Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Germany 2013 - Day 17

Today was a fairly long work day which ended with an amazing conversation with a new friend.

I arrived at Bob's around 9 am and we worked until noon. At that time, he had a lunch meeting with someone, so I came back to my hotel room to work for a few hours. For lunch, I didn't know what else to do, so I walked down to (where else, but) the Altstadt for a pizza and pop.

On my way back to the hotel, I stopped and bought a 1.5 liter of water and worked at my desk for 2 more hours before heading back to the Bob's flat to work with him at the table. He and I worked diligently til about 7 pm, when it was time for dinner.

I screwed up today and embarrassed myself at the dinner table beyond belief. Michelle announced that it was time to eat, and at our house that means "Drop what you're doing. Come-and-get-it!". Doh! Everybody seemed slow to the table, so I hobbled up to the bar (still sore from the run) and was the first to arrive. I don't think I rushed to fill my plate, but once I filled it up, I began tasting the food that she had prepared and telling her how good it was... Shortly thereafter, Matt came to the table with his plate full of food, but didn't begin eating yet... I quickly realized that I had jumped the gun! Eventually Bob came and prepared his plate, then Michelle prepared hers. Once everybody had their plates ready we said "Grace" and then everybody began eating.

Wow, I wanted to crawl in a hole and die. I was extremely embarrassed and was pretty quiet the rest of the meal... I still am embarrassed by it, but learned my lesson good and well tonight. :( My parents raised me better than this...

After dinner, Bob and I went back to the work for another hour or so, and then I headed back down to the hotel room to catch up on somethings that I've been putting off. I had to catch up on my blog, email some people that had been waiting on me and tie a few more loose ends. At one point, I went down to the bar to but a bottle of water at the bar. There I met a very nice man by the name of Herbert who was in charge of the hotel.

Herbert is 75 years young and was an absolute joy to talk to and get to know! Our introduction started by him asking me what country I was from. He then told me to pick a drink and sit and talk with him for a while. I told him I'd take a scotch on the rocks, so he poured it for me and we sat. He and I sat at the bar and talked for over 2 hours!! We could have easily talked for 2 more hours, but he was starting to drink me under the table. After my first glass, we were so deep in great conversation, that I bought myself a second glass of scotch and we continued with our conversation. As I finished that glass, we found ourselves even deeper into our conversation that he interrupted it by offering me yet another glass of scotch "on the house".

Needless-to-say, Herbert and I became pretty good friends in a very short period of time. As people would come in the front door, he'd pause our conversation, tend to their needs, and then come right back to the bar and pick up right where we left off. I can't explain how much I enjoyed this night with my new friend!

Herbert and Me @ 2 AM after a few (or more) drinks
We talked about politics, women, sports, history, family, religion, you name it... I will never forget my 2 short hours with Herbert at the Hotel Berial! He (personally) made my stay here at this hotel so very memorable. Thanks for a great night Herbert! I look forward to seeing you next year at the bar around 11 pm! :)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Germany 2013 - Day 16

Today was painful. Walking became a challenge, sitting was relief, and steps were "the devil". I crawled out of bed and had to laugh at how bad my legs hurt. It was mostly my calves. Quads were OK. Hips were fine. Pride was through the roof. But the calves...

Our commute from Dusseldorf to Dortumd, Germany
Bob and I were scheduled to be on site all day at one of our partner companies in Dortmund, Germany. I arrived at Bob's house a bit early so that we could get a head start on the traffic. The drive was just under 100K from Dusseldorf, so it would take us about 1 hour to get there.

We arrived and had a full day of meetings. Around noon we went to nice restaurant and I ordered some delicious chicken and rice dish. I took a photo with Bob's iPhone, but don't have it handy to share the visual of this delicacy with the world yet... When I get it, I'll update this post and remove all these filler words. :P

The work day ended around 7 pm and we made our way back home to Dusseldorf where Michelle had a delicious meal waiting for us at the dinner table. She had made chicken with a variety of potatoes and steamed broccoli. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of this either, so you'll have to take my word for it that it looked as well as it tasted.

