It's been more than a month since I've written one of these updates. It was for a very good reason: I took a much-needed vacation to the US! It's the longest vacation from work that I've taken since...I think I was 13. I'm serious; I've been working since I was 12, starting with babysitting and a paper route, and it's been a long time since such a vacation. Doesn't that sound dramatic?
Of course, I was busy right until the end. I had the pleasant surprise of one of our colleagues (different department, same organization) from the US stop by. Originally we were going to try to meet for dinner but I'd really hoped to have an early night in and we wouldn't have been able to go until late. Instead, we managed to have a catch-up lunch, which was a bit calmer than the last time we'd all met and almost fell into the San Antonio River (from laughing).
That night, I double-checked my packing and hung out with Moo a bit. Since I usually pack somewhat last-minute the night before a trip, this time I decided to have my act together and have 95% of the packing done a few days before I left. The strange thing was that I didn't feel completely at ease; I then felt as if I was forgetting something. Gah! If only I could find a happy medium. One of these days I'm going to write up checklists or something. I have a lot of respect for super-organized people who have their act together all the time. I always finish what I need to do, but in my personal life, it's not usually done in an orderly manner.
The next morning, I had the Airport Runner shuttle service pick me up (review to follow; I have enjoyed their service). Unless there's a conveniently-timed Flixbus and I don't leave my car at work, I think that from now on, I'm going to use the shuttle to get to the airport instead of taking the train. I don't have a BahnCard right now and the shuttle isn't much more expensive than a regularly-priced train ticket. Plus, the shuttle is way more convenient.
When I arrived at the Frankfurt Airport, I stumbled upon the yoga room, next to the prayer rooms. This was a fortunate find; I like to stretch before a flight but don't like looking like some weirdo working out in the seating area.
I had to pick up a connecting flight in North Carolina. A positive result of this (the only one I could see, actually, especially after how that state treats some of its citizens) was that a friend I met during high school lives near the airport. She kindly picked me up and we enjoyed lunch at a BBQ place. A lot has changed since we last hung out; she now has a young daughter and is pregnant with her second child. Dang, how the years fly, especially when one lives abroad!
The rest of the flight was uneventful and I arrived in Grand Rapids in the evening. The next day, my mom and I went shopping for supplies related to the festival I'd be attending the next day. I had the great idea to make Käsespätzle for about 40 people and serve it while wearing a Dirndl. This is absolutely not that strange for this festival.
As any good mother-daughter team should do, we bonded over hours of making homemade Käsespätzle -- when it was 80 something degrees out and until 1:30 a.m. My mom's always had my back like that; she's an awesome one. The whole operation was a bit daunting since I've never made Käsespätzle for anyone other than myself, much less for 40 people! Also, we didn't have a Spätzle press so we used a cheese grater instead. I think it took about 3 hours and we trashed the kitchen.
My friend H picked me up the next morning and off we went. The festival was fantastic and it really felt like coming home. It's my third time attending and I love the freedom of expression. As I said, it was not at all weird that I was wearing a Dirndl and serving German food; in fact, people stopping by our camp were happy to try what I'd cooked and I was even able to speak German with some of them.
I'm still smiling about the festival. I caught up with friends I haven't seen in years; in fact, some of them, I haven't seen in about five years or so. It was an excellent start to the trip.