Sunday, July 19, 2009

Week 6 Germany Trip 2

Things at work went well this week. The weather has been cool with some rain here and there. Early in the week we began hearing rumors about another possible buyout at the plant. I dont have any concrete details, will have a meeting in about 2 weeks to reveal details.
Friday after work I went to Herrenberg with Barry Clayton. He wanted to order some Birkenstocks for his wife. While there I fell in love with a pair of red Kangaroos which were on sale and my size. Guess it was just meant to be. We came back to a restaurant near the hotel. It was located inside a horse riding stable complex. The food was great, our waiter spoke perfect English and we sat and ate and talked and watched people taking riding lessons for about 2 and a half hours. The prices were very reasonable and we plan to go back sometime this week.
We did not make any travel plans for this weekend. Germanwings has a blind booking website which allows you to go to about 8 different cities for 20 euro each way. The deal is you dont know where you are going until after you book it. I talked a couple of other guys into going with me. So as it turns out we are going to Dresden next Saturday morning and flying back on Sunday evening. Lucky me, Dresden was one of the cities that I really wanted to visit while here.
Only 2 weeks left on this trip. I am looking forward to coming home. It has been a great trip. Anne tells me I have lots of work waiting for me there in McCalla. Love to all. See you soon. Dad.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Week 5 Germany

Had a good week @ work. The weather this week has been cool with some showers. Yesterday we drove for about 4 hours to the Bavarian Alps to visit the Eagles Nest. It is a small house perched on the top of a mountain some 6000 feet high. The view from the top of the mountain is unbelievable. If you pull it up on line you can get a little more of the history of the place. It was constructed in 1938 and presented to Adolf Hitler on his 50th birthday. The road and surrounding construction took only 13 months and is an engineering miracle. I had 4 shirts on and it was raining periodically while we were there. The clouds were close enough to reach out and touch. On 1 side of the house you could see the villages at the base of the mountain, a breathtaking view while on the other side of the house you couldnt see anything but clouds. We also visited a building which housed a museum and underneath the museum was an extensive bunker system used during the 2nd World War. It has been preserved as it was when it was discovered after the war. As Artie Johnson of Laugh In fame would say, Very Interesting. On the way back down the mountain on the bus I met a lady from Australia who was there with a group of 21 for a 6 week tour of Europe. This is another great benefit of being here. You get to meet people from all over the world. We had a great conversation about her travels and about her home in Australia.
Well, I have 3 weeks left before returning home and am looking forward to seeing all of you again. Thanks for all your replys and responses to the blog. I enjoy hearing from you. I am eternally grateful for this opportunity to visit and work in Germany. It is truly a beautiful country with a lot of great people. See you soon. Dad.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Germany Update Week 4 2nd Trip

When I returned to work on June 10, I was assigned to work at Holzgerlingen. While I was back in Tuscaloosa they moved rear floor to a new location. It is a warehouse building Daimler is leasing from Johnson Control. It is about a 20 minute drive from the hotel and I drive there by myself each morning in a new CLK. The work is going well. It is hot in the building, no air conditioning. But not nearly as hot as in Alabama.

After work on Friday I went to a nearby Beergarten with 10 German guys from work. 2 of them spoke a little english, but most didnt. Even though I could not understand everything that was being said, we all had a great time. No I didnt have any beer just a coke with no ice. I was honored that they invited me to come along.

I was invited to go with Thomas Supper and his family to a benefit festival on Saturday. On my way to his house I was listening to Armed Forces Network, a radio station broadcasting in English out of Heidelburg. To my surprise they broke the story about the killings in Gaffney. Unbelievable.... I had a great visit with Thomas, his wife Suzanna and 2 girls. We had a treat at the festival called onion cake. It is cooked in a metal pan like a deep dish pizza pan and cut in slices like a pizza. It was served hot right out of the oven and was very tasty. I also had a brotwurst and a couple of cokes.

