Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Leaving part of the family behind

Steph and Felix finally walked in the door this morning just after 1:30 am - and not long after we had eventually gone to bed! A quick chat and they told us that they too were caught in a traffic jam on the way in to Munich - and the cause? A truck fire! And the place? The same spot we were caught last week!! What is it about that area I wonder - do do do do.

Turns out that their 'seats' for the concert were in the rafters and not seats as such, but as they said it was a rock concert so the music was loud enough and they could see everything which was good because it was a good stage presentation as well as the music. And they were happy because Green Day came on the stage just after they got there at 8:30 pm and played for 2.5 hours.

And this morning Felix woke us on his way out to work to say goodbye. It has been a real pleasure meeting him and spending time getting to know this person who is so important to our Steph!
Of course, this morning has dawned overcast and wet - almost appropriate for the last day we are spending with Stephi on this trip. :'-(
Breakfast is kind of flat. Oh sure, Steph takes a run down to the bakery to get our last Swäbian pretzels. They are going to be missed as a breakfast item - they are huge, crispy on the outside and the two small 'tails' and otherwise moist and soft and oh, so, yummy. We skirt around the issue of leaving as we chat about anything but our impending departure!

While I look for accommodation in Madgeburg for later in the week, Michael and Steph take a walk into town to do a little shopping. As they leave, it begins to rain heavily again, but clears soon after. Once they are back, we sit and just chat over a coffee or three.

A final check that we are not leaving anything essential behind, and it is that hard time.
With promises of a return visit in the not-too-distant future we are off. The tears flow.
It is hard to leave someone that is so much a part of our extended families.

We walk down the stairs for the last time and put our last things in the car. The day is dull and although the rain has paused for our departure (thank you!) there is still a wind and the autumn leaves continue to fall. It looks as well as feels despondent. There is no point in further delay, so we hurry away, not keen to go, but not wanting to wallow! Please don't look at me like that Steph!

And its not long before the rain is falling again. We are headed back to Munich to catch up with Ricki (who came with Steph to Australia in 1997) her new husband Bernd and their lovely little daughter Charlotte.

The trip takes on a very different colour today. We have taken this road a few times over the year, but this time we know it will be the last time for now at least. We travel in and out of rain. The air is so alive and in the afternoon sun, the countryside is crisp and almost 'electric' in colour and atmosphere.

We arrive back in Munich just in time to join the frantic peak hour traffic in this large city. By the time we are nearing Ricki and Bernd's address it is almost dark (like at 5:15 pm - how different to a few short weeks ago). Bernd is still to arrive home - he is a lawyer and had flown to the north of Germany for appointments with clients today. In the meantime, we enjoy the company of his girls (!) and spend time reminiscing with Ricki about her trip with Steph to us in Australia in 1997 and our great trip to Innisfail where we visited the Jordans.

Charlotte is 5 months old, alert and happy. She comes to both Michael and I without hesitation and Ricki is joyfully proud. Eventually she manages to put her to bed and she puts the finishing touches on dinner as Bernd arrives home. He too is warm and welcoming. We had met him only very briefly in December when Ricki was visiting her family in Schorndorf.

So the four of us exchange travel stories of recent times. We all laugh at how closely we have missed each other both in France in June and Italy last month. We chat about Australia as we have our salad and about family as Ricki serves a truly yummy Chicken Coconut curry.

Ah, what's that? Ah. Charlotte Marie! Awake! And despite both Ricki and Bernd taking turns in trying to settle her, she is just too upset. Eventually, Ricki retires with her - ah, nothing like yer mum! We chat further with Bernd as we help him to pack the dishwasher and wash the glassware and eventually get to show him our family photos and some from Maryborough and Australia. He has another early start tomorrow morning - heading to south of Stuttgart a little over 200 kms away. So its off to bed before midnight for me (although, as usual, Michael sits up later!)

Truly a bittersweet day.

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