to win the gold at the Olympics. And the German team almost beat OAR in the final – stupid short handed goal at the end of the 3rd period broke the spirit. Nevertheless, they can  really be proud of what they achieved.

TravelAdvisory (Medium)

The last and only time Germany got a medal in Olympic Ice Hockey history was a bronze in 1976. Germany didn’t even qualify for the Olympics in Sochi, partly because NHL players were playing in those Games. With fewer than 10 Germans in the NHL, the absence of the NHLers in Pyeongchang has not hurt the Germans as much as most.

Just some interesting facts for my German friends:

  • Christian Ehrhoff played for the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL for a couple of years
  • Daryl Boyle was born in BC
  • The National Sport in Canada is Lacrosse, handball with a stick, and not Ice Hockey

April 22, 2017

Visitors from the Old Country

Filed under: Canada, Germany, Ski — K2 in Canada @ 3:21 PM

For the 2nd half of March we had 3 visitors from Germany stay with us. My niece Anneke, her boyfriend Max and my nephew Steffen. I warned them that March may not be the best time to visit but they insisted they don’t mind rain. Unfortunately for them, it was one of the wettest 2 weeks in March I ever remember. I think we even set a rain record one day. This whole spring was pretty wet and unseasonably cold. The below was posted on Apr 16. They only saw sun twice and it rain all but 1 day I believe! It turned out they DO MIND rain :-).

SoggySpring (Medium)

Nevertheless they endlessly explored the city while Jeff and I were at work. They shopped more in those 2.5 weeks than I do in a year :-). We played a lot of games in the evening. Early on we took them to a Vancouver Giant Hockey game. I got 4 free tickets from my work colleague and gym buddy Charlie.

And one evening in their last week we tried to kill them with pasta. Portions at Anton’s are huge and even though the boys boosted they could finish it, they lost.

28_Antons_0327 (Medium)

Weekends, Jeff and I took them with us on some of what we like to do. First weekend we went cross-country skiing in Manning Park. Snow was definitely the better choice compared to rain and I think they enjoyed the skiing. Although downhill might have been more what they would have chosen. The boys dragged me up the bunny hill at Manning. Although I think they regretted it more than I trying to get up and down – see video :-). It snow quite a bit that day but there also was a hint of sun.

The following Sunday was a sunny day but it was very cold. Jeff and I went for a paddle but it was too cold to take the gang. We sent them on a hike up to the Deep Cove Lookout instead. Afterwards we headed up to the Cypress Lookout for the best views over the city.

The 2nd weekend, we dragged them snowshoeing up at Cypress – part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail to St Marks. It was another nice day actually with a mix of sun and clouds in the morning. The view from the Bowen Lookout was quite spectacular and we had some friendly locals, a couple Whiskey Jacks and a Blue Jay, entertain us for a while. After the lookout it was a bit too much uphill for those guys and they were really quiet. Much more lively on the way down – see video. On the drive down we also got to see the first bear of the season. Those guys were lucky :-).

Since it was a somewhat sunny day we took them down to the beach afterwards. Lots of bunnies around that day but still pretty darn cold.

The 2nd day that weekend was horribly wet. Hence only Jeff and I went for a paddle while the gang was hanging out in the cafes in Deep Cove, just missing out on meeting Tom Selleck (Magnum).

P1210788 (Medium)

The highlight though must have been the go-karting on their 2nd last evening. It was a lot of fun and even I wanted to go for longer – almost caught Steffen!!! Jeff was the undisputed champion.

Overall I think/hope they enjoyed their stay. Steffen seemed to have coped okay with the too short air mattress. I sincerely hope though that they come visit in the summer next time!

April 13, 2014

Happy Birthday Mama!

Filed under: Germany — K2 in Canada @ 8:25 PM

….und ich habe keine gute Entschuldigung warum ich heute morgen nicht angerufen habe. Das Wetter war einfach zu gut und wir sind frueh aufs Wasser zum paddeln. Und ich habs einfach vergessen bis wir schon unterwegs waren. Dafuer habe ich den ganzen Rest des  Tages an dich gedacht! Alles Liebe und ich hoffe du hattest einen ebenso schoenen Tag wie wir hier. Zu deinem Geburtstag schicke ihr dir ein paar elektronische Blumen die ich heute frisch aufgenommen habe:

IMG_0741 (Medium)

October 12, 2013

Visitors from Overseas – Part 4: Sea to Sky

Filed under: Canada, Germany, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 3:15 PM

Day 8 (Jun 26) we did a day trip to Whistler. Jeff had gotten this bad cold while on the island but hero as he was he still drove us around. We stopped in at Shannon Falls on the way up. The weather wasn’t the greatest – mostly cloudy and threatening to rain. But with all that rain, the falls were pretty full! I had almost forgotten how impressive they can be. Last time I stopped in here was 16 years ago when I first moved to Vancouver.

