Germany Trip

Final Thoughts on Germany

The last night of our trip was spent in Frankfurt. Frankfurt is very different from a lot of the cities we visited in that it is very modern in terms of architecture.Frankfurt was severely damaged in World War II and rather than rebuild using a lot of the old architecture, its city leaders decided to create more of a modern city. It is definitely different, but pretty cool.

On our last night I decided to go for a run through Frankfurt. Our hotel was very close to the Main River so I headed in that direction. I love to run because I am able to think clearly and process different thoughts and feelings. On this particular night while running along the Main River with many other people I was overwhelmed with a sense of connection.

Looking across the river at the beautiful Frankfurt skyline I reflected on the previous two weeks. What did I learn? Who did I meet? How will this experience change me? What can I bring from this into my “normal” life? What from these experiences can I use to improve my relationships?

All of these questions are important and I don’t necessarily have a lot of answers yet. What I do know is this:


  • the world is much smaller than we think. Human beings, by nature, are interested in happiness, peace of mind, love, and security
  •  If we learn to close our f****ng mouths sometimes and not be so concerned with being superior or right, we may just learn something.
  • people all over the place want to be of service and help, we simply have to be open to their help (See a previous post entitled:Receiving Random Acts of Kindness.)
  • Finally, that Hugo Boss manufactures the coolest clothingAll in all it was a great trip. I am extremely grateful we took it and I am looking forward to any other new experiences coming my way. I hope you are as well.


Receiving Random Acts of Kindness

Anyone is capable of cynicism. We can all have days when we are disgruntled and down and have a hard time seeing the good in people. However, if we pay attention, there will come a time when our faith in the goodness of people is restored.

Now this may not sound like a big deal, so I will begin by putting these events into perspective. My family and I have been in Germany for a little over a week. Most of the time we have spent with our tour group. The time we have spent on our own, we have relied on my limited German vocabulary and the kindness of the German people. It is still a little scary being somewhere that the language is unfamiliar, the customs are different and you have no frames of reference for where you are. Neuschwanstein CastleOn the day our group visited the beautiful Neuschwanstein Castle, we had tickets to attend the Bayern Munich soccer game. Neuschwanstein is about 2 hours from Munich and the game started at 3:30P.M., so we knew it would be a logistical challenge. However we found out that we would be travelling to the castle early in the morning and that the town of Fussen was close by and had train service to Munich. Problem solved.

After a tiring day of travel, figuring out where to switch trains, etc. we finally arrived at Munich’s central station. Not being sure where to go, I’m sure the three of us looked like a group of confused kids on the first day of high school, wide-eyed and vulnerable. Fortunately a young man saw us and asked where we were going. After explaining that we were headed to the Bayern Munich match, which he enthusiastically approved of, he pointed us in the right direction, hopped on the train with us, got off at the next stop, and disappeared.

Next as we stood blankly staring at the ticket distribution machine, we were approached by an older gentleman who calmly explained how to purchase an all day family pass for half the money we would have spent had he not helped us.We were finally able to reach our train and arrive at our destination on time, excited, and ready for a wonderful afternoon of soccer.At the Bayern Munich GameAs we settled into our seats to enjoy the game, we were able to completely immerse ourselves into the experience. The crowd was singing and chanting, the stadium was beautiful, the weather was sunny and nice. When the half time whistle sounded we realized that we were hungry and had to go to the restroom.

As at any other sporting event in the world, the concession stands and bathrooms were packed at half time. The girls headed to the toilet and I got in the refreshment line. We hadn’t eaten all day, so this was important business. It seemed like I had chosen the slowest line possible but I was able to keep my cool. When I finally got to the front I confidently placed my order in perfect German. However I was rejected. Apparently at Allianz Arena, the only way to make a purchase is to use a “stadium card” which is sold outside. For a second I was completely dejected. Not only had I spent the entire half time in this line, I would receive NO payoff in the end.But my disappointment only lasted a second.

Apparently the lady ahead of me in line was paying attention to my situation. She stepped up to the machine and told me that she was going to cover my charge. I tried to pay her in cash, but she wouldn’t accept it. I was absolutely blown away.

Three times that day complete strangers in a foreign country came to my aid. Three times. When I think of how many times I have gotten impatient or frustrated with someone who didn’t understand me or held up a line because they didn’t understand English it makes me sick. This story will forever be a reminder to me that there are always more sides to a story than I can possibly be aware of. It will also remind me to be quicker to offer my help. This day had a serious impact on my perspective. I hope it helps you as well.

B.T.W. Bayern Munich won on Saturday 4-2, it was a great day! Auf Wiedersehen!

My 40th in Germany!

As the years fly by, my birthdays have certainly lost some of their significance. Not in a depressing “ain’t it awful” kind of way, but in an “it’s just not as exciting” kind of a way. I am grateful to be forty. I think it is a wonderful “milestone” age. Spending my birthday in Germany makes it that much cooler. Spending it in Germany with Wendy and Shelby sends it over the top.We have had a tremendous amount of fun. We began our journey in Heidelberg. It was a fabulous city, albeit a bit touristy. We took a 15 mile bike ride to the town of Ladenburg in which there were no tourists. It was fun to venture off on our own. This tour is called  “Once Upon a Fairy Tale”, so as you can imagine we have experienced various activities that support that theme. We have toured three castles so far and been to many of the locations that the brothers Grimm used as an inspiration as they gathered tales from all over Europe.Experiencing the culture of this beautiful country has certainly widened my perspective. I have committed myself to stretching my levels of emotional comfort and a trip like this certainly accomplishes that goal. As our journey continues, I am looking forward to the further broadening of my perspectives.

We’re Here!

We,the Stonebraker family, arrived in Germany at about 9:ooam local time on Friday. Since the time difference is six hours, we were pretty tired. Despite our exhaustion, we managed to have a wonderful first day. 

We are currently in Heidelberg, which was about an hour drive south from Frankfurt. The only thing I had previously known about Heidelberg was that my Uncle Jack was once stationed here. It is actually a beautiful town on the Neckar River. There is a large castle that overlooks it and a ton of old architecture. One great feature of Heidelberg is a walking area that is filled with shops and small cafes. We spent our first day wandering around this area, it was a lot of fun. That night we ate at an unbelievable restaurant called Wirstshaus zum Spreisel.The hotel clerk told us this place is a local favorite, nothing touristy about it. It really was fantastic.

I will post more as we go along , there is a lot to describe.So far it is an amazing experience. The people have been wonderful and very patient with my sub-rudimentary German skills. Keep checking in, I’ll have much more to say. For now I am pretty tired and ready to call it a day. After all, we did take a 15 mile bike ride today!(more to be shared later.)

Auf Wiedersehen!