Lizzie, Daizi, and Jazzy (ie. My Bay-bays)
I came back to my hotel room around 9 pm and talked with Jennifer for about 1.5 hours on Skype. We had a lot to catch up on. She told me about the latest "farming news" and I told her all about my weekend with Nick and the Marathon. It was great to catch up with one another and just talk about everything that's been going on. I hadn't really talked to her since Thursday evening, so we had quite a bit to talk about. Of course, we injected a few "nothing" conversations as well. :)

Of course, I got to see the girls as well and they told me all about their new goats and pigs. We got new goats for the farm: Pete, Meech, and Oreo (?) are the goat's names. The pigs names are still yet to be determined. I think Lizzie named hers "Haas", but that is all I know at this time...

I eventually fell asleep around 1 am.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Germany 2013 - Day 15 (The 2013 Dusseldorf Marathon)

OK, it's time to spill the beans... I was not trained for this race by any stretch. I know I've probably said thsi before, but this time I meant it. I was genuinely nervous about how this run would go; I didn't know if I would pull a muscle at mile 10, damage my feet from pounding the concrete with my minimalist shoes, or blow a knee from all the cool new weight I have gained over the last few months. See my Facebook page for details of when (and why) my training came to a screeching halt on Feb. 2nd. :) Regardless, I was quite pleased with the end result. I finished in 4 hours and 46 minutes.

I woke up at 7:30 am and awoke to my obnoxious iPad "alarm" alarm. I taped my nips, charged my iPod, laced my shoes, and headed down to the dining area for a hearty breakfast. The breakfast hall was packed full of Germans in spandex and sweat-wicking clothes. Carbo craving runners filled the dining area and German speaking excitement filled the room between the clanking of dishes and silver wear sounds. Everybody was preparing for a day of running. All of the eggs had been consumed by the time I arrived, so I defaulted to rations of bread and cucumbers. Blah. I was able to grab an apple on my way out, but that was it...

Bob, Michelle, and Me (aka. Luc)
Around 8:30 am, I met Michelle and Bob near their flat and we all walked down to the starting line. The sun was warm but the shade was freezing; it was one of those mornings. I wore my Columbia jacket all the way up to sound of the starting gun. The race started at 9 am sharp.

The first 5 miles were effortless. I ran steady and strong. After a while I came upon a crowd of runners who were gathered near a woman wearing balloons strapped to her waist. The balloons read "4:00"... This meant that I had been keeping an 4 hour marathon pace up to this point. I though "Hell, this is easy". I figured as long as I could keep this balloon lady in my sights for the next 3.5 hours, I'd have a new PR under my belt. A few meters back ran a dude holding a flag which read "3:59:59". Apparently, they didn't coordinate with one another before the race. Shouldn't he be in front of her?

Beautiful Day for a Marathon
The next 5 miles were just as easy. I was keeping up with the 4 hour balloon lady, and the 3:59:59 flag dude was hot on my trail. He and I played hop scotch for the next few miles, but we never passed the 4:00 balloon lady. Go figure. Regardless, I was still feeling strong and my breath was in tact. I wasn't exerting myself too much (which was surprising). Who said marathons were hard...?

Around mile 6, I found Bob and Michelle off to the side and they were cheering me on to keep running strong. This helped immensely. I had been in the zone for so long with my only friend (my iPod nano) that I hadn't really realized there were other people here. I was "in the zone". My music helped me to stay focused on my form and my breathing; everything else was German.

As I approached the 10 mile marker, I was still keeping up with the balloon lady, and the flag dude was creeping up on me. Eventually he passed me around mile 11 or 12. I still felt strong, but my calves were starting to tighten up a bit. They weren't screaming expletives yet, so I continued to push forward with diligence.

On pace for a sub 4 hour marathon!!
Approaching the "half marathon" checkpoint, I realized I was rocking a 4 hour marathon pace. I crossed the 1/2 marathon checkpoint at 2 hours exactly! At this point, I thought I might be able to keep this up and set a new record for myself. My goal was to keep the balloon lady in my sights at all time, and then as we approached the finish, I'd scream past her and finish with the flag dude (assuming he'd eventually pass her).

As it turns out, my calves and my will had taken a beating from this crazy-for-a-chubby-dude pace and I found myself slowing down with each passing "K". Keep in mind that this was a European race and all of the checkpoints were in kilometers. By the time I'd reached the 25K mark, I'd lost sight of the balloons and my will to pass her...

