EUROPE BRAUNSCHWEIG 1998
From: Dick/Liska Snyder [mailto:aliskaalaska.net]
Sent: Monday, September 07, 1998 2:52 PM
To: Fried. Walter/Sarka; ranster31aol.com; Fried. Natasha; Fried.
Martin/Work; Fried. Jessica; Fried. Jeanne; Fried. David; Fried.
Subject: Our trip (Europe)
Our trip started out in Frankfurt on Sunday Aug. 23, at the Bleimanns.
Michael and Elisabeth's daughter Barbara (age 15) had come up from
Augsburg to see us. Felix (20) was there, but Tilo (23) was off on a
bike trip between Lyon, France and Barcelona, Spain. We found out that
Felix had been critically ill with Crohn's disease a few weeks before we
got there. He had been in the hospital several weeks and lost 30 pounds.
It was extremely worrisome for everyone. But when we saw him, he seemed
fine and in good spirits. It is really very sad. Anyway, both Felix and
Tilo are still living at home and going to local universities: Tilo in
engineering and Felix in business. I spent some time visiting Aunt Eva,
which I enjoyed a lot. Of course, Harald and Irene are incredibly
generous hosts and we felt so welcome and relaxed with them.
On Tuesday we took the train to Augsburg to visit Michael and Elisabeth.
Barbara was at volleyball camp. But Martin (20) was there. He had just
found out that day that he was accepted at the American Academy of
Dramatic Arts in NYC, and will start there in February. That was very
exciting news! We had a great time with the three of them. It is the
first time that we have really spent with M&E. They too, were so
gracious to us.
On Wednesday morning we took the train to Vienna. Checked into our hotel
and spent the afternoon and evening wandering around the beautiful parks
in the city center. Had dinner in an outdoor restaurant in a park. Early
the next morning we boarded a hydrofoil and spent the next 5.5 hours
whizzing down the Danube River. The boat went through two locks: one was
nearly 60 feet deep. We enjoyed looking at Slovakia on the one side of
the river and Hungary on the other. At 1:30 we pulled into a dock in
Budapest, and there were Zoli and Judit waiting for us with a big
bouquet of flowers. (J&Z are very close Hungarian friends of David and
Patty. They had spent a year in Anchorage and had just returned to
Hungary). Then we had the most amazing four days. J&Z whisked us to
Zoli's parent's house, about 1.5 hours south of Budapest in a small town
called Tamasi. We had a reunion there with 4-year old Blanka who had
stayed with her grandparents for a few days. They fed us an enormous
typical Hungarian dinner. In the evening we drove about 45 minutes to
Judit's parents large house in Enying, south of Lake Balaton (largest
lake in central Europe). We spent the night there in an elegant
guestroom (complete with grand piano!).
The next day all of us went off for a day of exploring in two cars: a
beautiful old town, a castle ruin, and finally to J's parents' vineyard
high on a hill overlooking Lake Balaton. They have an old (built in
1830's) stone cottage with a real thatched roof. Part is a dark
winecellar filled with huge old barrels of wine. The rest is a simple
kitchen, living room, and some bedrooms in an attic. We meandered
through the vineyard munching on fresh green and red grapes. Oh they
were so sweet! Then we roasted homemade smoked ham over an open fire
and we had a picnic under the shade of a large tree. Ended the day
wandering around a peninsula in the lake, that also has beautiful old
buildings. Took a ferry across the lake and spent another night in
Enying. On Saturday, J&Z drove us the 3 hours to Szeged, where they
live. This is where David and Patty lived for a year, and we spent hours
wandering around looking at all the sights. Had dinner at the home of an
18-year old former student of David's (Szilvia) who had spent a year at
the high school in Patty's old hometown of Nenana. We had gotten to know
Szilvia quite well when she was here in Alaska. Spent the night at J&Z's
On Sunday, they drove us to Budapest and squired us around that
beautiful old city. Driving through the Hungarian countryside, we saw
many farms, small villages, and towns. Some areas looked quite
prosperous, and some were very shabby. What struck us most about
Budapest, was the contrast between the very old rather dirty historical
buildings and the new fancy stores (Dior, Armani), interspersed with
McDonalds and Pizza Hut. Some of the old buildings are being beautifully
restored, so eventually, Budapest will be much more attractive.
