As you can see from Kelly’s last post, we have been very fortunate to spent time with many friends and family during this adventure. After our time in Switzerland we visited an old friend of mine, Mausi, who lives just outside Lake Constance, Germany, in a town called Meckenbeuren. Lake Constance is a huge lake in Southern Germany that also borders Switzerland and Austria. As we wind down the trip, I was looking forward to just hanging around and living like a local.
But first some background about how I met Mausi. We first met the summer after I graduated from high school, in 1990, on my first trip to Europe. I was on a “student ambassador” program called People to People, a month long trip through several European countries which my family friend, Maria, had gone through a previous summer. To be in Germany at that time was amazing, as the Berlin Wall had just come down in November of 1989. Our tour guide in Berlin was flabbergasted that our bus could just drive through the checkpoint to our hotel in East Berlin. I actually had a chance to break off a piece of the wall with a sledgehammer.
During this trip we had a couple of homestays with local families, and one of them was with Mausi’s family in a really cool Bavarian town called Murnau, which is a couple hours south of Munich. I remember having gulash for the first time, how empty the streets were when Germany played in the world cup finals, practicing with the local basketball team, and playing tennis on red clay. It was also the first time when I realized that the BMW emblem was the Bavarian flag. Duh.
Mausi has since visited me in San Francisco a couple of times, I visited her when I was living in Vienna, my mom visited her family when she was traveling, and Kelly even met her when she was touring Europe after we graduated from Santa Clara. When Mausi studied abroad at Depaul University in Chicago, she even lived on the same floor as my cousin, Gina. Gina and Maui even shared the same birthday down to the year! Small world. To top it off, Mausi was even part of our wedding.
So it was great to catch up, meet her husband, Rudy, and her two kids, Anna and Theresa, and just spend time in a place with zero tourists. We went to local bakery every morning, barbecued, watched Euro cup soccer, took a ferry to the nearby city of Konstanz and visited the kid’s elementary school.
One day Rudy took me on a tour of the surrounding area and its amazing countryside. We went to nearby town of Friedrichshafen, which is famous for is aviation industry, most notably the Zeppelin (or Blimp). We checked out the planes at the Donier aircraft museum. We also grabbed coffee and talked about life in Germany-housing, education, taxes. Rudy works in the space industry designing scientific payloads to be sent into space, so it was interesting talking about different launch sites, orbits, the international space station, things I know nothing about.
We also had a chance to check out Anna’s soccer tournament, which looked exactly like any tournament in the states, except with amazing pork sandwiches and brats.
One of my favorite parts of our stay was that Mausi’s daughter Anna would speak to the girls in german, assuming they understood. The girls had to figure out how to communicate with her, which they did – one of the perks of traveling to so many countries and hearing so many languages. Anna was really good in helping the girls learn to ride a unicycle. They had a blast and no one killed themselves. Win-win.
One story sticks out to me during our stay. I was hanging out with Mausi and Rudy after watching a Euro cup soccer match. Mausi asked, “You know how we ended up with you when you first visited?” I had no idea. I guess all the kids in our group had to put down their hobbies and interests for their potential homestay families. Apparently I looked like I was the most normal person when I put down basketball and tennis, while other kids put down things like Dungeons and Dragons, which I played too but would never admit to a stranger, because, you know, it’s weird. Since most kids don’t want a potential axe murderer staying with them (buzzkill), a couple kids expressed interest in having me stay with them. Mausi couldn’t make it to the meeting when this decision was being made, so the teacher just asked her who she wanted. All these years and I never knew. Funny how that works out.
So a big heartfelt thanks again to Mausi, Rudy, Anna, and Theresa for having us and for all your hospitality. We look forward to returning the favor one day!