I thought to myself, I still might beat the flag dude... Needless to say, he passed me shortly thereafter and I never saw them again. I was approaching the 30K mark now and my pace had slipped even further. I was hitting the wall.

By the time I reached the 20 mile marker I found myself doing a walk / jog regiment. I'd walk for 50 meters and then jog for 200-300 meters. Running was a thing of the past at this point. My quads and calves just weren't in it anymore. Around mile 22 I started looking around each corner for the finish line. It was nowhere to be found. The 4:15 balloon dude passed me, then the 4:30 balloon dude...

The ailments of this distance run tacked on more and more pain to my calves; I continued  looking for that finish line for the next 5-6 miles. Kilometers just didn't make sense to me anymore. My legs were pissed.

Eventually I came to a point in the race where the finish line was in sight, but there was still another 2 miles to go before I could cross it. Talk about gluttony. The race directors did this on purpose! I just knew it! I wanted their names and their addresses. They were clearly distance runners who found joy in this "false hope" game. I see the humor now, but didn't see it then.

Around mile 24 I was able to see the 4:15 balloon dude pass me, but he was passing me on the other side of the road; heading for the finish. I looked at my watch and realized that I was still on a sub 5 hour pace, but my dreams of crushing my PR were just that; a dream. My goal now was to "not die" and just finish. I continued with my jog / walk regiment, but by this point, it was almost easier to jog. Walking took more effort. Ironically, it's more difficult to walk on sore legs than it is to jog. Ask any runner and I'm sure they'd tell you the same. Once you get to a certain point, the mechanics of running are less painful than the mechanics of walking. Weird, I know.
Less than 1 mile to go!!
I eventually made it to "the other side of the road" where I saw the 4:15 balloon dude 30 minute ago. I was on the home stretch. I only had about 1/2 a kilometer to go... That's about 1/3 a mile for all my American friends. Oddly, this tends to be the longest part of a marathon. The last 0.25 miles of a marathon are sometimes the most difficult. Your brain says your "almost there", but your eyes say "holy crap, that's far as hell".

2013 Dusseldorf Marathon
I crossed the finish line and the clock read 4:46 with some odd change. The wall is a bitch. If my legs could have just kept up with my ego, I may have qualified for Boston! Maybe next year... (?)

After the race I hobbled around the Altstadt looking for Bob and Michelle. I never saw Michelle on the "other side of the road" as I approached the finish, so I wasn't sure if she had already finished or not. The crowd was pretty compact, so my eyes were scanning every German face to see if they resembled an Andreini. Bob, or Michael, or Matt should be somewhere in this crowd waiting for Michelle to exit the runners area.

Eventually I found Michael and then I saw Bob. Luckily Bob had my coat and that was a good thing. The shade was still cold and I was drenched with man-sweat. I immediately put my coat on and we all enjoyed a tall beer with Michelle's relay team near the finish line.

After the race, I went back to my room, showered, and fell on my bed. I tried to catch a few Z's, but I'm not sure if I ever did... I laid there for a while and eventually I got up. Again, I'm not sure if I ever actually saw the sand man though...? Let's assume I did.

Me, Bob, Michelle, Becky, Erin, and Barry
We had dinner plans for 6 pm, so I arrived at Bob and Michelle's around 5:45 and we headed to a very nice restaurant named Meyer & Freeman (ie. Morgan Freeman) to eat dinner with Barry, his wife Becky (?), and their daughter Erin. I had the shnitzel, and it was THE SHNITZEL! :) I ate it all.

After dinner, Bob and Michelle dropped me off at my front door. I hobbled up the steps and fell on my bed again... I definitely saw the sand man this time.