At 8:30 p.m. we boarded a train and spent the night in a sleeping
compartment zipping through the Slovakian and Czech Republic
countryside. At 6:30 a.m. we arrived in Prague. Found a hotel right
away, and then spent the day wandering through this very beautiful
historic old city. We climbed 287 dizzying steps around and around up
and up the tower of the Cathedral. From the top we had a stunning view
of the city, the river, and the surrounding country. Like Budapest,
Prague is a strange mixture of very old buildings, little narrow
cobblestone streets, and modern stores with fast food restaurants! It is
a city with many interesting views whichever way you look.
On Tuesday morning September 1, we took the train from Prague along the
Elbe River to Berlin, and then went on to Braunschweig. Met Chris,
Rhoda, and Jeremy at the hotel and spent the evening with them. We
spent most of Wednesday with them wandering around the old city section,
and also walked about Â½ hour to look at Mom's old apartment building on
Bodestrasse. It looks very well preserved: newly painted with flower
boxes on the balconies. The young Martin Friedrichs showed up and then
we tromped over to the elegant hotel where Traute was staying and had a
fancy dinner with her. That was, of course, a lot of fun. When we got
back to our hotel, Michael and Elisabeth had arrived, so we sat up
drinking beer and talking to them.
September 3. This was an incredibly overwhelming and emotional day.
After breakfast at our hotel we walked through the streets to the very
beautiful historic city hall. There, a large room with a full-size
tapestry on one wall had been set up for the ceremony. To our amazement,
about 80 people showed up! We don't know who most of them were. But one
person was a wonderful surprise: Margarethe Opfermann (who is on the
1975 family photo) was there. I was so happy to see her again, and she
was equally surprised to see me. That was a memorable reunion for both
of us. Sophie-Luise's sister Ilse Dedekind was also there, as well as a
few other old friends. Helga Gutzeit came in a wheelchair with her son
Arndt. Eventually, the mayor of Braunschweig gave a talk, summarizing
Mom's life and who she was. Then Chris gave a wonderful speech. He spoke
so clearly and slowly, that I could understand almost every word. He
will have to tell you what he said. I don't want to go into it now. But
it was truly a beautiful talk. After the lectures, people milled around
and I had many conversations with all kinds of people who had some
connection with Mom or Dad. It was somehow very moving to see how they
are still so revered by so many people. Copies of the third edition of
the memoirs were snapped up. I am sure Chris will send you your copies.
The most exciting part came next. Four cars drove us to the outskirts of
Braunschweig to a new neighborhood called "Gartenstadt." And there, as
plain as day, on the street sign: "Nellie Friedrichs Strasse." It was
quite an emotional moment. It is a long street - perhaps several hundred
yards long. About four cul-de-sacs go off the street, and each of these
is also Nellie Friedrichs Strasse. One family had come to the ceremony
to see who this person was whom the street was named after, and they
invited us to their house. They served coffee, tea, and cookies. That
was really wonderful. They told me that every house on their cul-de-sac
had children living in it! This is just so appropriate! To think that
the street is a neighborhood filled with young couples and children,
flowers, playgrounds, lovely gardens. It could not be a more meaningful
memorial. We spent about an hour on the street. To me, this was somehow
the most exciting part of the whole trip.
That evening a whole bunch of us gathered again for an elegant
(four-hour!) meal. The next morning I spent a couple of hours visiting
Traute alone. I have not really spent time with her for many years. In
the afternoon Dick and I took the train back to Steinbach and spent
another night with the Bleimanns. Tilo was back from his trip. Both Tilo
and Felix are delightful young men. We really enjoyed getting to know
them a bit. On Saturday morning, I visited Aunt Eva again and told her
all about the Braunschweig affair. Then in the afternoon, Dick and I
caught our plane back to Anchorage for our 10-hour flight. We left
Germany at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and arrived in Anchorage at 6:00 p.m.
on Saturday! Strange!
All in all, everything we planned worked so smoothly. The weather was
great most of the time: hardly any rain, and never too hot. The only
slight annoyance was that Dick's wallet was pickpocketed out of his
front pocket on a very crowded train the day before we left. But there
was not much in it: just a little cash and only one credit card. All his
valuable stuff was buried. So the trip was really just perfect!!