Friday, 26 October 2012

And So It Goes

When I first started blogging about my European adventure I was on a plane over the Atlantic, winging my way to Germany. So it seems appropriate that I'm writing this as I begin my journey from Nuremberg back to Canada. At this moment I'm in the airport waiting on my first of three flights that will bring me home. I suspect that by the time I upload this post I'll be back on home soil.

The theme of my last several days her has been "The Last X". Virtually everything I've done for the past week or so has been done with a similar view: The last loaf of bread I need to buy, the last load of laundry I have to do, the last time I vacuum, the last time I'll eat Schauffele, etc., etc.. I mentioned this to my boss and he understandably told me to knock it off as I was making it sound like I was about to depart the earth altogether, rather than just leaving Europe. Fair enough. But the reality is that all of these day to day occurrences, from the mundane to the exotic, have defined my life here for the better part of the past 7 months.

As I wrote in my most recent post, it's been quite a ride. I can't say that I've enjoyed every moment from start to finish. But I will say that the experience is one that I am very glad to have had. My life would have been poorer without it and I am grateful to my employer for having given me the opportunity. I'm more grateful for Kate having encouraged me to take it on, in many ways the past 7 months have been harder on her than they have on me.

Thinking back it's very easy to evaluate my time here in terms of what I've seen and done. But looking deeper the whole experience of living on my own in a foreign country has really given me some quality time to reflect. It has given me a deeper understanding of what is really important. It has caused me to cherish the relationships that I have. It has made me realize how fortunate I am. Seven months after I started this adventure I feel like I know myself better than I have in quite some time.

On my last night in Nuremberg I made a point of stopping in at two of my favorite pubs/restaurants. Places where I've been getting not only great food and drink but perhaps more importantly, conversation and a sense of belonging. As I said my goodbyes at both places I received tokens of appreciation that made me feel that the relationships were more than simply those between proprietor/employee and customer but more so those of friends. As I said, I feel very fortunate.

Professionally there's a certain amount of uncertainty concerning my return. When I left it really wasn't clear what I'd be doing when I got back home. As one who is never truly comfortable with uncertainty I have to admit I have concerns. Far more importantly however, I'll be getting back to family and friends. Whatever the future holds I know everything is going to be great as long as I have them.

In order to truly complete this story I think I'll have to post once more regarding my transition back to "normal" life. Afterwards I hope I'll find something equally engaging to blog about. I'd love it if you came along with me.

And I absolutely must mention that my last meal in Germany, eaten in Nuremberg Airport, was sausages, a pretzel and a beer. And So It Goes indeed.

Thanks for reading,

Location:In Transit

Monday, 15 October 2012

Homestretch and Mixed Feelings

I can't believe it. In less than two weeks my work assignment in Nuremberg will be completed and I should be on my way back home for good. I can't wait. I've had enough of being on my own. I miss my stuff. I miss my children. I miss my friends. But most of all I miss my best friend for nearly 30 years. It's time for me to come home.
Since my last post I hit the highlight of the past 7 months. Kate came across and we did an 8-day self-guide cycling tour of Puglia, Italy with Randonnee Tours. First time in the region for us and we loved everything about it. I've said it many times and I'll say it again: If riding a bike is what you and your significant other love to do, there can be no better holiday experience than a bicycling vacation in Italy. With Kate's help I may do a more detailed post regarding our trip. Afterwards we came back and hung out in Nuremberg (with a one day trip to Munich for Oktoberfest!) and I got to show off my haunts, introduced Kate to a few of the people I've gotten to know over here and just really enjoyed her company. I guess that it's true what they say, absence really had made the heart grow fonder. I was so sorry to send her on her way back home when the vacation was over.
So, don't get me wrong. I have thoroughly enjoyed living and working in Europe this summer. What did I do? Well, among other things I:
- Attended the largest beer festival in Europe
- Competed in two Half Marathons in Germany
- Spectated at practice day for the German Touring Car Championship
- Toured the Medieval cities of Regensburg and Bamberg
- Attended the second largest beer festival in Europe
- Had a blast at the largest free World Music festival In Europe
- Watched the 3500 athlete Challenge Roth Iron distance triathlon
- Drove on the Autobahn at speeds that were reasonable and prudent
- Rode the heaviest share bicycles I ever hope to ride
- Cheered cyclists and triathletes racing through the Altstadt
- Refreshed long-dormant domestic skills
- Attended the largest City Street based beer festival in Europe
Sharp eyed readers may have picked out a theme. What can I tell you? It's Germany!
I will miss the foods, the beverages, my super sweet downtown apartment (I believe it's already rented out for next month), the public transportation system, the incredibly clean, safe streets and the orderly queues. But most of all I'll miss the people I came to know who made the place a little less "foreign" and who made me feel like I had a home here I Nuremberg.
But, all things come to an end and in this case the time is right. I'll try to get one last European post done before I head home. Until then,
Thanks for reading,

Location:Doha, Qatar