The weather didn’t improve as we got closer to Whistler. Nevertheless, we could see the top of Blackcomb – JUST – and decided to take the Peak-to-Peak gondola. This was after all my parent last chance before they had to go back home. Jeff decided to stay below and have a nap in the car instead. So up the three of us went in the Village Gondola to the top of Whistler Mountain trying to spot a bear on the ride up. But we only saw some deer on the now bare ski runs. Once at the top it was COLD, snow on the ground everywhere and a light rain had set in. But we quickly walked over to take the Peak-to-Peak Gondola. An engineering marvel, it holds the world record for the longest free span between ropeway towers—3.03 kilometres (1.88 miles) and highest point above the ground – 436 metres. It was build in 2007/2008 and cost $51M!!! So the ticket is not cheap… but affordable, especially when you get a seasons pass. But back to the trip. We waited for one of the few glass-bottom gondolas which gives you a completely new perspective of tree tops… I was originally hoping for bear sightings of course. By the time we started the ride across the clouds had completely rolled in and there was pretty much no views – except looking below. But seeing the cables disappear into nothingness and gondolas appear out of nowhere was pretty cool too….

We arrived at Blackcomb in clouds. And I should have taken my pour parents into the café at the top but instead I (in capital I) wanted to get to the highest point and see the glacier. That meant a short bus ride and another gondola ride up to Horstman Glacier. Except that this last gondola was an OPEN chair list. We weren’t really dressed for it but they gave us some plastic ponchos. So off we went for 20min through the fog and wind. Half way up the lift all sudden STOPPEN. No idea why. There we are, freezing and trying to joke about the situation; skiers skiing down the snowy slope below us… But eventually we made it and had a look at the glacier. It was miserable up there and I was surprised to see that many people ski. By now I did feel bad about dragging my parents up here … but I think they still enjoyed it because it was sooo different. Nevertheless, we had to take the same open chair lift down again (20min of more wind and cold and mist), ride the bus back to the Peak to Peak Gondola (at least they had the heat going full blast), ride the Peak to Peak back across to Whistler Mtn (another 20min) and from there another 35min down into Whistler Village.  Some adventure…

I can’t remember if we stopped for lunch or not on the drive home – I hope we did :-). We stopped at Porteau Cove – and I sure was dry by then. The weather had much improved closer we got to the coast and my parents got to see some nice vistas of Howe Sound.

October 11, 2013

Visitors from Overseas – Part 3: Trees

Filed under: Animals, Canada, Germany, Kayak, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 10:29 PM

Day 5 (Jun 23) started cloudy and rain was in the forecast. What better thing to do than going for a drive through the temperate rain forest. We stopped in at Port Renfrew to watch the sport fishing boats come in and unload the early morning catch. Quite a few nice size salmon were cleaned on the dock – harbour seals were hanging out around the dock waiting for scraps.

We continued on along the Pacific Marine Hwy towards Lake Cowichan. With a small detour to look at the “Avatar Grove” – an area of old growth trees just recently opened up to public access that features the gnarliest tree. Work on a boardwalk has started but for now it is a steep muddy trail – just how I like it but no good for my parents. So Jeff and I went up the hill by ourselves while dad took pictures of the trees in the lower sections. Mama was supposed to just wait along the road. When we got back to the car there was no sign of her. We split up to look for her – I walked down and Jeff and Papa drove up. They finally found her way up the road – she had thought we’d be gone for at least an hour and not only 20min. On the drive back on the Hwy we saw a deer and her fawn almost getting hit by a big truck speeding up the road. He didn’t even slow down… “What’s another dead deer, eh?” Idiot!!

The drive along the Pacific Marine Hwy was really nice. We stopped in to look at some small canyon as well as the tallest Sitka Spruce, Harris Creek Spruce, on Vancouver Island (73.5m in height and 12.5m around – apparently it takes 15 people to form a human chain around it). Impressive! But tough to take a representative picture off it, it is soo big. We stopped for a late lunch at the Cow Café in Cowichan sharing some Nachos. And then drove back to Sooke via Cowichan Valley Hwy and Hwy#1. A long day of driving but nice scenery for sure.