This was a great experience. I'm proud of the way I ran the race. I pushed hard in the beginning and pushed even harder near the end when all of my energy was gone; I left everything on the course. Once the 4:30 balloon dude passed me, I knew it was time to just enjoy the run since all hopes of a new PR were gone. I will remember this run forever. It's the run that I didn't (ok, couldn't) train for, but still kicked ass on. :)

Thank you, Bob, for allowing me to run this race again! Maybe I'll set a new PR here next year??? :)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Germany 2013 - Day 14

Moose Sighting!
Today I got to sleep in a bit. I woke up at 11 am and started my day very slowly. I had the curtains closed and the window was closed, so no noise and no light was entering the room. It felt like it was still night time... Even when I woke up at 11, I felt like I could have slept for a few more hours. I quickly realized I was being ridiculous and needed to get moving. :)

Today was scheduled to be a pretty relaxing day though... I only had two real "appointments":
  1. Pick up my race packet before 6 pm
  2. Carbo load before going to sleep
The plan was to meet Bob and Michelle at their flat sometime around noon and head down to the race expo to pick up our race packets. Michelle was running in the race tomorrow as well, she is on a relay team of 4 people and she was signed up to run the last leg of the relay. It was almost a 10K leg and she was pretty excited about it. Last year she ran the first leg so she got to be a part of the starting line. This year she gets to experience the finish line, so she got the best of both ends from the two separate events.

I arrived at Bob and Michelle's flat around noon and Michelle wasn't there, she had plans until around 2 or so. This meant that Bob and I would be picking up my race packet, and then he would go back down to the expo with her to get her race packet later. He and I enjoyed some coffee from his amazing coffee maker before heading down to the expo. As it turns out, we got lost in conversation on our way and ended up taking the long way. :) Doh! It was windy and chilly, but all in all a beautiful day, so it worked out!

The expo was pretty crowded and there were a lot of vendors setup selling their goods and services. I got my race number and my t-shirt and looked around at a few booths before we headed back. Bob went back to his flat and I headed back down to my room. I was able to post a few blog entries and catch up in the "social networking area" for a few hours.

2013 Dusseldorf Marathon Expo
Around 6 pm, I headed back down to The Andreini's where Michelle had cooked an amazing dinner of bow-tie pasta with salad and garlic bread. It was de-li-shus! I had a heaping helping of seconds and we sat around for a while afterwards talking and enjoying the evening. They invited me to stay for a movie, but I was looking forward to getting my things ready for the race and relaxing before the "big day".

Bob and I
I was in bed and reading by 10:30 pm.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Germay 2013 - Day 13

Today was a great day. I did my daily routine of waking up, working out, eating like a king, and getting to work on time at 9 am sharp. Bob and I worked at the table until around noon, and then we decided it was time for lunch. Michael joined us as we headed toward the train station to take the metro down to the "Sevens", which is a multi-level multi-media mega center. Think "Best Buy" on steroids. The ground floor was scattered with various restaurants, and the other 6 floors were nothing but electronics and computer equipment. This is how I picture heaven.

We ate a great lunch at a fancy restaurant on the ground floor. I had the "Doner" which consisted of a small salad on one plate and another larger plate full of french fries and chicken schnitzel (shaved meat). After we ate, we headed up to the top floor where the computers were located and we looked around at all all latest and greatest nerd toys. Needless to say, we had to drag ourselves out of this place in order to get back to work.

Multiple levels of geekiness.
Bob and I worked together until about 6 pm, when I was scheduled to meet up with Nick Mockus at the Altstadt for beer. I knew Nick back in high school where we were both in the French Exchange program. He and I got to travel to France with the exchange program in 1996 and I got to know him a little bit back then. We were merely acquaintances at that time who basically knew each other through the French program. He played football for Newark High School and I was a drummer in the marching band (BDDLITS baby).

Fast forward 16 years, to last year, and he saw on Facebook where I was travelling to Dusseldorf for work. He pinged me and informed me that he was living in Dusseldorf and suggested that we hook up for some beers. Needless to say, we got together last year and hung out a bit. When I learned that I was coming back this year, I reached out to him and let him know I was coming back to his home town, and that we should do it again...

A ship in the middle of the old town (ie. Altstadt).

Curb-side Kilipitch!

Walking through Dusseldorf with open containers...
Yes it's legal, Mom. :)
Nick and I started at the Altstadt around 6:30 pm and had a few beers at the Fucschen before making our way towards the Rhine for more beers and pizza. He took me to various local places that he knew of and introduced me to a few of his friends along the way. It's amazing hearing him talk German so effortlessly with his friends. I guess this happens when you live in a country for so many years, but it was still neat to see. We had to stop for some shots of Kilipitch at my favorite "walk up window" where you hand over some Euros and are given a shot of hard liquor through a small window. :) At one point, we even made our way back to the Sevens near the fashion district. Jazzy would love this place, it's "All fashion, all the time". Nick and I had a great time hanging out, despite the rain and overcast weather.

