Get your kleenex ready, the finale is here.
We drove for what seemed like weeks from Norway to Karlskrona, Sweden to catch the overnight ferry to Gdynia, Poland. I wasn’t expecting anything lavish, as it was the trucker’s cruise, possibly 90% of the clientele. The food was a mixture of meat and potatoes or mystery salad sandwiches. I went for a bag of chips and a red wine. The three of us crashed in our teeny tiny room with two bunk beds. I call top bunk! I don’t think anyone else was wanting it anyway….
Arriving in Poland, the police and canines were out and ready. We gave our passports, the dogs sniffed around the car and we were allowed to enter. We stayed outside of Gdansk for a few nights at this humongous hotel, the Hotel Sofitel Grand Sopot. It had an old time luxurious flair with a bit of The Shining feel to it. Our room was beyond large and from our balcony we looked out to the Baltic Sea and Europe’s oldest wooden pier. I went to the beach while my parents wandered around, and for lunch we found a delightful cafe that served sausages and beer. My dad was in heaven, so much that we had to go back the next day.
Now it was time to look for clues on mom’s side of the family. We drove to a town, Prtezoczyno – good try on pronouncing that one – and started the search. For some odd reason, my mom felt I was fluent in German and would be able to speak to any person and find what we were looking for…. while I stuttered and stammered in broken German we actually found the monument and church from her books. After hours of walking and searching we threw in the towel and headed home. Our guidebook told us to watch out for drunken peasants on the road, I never saw one though I really wanted to. Kind of like the times I drive through Maine and hope to see a moose but never do. Darn.
Next stop, Berlin! The German was meeting us there, I couldn’t wait to see him. We were booked at this hip hotel with good rates – Arte Luise Kunsthotel where each room is decorated by a renown artist, the entire room included in the concept. The next day was sightseeing sightseeing sightseeing: Brandenburger Tor, Checkpoint Charlie, Berliner Dom, Tiergarten and Reichstag. Berlin is a freakin cool city loaded with history and new hotels, restaurants, art galleries at every turn. And in my love of architecture and homes – a penthouse suite looking over Tiergarten would do me quite nicely. I feel that the German people have suffered so much, and they still feel guilty for their past. That wall was torn down many years ago now, it is time to look towards the bright future and limitless possiblities. And they are.
The last leg of our tour: The Black Forest, Friedberg (Elvis’ German army base) and then my favorite castle hotel ever, castle Schönburg, on the Rhine river. It was first mentioned in history between the years 911 and 1166. Until the 17th century the castle had a very changeable and martial history with many tribe and family fights. The castle was burned down in 1689 by French soldiers during the Palatinate heritage war and it remained destroyed and in ruins for 2 centuries until an American of German ancestry restored it. Our room was fantastic, it was like living as Lady Fairlane (insert your Robin Hood fairytale name here). My parents had the queen sized bed while my sleeping quarters was a small bunk made at the bottom of one of the bookcases. I loved it. There was a door from our room that led to the walkway connecting several watch towers. My mom and I did some snooping around and the end of the walkway came to steep stairs leading down to total, complete pitch blackness. I decided to see what I could discover and after about ten steps I refused to go further. It was SPOOKY and as I turned for a picture I had a chill go down my spine, like someone was right behind me. I hauled ass out of there as fast as my lil feet would take me.
And then, what seemed to have started only a few days ago, came to an end. My parents left a little lighter in their wallet and suitcase load and flew back to Oklahoma. I will never forget this trip with my parents, it will forever be a fond memory full of laughter (mom and I giggled several times over the “Haben Sie Einen Gute Fahrt” signs – we couldn’t help it!), learning, defining and preserving our legacy and love. Thanks for the visit mom and dad. Ich liebe dich.