On Sunday I went back to Triberg and Lake Titisee with some guys from work. We went to the clock shop where I bought the grandfather clock back in 2004 and bought some parts for the clock and a gift for all you girls. We walked up to the top of the waterfall which was quite a hike. It is the highest waterfall in Germany and was once visited by Earnest Hemingway. There were lots of people at the lake. Swimming, boating, sightseeing, eating and all manner of good times being had by all.

We are planning to go to the Eagles Nest next Saturday. Looking forward to it. Love to all. See you in 4 weeks.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bacation Collasas Maximus continued

On Tuesday June 2 we flew German Wings to the ancient city of Rome. When I began thinking about places in Europe I would like to visit I always wanted to go to Rome. The taxi ride from the airport to the hotel was crazy. Cars, cycles, scooters everywhere. Makes you dizzy just riding in the taxi. We went on a Tour by night and dinner. It was a great bus tour which gave us a good overview of the city. We ate our dinner at 10:30 p.m. with a fun couple from New York. Joe and Maria. Joe has relatives who live in Rome and he spoke fluent Italian.
I had booked a hotel in the heart of Rome with a rooftop terrace. We had a lovely breakfast overlooking the city and talked with a couple from Ireland. Shorty after we left for a 3 hour walking tour of Imperial Rome. We had a great tour guide. To stand in the colleseum and think about the gladiators and the emperors and magnificent pageants that took place there was just mind blowing. I insisted that for dinner that night we go find a restaurant for dinner. We went to a pricey little place called Cafe de Paris. We paid 24 euro each for a salad. It was awful. We ate what we could and marked it up to experience.
Thursday morning we took an early flight to Berlin via Easy Jet. We settled in our hotel which had been a Russian orthodox church, went out for a walk and late lunch at a great little Italian restaurant, did a little shopping, and made plans for the next day.
Friday morning June 5 we rode the train to meet our tour guide. He had been a tour quide for 7 years, was very energetic, and spoke great English. It was very cold and windy, but we had a great day. After the tour we went back to the hotel and took a quick nap. We took the train back down town and experienced the Blue Man Group. Other than the colleseum my favorite part of the trip was Berlin.
Saturday, we took a taxi to pick up our rental car--a great little BMW deisel--and headed for Bremen to spend a couple of days with Martin and Betina and girls. We took a walk, visited, and cooked our own dinner on a Raclette grill. The raclette was developed in Switzerland and is a unique dinning experience. We liked it so much I ordered one online and had it shipped home. We had a great time learning to speak a little German with Mia and Lena.
Sunday morning was cold and rainy. Anne went with Betina and girls to Lenas horseback riding lesson and took Jack for a walk. I went with Martin to his final soccer game of the season. He was the head coach for a boys 8 and 9 year old team. The boys won the game and ended up in 2nd place in the league. That afternoon we took the train to downtown for Lenas school farewell at the storyhouse. It was a little like CHOM. It was an old 3 story house with live actors telling the stories of the history of Bremen. The actors all spoke German, so we could not understand much but we were able to talk with some of Lenas classmates who were eager to try there English skills. We walked around town marveling at the old church and other interesting buildings and shopping districts. We took our picture at the sculpture of the Bremen Town Musicians. Martin treated us to a great restaurant with white asparagus. We had a great visit and talked and laughed a lot.
Monday we made the 7 hr. drive back to Sindelfingen. It was very interesting driving on the autobahn. As my driving experience increased my speed increased also. Before I knew it I was driving @ 160 kph and some cars were still passing me like I was standing still. We arrived back at the Marriott checked in and ate at the restaurant in the hotel.
Tuesday and Wednesday I had to go to work. Anne did things like visit Bruinegerland, walk in the park, wash clothes, and check e-mail, etc.
Thursday, June 11 was a German holiday. I did not have to work and the children here were out of school. We drove to a nearby town and spent the day with our friends Thomas and Suzanna Supper and there 2 girls Natalie and Caroline. It was a rainy, cool day. We talked and visited a couple of hours. We then walked to a petting zoo nearby where they were having an outdoor festival. We had a great meal with them at home and got beat @ Wii bowling again.
Friday morning we drove to Hohenzollern to visit the castle there. I had been there back in February when it was very cold and cloudy. I wanted to see it again in the spring and wanted Anne to see it also. It was a bit cool but a clear day. We got a great view of the surrounding mountains and the castle grounds. The tour was in German, but we found an English speaking visitor who translated some of the important parts of the tour.
Saturday morning, June 13 found us heading to Strasbourg, France. It was a drive of about 1 and a half hours. It is a very old city just across the border with cobblestone streets, river canals, and the famous Notre Dame Cathedral. We visited the cathedral including a presentation about the gigantic working clock housed inside the church. Unbelievable.... That afternoon we took a boat tour through the city and witnessed a gay rights parade which was very interesting. I got turned around when we started back to the car. I was intently pondering my city map when I heard Anne talking to someone in English. When I turned around she was talking with a couple of missionaries from the church. After a short conversation with them and some directions from them we were able to recover our car. What can I say...Lost in France again.
We had been traveling so much we decided we would attend church in Stuttgart and have a restful afternoon. With the help of the navi we were able to find the Ward building. We were warmly received, lots of visitors there, good talks, and good lessons. It was called the Stuttgart International Ward. Monday morning I went back to work and Anne prepared to make the flight home. She did some last minute laundry for me and prepacked most of her bags. Tuesday morning I went to work and Anne took a cab back to the airport for the long trip home.
We had an amazing bacation and hope to return again to see more of this beautiful country. We missed our family and though and talked of you often. I love you all and will see you soon.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bacation Collasas Maximus