To get some fresh air Jeff and I took the kayaks for another spin. The ocean was once again flat calm, We went south this time playing in some more rocks. We found this incredible deep cave which was just wide enough for my boat and tall enough for me. Any wave and I would have been crushed into the cave roof….it never occurred to me that there could have been some serious boat wash coming in unexpectedly until I was already quite deep into the cave…. Nothing happened – the sea stayed flat.

Day 6 was just a long day of traveling back home to Vancouver… while I had to work on Day 7. My parents went to Granville Island that day.

October 9, 2013

Visitors from Overseas – Part 2: Beaches

Filed under: Canada, Germany, Kayak, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 10:51 PM

I am taking my readers back in time quite a bit – June 22. Day 4 of my parents visit – we are on Vancouver Island just north of Sooke (see first post here). It started out real West Coast like – foggy. My parents slept in so I discovered the first beach on my own walking up and down the street we “lived” on: Flea Beach – a tiny little beach perfect for launching kayaks…but first I did a bit more walking up to Sheringham Point lighthouse. The fog was so thick I could hardly see the water straight below me. I could hear people talking out at sea but never saw even a glimpse of any boat. Jeff had been to the lighthouse just before me (he was jogging) and told me after that there were tons of small boats about 20m off shore fishing for salmon..

After breakfast all 4 of us walked the other direction to find out that it was only a 5min walk down to French Beach from our door!! Almost beachfront after all. By now the fog had mostly lifted exposing endless blue skies and sun!! The walk along the beach was very relaxing and the views just stunning. Bits of fog drifting in and out added to the “ambiente”.

While my parents took a bit of a rest over lunch Jeff and I launched our sea kayaks from Flea Beach. I haven’t been in a sea kayak for a long time and had almost forgotten what it is like to kayak and not worry about falling in. The ocean was sooo calm and we had plenty of fun navigating through narrow channels and rock gardens. We saw a river otter on our way back. I hadn’t realized how much I miss this – good thing we had a kayak trip planned for later this year (Brooks). Before we started flat water kayaking we used to do 3 or 4 trips a year… seems a lifetime ago.

After the paddle we picked up my parents and drove to Sombrio Beach. Well, you can’t quite drive all the way but the trail is easy and not too long. The beach was busy with weekend campers. But that didn’t change the fact that it is a great beach. The hike goes through nice old growth forest in sections and we were enjoying playing with the giant trees as well.

Wrapping up this great day watching another sunset back at the cabin. Even more impressive though was the big moon rising out of the ocean. And the ritual dice game before going to bed…

August 13, 2013

Visitors from Overseas – Part 1: City Tours

Filed under: Canada, Germany, Home — K2 in Canada @ 11:10 PM

I can’t believe it’s almost 2 month since my parents came visiting us in the 2nd half of June (Jun 19-27). Can’t keep up with all the blogging. Now my niece is already here and I should blog about her trip but…

My parents came all the way from Toronto by train after touring around in the East for a week. The train ride was long but the last bit from Jasper to Vancouver apparently was well worth it. I saw the pictures and must say I would agree :-). This was not their first time visiting Vancouver and they already knew most of the popular sites. So we took them over to Ambleside while the weather was still decent the first day.

The second day was wet and we decided to try out Science World to stay dry. I had never been and even though it is quite interesting it would be more fun with young kids. We also walked from Science World to Gastown and I managed to show them the ugliest site of the city.

On day 3 we left for Vancouver Island. I had rented a cabin north of Sooke near French Beach. It was another wet day and we spent a few hours in the Royal BC Museum in Victoria. I love that place, the way the displays are done to teach you the natural and human history of the province. A must do when visiting Victoria in my mind – especially on a rainy day :-). And hey, by the time we finished the sun actually came out. Even more unexpectedly, my parents met their tour guide from their trip in the East right out front. So they had someone to chat with in German while Jeff and I got the car. Parking was a bit of a nightmare in Victoria – when you have kayaks on the roof that is. We drove around for quite some time and all we found were parkades that were too low for us. After dropping my parents at the museum and driving in wider and wider circles from downtown we finally found street side parking in a residential area. The sign said it was only good for 2hrs but who would check way out here. Well, the Victoria parking police did and we had a nice ticket on our windshield when we got back 5hrs later :-). Jeff is trying to fight it by complaining about too few parking for over-height vehicles. Where do all those RV’s park?! Well, you can tell that Jeff and I are much better at finding a remote spot somewhere in the backcountry than finding parking in the city, even a city as small as Victoria…

