We wrote an article about of adventures in Europe last summer, discovering our ancestral roots in Italy and Croatia, and about meeting online pen pals in Ulm, Germany. The Orange County Register will be running the article along with photos we took in this Sunday’s Travel section. You can check it out here!
We drove to Germany because we were dropping off Megan’s parents rental car for them at Memmingen Airport before flying to Spain. Probably not the best idea, but we were able to meet Megan’s online friend Martina and her fiancée Wolfi where they live in Ulm. Megan met Martina a few years ago on a website that helps people practice languages called My Happy Planet. Martina was looking to practice English and Megan wanted help with German. Unfortunately or fortunately Martina’s English was leaps and bounds beyond Megan’s German so they wound up mostly chatting in English in Skype’s video chat.
We stayed with them in their apartment in Neur-Ulm and they generously treated us to a dinner of enormous pancakes. Martina also took us on a little tour of the city and we climbed the worlds tallest church tower Ulm, Germany. During our city tour we found people on the river practicing for the upcoming water jousting tournament Fischerstechen which made us laugh quite a bit (video below). The two boats pass each other with a man standing on the back of each with the objective to knock the other into the water with a long wooden pole. It looked like a lot of fun and wished we could have experienced the actual tournament. A few weeks later Ulm also has what looks like a fun summer event called Schwörmontag, which is like a parade festival on the river. Too bad we missed both!
Checkpoint Charlie and the Wall: A Divided People Rebel, was written by Werner Sikorski and Rainer Laabs and is not widely avaliable in the United States, but can be purchased here. I purchased the book from the gift shop at the Checkpoint Charlie museum in Berlin. I found the museum fascinating and wanted to know more about cold war history and the role “Checkpoint Charlie” and “the Wall” played in it. The book really did deliver for me and I found it much more educational than anything I learned in history about the Cold War. It went into more detail than the museum did about the years before, during and after the wall stood. It is filled with timelines, photos and the many surprising tales of those who escaped and attempted to escape from East Berlin into West Berlin.
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