The much awaited blog entry for our Bacation Collasas Maximus finally begins. We had a great Bacation--my grandson Hudson coined the word on our way to a Thanksgiving family getaway in Gatlinburg a few years ago. Mom made some notes for me to follow as I try to remember all the great places we visited. We bought a new camera before we left, Mom took pictures of everything from family and friends to spectacular views to a McDonalds menu in Berlin. Unbelievable.

We arrived in Stuttgart on Wednesday morning, May 27. We picked up our rental--Kia Rio--and headed for the Marriott in Sindelfingen. We went to a nearby mall--Brunigerland--picked up some cokes and snacks. We were both suffering from severe jet lag so we laid down for a nice much needed 3 hr. nap. We later walked around downtown Sindelfingen and a nearby park.

Thursday morning we took the S-Bahn to Herringberg which is closeby. We climbed the steep steps of the old church and went to view the marvelous handiwork. We spent a couple of hours walking around and enjoying this typical German town. We then headed down the tracks to spend the remainder of the day in Stuttgart. We visited a museum housed in the small castle there in town. We also visited a small musical museum near the old church. We ate at my favorite restaurant--Block House--had a great waiter named Ali from Pakistan. At the train station in Stuttgart while waiting for our train we met 2 missionaries and talked for awhile about their experiences.

Friday morning we headed out for the Black Forest area. The Black Forest is aply named because of the tall dense trees present there. We walked through some shops and an eager salesman gave us a crash course about cuccoo clocks. What to look for in workmanship and authenticity. It was a beautiful sunny day but very cool. We went about another 40 minutes down the road to Lake Titisee. Lots of boats were on the water and shops and restaurants were plentiful. We ate at a nice restaurant at an outside table. Had a great fresh salad. The waitress spoke no English, but was very pleasant and friendly. As a sidenote the Rio did not have a navi. We got a mapquest from the hotel before leaving on our trips each day. We had to stop and ask directions from a couple of really nice guys who spoke no English but as it turns out the names of local towns and hand directions work pretty well. We got turned around coming home, probably went a little out of our way, but returned to our hotel totally worn out.

