travel recap - kaltenbach (days 1 and 2)

We awoke early in our hotel in Bayeux knowing that we needed to shower, pack, eat, and get on the road to return our rental car and catch our train back to Paris.  We had two different train connections to make in this one day (we had to take three different trains in total) and we knew that missing just one of them by even a minute would affect the whole rest of our day and cause us many headaches.  Needless to say, we wanted to get to the train station with plenty of time to spare.

We got ready, filled our tummies, and arrived at the car rental place exactly at 8 am, when they opened. Even with the Hertz agent's limited English skills and our limited French skills, we managed to return the car with no problem at all and grab a taxi to the train station with plenty of time left to catch our Paris-bound train.  Why was I worried, this day was going to be a breeze!  Well, this is where things got a little interesting.

at the train station in Bayeux

When we arrived at the train station in Bayeux, there were a number of American travellers in the station and they seemed to be panicked about something.  Okay, no big deal, let's just find our train and platform number on the board and let's go outside and wait.  The problem was, our train number wasn't listed on the board.  After some broken-English communication with the station clerk, we managed to find out that our train had been cancelled.  Not a big deal - we could just take the next train.  However, taking the next train from Bayeux would mean that we'd miss our connection in Paris, which would mean we'd miss our connection in Germany, which would mean that we'd arrive in Freibourg late (if at all that day) and my family (the ones picking us up) would be worried and wondering where we were.

free train food is DELICIOUS! (and the give you wine!)
Luckily, because we had made a reservation for our Bayeux to Paris trip, the rail line offered to transport us via taxi (at their expense) to the nearby town of Caen where we could catch another train to Paris which would get us there faster than waiting for the next train from Bayeux.  Which is what we ended up doing.

Luck must have been on our side because we made it to Paris with plenty of time to spare and we made all of our other connections with no problems.  All of the stress and changes of plans did teach us a thing or two about traveling:

  1. Be flexible.  Sure plans are all well and good, but you can't plan for every single thing.  You can be as prepared as possible, but some things are just out of your control and there's nothing that you can do about it.  Remember: you're on vacation.  Even though things might be tense and stressful, you can figure it out - and it still beats being at work.
  2. When booking connections, leave plenty of time in between each connection.  This really saved us.  When I was booking our reservations I had the option, with a number of our connections, to have 15 to 20 minutes in between, or 1 or 2 hours.  I always opted for the longer wait times and I'm really glad that I did because, when one train was late (or cancelled), our time between connections was long enough that we were still able to make all of our connection.
When we stepped off our train in Freiburg, Germany I was so excited to finally be so close to my family.  This was a part of our trip that I had been dreaming about for a number of years.  We tracked down my cousin (whom I'd never met) at the train station, and he drove us to my great aunt's pub in the tiny village of Kaltenbach, which was about 45 minutes away.  When we finally arrived, I stepped out of the car and gazed at the pub that I've known about and heard stories of ever since I can remember; it looked a lot different than I had imagined it - as often happens when imagining things. 

finally at the pub after a full day of travelling
As we walked into the pub, we were greeted by family.  Some familiar and some that we'd never met before.  It didn't matter that we'd never met, we were greeted with strong hugs and lots and lots of food and drinks.  We were home, and we both were overwhelmed with all the love.  Hungry and tired, we ate dinner and told stories of our time spent in France.  Soon though, we were so tired that we could no longer keep our eyes open and we decided that it was time to crawl into bed.  I think it was the best sleep that I've ever had in my life.  Maybe it was the fresh, mountain air of the black forest, or maybe it was because I just felt so at home, either way, I slept like a baby.

my family's pub/guesthouse in Kaltenbach
The next morning we awoke, showered, and joined everybody downstairs for breakfast.  The spread that was laid out for us was amazing.  We couldn't get over the hospitality that was offered to us - it was simply overwhelming.

After breakfast, we headed to the nearby town of Kandren to visit a local festival that was going on; the festival is called the "Boden Fest".  We walked around the festival and watched some of the horse shows (the history of the festival is a horse festival, now it's more centered around eating and drinking, with some horse stuff sprinkled in), and then decided to have lunch at one of the food stalls.  After lunch, we strolled back to the car, stopping to window shop along the way, before heading back to Kaltenbach. 

i want a pony!

lunch at the Boden Fest - meat salad!
Once back in Kaltenbach, we (Hubby, my Oma, my mom, my brother, and I) walked up the street to the village's church.  I can't remember exactly when the church was first built, but I can remember Hubby exclaiming "This is the oldest building I've ever been in".  It was really, really old.  Of course, progress and modernization is everywhere, so the church doesn't look the same as when it was first built, nor does it even look the same as when my Oma attended the church as a little girl, but it was still neat to visit the place where my Oma and Opa were married so many years ago.

inside the church

inside the church
Later that evening, we headed back to the Boden Fest for dinner and to meet up with (even more) family members.  Our other family members had already arrived and gotten a seat at one of the food booths, so we ended up joining them and having some dinner.  I had a traditional German meal: a meat loaf topped with fried onions and served with fresh bread.  I was going to have a beer, but I was told that I should try the "new wine".  All I needed to hear was the word "wine" and I was immediately sold.

new wine!
What's new wine, you ask?  Well, it's wine that's still in the fermentation stage.  Okay, I know it sounds a little disgusting, but it's actually VERY good.  It's sweet, a little bit carbonated (from the fermentation that's going on), and can be pretty dangerous, as you feel like you're just drinking grape juice.  I have to admit, I got kind of hooked on the new wine while we where in Germany.

dinner at the Boden Fest
 After eating, talking with and getting to know family, and drinking too much new wine, we headed out to listen to my cousin perform with a local band.  I have to say that this was probably one of my most favourite moments from our trip.  Surrounded by family, swaying with the music, and drinking never-ending amounts of sekt.  It was such a fantastic night, as we all took turns dancing on the stage, enjoying the live music and the magic of Germany.

in the square at the Boden Fest, enjoying the live music

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