Ryan and I arrived safe and sound on Friday morning after leaving Seattle on Thursday afternoon. Our Luftansa flight was fine, considering our seat bottom cushions could have doubled as marble benches! The food was bland as well, but hey, we got here and that's all that really matters.
Frankfurt is the economic capital of Germany and the only real German city with any kind of significant skyline. Frankfurt was almost completely leveled during WWII and much of what stands now are recreations of the original old town. Very centrally located, Frankfurt is the launching point for many trips into the Rhine River region, but doesn't have much to offer itself as a destination. So, rather than bore you with the "'we walked around here and saw this" stories, I'll just tell you about the wedding of Christina und Kim, and some other interesting Frankfurt escapades.
First, Frankfurt is very expensive, metro passes for three days were more than $50 US. But we made sure to get a good use of them!
The Airport is strange as well, it is the busiest Airport in Europe, and they just completed a massive building project of a new Terminal, yet there is nothing in it! Once you go through security there are lots of VERY long halls and not a single store. Nothing. Furthermore, there are way more planes than gates, so you check in to your flight, then take a bus to your plane, which is parked in the middle of nowhere. Seems like a lot of extra work to me, orchestrating all of the buses in addition to the baggage, food, etc. Not to mention it seems dangerous since it literally sounded like a plane was going to land on the roof of the bus as we were driving to the airplane!
The food in Germany is very good. I had a Nutella crepe with banana and the guy just wrapped the crepe around the banana like a hot dog. It was a little messy, as you can see, but anything with Nutella is always delish!
Ryan also introduced me to a Düner, which is the German equivalent to a Gyro stand. Similar flavors with a different sauce, these really hit the spot!
They also have German style thin crust pizza....yeah....I ate the whole thing (minus the two pieces Ryan helped me with).
Parking here is insane. I could never live here for that reason. These are not spaces...in America this would never fly, but I have to admit the Germans make it work! Apparently the parking patrol isn't nearly as heinous here!
This was a very interesting building - with a hole built into it!
All of the water in Germany is Sparkling - at the store you buy a bottle of water and the ones labeled "Classic" are sparkling, you have to look for the "Natural" bottle if you are like me and don't find fizzy water at all refreshing.
Okay, now onto the REALLY fascinating stuff and the reason we are here - Christina's wedding. As I've mentioned in previous blogs (have you been doing your reading???) Ryan participated in an exchange program in high school, and has stayed in touch with the Roth Family: Reinner (dad), Raine (mom), Christina (host-sister), and Tobi (host-brother). When Ryan mentioned that Christina was getting married, I knew we had a trip on our hands! Christina and Kim (her new husband) now live in Munich, Tobi and his girlfriend live in Sweden (we're staying with them in Lund later this week), and Mr. & Mrs. Roth still live in Frankfurt, in the same house the kids grew up in.
Tina and Kim were officially married on Friday in a civil ceremony as is custom in Germany. The wedding was on Saturday at 5pm in a small church, followed by a reception similar to what we do in the US (now let me apologize for the lack of pictures....I didn't take very many and the ones Ryan took are too large to download until we compress them, sorry! check back in a week or so for more wedding photos!).
Before the wedding, we were supposed to meet everyone at the Roth's house at 4pm. But of course we were late! For good reason though. At some point during the day, the house keepers had come by our room and had taken our towels, but they had not touched anything else so we hadn't noticed. Right as we were getting for the wedding they came back, but we sent them away completely oblivious to our current perilous towel situation! Then, Ryan finished his shower and shouted to me that there were no towels, so he got to stand in the shower as I ran around the hotel barefoot chasing after housekeepers in GermEnglish! To make matters worse, the lights in the room are activated by the door key card being put into a slot. I took the key when I ran off, so he got to stand there in the dark as well.
Anyhoo, we made it to the wedding in the nick of time. Of course, the ceremony was completely in German, which I hadn't given any thought to until we were sitting in the pews at the church!
Generally, the ceremony was similar to one in the US. The Pastor gave a sermon, we sang a few hymns, there was a singing performance (one song in English!), we said the Lords Prayer, and they kissed and it was done! What was different was that Kim and Tina walked down the aisle together with the pastor and they had no bridesmaids or groomsmen. I'm not sure if that is typical for Germany or if it's just the way they wanted it.
There was a receiving line outside of the church after the ceremony, then it is tradition for everyone attending the wedding to tie little “veils” to their car’s antenna’s and drive to the reception in cavalcade honking the whole way. Logistically, given the parking (see above) this was just too hard to orchestrate, but everyone did decorate the cars at least! It would have been a cool experience had we been able to pull it off!
The reception was in "The Hills" of Frankfurt and it was really quite lovely. We started with Champagne and everyone visited for over an hour before we were seated for dinner. At our table, we had the bride and groom, Tobi and Carolina, and two other couples, all of whom spoke English. I was so thankful and JEALOUS! I want to speak 12532 languages like everyone else in Europe!
Dinner was an Italian Buffet including appetizers of salmon and quail eggs, bread, and cheese and the main dish included choice of seafood in creme sauce over rice or Italian rigatoni. I ate everything, of course! For dessert we had our choice of chocolate mousse, key lime pie, or tarimisou. And the servers were coming around all night with three different wines, endless glasses, just my style!
During and after dinner we played games and showed videos. One movie was of Kim and Tina spliced together with videos of them growing up. The other was a slide show of silly pictures showing similarities between them at really young ages. It was meant to be! We also played a game where they each removed a their shoes, gave one to the other person, put the shoes on their hands, and stood back to back. Then, they were administered questions like, "Who has a better sense of direction?", "Who is in charge of the remote?", and "Who is the house cleaner?" Then, they had to hold up the shoe correlating to the person. Some of the questions, not to mention their answers, were very entertaining! This is definitely a tradition I'd love to bring to the US. One that doesn't translate, however, is the tapping of glasses with forks to make the newlyweds kiss...we tried to introduce that, and while our table got a kick out of it, the other guests were just confused, and the DJ stopped the music expecting a speech, then glared at us when he never got one!
One thing that really stood out as different from many of the American weddings I've been to was the amount of time people stayed at the reception! Dinner was served at 7pm, the first dance wasn't until about 9:30, and I don't think the first guest left until after midnight! Actually, we left at 1am, and that was BEFORE Tina's 94 year old grandmother. These German's know how to have a great nights!
The whole German wedding experience was exceptional and the Roth's & Boost's (Tina's new last name) did a fantastic job putting it all together.
In other news, I'm glad to report I was NOT the drunken American at this wedding, and I woke up feeling mostly okay the next day. We were invited to brunch at the Roth's, and Raina prepared a lovely meal of white asparagus, ham, fried potatoes, and holindaze sauce. Apparently very traditional German food and also very enjoyable!
This is on the long side, so thanks for hanging in there! Before I go, I want to give a huge shout out to mother nature, who has blessed us with fantabulous weather for our visit (shorts and t-shirt weather every day so far!) and who predicts more great weather to come! And also a huge thanks to our gracious hosts, The Roth's, Tobi and Carolina, and especially Kim and Tina for getting married. And thanks to you for reading, keep your eyes peeled for a Prague post coming up!