Sunday, September 16, 2007

Corinth to Koblenz, Germany

The beach at Corinth Bay is an incredible array of beautiful stones in pale greens, lavenders, blues, greys, oranges, blacks, browns, and whites. The stones are flat and rounded from the pounding of the surf and range in size from “drink coaster” to tiny grains of sand. They are great for skipping on the water, and smashing in half to peer inside, and they get hot in the sun. Anna and I had a blast playing “stone spa”, placing the heated stones on our muscles, shoving them between fingers and toes, and pouring the sun-warmed pebbles all over our backs.

The weather turned chilly during our last few days, as if nature was signaling that our beach stay was over and it was time to get down to business. One morning, around 10 a.m. we were sitting at the beach. The water was still like glass, and the sun was shining in the cloudless sky. In a matter of 10 minutes the wind started to blow and the waves grew huge – 4 to 5 feet tall. We played in the surf, jumping in the waves until they got to be too much for us. That was our last day in the sea.

We left Corinth on Sept 9, with the help of Paul and Lia who came to bid us farewell with a big bottle of ouzo and a ride to the train station. Paul helped us sort out how to buy the correct tickets, and sent us on our way.

We flew to Frankfurt, Germany and rented a car, our first time driving since June 8. Being “Gadget Boy of the Millennium”, Mike has a GPS program that runs on his laptop. Jack navigated from the front seat. Our start was just a little bumpy, taking 3 wrong turns that terminated back in the parking garage of the airport. After these 3 “cool down” laps, we were ready for the autobahn.

Trouble is our car wasn’t so much ready. Oh it operated fine, just had nothing in the way of “pick up” which isn’t something you want in the left lane of the autobahn while a Mercedes semi trailer is bearing down in your rearview mirror at the speed of light. Just a little scary.

We arrived in Koblenz, and met our landlady who let us into the 3 bedroom condo that we will rent for the next five weeks. It is darling, with a sunny yellow kitchen, tiny, gated yard, living room, three bedrooms and two baths. One slight problem is that there is a shower in only one of the bathrooms, and it is tiny. Also, the light has begun to flash on and off, not blinking like a fluorescent bulb will, but actually on and off like a roller disco. We call it shower-disco.

We are hand-washing dishes and hanging clothes on a clothesline these days. It’s positively 1956 here in the Nolan world. I even clothes-pinned a dishtowel to my shirt yesterday as I was making homemade chicken noodle soup and didn’t have an apron. (With a Coke costing 3 Euros (about $4.50) in the restaurant, we are eating at home these days).

And it is incredibly beautiful here. Koblenz is in the Rhine River Valley, where the Rhine meets the Mosel Rivers - both rivers are narrow - only 1/4 mile across so it is easy to see the far banks, the delicious natural beauty, and the gingerbread villages that populate the area.

Narrow, two-lane roads snuggle the river on both sides, and are bordered by a 3 foot high ancient, grey-brick wall (decorated and maintained by some grandmotherly German lady with millions of bright red geraniums neatly placed every 30 feet or so). The banks of the river are steep - soaring up several thousand feet and are planted with grapevines in tidy sections around rocky outcroppings. The castles (one every 10 miles or so) are perched atop these craggy hills and glower down on their respective vineyards. This goes on for hundreds of kilometers in all directions. Oh, and the leaves are turning. I go into beauty shock every time we make the drive. It's Mother Goose and Grimm’s Tales, Cinderella and Snow White every where you look.

Mike started teaching at WHU last week and loves it. Two of his students asked him to advise their Master’s Thesis. He doesn’t quite understand how it is that when he comes home we don’t sit quietly and listen to him with rapt attention and ask thoughtful, intelligent questions.

We don’t have internet at the house, so it has been more difficult to keep the website updated. We have to all tromp down to this elite, ivy covered university en masse, to use the computer lab which makes Mike all nervous and twitchy. I told him I would try to keep from gutting a possum in the quad, but I don’t think he thinks I'm funny


Blogger Romain said...

Hi there. I'm the reception guy that checked you in at the hotel in Reims, France. At the time of writing you are (hopefully!) enjoying a well-deserved sleep in my hotel. Let me just tell you that this trip looks amazing and that it was nice to meet you and the kids for a few minutes. Well, I'll probably check you out tomorrow so, see you soon. If you read this after your departure, enjoy the rest of the trip and have a safe flight back to Minnesota, unless you decide to swim there just to make it all longer! You all take care. Romain.

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