Bars, bars, bars...
Around 9 pm, we went our separate ways. Nick headed off to a "work thing" and I headed back to the hotel to relax for the evening. I hadn't had much sleep the entire week, so I literally laid on my bed and read until my eyes got heavy enough to close for the night. I felt old knowing that the night was still young on a Friday in downtown Dusseldorf, and here I was in bed by 9:30 pm.

Strolling through the park on my way back to the hotel.
Today was a great day!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Germany 2013 - Day 12

Today (Thursday) was another work day. Calls were made and code was written...

As it turned out, I never actually "left the office" after work. Bob and I worked at the table up until dinner time. Michelle made burritos for dinner tonight and they were delicious! It's been great hanging out with The Andreini's this week. They are great hosts and have really welcomed me as a member of their family here in Dusseldorf. They invite me to every meal, and I really appreciate it. Michelle is "da bomb" cook; one night she made asian cuisine, the next night she made a delicious salmon and veggies dish, and tonight she made healthy burritos. Yum! Michael and Matt are very open to me this year. Last year, there was a bit of shyness I think, but this year we talk and joke with one another. I enjoy the stories of their travels and school friends.

There are some evenings when I simply do my own thing and give them their family time. This night, we all sat around and enjoyed each others' company even after dinner. Around 8 or so, I headed back down the hotel to relax and unwind for the evening. I worked a bit more at my desk in the room and talked to Jennifer on Skype for a bit.

All in all it was a very chill day here in Dusseldorf.

Daizi, Lizzie, and Jazzy
Here is the same picture of the girls that I posted earlier this week. I'm re-posting it because I was really missing them tonight when I got back. This picture kind of summarizes our life on the farm; simple and happy. I can't wait to get home to see them again. Skype helps, but it's nothing like relaxing with them in the same room and being goofy with each other as we walk through the house. I've missed a few of their sporting and school events and I hate that. Lizzie had a volleyball game where their team did really good last weekend. Daizi actually got to read a few lines of a story up on stage at her school program the other night. Jazzy hasn't had any programs or events, but she keeps showing me her art work over Skype that she's been doing at home... WOW is she getting good!! It goes without saying that I'm really anxious to get home and just chill out with them again.

I'm approaching the half way point on my travels, so that's good. :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Germany 2013 - Day 11

Today was a work day. Period. Honestly, not much happened outside of work. I didn't go out and see the city and I have nothing cool to say about today's events.

Anybody that knows me, knows that I love coffee. Well, I can say that Bob has the coolest coffee maker I've ever seen. He has a Krups coffee maker which makes amazing coffee. Everytime. It has all these programmable settings which allows you to make various types of coffees too. For example, he has a 'Favorites' category which allows him to configure different types of brews for weak, medium, strong. It also has the capability of frothing milk for latte's and cappuccino's built right in. Best yet, this thing actually grinds the beans on command. You basically fill it full of your favorite beans, and just make sure to keep the water level filled up. From there you just push buttons. It even cleans itself. I want one!

Here is a timed set of pictures that I took of me brewing myself a cappuccino. The only thing I had to do was add some milk and push a button...

Notice the metal stem inside the
cup which is boiling my milk.

Let the froth begin!

Espresso (strong coffee) is being added now.

Almost done!

Ready to enjoy!
Yay technology!

OK, so after a long day "at the office", I came back to my hotel and talked with Jennifer for a while, then went to sleep. Since I was in charge of my own dinner tonight, I chose the healthy route and got a big bottle of German Beer to wash down my box of European Cookies (ie. German Crack Cakes).

Wednesday was a pretty relaxing day.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Germany 2013 - Day 10

Today began much like yesterday, I woke up early, did a mini worked out, showered, had an amazing breakfast, and headed down to Bob's flat to start the work day. Not a whole lot to talk about during the work day... We basically sat around and geeked out all day; Bob on his laptop, me on mine.

