Day Zero, April 6th: Departure
Uncle Dick told me the night previous that I should sleep early and try to get a few hours in before our flight. I ended up taking a 30 minute nap because my sleeping pattern was already messed up for weeks prior. Francis was already at the airport by the time I started getting ready.
My dad and I went to pick up Uncle Dick, then dropped us off at the airport. It was 5:00am. We checked in for a domestic flight to Toronto. We had to wait about two hours before the flight and mind you, we were on standby. Fortunately, there were enough empty seats for us to board.
Our flight to Toronto took almost 4.5 hours. I brought two novels with me: Chapterhouse Dune and Children of Dune, but I was in no mood to read on a plane, let alone sleep. I did however watch a movie: Green Lantern. It was actually very good, even if cheesy as most comic book stories are.
We landed in Toronto by 2:20pm local time. Our next flight wasn’t going to be for another 3 hours.
Toronto’s airport is a lot larger than Vancouver’s and more international flights flew there. It was the second time I saw one of the new double decker jets from the Middle East. It looked ugly, but apparently expensive to get tickets for because it’s so new. It was parked right next to the gate we were departing. As we walked to our gate, I noticed some buildings in the distance. Uncle Dick told me that was Mississauga.
Uncle Dick treated me to a cup of Budweiser beer and shared a sushi pack with him. Francis ate a burger, fries and had a cup of Budweiser too.
Finally the announcement came on and we lined up behind what looked like a high school trip overseas. A sports team probably from the look of it. We were all fortunate to be seated together in the middle of the plane at the front row next to the kitchen and two washrooms. Lots of leg room. Spent most of my time watching television shows and shorts and movies. I had the opportunity to watch Terra Nova, two episodes of it. Interesting show.
Day One, April 7th: Frankfurt
After a 7.5 hour flight, we finally landed in Frankfurt. By then, I was moody as hell, but kept all under control. I was super tired.
We checked out and raced over to the DB Bahn clerk. The clerk was a bit of an ass, but got our thing passed and we raced down to the tracks, waited a bit and found out we could try a different route to where we wanted to go. The problem was that our plane was late to depart from Toronto due to some issue with the storage bay doors at the belly of the plane. So we were about an hour late. Therefore, we had no time to drop off our carry on at the hotel, so we went to our boat cruise destination directly instead.
Our train came and boarded right at the airport and we went all the way to St. Goar, walked around a bit and Francis bought some wine. There was a castle in the near distance above the town on a tall hill. It looked like a fairy tale. However, before we headed to St. Goar, we had to make a train transfer. I forgot the city’s name, but we managed to find a locker for all three of our rolling carry ons. That left off quite a lot of weight.
The little town was cozy and some of the inner roads were cobblestone. The buildings were reflective of the rest of Germany: tall triangle shaped roofs and tidy rectangles for the building. Reminded me of Robin Hood for some reason.
We then headed over to the KD booth and waited for the ship. Once it came finally, we boarded it and headed to the open deck at the top. I was somewhat miserable because I was so cold, but it was also pretty neat because I never seen something like that before. Every now and then, we would drift by some grape fields on the mountains and hills, then dock at a town to let off passengers and let new ones on. I noticed that every town had a Gothic looking church and a castle up atop a hill or small mountain overlooking the town. Along the way, I called Amber and she sounded calm and also a bit trying to hide her excitement in her voice. We talked just for a few minutes and hung up.
By the time we reached Rudesheim, I felt blah. It started to rain and I went to the public washroom three times in one and a half hours. I notice there were two Japanese girls. They were extremely cute in a cartoony sort of way.
We waited at the train station until the train finally came. We finally made it back to where we left the luggage, picked it up and headed to Frankfurt via train. Once there, I noted the platform layout and entrance, then we all headed towards our hotel which was about 5 minutes walking distance from the main station. We got to the hotel room just after 7:00pm. I fell asleep promptly while Francis and Dick went off to explore Frankfurt.
Day Two, April 8th: Going to Kiel
Sharing the bed with Francis was an interesting experience. It made me wake up a bit early. It was still dark outside and those guys bought me a sandwich sub when they went out bar hopping last night. I remember trying to take a bite of it and it was so hard it was like cement, but I ate it all eventually with the help of bottled water and patience.
