Point Alpha and a Castle

If you’re following along, you know that yesterday morning I completed my epic run through the German countryside, and I threw my bag on the tour bus as the clock tower struck nine.  Did I mention that the bus in question was a Mercedes-Benz charter bus?  With tables and a bathroom on board?  I probably didn’t.  Someone can use that as exhibit 654 on “Why Europe Turned Christine Into a Spoiled Brat.”

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We spent most of the day at Point Alpha, a border town between the former East and West Germany.  We learned about how the border was patrolled and about the many people who died trying to cross it.  I won’t depress you with the details here.  One story I thought was especially poignant was about a brother and sister who were separated when the border closed, and they didn’t get to see each other again until 1989 when the border opened.  That’s almost fifty years.  There was a picture the brother took of his sister’s wedding day when the sister brought her new husband over to the fence as close as possible in order to say hello to her brother.

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We had lunch at the Point Alpha cafeteria.  American soldiers were stationed there during the fifties and sixties.  We learned about their life there and about their tactical plans if East Germany had ever staged an attack (lesson of the day: let’s all be thankful that the Cold War never turned hot).  After lunch, we started on a two hour hike along the former East Germany/West Germany border.  When I heard about the two hour hike, I was excited because I love hiking but also a little nervous because my left hip hadn’t stopped hurting since my run that morning.  Another two hours of exercise was probably not the best thing for it.  Oh well – it’s Europe.  You suck it up.

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The trail that we followed offered gorgeous views of the German countryside, and at a certain half mile stretch near the beginning there were hauntingly beautiful sculptures depicting the crucifixtion story.  It started with Jesus in front of Pontius Pilate and then had a new scene every few dozen yards until we finally arrived at the resurrection.  Apparently the art was put there to show a symbol of hope and life in a place that has been shadowed by so much hatred and death.   The sculptures inspired Robin and I to talk about theology for a while, which was fun.  I don’t think I realized how much I missed deep conversations like that.  As we got into town, we walked by some old-looking houses and farms.  Please notice the kittens in the last picture.  They were adorable.

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Our walk ended at our hotel, which was a literal castle.  Our hotel rooms were gorgeous – the ceilings were at least twenty feet high, the floor was old wood that was the perfect amount of creaky, and the amenities were the ideal balance of vintage and modern.  Dinner was in the courtyard of the castle, and no one really cares what I had for dinner because it’s what I had for dessert that matters: spaghetti ice cream!  This is a common German dessert, and I’m in love with it.  It is a fluffy bed of whipped cream topped with vanilla gelato in the shape of spaghetti noodles.  The sauce is raspberry sauce, and there are white chocolate flakes that are supposed to look like parmesan cheese on top.  Now THIS, my friends, is a great example of brilliant German innovation.

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After such a great day, I was startled when one of the teachers said, “Hey Webb, why are you limping?”  I was a bit flustered because even though my hip was killing me with every step, I thought I’d done a pretty good job of powering through the day and masking the pain.  Apparently not.  It was getting to the point where I was wincing if I had to go up any stairs, and apparently I was limping even when walking on flat ground.  It was time to call in reinforcements.

I texted Rex that I messed up my hip and needed him to fix it.  He said that it’s not easy to do that from a few thousand miles away, but that he’d try.  He texted me some pictures of different exercises to do and report back if they made things better/worse so he could try to identify what was wrong with it.  I tried, but it was hard to tell what he wanted me to do from just pictures.  He told me that he had a break at work and was I available to gchat?  I went back to my room, got online, and Rex and I had a cross-continental physical therapy sesh.  He was in his shared office on the ground doing ridiculous looking exercises, and I was so hoping his boss would walk in and say, “WHAT are you doing?!”  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.  After a few minutes, Rex thought he’d diagnosed the problem.  Then he showed me the exercises to do to fix it.  I did a few reps of what he told me to do, and the pain was reduced by at least 75% within ten minutes.  MY HUSBAND IS MAGIC.  I did the exercises again this morning, and now I’m almost completely pain free.  See?  I told you I didn’t have to worry about over running.  My husband’s got my back.  Er…hip.

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After fixing my hip, I looked out of the huge windows in my room overlooking the small town below. A large windowsill provided the perfect perch for me to sit and watch the goings on of the castle courtyard and the rest of the town.  I stayed there for a long time, watching life go by and listening to the soft classical/jazz music floating up from the restaurant below.  I love Europe.

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