Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Waning European Days

On Saturday we left Garmisch and traveled to Stuttgart to stay for a few days with a friend of mine from high school. Brian and his wife Elke both work for Mercedes and we kicked off our stay with a tour of the Mercedes car museum, which is a really nice mix of world history combined with lots of cars. Knowing that Vaughn was a little tapped out on castles and churches, Brian suggested that we spend the next day at a large indoor play park that had several giant slides, a climbing wall, massive play structures and a rope course that was high enough above the ground that I couldn't bring myself to do it. Between the Wii, going 200 km on the Autobahn, and the fact that Brian and Elke listen to music produced in this decade, I think Vaughn was considering inquiring about international adoption. It is safe to say that they spoiled us all rotten with delicious food, action-packed itineraries and really thoughtful little details like a stuffed animal on Vaughn's pillow.

Yesterday we said auf wiedersehen to Brian and Elke and headed on to Dachau which is the site of Germany's oldest concentration camp, now a memorial site. Unfortunately, we had barely allotted two hours to tour the camp since we had to continue on past Salzburg to our next rental. Being confronted with the details of the massive torture and death is hard at any age but Vaughn is at a particularly hard age - old enough to get it but young enough to be really spooked without the benefit of adult filters. After he kept hiding his eyes during the film we decided to leave a bit early. There are three pictures on this post from the camp: the art piece of the figures; the entrance gate with the words "Work Makes You Free"; and the wooden bunks in rooms that were built for 50 but housed 400. If you have an opportunity to go visit - I recommend that you do.

Now we're back in Austria in the tiny town of Radstadt, about an hour south of Salzburg. We booked a place here over a month ago when we had visions of coasting out our remaining week snuggled up in a snowy cabin. Alas, a very dry fall means there is not a flake of snow on the ground and our apartment is super cold. Our host lives with his family on the floor above us and his parents live in the apartment below us. The apartment is beautiful and the mother even made us a cake but I've taken to obsessively checking the radiators to see if they are still generating heat.

Nonetheless, we're enjoying our last European week before we head to Israel on the 30th. Lately I've been struck with this feeling that this experience has been akin to what I imagine summer camp is like - the feeling as though the group of you formed an everlasting bond and went through something transformative brought on by unique shared experiences and long days in close quarters. Jacob, having actually been to camp, wrinkles his nose at this comparison but maybe it is my mythical camp. It seems strange that you could get to know your own husband and child better but there you have it.

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