The morning light finally came around and the guys woke up. Uncle Dick asked me, “Are you excited?”
I remember responding with, “I am everything including excited.”
We all got ready, packed and went down to get breakfast. It was a good breakfast, though I mainly had fruit and ham. Then we went out to some place with ruins, took some pictures in the freezing cold and finally went back to our hotel room. We got our stuff and headed to the main station. I was nervous because Uncle Dick and Francis was heading to Poland by train to the east and I was heading north to Kiel by myself. I never traveled by myself. We departed ways at the Frankfurt Main Station. As I waited on the Frankfurt Main Station platform, I recorded the following:
I was at Platform 8 waiting for the ICE 76 to Kiel. After about 20 minutes, the train came and I boarded it. Finding my reserved seat was easy and putting my carry on at the top rack was easy too.
Most of the train ride was uneventful. I bought an hour worth of internet and checked my emails, went to Thottbot, watched some YouTube vids and logged out.
As the hours went by and the announcement came that we’re about to reach Hamburg, I had a slight anxious feeling at the pit of my stomach. Most of the people in the coach got off here and suddenly, a lot of seats were empty. I took the chance to relax a bit and watch the view outside the window. I have to say that Germany is truly an amazing country: rolling green hills, small ancient cozy villages every now and then, huge wind turbine towers in the distance. It was all very enchanting. I think I fell in love with it a bit.
The rest of the little over one hour ride to Kiel was pretty relaxing. I was warm and the view was nice. I was not at all nervous. Then finally, the announcement came on but it was in German. Since I had seen some pictures of Kiel before, I figured we had finally arrived in Kiel. I got up, grabbed my bags and waited in line. I asked the guy behind me if this was Kiel and he said yes and I thanked him.
When I got off the train, I didn’t quite recognize the train station because it looked a bit different than in the pictures. It actually looked bigger in person.
I walked up a bit, took out my camera and took a picture of what was ahead of me. Then I continued walking. I expected Amber to be there already, but she wasn’t. So I found a place to sit down and waited. She called me and told me she will be late . So I waited some more. It was very uncomfortable because it was very cold. I waited 45 minutes, then walked off and then she texted me and told me she arrived. At that point, I wasn’t as excited anymore, because I was frozen, but I was still eager to see her.
As I walked around the corner of the flower shop, I caught a glimpse of her and noticed she looked a nervous. When she caught my eye, I smiled at her, walked up and gave her a hug and said: “I’m finally here” and kissed her lightly. We barely talked and we started walking back to her place.
I felt natural and not at all awkward. I was however, awkward for about 0.5 seconds when I was about to hug her, but that awkwardness faded very quickly. When we walked up the street with her hand in mine, I felt like I was finally ‘home’ in some strange way. I don’t mean that Germany is my home – I didn’t feel that way, but I felt like I was finally home with Amber.
When we walked to her apartment, we stopped a few times so I could kiss her and just stare at her for a bit. It felt like I was kissing my wife that I haven’t seen for a long time. Then when we finally reached her apartment building, I noticed just how old but cozy the place looked. Walking down the hallway to her suite felt like I was inside a hospital with low lights. Getting to her door and entering it was…
…it was such a wonderful feeling. That ‘new feeling’ was enchanting. It was a small but warm feeling place and with her there beside me, I was just overwhelmed with a very good feeling. I have a problem showing my feelings, but they were there.
We talked a bit while I unpacked and she gestured my attention to something on the little table next to her kitchen. It was a drawing of a welcome poster with a heart on it. It was very lovely. She also got me a small kitten calendar and a kitten puzzle. That poster she made for me is on my book shelf in the computer room now.
We spent that day indoors. I felt a cold coming and her fridge was almost empty. We went out at night and walked around her neighborhood. She showed me where the janitor’s office was and that was where she bought her laundry coins. Afterward, we sat at a low brick curved wall where she lit up a cigarette and tried to get me to smoke but I kept resisting. Her reasoning was so she wouldn’t feel so bad smoking it. She was very playful and I knew at that point that has finally become comfortable with me.