The drive out to Sooke was slow – rush hour traffic 🙂 – and we arrived a bit late to pick up the key for the cabin. Took another 15min or so to drive to the cabin. First I was a bit disappointed as the advertisement for the cabin said thing like “remote and ocean view” – we could see the neighbours to the left much better than the ocean through the trees. But the inside of the cabin was pretty nice. My parents got the “Love” nest on the ground floor while Jeff and I slept above the living room under the roof. There wasn’t really any easy access to the water from the property but you could get a good view when scrambling through the bushes and down some rocks – not so good for the older and wiser of us mind you 🙂
For dinner the cashier at the grocery store this great restaurant – Stickleback Eatery – which was right on the water overlooking a small bay in Sooke Harbour. For entertainment we got to watch the local Waterpolo team set up their field and play. To top that off the food was just awesome!!! That alone is worth a trip back to Sooke. Back at the cabin I tried to catch a bit of a sunset but it wasn’t that spectacular. Nevermind we were on the West Coast of the Island, we were actually facing more south than west :-). Well, they don’t say for nothing that if you lose sight of land along the West Coast you should always head North and not East!!

April 3, 2013

Rest in Peace

Filed under: Germany — K2 in Canada @ 10:17 PM

Today my Oma passed away. She just turned 96 in February. I saw her last in May of 2012 on a short trip back home to Germany and she was doing great that day. I am glad that is how I get to remember her. She always was a very strong woman. She lived through the 2nd World War and raised 4 children. My dad was born during the war. She lived to see 8 grand children grow to middle age and I lost count of how many great-grand children to become teenagers. It always seemed that family was the most important part of her life. As I grew up we got together every Wednesday afternoon for coffee and cake. Christmas lunches were a huge event each year. She made the most wonderful turkey and gravy! Although what I remember most of all were those wonderful cakes she made. Nothing like the stuff you can buy around here. Now I wish I would have asked her for those recipes … I wish could have told her a lot of things … Rest in peace – you sure made a difference in all our lives!


Talking about family, I am very excited that my parents are visiting us again this year. They will be doing a trip around southern Ontario to see Niagara Falls and then take the train to Vancouver. And my niece is thinking about coming to Vancouver for a few month after she finishes school this year. Jeff is looking forward to all the German cooking he may get to enjoy…

June 26, 2012

No jetlag whatsoever… May 4-9 trip to Germany

Filed under: Animals, Germany, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 11:37 PM

Originally my parents were supposed to visit us this year but my mom had to go to the hospital to get her back straighten out, so no long airplane rides for her for a while. So I decided last minute to make a trip over there to see that she is doing as well as my dad said on the phone. And I only told my dad I would be coming…

My former university professor who got me through my PhD – Prof. Dr Guenther Maier

I left in the afternoon of May 4th to arrive midday on May 5th in Frankfurt after switching planes in Amsterdam. Flight was uneventful, but I did not sleep at all. Watched tons of movies. Once in Frankfurt I hopped on a train to go to Limburg – trains in Germany are a great way to travel. In Limburg my good old friend Dirk picked me up as I had arrange to stay with him, K3 (Katja), his wife,  and son Livius for the first night in a small town about an hour northwest of Frankfurt. Why stay there the first night? Well, I had two motives to travel to Germany on this particular weekend (and missing out on the very first fishing weekend of the season in BC). My old university professor was having a party – he just recently turned 80 years old and still looks like way back when :-). So Dirk, who also did his PhD with Prof. Maier, and I hopped back into the car and drove for another hour or so to Lich – about an 1hr northeast of Frankfurt. There were almost 100 of his old students at the party. Many of them I knew from my time at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen. Usually I would have to travel across all of Germany to see them – so I never do see them. Therefore this was a rare opportunity to catch up with so many friends – except I had a hard time speaking German. I could understand everything and small talk was fine but as soon as I had to explain what I do in Vancouver I struggled with the right words. Mind you by that time I must have been awake for near to 24hrs already. It was a lot of fun though and I didn’t want to leave. But Dirki was complaining that Livius would wake him up at 6AM the next morning. So we left at around midnight.

Dirk, Livius & K3 – my wonderful hosts for the first night.

I was up the next morning at 6AM – so were Livius and Katja but no Dirk. Not for a while. I had till about 1PM until my train would be leaving for Oldenburg, my hometown. And even though it was pouring rain, we decided to go to an animal park close by (once Dirk woke up). We were the only visitors but the animal sure didn’t mind the rain. We got close to the bears, bisons, auer oxen, wolf and moose. But not boar, darn it. We were pretty wet after 2hrs but it was fun.

