On Monday morning we had breakfast early and then headed over to the train station. The company that organized the conference organized a driver to take us - so at least we didn't need to struggle on the underground or trams with all our luggage. He also arrived earlier than arranged and so we arrived very early and had plenty of time before our train was due to leave.
The photo below was taken soon after a train arrived. A very busy station indeed.
The photo to the left is a bit deceptive in that way - it got busier on that platform the closer it got to the time to leave (9:05 and it was only 8:20).
Such a big station too. So many platforms and quite an experience for people who are in Europe for the first time. :-)
Asher enjoyed walking around looking at things. She especially loved all the pigeons that she saw and kept trying to get close enough to touch them.
All seat reservations can been cancelled for today because of the strikes. We also ended up getting on at first class because the train was not set up as it normally is.
So we had to walk through so many carriages. It was taking so long that we wondered if we would even get 3 seats together. So you can imagine how releaved we were when we found an open room (with 8 seats and the table). It did slowly fill up as the trip went - but we were so grateful for how it worked out.
Added to the changes to the day we would have an extra connection in Hannover. This info was not on our ticket and even though with many other stations it was announced what time and platform each connection was, when it came to Hannover there was no information given.
We soon found out that this was because it was not clear to anyone. When we got out Brendon tried to ask someone working on the station but he didn't speak any English. A lady in uniform then got off one of the trains and everyone was asking her. She said something that was clearly "wait a moment" and once she got off her phone she said "Bremen" and pointed at the train.
Everyone then piled on. We were again wondering how the seating would work as there were so many people taking this connection. God again graciously provided for us in the parent child compartment. There is extra space for strollers or walkers in this compartment - so we ended up sitting opposite an older couple. They didn't speak a word of English but our little bit of Afrikaans knowledge helped us understand a few things. The easiest was when she said "Oupa" as Asher had immediately made her way over to them to give them a cuddle and say hi.
When we arrived in Bremen, Brendon spotted Graham and Aleks waiting for the train. It was lovely to see them, enjoy the ice creams they had brought, and get clear instructions on where our next train would stop. They had been in Bremen for an appointment and so decided they would surprise us. And it was lovely. They then headed back to Ottersburg by car while we waited for our train (we would all be able to fit in their car). The photo above is that last train - a double decker train (both decks shown on the right). The half hour trip by car (if you don't have traffic) only takes 20 minutes by train.
Graham dropped the family off and then came to pick us up. It didn't take long for the girls to make friends.
Having fun together with Graham.
They had loads of fun in Zophia's teepee.
Two happy little girls.
Graham showed Asher his spinning wheel. She just loved it as she loves anything that goes around. :-)
On Tuesday evening we got the girls all dressed up in their "wet weather" clothes (thankfully Zophia had extra to lend Asher). We ended up not needing it though as it was just too wet out and the lantern walk ended up happening inside. The girls still had a fun time though and it was very sweet to see Asher walk up and say "hi" to everyone when she arrived at the play centre. Not at all put out by a room full of strangers. :-)
She seems very put out by Dad taking a photo of her in the borrowed clothes (left). She did get used to them though, especially the shoes as she used them the whole week while we were there.
Thanks for making such lovely lanterns, Graham. I am sorry we could not bring Asher's one home with us. It would have been totally smashed in our luggage.
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