Today was bittersweet. It was our last full day in Germany, but it was also the day I was going to meet family members I had never met before. My aunt (my father’s sister) moved to Germany with my father when she was in her early 20’s. Although my father moved back to Bosnia, my aunt stayed where she settled with her husband and started a family. I met my aunt and uncle once or twice whenever we went to Sarajevo to visit the rest of my dad’s family, but never my cousins and their children. Since they were my brother and sister’s age, they were very close to Slaven and Ivana, but I was always the third Kalea child that never lived in Bosnia or Germany. I invited Liv to go with me, so it was funny that the first time she was meeting my family was also the first time I was meeting them.
My aunt and her family live right outside of Stuttgart (remember, the team that beat Bayern Munich 4-1?) in a small town called Backnang. My cousin, Andreas, drove to the hotel and picked us up early in the morning. Luckily, he spoke English and could communicate with Liv and I without having me having to translate the entire conversation. One thing Liv and I noticed was how fast Germans drove on the Autobahn (in our case it was the A8 to Stuttgart). My cousin managed to clock in at a little over 200 km/hour, or approximately 125 mph. The moment Liv converted it on her phone and showed it to me, she and I made a face that indicated we could very much die in this very moment (not literally). On our way, we stopped at a gas station where I was finally able to buy a Kinder egg, a treat I had been scouring all of Augsburg for at Norma (a grocery store) and the gas station, but to no avail. The moment the chocolate hit my lips I knew America has really been missing out, since a lot of American students told me they never even had a Kinder egg before they were banned!
We arrived at Danijel’s house, Andreas’ brother, where he lives with his wife, Ramona, and two daughters. Ramona also spoke fluent English, as she actually studied for a few years in Boston with my sister. My aunt arrived a few minutes afterwards. It was a good day, being able to see my family and listen to the endless stories about my siblings and father.
My aunt drove Liv and I to her house, where we met my uncle Bruno. He took us out for a little tour of Backnang, where we stopped to eat gyros for lunch. That was quite the experience, as the gyro was completely deconstructed without the pita around it and it came with French fries in the mix. Needless to say, it was excellent. Afterwards, Uncle Bruno took Liv and I to ice cream, which was my last time eating ice cream in Germany. As I was looking through the menu, I saw what looked like spaghetti strands of ice cream, which I was very tempted to order but it looked too elaborate and I was still full from my gyro. So, naturally, I stuck to my tiramisu ice cream. The waitress came to take our orders and asked if I wanted (what sounded like) crème on mine. I could not understand her initially, so I just nodded and said yes; Liv did the same, to which she afterwards asked, “What did we just say yes to?” Luckily, it was just whipped cream on top.
Once we went back to their house, my aunt greeted us with photographs from the past on her dining room table. It was a trip down memory lane. Most of the photos were of my father when he was younger, some were of my family the night before and day of leaving for America, others were of my Grandpa Ivan and Grandma Ana, who I had never met because they both passed away before I got the chance to see them. It is a shame, especially I am named after my grandma and I believe my sister is named after our grandpa. I absolutely loved looking through the photographs, especially since of them had the dates or notes from my dad to my aunt written on the back. It was insane to see my father at such a young age, especially since he had a head full of hair with sideburns and killer fashion. It was hard for me to leave them behind as we continued our day by going to Andreas’ apartment.
We drove to Andreas’ residence, where he lives in this really nice apartment with two floors and a balcony turned into a garden. Since photography is his hobby, the wall next to the staircase was filled with large, framed photos Andreas captured over the years. Liv and I were taken out to ice cream and drinks one last time, but I was still full from the gyro and tiramisu ice cream so I opted for one last radler.
The time flew by, because before we knew it, Andreas was telling us that we should begin our drive back to Augsburg in order to be home before 21:00. On our drive back, we ran into major traffic that was caused by an accident; it set us about an hour behind schedule.
When we arrived back in Augsburg, I was lucky to see Lena, Lucia, and Sara one last time that night. They came carrying small gift bags, which were for me, Liam, Kayla, and Josh! The girls were so surprised by the gifts we got them that they bought us souvenirs, in return! The bag included: a post card, an Augsburg shot glass, and Augsburg sticker (which I immediately put on my laptop), and a keychain in the shape of a stein. It was one of the most thoughtful things anyone has ever done for me. It was very sad, having to say goodbye to them at the end of the night but I am happy to have made such great friends in Germany!
Der Anfang vom Ende. . .