The week after I returned from Barcelona was spent with preparation for our first guest to arrive! Sheets were washed, tables painted, shelves dusted, food stocked, and itineraries planned. My brother McBryde was coming from a fashion show in Florence and staying with us for a few weeks before a conference in Oxford took him to England, so I was a little intimidated about entertaining him in the quiet German countryside.
As it turned out, Germany was just what the doctor ordered. The few weeks of comparative quiet he spent at our house allowed him to rest before he continued with his European Grand Tour.
After picking him up from the airport, Aaron and I drove him home along the beautiful Moselle river, passing vineyards and ruins, and stopping for dinner in a Biergarten in a village that was holding a wine fest. Sitting at the table eating fresh spargel and schnitzel, chatting face-to-face for the first time in four months, and watching the rain drip slowly down on young grapevines surrounding the restaurant was a truly heavenly experience.
That weekend we took a train trip to Cologne, and in the days following explored the Cochem castle (at sunset, and early in the morning to catch the early sunrise glinting off the rising mist on the river), the little picturesque village of Monreal (tucked deep in a valley and overlooked by two ruinous castles), and even one (very exciting) trip to the German grocery store, Rewe.
Even more than the day trips, I enjoyed the quiet evenings, watching the mist rise in the valley from our perch on the back porch, and talking about home, adventures abroad, and memories shared. One adventurous evening we ran through the village (McBryde still holding his wine glass, and Aaron carrying along a walking stick, and me without shoes) to try and catch the sunset from the top of the hill. There may have been some random Bill Murray impressions for no discernible reason, and I sincerely hope our neighbors didn’t see us.
Half-way through McBryde’s time with us, a mutual friend who happened to be studying in England came out to spend a weekend with us. After a very adventurous trip (which included a missed flight and an exorbitant taxi fare) Wil arrived in time for a big dinner and a board game, mixed in with a healthy dose of political philosophy along with the dessert. Brexit (Britain’s vote to leave the EU) had just happened, and our thoughts were all focused on the stormy island and its future.
The next day we took Wil and McBryde to Burg Eltz – Germany’s second most famous castle, and the home to a family that had been living there for 33 generations.
Wil left after the weekend, and I geared up (and packed up) for our upcoming trip to Switzerland for the 4th of July. However, that’s a story in itself, so I’ll save it for next time.
’till then, suffice it to say that missing family has been the hardest part of living abroad, but having McBryde here brought home so much closer.
If you want to check out McBryde’s pictures of his time in Europe, go to https://www.instagram.com/charlesmcbryde/?hl=en