Living in a foreign country has given me a love of reality I didn’t know I could have. When I am based in reality, life is good. When I am based in fantasy, life is horrible.
A couple of months ago we went to Köln for two days. We took the train so we wouldn’t have to deal with finding parking. We stayed in a hotel near city zentrum (city center) so we’d be near all the sights. We bought one umbrella when it started to rain and attempted to share it. We went to a museum, the first we f0und in order to get out of the rain. I had made a list of the different things we wanted to see but we were unable to see most of them. We did walk through the Dom, the huge (and in my opinion, incredibly ugly) cathedral in the center of town. But it was cold and damp and everything was in German. We planned on using public transport but were unable, or unwilling, to figure it out. Our hotel room had two twin beds and a pull out for Jael. It was hot and stuffy so we had to open the window in order to sleep but because we were in the center of the city, the noise from the street was excessive. We all had pounding headaches. We got on the train the next morning and went home, depressed, discouraged and hating Germany.
We had today the day we’ve been trying to have for nine months. We drove to Koblenz today and while I did take a right when I was supposed to go left (due to a surprise turning lane), I was able to turn around at the next round about (within sight of the missed turn) and get right back on track. We went to a store and spent a couple of hours wandering around. We found things we weren’t embarrassed to have in our home (we were in an IKEA). We had an icecream with Jael. We went to the Midsommer fair they had in the parking lot and Jael had fun. She jumped in a bounce house, made a flower wreath head piece, and hammered a nail into a log. We went to the marktplatz and walked around until it started to pour VERY COLD rain. Then we ran to through the marktplatz until we found a store selling umbrellas. We bought an umbrella for each of us and found a quiet restaraunt to eat lunch in. We had a good lunch, a decent cup of coffee and a donut. Then we went home, again, without getting lost, not even a wrong turn.
What we did right today, what we’ve failed to do on our trip to Köln and on other days, was our expectations. When we started out today, we didn’t plan on having a “whirlwind German adventure.” We said, “We are going to the next big town to do some shopping. We’ll probably have some lunch there and see what we can see. We will probably not be able to find everything or even anything we are looking for.” And since our expectations were based in reality, reality was what we got and our expectations were met. We did not set our expectations on being “super tourists” who see all the sights and go to all the museums. We didn’t do anything touristy because until we are comfortable with a city, touristy stuff makes us want to gouge our eyes out.
Maybe next time, when we have an idea of where things are, we will do some touristy things before lunch. There are a number of neat things in Koblenz that we would like to do. There is a castle, a military museum and supposedly a nice park. Perhaps we’ll just go to IKEA and reveal in being in a large store. I don’t know.
But what I do know is that as I drove home, I felt happy and full of life instead of drained and depressed. Reality can be your best friend if you embrace it but your worst enemy if you try to deny its existence.
Oh, and Lisa and Angie…sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted. Thanks for you patience.