The Hilberts whisked me away to Ramsau on Friday right after school. Following curving roads through snowy mountains, we came to a small house, and were instantly greeted by a woman and her two-year-old son, Fabian. I was instantly introduced and she excitedly shook the hand of "the American."
I was ushered upstairs to my own room, where I unpacked and managed to halfway reorganize the chaos of my various bags. In attempting to pack ski gear, every day clothing, school appropriate clothing, and ice skates, I'd managed to acquire quite a few random pieces of luggage.
The first night, we rested and went out to dinner at the Speck Hütte (the bacon hut), where the waitress and daughter of the owner mistook me for the Hilbert's daughter and was fascinated to hear the story.
The next day, bright and early we breakfasted in the designated area of the living room, while the owner-family ate their meal just through the door at the kitchen table. Fabian brought us random trucks and proudly announced "John Deere!" which sounded more like "tsch-on ear!" but, hey, he had the Austrian pronunciation down.
Then, it was off for a day of cross-country skiing. My first time ever on the tiny, toothpick width-ed skis that were as tall as I was. Eventually, I got the rhythm down and was in full swooshing action by noon. After 6 hours, on the skis, I was completely kaputt and we headed back.
skiing in Ramsau
Skiing in Ramsau
Sunday, we began the epic 8 hour drive back to Thüringen and stopped for lunch in München to visit the aunt of Frau Hilbert. The aunt and the long since dead uncle were the only two family members from the west who were allowed to visit Frau Hilbert and her family because the uncle had some sort of handicapped pass. I don't exactly understand why, but through some odd loop hole these western relatives could cross through the barrier and bring presents on birthdays to a little Frau Hilbert.
Before I knew it we were back in the land of the dancing goats...ah, Ilmenau my home away from home...
Monday, I journeyed to Stadtroda with Herr Hilbert and he dropped me off to visit with the bee people, while he headed off to coffee with his in-laws. We beat the head bee keeper there, but once he arrived, I was wrapped in a warm hug and led inside. The entire group surprised me with different kinds of honey to try and coffee to accompany the taste testing. A few young students from the Realschule had even joined the group in my absence.
The next day was skiing in Frauenwald with Herr Hilbert
For lunch we stopped for some traditional Thueringer Rostbraetel...
Wednesday, I was back at school and was hug-mobbed by hordes of overly-excited children. Ah, it was good to be back.
Me with some former students, who are now in the 3rd and 4th years of school
Thursday was once again ski focused, this time with a trip to Masserberg
getting ready to ski...
We just so happened to run into the dog sled races that are held here each year. They'd come up behind us as we were skiing, quiet as mice. Boom! Suddenly they were on your heels and then passing you by in a flash.
Thursday afternoon was dedicated to visiting Herr and Frau Lindemann, with whom I had spent last Christmas. We had coffee, cake, and shared photos. They promised that the next time I visited we could play board games. I can only hope there will be a next time!
Friday, we went swimming, as we had every other day, but just rested for the remainder of the day, as it was a wet, rainy, ice kind of day. The kind you want to go out skiing.
Saturday, the week was already at an end and we drove a good 12hours back to Klagenfurt, where we dropped my things and then headed up to the top of Magdalensberg. We walked around the top, admiring the view, as the sun set, lighting the mountains in hues of red, gold and deep purples.
As darkness settled in around us, we enjoyed our dinner in the Gasthaus at the top of Magdalensberg.
The Hilberts dropped me back home and we wished each other luck.
I put my costume on and got ready to head out to the Fasching celebrations in Villach.
With nobody answering their phone, I was a bit worried about finding people, as I headed off to the train station. Nearing the glass doors, I hit a patch of black ice and slid the last few feet, ramming into the door. Picking myself up, I limped my way home and just went to bed. If that wasn't a sign, I don't know what is.