Around 5 pm, I packed up my things and headed down to my flat. Today, I really wanted to have some solitary "Luc Time" so I decided to walk around the Altstadt. I put my bags down, grabbed my wallet and camera and headed down to the Altstadt for a pizza and a beer. It was a lot of fun to just walk around and hear all the sounds of Europe (ie. scooters, cars, people, etc..).

Construction of the new shopping center.
The city has changed quite a bit since last year. They are putting a lot of money into the various projects around the city. I learned that the big project which is right in the middle of the Altstadt is going to be a huge shopping center when they are done. As cool as this sounds, it's almost heart breaking because it is really going to take away from the "old" feel that this area exudes with it's cobble stone streets and old restaurant fronts.

Beautiful Dusseldorf on the Rhine.

After my little mini tour of the Altstadt by the Rhine River, I came back to my hotel and worked the rest of the night. A few times I was able to talk with Jennifer and the girls. Mostly Jennifer, since the girls were outside playing in the nice Ohio weather. From time to time, they would pop in and say hi to me, but for the most part it was Jennifer and I just talking.

In between minor stints of talking with Jennifer, I really stayed focus on researching this new technology; I was finally beginning to wrap my head around it. One of my weaknesses when it comes to learning new things (maybe it's a strength??) is that I typically engulf myself into something too much until I fully figure it out. I can't just know parts of it, I really need to figure it all out from front to back as quickly as possible. This means sleepless nights, constant brain spinning, stupid questions, etc... up front. Therefore, I stayed up until 3 am learning and researching and piecing it all together with trial and error. Eventually, I told myself that I might figure it out in my sleep, and that was the only reason I went to sleep. :)

It was going to be short nap with an early alarm clock...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Germany 2013 - Day 9

Well, vacation is officially over and work must now begin. In my profession though, it feels more like play some days. Today was one of those days. I got to learn a new technology today and that is one of my favorite things about being a geek; staying on the bleeding edge.

I woke at 7:15 am, and got ready for the day. I'm actually staying at the same hotel I stayed at last year (The Hotel Berial) in downtown Dusseldorf. It's a really nice place and they have an AMAZING free breakfast buffet with a huge spread of meats, cheeses, eggs, sausages, juices, hot coffee, and fresh fruits and vegetables. It's leaps and bounds above any place else I've stayed on my travels. Major bonus!

Bob and I worked at his flat all day. I'd love to explain the details of what I worked on, but it really would bore most people. It's pretty geeky stuff... I'm sure I'll be blogging about it soon outside of my travel journals. Blah blah blah, we finished working around 5 pm.

After work, I took my stuff back down to the hotel -- which is 2 blocks from Bob and Michelle's flat -- and talked to Jennifer for a bit over Skype. Bob and Michelle invited me back to their place for a delicious Asian-style chicken dinner and wine. We sat around and had great conversation until about 9 pm and then I came back to my room to work on a prototype for a new project.

EmberJS LogoMost of my work day consisted of reading documentation and going through various tutorials... basically it was a "day of learning". So I guess it's safe to say that the first day back was a good one!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Germany 2013 - Day 8

Today was yet another extremely fun day in Germany! I woke up around 9:15 am and had breakfast with Dariush, Rita, Nouchine, and Jonathan. After breakfast, Rita was participating in a community yard sale at the kindergarten. Dariush and I helped pack up the car, and then realized that they were going to need to take both cars. I anxiously offered to watch the kids and told them to take their time.

Babysitting the little Ghobad's was so much fun! No English was spoken and there was a severe communication barrier between the little ones and myself. They brought me German books and wanted me to read them. I did the best I could, and they listened very attentively the entire time. However, I'm positive that I was mispronouncing 9/10ths of the words in these kids books. :) They didn't seem to care, so I kept mutilating the words.

Danger is Jonathan's middle name!
At one point, Dariush came home and I'll be honest I felt a bit releived because I couln't understand them and they couldn't understand me, so it was like herding cats. :) I knew a few words that worked pretty effectively, like "nein" (ie. no) when they would start to destroy things, and "yah!?" (ie. yeah!?) when they would tell me big stories or ask for something that they wanted. That was about the extent of my German, and we had officially run out of things to talk about. :)

 Shortly after Dariush arrived back home, I packed my things and we made the drive to Dusseldorf to drop me off at my hotel, where I would be spending the remainder of my stay here in Germany. When we arrived in Dusseldorf, we all went to the local McDonalds and had a short lunch. We had a great final meal together and then said our goodbyes. I won't see them again for 2 more weeks when Dariush has offered to take me back to the Dusseldorf Airport for my departure.