Day Three, April 9th: Meeting her family
We woke up relatively early and went out to catch a bus to her family’s place. Along the way, we stopped by a bakery and I got a muffin and she got some bread. The same with the previous days, it was freezing cold for me! Riding the bus was actually pretty interesting. Similar to the buses in Vancouver, they’re square and wide, but unlike the Vancouver buses, these were a bit more roomier.
Today was the day I was to meet her mom and sister, as well as Frank and her nieces. I never thought that it was too fast. It just never occurred to me, though Amber was stressed over it, fearing her mom would react badly to it. Well, besides my bladder issues and my bad flat feet, everything was good leading up to the actual meeting. However, I didn’t actually meet her mom first.
We had to bus over to the east. The town was Schonberg. We ended up at Sky which is a super market like that of Save On Foods or Superstore, but about 3 times smaller. After we finished going through what to get her family, we walked outside and Amber called her sister if she could pick “us” up. When her sister heard “we” or “us”, she knew immediately I was there with Amber.
Amber and I waited. She was a bit nervous and anxious, but I was completely relaxed. Her sister finally arrived in a yellow Audi. I believe I shook her hand as she was smiling back at me. Amber and Jessica hugged and spoke in German. They seemed to have missed each other a lot.
After that, we drove through a beautifully lush green landscape of kilometres of rolling green fields with the occasional wind turbine in the distance. I hope one day to have a house here. I believe I just need to, if not for Amber’s sake, then definitely for my desire to have one here at the very least.
We ended up at her grandma’s place. Her grandma’s nickname is Omelie. That always made me think of omelets. For her grandma, I was a tiny bit nervous. However, after I met her grandpa, grandma and sat down for some tea, I felt quite comfortable. Most of the time, I just listened to them talk. Sometimes, they would ask me questions and I would answer and add a bit more to it. I didn’t want them to think I was ‘boring’.
Besides the excessive smoking, the place looked cozy. The grandpa who gave me a thumbs-up for not smoking, as he is also smoke-free as best as he could, also has a love for tea. I intend to get him some premium Chinese tea as a gift soon. They also have a lovely cat.
Anyway, Amber’s mom finally came. I stood up to greet her and her friend. For the first half of her visit there, she occasionally glanced at me cautiously which my eyes met with hers and I briefly smiled. Though at times, she did not. However, such is expected from an overly worried mother. However, as the minutes came and went, her mom became friendlier and warmer. The rest of Amber’s family was naturally quite welcoming from the start.
As we all got up to leave, Amber’s grandma told me that I am “good” and Amber translated that she also said I made a great impression. So we all hugged and then left for Jessica’s place.
Winding through the road to Schwartbuck, I found myself in a village with a mixture of old and modern houses of what I considered a ‘foreign’ design. Then again, I was the real foreigner there. I thought it was crazy to even drive through there and find ones way to their destination. Most of the roads were narrow and went up and down and twirled around.
At Jessica’s place, I met Frank finally. He is just simply an Epic Win in my books. I wish we spoke the same verbal language.
Anyway, we gave our various small gifts of smokes and food to the adults and the toys to the nieces. We stayed over for breakfast, then later for dinner. I was not bored at all, but I was tired. However, Frank, Jessica, mom, grandma and grandpa were very generous and very friendly. They were all very nice people.
Jessica and Frank drove us back to the apartment. It was quite a long drive and I know they aren’t that well off, but they took the time and effort to drive us back. I will write them a letter and send a little gift of appreciation to them soon.
I think all in all, it was a perfect day.
Day Four, April 10th: A strangely negative day
Honestly, I never thought that we would be fighting or having any form of argument so soon and so negatively. The morning started off quite ‘normal’, but came nearer to noontime, I noticed that Amber was reacting to me in a disapproving tone. As if she was sick and tired of me somehow. I wasn’t sure what it was, but as it became more and more apparent she was irritated at me for something, I too became defensive. There was only so much I can take from anyone.
Throughout our walk to Aldi and through shopping at Aldi, she seemed to have a severe problem interpreting my words. To me, when I said something like: “So you want to head home now?” or “Is there anything else you want to get?” – that was interpreted as I was not interested in the experience and I wanted her to hurry up. Which by the way was totally not what I meant. However, to not make a scene, I let it pass for the time being, until we got back home.
