Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A tribute to Ulla and my Camino friends in Dobeln and Dresden!

     Writing a blog about this all-too-quick weekend has been very difficult.  It was one of the most intensely personal experiences in our life, yet a time that should be shared with everyone!  However, putting it into words has taken many hours of writing and re-writing.  Dobeln is a small town about an hour from Dresden, a place that we had not heard of before.  We actually didn't know that is where we were going, but it was awesome!  

    Before we even started our Adventure, I received an e-mail from my friend Ulla, who I met on the Camino de Santiago last year.  She invited me for the weekend when we were in Germany.  I knew she lived in Dresden, so we took the bus from Berlin to Dresden, a mere 2 1/2 hour ride.  

    We get off the bus, and were greeted by a small horde of smiling people, one waving an American flag, another the Dutch flag, wearing t-shirsts with everyone's name on them!  We were greeted by Camino friends Ulla and her boyfriend Friedrich, Linda and her father Wim, and Ida, Wim's wife and Linda's mother, Gerhardt and his wife Beatrix. Later we would meet up with Yvonne and her boyfriend Ingo.

    Our time with this wonderful group of people, from the greeting at the bus station to our sad departure 3 days later, was magical, unforgettable, wonderful!  The warmth, kindness, friendliness, love, and generosity everyone expressed was so unexpected, but so heartfelt.  We felt absolutely honored that this awesome group of people are in our lives.

    The entire weekend was put together by wonderful Ulla!  She and I shared a very personal experience:-).  One day after walking for many hours on the Camino, I had just completed my shower, and Ulla "accidently" walked in on me (LOL!).  From that moment, we shared a sense of humor and bond!  

    A synopsis of the weekend: a tour of Dresden, then a drive to Dobeln, about 45 minutes away.  Friday evening we had a "bbq" at "the Blue Monday" pension (Zum Blauen Montag) run by Rolf Berndt.  This beautiful old building has been carefully restored by Rolf.  It sits on the river banks of the Mulda river.  If anyone EVER goes to Dobeln, I recommend you stay at the Blue Monday- it really is beautiful!  

     Saturday morning we had a city tour of the town of Dobeln.  We had a personal town tour guide (Irena) who took us through the town hall, cathedral, and around the town.  It was incredible!  It included an interview with the local paper!  We even got our picture in the paper!

    Saturday evening (and into the early hours of Sunday!) we had another bbq at Friedrich's garden home.  He bbq'd the best sausages we have EVER eaten, plus steak, salad, wine, beer, schnapps, and, for Ulla and Rich, vodka from Belarus!  We talked and danced and drank and ate!  It was magical!!!!!

    On Sunday, we went to the local national park and took a boat ride along the lake, and walked around the local castle (Kriebsschloss).  Only in Germany do you have a "local castle!"  I expected 3 crumbling walls, and we were presented with a full-on castle in the midst of a beautiful forest and lake.  And it had a cafe for drinking coffee......and beer (again- this is Germany:-)).   Afterwards, we shared dinner.  Because it was our last day together, we sadly said good-bye to Gerhardt and Beatrix, then Yvonne and Ingo. Monday morning we said good-bye to Linda, Wim, and Ida.  Then good-bye to Ulla and Friedrich at the bus station.

    But, as Yvonne philosophically said, "Good times must end to become beautiful memories of life".  It was hard to say good-bye, and even now, more than a week later, we are in awe of the experience we had with these people.

    Here are some photos I want to share with you.  But they do not convey the deep emotions the entire weekend produced.  Truly, this was a weekend that touched both Rich and I deep into the heart and soul.

 All of us drinking Ice Kaffee in Dresden!
 Yvonne, Wim, Linda, Rich and Ingo 
 In the Dobeln town square Saturday morning.  This is essentially the photo that ended up in the local paper, minus the lady on the far left:-).  Wim, Ulla in her t-shirt!, Ida, Gerhardt, Linda, Friedrich (in back), Yvonne, me, and our town guide Irena.
 All of us on the steps inside the town hall.  Between me and Irena is Beatrix, Gerhardts wife (she is an excellent photographer, so too often she is not int he photos)
 All of us at Friedrich;s garden for the Saturday BBQ.
 Gerhardt, Beatrix, Linda, Wime, Yvonne, me, Friedrich, and Ulla
 The Perigrinos of the Camino: Gerhardt, Wim, me, Linda, Ulla and Yvonne
 Beautiful town view from Ulla's living room!
 All of us on the steps of the Kriebsschloss!
Sad good-byes

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