We had a reasonable flight (really 14hours in one go is never really easy) and were greeted at the airport by Gregor, Ursula and their eight year old daughter, Louisa. They took us for a quick tour around Frankfurt and then we went to their home where we met 20 year old Felix and 16 year old Paul. We have never met such delightful young men. We were given the tour of the house and shown our room which was like a suite. We were very comfortable. They had organised a dinner party and invited all the neighbours that we were most likely going to run into or have anything to do with.
In the meantime we discussed the use of the cars- the choice- the Smart car, the Honda SUV or the new Jag. I admitted that although I would really really really like to drive the Jag we had to opt for the SUV as it was probably much easier to drive and park (the Jag is the big one!!!). I actually think Gregor was relieved. I think the Jag might be his ‘baby’.
At six o’clock the neighbours arrived as planned. Paul and Felix were manning the Webber and the gathering moved to the terrace for aperitifs. The opportunity to be completely intimidated presented itself very clearly. As I struck up conversations with these people I discovered lots about them. They were really lovely. Thomas and Marcella were first to engage us because they had recently returned from six weeks from New Year holidaying in Australia. They spoke highly of their experiences and as I did my usual cross-examination I found out where they went, how and with whom. Turns out Thomas is a retired GM of Opel in Germany and as a result had lots of contacts in Australia to visit. He and Marcella flew all over the place – really the only way to see Australia!
The stars of the group would have to be Mona and Hubert, whom Gregor and Ursula obviously adore. They are ethnologists we call them anthropologists. Mona is the curator of some significant museum here in Frankfurt and Hurbert (yes, an ethnologist…) works in IT and considers himself an inventor and all the others agreed this was his forte. ( Seriously brilliant!!) Incredibly engaging, funny and interesting people with so many stories to tell.
Ludolph and Anita who is pharmacist, does acupuncture and day care???? Go figure…. Ludolph is an international lawyer and banker and we had a passionate discussion about the nuance of language and how the native speaker is at such an advantage in any contractual situation. He worked for various banking institutions and traveled widely. He too has just retired.
The neighbours whose home abuts the Bruggemann’s are Norbert and Renata who are English teachers and they too have recently retired. Everyone spoke English although when the conversation got animated it would suddenly morph into German. It was often Hubert who would try to bring them all back or give up and interpret. We just had such a good night.
The following morning we joined our hosts for breakfast and participated in the before work and school ritual. Summer, the housekeeper arrived and we were introduced. She has been with them for 16 years and is obviously a very valued member of the family.
We left soon after everyone had gone off to work or school. Felix takes the train to a nearby town where he goes to uni, Ursula drives Louisa and Paul and Gregor ride their bikes-Gregor in his suit! We had a five minute walk to the Ubahn stop then a 10 minute ride to the main station. We had time to explore and familiarise ourselves. The train was of course on time!
The first class cabin was lovely. It was a bargain. We had it all to ourselves until Bern where we changed trains. Jennifer joined us in Lusanne to travel the next 20 minutes to Aigle. What a delight!!! She is a ray of sunshine!
Pauline, Jen’s mum, was there at the station to meet us as too was Pierre-Alain. We were made to feel at home and finished the day with the most amazing seafood fondue. The next stage of our journey was to begin.