I spent about an hour or so in the hotel getting everything organized and unpacked all of my things since I'll be living here for the next two weeks. Once everything was in order, I contacted Bob on Skype and asked if he wanted to go get a beer down by the Rhein, near the Altstadt. As it turns out, he was in the lobby already so we made our way down for some spanish cuisines, beer, and good conversation. We talked about some amazing new opportunities with InfoPlanIT and as crazy as it may sound, I'm very excited to start coding again!

Bob and I in Dusseldorf
I came back to the hotel with a high level of excitement... and alcohol content. :) Once I got settled back in, I was able to contact Jennifer on Skype and we talked for quite a while with on video chat. We were really missing each other and had a lot of fun talking to one another... I already can't wait to get back home to her and the girls.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Germany 2013 - Day 7

... Dariush and I began our drive from Berlin to Koln around midnight on Friday night. We essentially drove from the east side of Germany to the west side of Germany in one night. Our legs were cramped, our eye lids were heavy, and we arrived completely exhausted. During the trip, I was able to nod in and out of sleep, but really tried to stay awake to help Dariush along the way. We stopped a few times during the night so that Dariush could take 30 minute power naps at various rest areas. We realized upon arriving in Koln that it might have been best for me to have simply taken a train or a bus instead. Regardless, it was another adventure that Dariush and I get to add to our never ending list of adventures together. :)

We arrived safely at 7:30 am and went our separate ways to crash for a few hours before we were on "kid duty" today...

When I woke up 10:30 am, I walked out of my door was presented with a huge hug from my good friend, Nouchine. She saw me open the door and ran from across the room to wrapped her arms around my leg. My heart absolultely melted in the moment... She immediately looked up at me and counted to 5 in English: "ONE TWO THREE FOUR FIVE!". I counted to 5 right back at her in German: "EIN ZWEI DREI VIER FUMF!" :) This was the only thing that her and I were able to communicate with each other the last time we saw one another. What a way to begin my day here at Dariush and Rita's house... It truly made my day!

The Ghobad's then presented me with my birthday party since I wasn't able to be here on my actual birthday, last weekend like we'd planed (remember: flight problems). It was a very small party, but absolutely perfect! Rita made me coffee and eggs, and I had a large variety of hams, brochen, and my favorite: the chocolate croissant (ie. "pain au chocolat"). Mmm mmm mmm... All of this thrown together with some of my favorite people made for an amazing birthday breakfast. Thanks guys, this really meant a lot to me!!

After breakfast, Dariush and I took Jonathan and Nouchine to the park to play for a bit, and then made our way to the ice cream shop for ice cream in the sun. Dariush had to go to the bank for a few minutes, so I was in charge of taking the kids to the ice cream place and ordering for them. Of course, I don't speak German, and they don't speak English, so I ordered a vanilla on a cone for Nouchine, and a vanilla in a cup for Jonathan... I could not understand why Jonathan was so mad. He wouldn't eat his ice cream and kept mumbling something in German with a horrible pouty face. Finally, Dariush arrived and I explained to him what was going on. Jonathan talked to Dariush and it turns out that he wanted "red ice cream". So Dariush ate his vanilla in a dish and ordered Jonathan some strawberry ice cream; all was right with the world again. :)

Jonathan enjoying his red ice cream.
Dariush cooking a sausage
the German way.
Upon returning back to the house, we all laid down for a short nap. Dariush and I were still completely exhausted from our travels all night. We only slept for about an hour and a half and then we woke up to prepare for a dinner date with some friends here at the house. Rita prepared food in the kitchen, while I hung out with Jonathan and Nouchine. Dariush was in charge of the grill and it was a very relaxing evening with friends.

The night ended with Nouchine and I playing with her trains in the entry foyer. Jonathan had already went to bed, and Rita and Dariush were picking up the house from the evenings party. The entire time, Nouchine was speaking German to me as though I could understand her... This was the perfect ending to a perfect day.