At home, when we filled up her fridge full of food and drinks, she seemed happy and I was happy I was able to help achieve that for her, first time in her life so far living alone with a kitchen full of food. I thought by then, we were okay. However, for most of the day, she was quiet and short-breathed. Came a time when I wanted to get intimate with her, she somewhat brushed me aside. At dinner time, I thought things had been solved somehow. She set up a nice dinner over candles and wine, but somehow afterward when we were relaxing, I noticed she was just not right minded. I asked for a leg massage and she said something I didn’t hear. Then later at night when we tried to fall asleep and got spooked by ‘something touching her neck’, then started crying and telling me about how Emily cried when she couldn’t make it on Saturday, I was totally and utterly confused.
I literally looked at her both with sadness and WTF? We fell asleep eventually. To me, that day was just so weird. I didn’t know what happened.
Day Five, April 11th: Home alone
She had to work in the evening. So I spent time chilling out, getting into my system her apartment and immediate surroundings. Vogel kept me company. He flew on my head and through his powerful yet subtle psychic abilities, transferred his thoughts into my brain.
From that moment onward, every time I spent time alone there, I would let seep into my mind and heart how Amber must have felt being alone for so long, scared of every little sound out her door, the nights where it was cold, the times she needed someone here to be beside her and hold her. It saddened me a lot. I tried to ‘re-live’ her feelings while I was there alone. There has been times from this day onwards that my eyes watered a bit thinking about it, imagining what she went through. I was glad and I am glad I was able to be there with her these nearly two weeks.
When she came home, we hugged and kissed of course. She made a very yummy potato dinner. ♥
Day Six, April 12th: A blur
Oddly, this was one of the days that was so mundane, I did not remember much from it. However I vaguely remember that I rearranged some things in her apartment because I wanted to try to block out the light reflection from her windows onto her laptop monitor and so placed one of her paintings on the window sill. Amber cooked some really yummy things that night. More potato stuff and fried fish in margarine. Back home in Richmond, we would never even attempt it and if we did, definitely not with so much margarine.
Day Seven, April 13th: Getting late for work
It was another work day for Amber. It was our first time going down to the laundry room to wash our clothes together. I have to say that the basement is the scariest looking place I have ever been in. It literally looks like something out of a horror movie. Long concrete hallways, low ceiling, bright factory lighting, exposed wires every where, cob webs and dust… After making at least one right turn and at the end of the second hallway, there lies the laundry room with one very old looking washing machine and two new-looking dryers. All of them were coin operated of course.
So we put the laundry in and I tried to get intimate with Amber, but she wouldn’t have any of it and we went back upstairs. We did some stuff and about twenty or so minutes left until we went down to move the wet clothes into the dryer, I came up with a brilliant idea that we needed to chill out a bit. Amber wasn’t too fond with the idea, but we ended up chilling out a bit. Afterward, we grabbed the laundry, brought them back up and I started to lay them out all over the apartment to dry. She had to hurry for work. It was wonderful.
Day Eight, April 14th: The Sky is the limit
Today, Amber wanted to show me a mall or something. We walked some ways around her neighborhood and finally go to a long wide road. We passed by a large store that resembled Home Depot. As we waited on the second strip to the other side of the road, Amber pointed out some bar/club on the other side and told me a bit about it. We crossed the street and walked by some car dealership: mainly Audi and BMW. Eventually we got on a bus and got off at where she thought the store/mall was. Unfortunately, it was just another Sky market. Amber was disappointed, but for me, I thought it was just an experience to be together and furthermore, we found out it was not a different shop/mall, but a Sky. I believe knowing something for sure and finding out about it isn’t really that bad.
We ended up walking back most of the way. I have to admit there are quite a lot of interesting shops and buildings along the way. We even waited at a train crossing where a train went by. Unfortunately, it was running late, my feet were hurting and she needed to be home to change for work, so we hopped on a bus and went home.
Day Nine, April 15th: A walk around the park and then some
This was one of our best days together. She took me to this park with a large pond. It had a lot of people and the ambiance was simply gorgeous.
We went through a cobblestone road with some very cozy looking apartments that had the typically styled German rooftops. A few metres down was the park and pond. Walking around with her was a very nice feeling. It made me think of when she comes to Canada and we take daily strolls around the parks here.
