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The Trip: Part 1

It all started late last summer when my wife Lynn said she was going to Europe in December and I was going with her. I said, “No I’m not.” Then she told me what would happen if I didn’t go. I said, “OK, I’ll go.”

Our friend Cindy drove us to the airport. We rushed around to leave Huntsville so we could arrive at the airport 3 hours before flight time to be sure we could get through arduous airport security. I was certain there would be long lines with armed personnel carefully inspecting all of our possessions, including our most intimate unmentionables. It was not to be. It took exactly eight and one-half minutes to check in at the ticket counter and get through security. We now had two hours and fifty-one and a half minutes to wait for our flight.

The weather in Houston was bad so the flight was delayed. We sat on the airplane for 1 hour and 45 minutes before it took off. It had now been nearly 5 hours since we arrived at the airport. Because we were late leaving Houston, we were late arriving in Newark, New Jersey--about 1 hour and 30 minutes late. Not a problem. We still had 15 minutes to run through the airport to get to our gate, which was about a mile away. Most of the other passengers were already on board the airplane. We had to check in at the gate in Newark. The gate agent was rude and surly. (I’ve found that to be true of many people in the New York/New Jersey area. Maybe it’s because they can’t get good grits for breakfast. I don’t know.)

Finally, we were on the airplane. The only exciting thing that happened on the trip over was a flight attendant tripped over a big Texas boot sticking out in the aisle and broke her leg (this is really true). A voice came on the public address system asking if there was a doctor on board. Since almost everyone at my office calls me doctor, and since Lynn was safely asleep, and since it was a very nice leg, I identified myself to one of the flight attendants as a doctor. She thanked me and said another doctor beat me to the punch. It was a doctor of divinity.

We arrived in Frankfurt, Germany, in 20-degree weather (that’s about minus 7 degrees Celsius), which was a big change from our typical December 80-degree Texas weather. We got our rental car and drove to the delightful little town of Boppard on the Rhine River. Our hotel was old and beautiful, like my wife Lynn.

We checked in, took a long nap, got up and prepared to check out this part of the Rhineland. The first order of business was eating. I think the meal we were after was supper (the evening meal). It was 6:00 PM in Boppard but only 11:00AM in Texas where our stomachs generally live. The Michelin people (who wrote the bible of restaurants) said the restaurant in the hotel was excellent. So we tried it. We were the very first customers of the evening and got solicitous service. The menu was in German and while it looked impressive it was incomprehensible to me. Lynn, who speaks German as well as Spanish and some other stuff, claimed to understand it. However, I’m a brave soul and chose to order for myself. I pointed to something that looked really good to me. I was gently informed by my wife that I was pointing to the name of the restaurant manager. The waitperson smiled and looked intently toward the chandelier in the middle of the room. I’m sure she thought it’s going to be a long night.

After a time we got our order placed and sat back to wait for dinner and enjoy the view of the Rhine River which was about 50 yards from our table. In the kitchen, the waitperson and the cooks were talking excitedly about the American couple in the dining room.
Waitperson, “Wir wurden unseremfreundichen weisbadweis actun kook?” (Guess who’s in the dinning room.)

Cook, “Diesnidersmidt olenftor broschurenerwchsene mineralwasser washtind.” (Who?)

Waitperson, “Leitungswasser spezi schokomilch Americanes.” An American couple.

Cook, “Heilige Scheisse.” (Really?)

Waitperson, “Lettweis haven somes funnus avec themweis.” (Let’s have some fun with them)

Cook, “Handkase nodel leberkase. (I’ve got some fish left over from last week. I’ll put it in a mold and serve it as a raw appetizer. Give it a fancy name. That ought to get them started.)

Waitperson, “Schlachplatte schwarzalder maultaschen fast verkohit.” (Good idea.)

Waitperson, “Gekocht fritiert hausgemachte.” (They ate it and smiled.)

Cook, “Lettus servus dei nextus courcses mit theses oldus floweres.” (We’re out of parsley so let’s serve the main course with these old flowers scattered around the plate. Call it nasturtium pork.)

Waitperson, “Regardez vous glockinspiel a la femme. Las monge la nasturtium.” (Look! The woman is eating the flowers!)

The entire meal took right at 3 hours. It was probably one of the most elegant meals I have ever had. The main course even had edible flowers.

Well it’s time to get a good night’s sleep because tomorrow we have a long drive up along the Rhine River and over through the Mosel valley to our next stop in Gemünd. I’ll tell you all about it next week.