Saturday morning we set out to visit Neusweinstein Castle. We were traveling with another couple, Eugene and Toni Price from Northport. Eugene had a company pool car with a navi, so we took his car. Toni input our destination for Fussion and off we were to the castle. 3hours later when the navi told us to get off the autobahn Eugene said something doesnt look right. He had been to the castle several times before and it just didnt look right. As he consulted his map and checked the spelling of our destination and reentered the info we found we were still another 3 hours from the castle. We were about 1 hr from Innsbruck, Austria so we headed that direction and had just a magnificent drive through the mountains of Austria on our way to the castle. We did arrive in time to tour the castle and had a pleasant visit with Eugene and Toni and a beautiful ride back to our hotel.

Sunday morning we drove to Rothenburg, about 1 and a half hours away. I had visited the walled city on my last trip and wanted to go back with Anne. As it turned out there was an annual Medieval Festival that day in the city. There was a parade in the afternoon, lots of horses, wagons, bands, and people dressed in authentic Medieval costumes. There were also some cool old cars driving through the cobblestone streets. We visited a toy museum, bought some gifts for our friends here in Germany. We also bought a Christmas navity carosell and a 3-D picture which is being shipped home. Another exhausting but enjoyable day.

Monday was a holiday here in Germany and schools were closed. We were invited to visit Jenz and Christina Ruttiger and their two children Max and Claira. They live in a small town called Waldenbuch about 20 minutes from the hotel. They live directly behind the Ritter Sport chocolate factory. So we left a little early and got our stash of chocolates. We had barbeque pork, chicken, potatoe salad and a variety of fresh veggies. We had a great visit and it was nice to relax a little with our friends.

Well I am about blogged out. My next entry will begin with our flight to Rome on Tuesday, June 2.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Germany Week 8

And it came to pass, that my comings and goings here in Sindelfingen are about to abade. It has been a great stay and I am looking forward to my 8 weeks at home. This week has been mostly uneventful. Things at work have gone well. The german collegues had a meeting at work this Wednesday. They are having cutbacks here as well. Their work week is being reduced from 35 hrs. to 30 hrs. per week and they will not get a bonus this year. The recession is truly worldwide. No travels this weekend, stayed close to the hotel and rested up. This weeks supper menu was greatly influenced by the fact that our hotel is 2 blocks from Burger King. I had king wings, whopper, chicken sandwich menu, double cheeseburger menu, and a large vanilla shake. I did have one good meal on Tuesday night at a restaurant called the Tris. The lasagna was very good. I have finished reading the Book of Mormon, thanks to moms challenge. How do you read the Book of Mormon in 8 weeks. The same way you eat an elephant. One bite at a time. Thanks to all of you who e mailed your responses to my blog entries. It helped make my stay here much better. I look forward to seeing you all next weekend and tell the grands I have them some easter candy from Germany. Love to all. See you soon. Dad.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Germany Week 7

Well this was quite an interesting week here in Deuchland. I finally got to feeling better about Wednesday. We had a meeting with H.R. Wednesday afternoon about changes to the project team. We were told that because of the state of the economy and the need to save money and resources within the company, our teams would be reduced from 15 T.M.s to 5. So 2 days later I was notified that I would continue on the project team. Our trips will be 9 weeks instead of 8 and we will probably be required to fly coach beginning with the next trip. As you can imagine a lot of our team was disappointed about the cutbacks. We were also notified that no pay increases and no bonuses will be given this year. At least we still have a job. Saturday was an interesting day. Barry Clayton and myself decided to ride trains and buses around the area. We bought a boarding pass good for all trains and buses for the day for 6.50 Euro. Barry wanted to go to Rittersport to get some chocolate to take home. So a 20 minute trip from the hotel by car ended in a 2.5 hr. trip by train and bus. It was rainy and cold but it did not deter our efforts. From there we took a bus and train back to Stuttgart to eat at the Blockhouse restaurant which is the closest thing to American food we have found. I had another great steak. I feel very blessed and fortunate with all that has transpired. I feel the love and support of all my family and look forward to seeing you all very soon. I LOVE YOU ALL. DAD.