Another 5+hrs by train to get to home. The weather got better the further north we got and I arrived in Oldenburg around 6PM. My dad picked me up. My mom still didn’t know I was coming.

Family dinner

We arrived at home and I walked into the living room. My mom was speechless for 30 sec – which is a lot for my mom. I had tears in my eyes. But she did look just as healthy as my dad was saying and soon enough we were chatting way. She immediately called all my siblings and told them to come over for dinner. They knew I was coming and were able to come over. My sister Sandra and the older two of her three kids, Anneke and Steffen. Fiete stayed at home with his dad Markus. My brother Cord and his girlfriend Teresa. We all went to the Chinese Buffet and ate way too much. What a great evening!!


I slept like a baby again till the next morning 6AM. I used the couple hours before my parents got up to check up on facebook and email. After a nice long breakfast, we, Mama, Papa and I, went shopping so that I can by my chocolate :-). After lunch I went for a run around the fields – I hardly ever run and I did regret it the day after. But I needed to do some exercise. I finished the 45min run off with a couple push ups in the grass and dips on a bench. While resting on the bench in between sets, this woman and her dog walked by and pied where I just did my push-ups – the dog, not the women. That squashed my enthusiasm to do another set and I went home :-). In the afternoon my Mom and I visited my sister in Husbaeke, about 45min west of Oldenburg while my dad did his coaching – gymnastics. He has been active in gymnastics all his life. Almost made it to the Olympics in his youth and has been coaching young athletes as far back as I can remember. He tried with his kids too – unfortunately neither of us three inherited any of his gymnastics skills. I played handball instead. At my sisters I finally met up with Fiete and Markus. Last time I saw Fiete he was really sick and unresponsive. The time before that he was just born. So this was really the first time – after 7 years – that he actually saw his aunt. He was coming in from the playground and literally left a pile of sand behind wherever he sat down. It was funny to see my sister handle this – she has such a way with her kids it’s phenomenal. I would have yelled, she made fun of it…. My sister and I – quite the opposite from each other :-). While at my sister’s, I tried to help Steffen with his English homework – never found out if we got things right. Most of the sentences just didn’t make sense. Nobody would talk like that. Gotta love School English :-). Mind you, my written English isn’t that great. That evening back home I went for a walk in my parents neighbourhood to watch the sunset. They only live 15min by car away from the city centre but that also marks the edge of town in the north. Farms and agriculture all around. The green grass looked beautiful in the setting sun and as expected there were a few milk cows around. What I didn’t expect where the 10-15 deer or the 4-5 pheasants. Pretty cool.

Fussgaenger Zone – Oldenburg City Centre

On Tuesday Mama, Papa and I went downtown. First to visit with my grandma. She is doing great for her 95 years!! I have some very old genes in my family. Afterwards we strolled through the city which is completely blocked off from cars. It’s a great way to go from store to store and be outside. Coffee shops and restaurants have chairs outside to sit and watch the shopping crowd… And it is easy to travel into the city by bus so you don’t have to worry about parking. Not like the big malls in North America – everything is enclosed, parking is a mess… Although the newest attraction in Oldenburg is just that – a mall with food court. Funny! For lunch we met up with my dad’s siblings and their spouses. They were also quite surprised to see me. Usually even if they know I am in town we hardly manage to meet up. So this was a pretty special treat. Only missed my dad’s oldest brother. And of course we were sitting outside – the weather was sunny and just on the edge of being warm. So back home we spent the afternoon in my parents small backyard. It was my mom’s siblings turn to come by – for afternoon coffee. Unfortunately only one of the two made it over, even though he just had his teeth done the same morning. That’s my family – tough as nails!

Afternoon coffee in the backyard

That evening we went to my brother’s and Teresa’s new place. They just moved in not too long ago. A really nice place. They prepared a lot of great snacks for us and I was eating for the fourth time of the day. Does it sound like I was eating lots? Well, that’s a trip to German for you – love the food though :-). And I loved the company – another fun evening.The next morning we had to get up early since my plane left from Bremen at 10AM. Bremen is only a 45min drive but you never know with rush hour. I felt sad to leave but I was very glad that I had made the trip. It worked out great – maybe I should do it more often. No trouble with jet lag and I got to see more people in those 4 days than in all my trips to Germany combined.

For lots more pictures: https://picasaweb.google.com/krade1709/GermanyMay492012

The flight was again uneventful with lots of movies to watch. When I got back to Vancouver in the afternoon of the same day I left Germany I pretty much headed straight to the lake – first war canoe practise of the season. I didn’t want to miss that :-).

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