Our Trip to Germany 2009


The Preparation


We had decided this was not going to be a “tour” trip; we wanted the flexibility to visit  and do what, when, and where we pleased.  There were literally hundreds of details to work through; contacting Ella [Gieg] to see if it would be possible to visit them, trip timing, length of stay, passports, itinerary, familiarity with the area of Germany we wanted to visit, lodging, transportation, meals, pet boarding, and so on.


My past contact with Ella had been exclusively via “snail mail”.  Letters back and forth could take as much as seven to eight weeks by the time both Ella and I had digested what the other was saying and then doing research and formulating a response. [Note: Ella reads, writes, and, as I discovered on our trip, speaks English very well.]  I had to find out if there was a way to use the internet to contact her to gain her help in planning the details of our trip. [Note: Ella to this day refuses to use a computer or the internet which makes the many volumes of her published research work even more amazing.]  I sent another letter to Ella enclosing several detail web pages from this web site.


About five days later I received an email from Hans-Ulrich Röske telling me the material I sent had arrived safely.  The email had come from Hans-Ulrich’s wife Gerdi, who, as I later discovered, was the oldest daughter of Wilhelm and Ella Geig. Gerdi would become our main contact for the many subsequent communications and became our new “very internet and English literate” friend from Germany. [Note: Gerdi is not “short” for Gertrude or any other name; it is her birth name; I asked.]


Judy decided to keep a detailed journal of our trip and it is from that journal much of the information contained here has been drawn.  After several emails with Gerdi we planned the trip for early September 2009 and planned to stay in Germany for about five days before heading on to London. [Note: The portion of the trip to London is another story for another time.]


Judy’s journal


I began getting emails from Bob at the end of April.  He had already found the airline flights we would take to Germany.  Emails continued to come in up until the day before we left.  By the time we left, he had all day-tours arranged and pre-paid, transportation reserved, tickets purchased, and everything else pre-paid that was possible.  He even got Euro’s [the current German currency and that of the European Union]] through our local bank so we wouldn’t have to worry about getting them when we arrived! “


“Even though we weren’t going to leave until Friday [September 4th], we [the Royal we] decided to go ahead and pack most of our clothes on Sunday [August  30th].  I was starting to stress about suitcase room [that wasn’t all Judy was stressed about. The only trip she had made outisde the U.S. was to Granada in the Caribbean.] and making sure we had everything we needed.  It just seemed logical to prevent my waking up in the middle of the night if it wasn’t necessary. We [again, the Royal we] rolled our clothes ‘Army style’ and ended up with plenty of room for souvenirs.”


“Bob and I bought gifts for our German hosts; a crystal vase engraved ‘Wilhelm und Ella Gieg 2009’  [“und” is German for  “and”], a ceramic breadbasket for Gerdi, and a round glass candle for Andrea [Andrea is the oldest daughter of Hans and Gerdi Röske, granddaughter of Wilhelm and Ella. She and her friend Guido Köhler were to meet us at our hotel in Germany when we arrived.]  All of the gifts were made in America [per our plan].  We were surprised how hard it was to find things actually made in the U.S.A!  But we were pleased with our finds.”

My youngest son Scott joined us in Springfield, MO for the flight to DFW and my oldest son Ryan, who lives in Aspen CO with his family [and doesn’t downhill ski, go figure]  joined us via Denver in Dallas/Fort Worth for our flight to Frankfurt Germany. At right the three Keith males are waiting at DFW for the Frankfurt flight.

The flight was ‘wheels up” at 3:15 PM CDT right on schedule.  The flight was fairly uneventful other than for the completely self-absorbed couple immediately in front of us who had their seat backs in the maximum recline position during the entire 9 hour flight.  After three or four ordeals of getting out of our seats during the flight we vowed to investigate Business Class for any future overseas trips. We landed in Frankfurt at 7:00 AM Saturday, September 5th, about 30 minutes ahead of schedule.