We also went through the park and saw the statue of a woman from a picture Amber showed me in the past. Then passed some ways, we went through the city again and passed by a drawing of Mr. Sperm. Once we got into another clearing, there was another park and large pond. Amber told me that the building in the distance is the Kiel opera house. We walked by some more things and noticed a war memorial to honor a couple that was killed by Nazi’s in World War 2. Then some ways away, we found a bench and sat down while Amber had a smoke. Even though it was a cold day, it was still a beautiful day. On the way back home, we walked up to the Asian store. It was closed, but we wanted to check it out.
Day Ten, April 16th: A visit with Aunt Frauke
In Germany, most stores are closed on Sundays.
Anyway, the next day which was today the 16th was a Monday and today, we went to the shopping mall finally. I got Amber some shoes and some other stuff. We also went into a nice little shop to buy her aunt Frauke a tiny shopping cart with some tiny jams and stuff. Apparently, Aunt Frauke is crazy about tiny things like that.
After that, we went back to her place to drop stuff off, then took the bus out to the graveyard. She wanted to show me something.
Unfortunately, I have some psychological problems when I’m traveling coinciding bladder control. Even if I don’t need to go to the washroom, I feel I still need to. So once we arrived at where we got off and on the way to the graveyard, I found myself needing to go to the washroom. Of course, I try to stay as calm as I could and on the way, Amber pointed out a relative’s house and she kind of hid to the right side of me in case that relative saw her. We walked through school grounds, then onto a road, passed her relative’s house and up a quiet residential street. Oddly, I actually did have to go by the time we reached the shack in the graveyard. When that was done, I walked out and found myself surrounded by a serene cozy place full of various styled tombstones, grassy with the occasional bush and tree.
We walked by some really old tombstones from since both World Wars and before that. Some had more than one for multiple family members. Most of them had a religious affiliation: Jewish, Christian and even some that were pure secular. There was an interesting one with something that looked like mechanical gears. Then finally, Amber lead us to one at a corner. It was her niece that died at birth.
I didn’t show it at the time, but after thinking about it for some time, I was happy that Amber took the time and effort to bring me to her niece. I thought to myself that this won’t be the last time we’ll be back here. In the future, we’ll come back with something from Canada. Maybe a native carving here of a beluga whale or an orca to keep her niece company. ^_^
After that, Amber and I walked a bit but slowed down. She wanted to bring me to another tomb, but reconsidered. I’m glad we didn’t. I might falcon punch that tombstone if I saw it. The only person I need ‘permission’ from is from her mom and no one else.
The way back was interesting too. We walked out of the graveyard and down the street and around a corner towards a huge church/cathedral with more graves outside. We passed by some buildings and eventually saw a fountain with a restaurant behind it. Amber told me that the male boss at the restaurant she worked at used to work there. The sun started to peak out by then and it got a bit warmer. We also sat down at the fountain and took some pictures.
We continued on our way and walked towards another store. Then after that, we got picked up at a bus stop by her sister again. Before that however, we tried to fool around a bit and later even found out an old lady was sitting at the bus stall!
We went back to her sister’s place and chilled out until dinner time, which was held at her mom’s basement suit. Her mom cooked the dinner. It was quite different than what I usually have and it was quite yummy. We took some pictures and then right after, we went to her aunt’s place: Aunt Frauke. It was a super warm place and we had tea, talked and I listened mostly. Aunt Frauke received our tiny shopping cart gift and she was elated. That was really cute.
After a bit of that, Aunt Frauke wanted to show me a lake so we walked out through a grassy field towards a wide lake. As we went to the clearing, I realized just how beautiful the place was. I was freezing, since Amber took my long black jacket and I was left with the orange one, but besides that massive discomfort, it was a nice experience.
Amber’s mom took us home afterward.
Day Eleven, April 17th: Aunt Tinka and Pascal
I was able to meet her Aunt Tinka finally. Foxy professional woman with a big great smile. This was the first time I went to work with Amber. It was a property management company. Today, she had to tutor Pascal. Pascal reminded me of 21 Jump Street, the original series… /ponders
It was also here I found a super ancient radio. It was purely awesome.
