Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My trip to Germany

Sorry that it's taken me a while to blog about my trip to Germany. Getting back into the swing of things w/ a broken knee cap has taken me a while. I thought about doing multiple posts about Germany, but now I think I'll do just one long one to save myself some time. I'll try to be brief.

*Note: if you want to know more about any of the sites I visited, Google them. :) I was going to link up some helpful sites, but seriously that would take forever.

The Itinerary:

I flew out on a Friday morning AL time and got to Germany on Saturday morning their local time. I knew I needed to stay awake so that I would be able to sleep that night, so Holly showed me a few sites around Dresden. Then Sunday morning we had brunch w/ several of Holly's friends and then took off for Berlin. That night we walked around Berlin for a bit, ate dinner, and had an early night. The next morning we took a bus tour of Berlin and saw the remnants of the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, the Prime Minister of Israel (Ok, so we didn't see him exactly...but we did see the police blocking off the street as his caravan of SUV's passed by!!), the Brandenberg Gate, and several other popular sites. After lunch we went to the DDR Museum, which is an interactive museum detailing life in communist East Germany. That night we went to the Berlin Film Festival and saw Fireflies in the Garden (starring Julia Roberts). The next day we basically spent all our time at the Jewish Museum, which takes you through the entire history of the Jewish people from beginning 'til present day. Then we took a train back to Dresden that night. The next day, we left for Prague (in the Czech Republic) about lunchtime. After arriving, we visited the Charles Bridge, which was built in the 1300's, I believe. The next day we went to the Prague Castle and did a little shopping for souvenirs. Then we took a train back to Dresden that evening. My last day there, Friday, we shopped for more souvenirs in Dresden and ate dinner at a fantastic Italian restaurant. Then the next morning I boarded the plane for home!

The Food:

I tried weinerschnitzel (kind of like a breaded boneless pork chop) and bratwurst, both of which were tasty. Also there were lots of potatoes, and I've never met a potato that I didn't like. I found out that decaf coffee is not very common over there (what do pregnant coffee drinkers do??) and ALL drinks are crazy expensive. Water and soft drinks cost about the same...I paid as much as US$5 for about 12 oz of diet coke several times. And no free refills. And no ice. Beer was usually the cheapest thing to drink, and not only do I think beer tastes/smells a bit like pee, but I am also pregnant and couldn't drink the stuff anyway. And their croissants, pastries, and breads were all good.

The Knee:

My knee didn't hurt just about the entire trip. The flights were uncomfortable and long, of course, but most of the airlines/airports were pretty accomodating. We walked everywhere, and I just put my leg up and rested during mealtimes.

Interesting Facts:

German mothers get a stipend each month (called Kindergeld) for each child they have...I can't remember the amount, but I think it's like $300-$500/month or so. They also get to take off 6 months from their job PAID, and their employers must hold their job for up to a year (I think) if the mom chooses to stay at home that long. The gov't is doing all this to increase the birth rate.

People are not as friendly over there. For instance, people will hover over you waiting for you to get up from your table so they can sit there, or push you out of the way getting on trams. Their common courtesy is different from ours, for sure!

Lots of stuff has "gone green" over there. You get charged for the trash that you don't recycle. All your recyclable trash is free. Also everybody uses cloth bags for their groceries. They charge you for the plastic bags if you don't bring your own. Most of the organic/natural groceries are the same price or just a few cents more than the regular stuff.

There is grafitti EVERYWHERE in Dresden, and Holly says that nobody seems to think it's an eyesore or needs to be covered up!


I believe this was called the Zwinger (Holly, correct me if I'm wrong)...this is where we went the first day in Dresden. Notice that my scarf looks like an ascot. I learned a cooler way to wear it after a day or two. :)

The longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall. A path of two bricks side by side marks where the Wall used to stand throughout the city.

The Bradenberg Gate.

Checkpoint Charlie

The streetlights in parts of Dresden and Berlin looked like this. This is supposed to be a good little communist worker man doing his part for the community. :) The newer lights look normal.

One of the many statues on the Charles Bridge in Prague.

The royal guard outside the Prague Castle.

Inside the cathedral at Prague Castle. It was GORGEOUS!!

A view of Prague from the castle. The architechture in the city was beautiful. Isn't this picturesque?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Klutz strikes again

Well, it has been a crazy past few days, folks. As some of you may know, I slipped and fell on Monday morning and hurt my knee. I was on my way to an OB appt, so they checked out Baby G and he is fine. (Praise God!) But my knee was pretty hurt, and I couldn't walk on it. So on Wednesday morning I went to an orthopedic doctor, and as it turns out, I have a broken patella. That's right, I'm 6 months pregnant and have a broken knee cap! I broke the heck out of it...clear in half down to the cartilage behind the knee cap. This sounds very bad, but it's actually a pretty good diagnosis, all things considered. God was very gracious and allowed the knee cap to stay together, which apparently is rare w/ this type of injury, and not separate or shift. This puts the bone in perfect position to heal. Also, there was no ligament or tendon damage, which can also be common w/ this type of break. So that means I don't need surgery to repair anything or to put the bone back together, and I won't need rehab since it was just a broken bone, and my pain is minimal (also uncommon w/ this type of injury, they said), so no medication either! It could have been very bad for any other outcome: if it required surgery, they would have either had to do local anesthesia (i.e., I would be awake for the whole thing plus I would feel part of it...can you imagine???) or wait to do surgery until after the baby was born (recovering from knee surgery while you're recovering from birth AND have a newborn and toddler to take care of???) or do rehab several times a week (trying to get child care for the Bean all the time) or to stay off of it (and who would take care of the Bean while I was sitting on the couch???). So you can see why we are praising God for this outcome. The doctor said I can go about my normal activties, including picking up the Bean and walking up stairs. All I have to do is wear a knee immobilizer (like a big brace) for the next several weeks to keep my knee straight. If it bends, the knee cap could separate, so believe me, this brace is staying on 24/7 except for showers. And after a few weeks, it should heal up fine! I can walk w/out assistance as long as I have this brace on, and it doesn't even hurt.

And if y'all are wondering about my Germany trip now, I am actually still going. I leave tomorrow. Maybe I am crazy, but both my knee doc and my OB gave me the green light to still go, plus my parents and husband are still encouraging me to go. I don't know why this happened, or why it happened at this time, and I will never know. And I don't need to know. Without getting into a theological dissertation, what I do know is that God loves me and will use this situation for my good. He is not out to punish me. I heard a quote the other day on the radio that went something like this: "Don't judge God's love by your circumstances, but judge your circumstances by God's love." And God's love has been very evident to me even in the midst of this "trial." God is good.

Romans 8:31, "What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."