Day Twelve, April 18th: Hemmingway with Uncle Dick and Francis
One of our nicer days together. After doing various chores during the day, Uncle Dick called me telling us that they would arrive in about two hours by train. Once they were ready, we walked out to find their hotel. It was out of character for me to not know exactly where he was located, because Amber and I ended up walking to the Kiel train station, then northward along the coast until we finally got a call from them and using Amber’s GPS off her phone, we finally located their whereabouts.
We all ended up at Hemmingways, a chilled-out lounge restaurant, had a nice chat, good food and nice wine and a night where Amber was actually more touchy feely than all the other nights we were together.
On our way back, we had to walk back home. I wished we could have had a nice walk home, but Amber had to pee really badly. So we ended up rushing home. However, it was still a good night.
Day Thirteen, April 19th: Dinner at Amber’s
This night was both our best and our worst evening. It was our best evening because it was fun and humorous, but also our worst because I got too drunk and I became an ass. However, I won’t go into the details of being an ass. I will just say that I regret being an ass after having such a wonderful evening. This evening, Uncle Dick and Francis came over to Amber’s apartment. They introduced mussels to Amber which she thought tasted a bit like tuna. They also brought Chinese dishes over and we served some French bread. We had both white and red wine. It was a wonderful evening that ended up with me proposing to Amber. It was a cheesy thing to do as I rolled up a piece of paper, drew a heart on it and proposed to her. After she said yes, I told her I would get her a proper ring later.
Day Fourteen, April 20th: Our last night together
After a questionable end to a wonderful previous night, I had some making up to do. We walked over to Aldi’s and inside, at the bread rack, I apologized to her and assured her that I was most likely a fool and hope she would forgive me. In her generosity, she went beyond her discomfort and accepted it. The rest of the day became better and better. We also visited the Asian market this day. Unfortunately, a lot of things were overly expensive, but we did manage to get her quite a lot of different types of foods and sauces.
In the early evening, her two aunts, mom and sister came over for a visit. She served them cake and coffee. Her mom gave me a mini Guan Yin statue as a symbol of peace and good relations. Her sister’s family gave me a Moin Moin tea set. ^_^
After they left, we forgot to tell them we’re engaged, so Amber quickly called them and we rushed downstairs and met with them on a quiet street as they were pulling out. Amber held up her hand with the ring and then suddenly they all came out of the car and hugged her and me and said a bunch of things in German and there was crying involved and more hugging. Amber and I just smiled the entire time. Then after awhile, they got back in their car and drove away, honking the car horn a few times and waving at us.
By the time we got back to her apartment to cook dinner, it was already around 10:00pm. We finished eating close to midnight. At which time, we cleaned up and she went to the washroom for a bit. Not to get into any details, she gave me a very good night to remember for the rest of my life. ^_^
Day Fifteen, April 21st: Til we meet again
We woke up about 4 hours later to catch the 6:00am train ride back to Frankfurt. I already had everything packed and started our journey back to the train station around 5:00am. The walk there was quiet mostly and we weren’t walking fast either. We were enjoying what little time we had left. We intended to walk all the way, but it was getting late, so we took a bus the rest of the way.
Our bus dropped us off at the north side of the train station and we headed in and saw Uncle Dick and Francis. We talked a bit with them, then headed to the platform where we needed to get on. I stopped for a moment and took a picture of the train in front of me, then another pic of Amber and I.
I will never forget the moment we were in front of the train car. We kissed and hugged and exchanged “I love you”. I wiped her tears away and I smiled. As I was about to get onto the train, she told me she wanted to wait until the train left, but I told her that she should go now and not make this harder for me. I took a step onto the train and watched her walk away. She looked back a few times and on the third time she looked back, I blew her a kiss and she blew me a kiss too, then I boarded the train and entered the cabin where my seat was.
I don’t think I can ever forget that moment in my life. Just watching her walk back by herself and kept looking back to me broke my heart.
This short journey has had an everlasting affect on my psyche. It first strengthen my relationship with her, but at the same time, it also solidify what I wanted out of all of this. In the last few months since I came back from Germany, we’ve gone through a lot of uncertainty and even to a point where I felt we didn’t have a chance anymore, but after all that and looking at these pictures again, as well as re-tracing all the places we’ve been to together, I can honestly say that I cannot find a better partner to go through life with. So now, all I look forward to is having her come here, get married and start another new milestone in our life together.