Monday, October 29, 2012

Ambassadorship Part 1

      You read about it, see pictures of it but until you experience it and live it you can't really appreciate this planet we live on. This started as a simple trip to go run a marathon in Dresden Germany in a sister city exchange with the Columbus Marathon. What it turned out to be was a life changing experience that will take several pages to describe the experience. The history, culture, natural beauty and new friendships that I will take through the rest of my life.
      Take a step out of the small world of your hometown community and find out what lies beyond the horizon. This year I raced on both coast of the United States of America then to step on a plane to a country with one thousand years of history. A new perspective came to my life that there is so much out there and to seize every opportunity to make a friend. I headed to the airport to begin this adventure really not knowing what to expect but a little nervous. Nerves didn't get any better when my connecting flight from Columbus to Charlotte was delayed a hour. Hustling through the airport I made it with a few minutes to spare and was on board the Airbus 330 to Frankfurt Germany. Started to relax but not totally because I was not able to sleep as planned. I think part of that was nervous energy turning into excitement, the trip of my lifetime was starting, the transfer at Frankfurt was smooth. Landed in Dresden greeted by the smiling faces of Ines and Romy they recognized me from my Dailymile picture and they had a sign with my name. This was to be the first experience of my cultural exchange as I learned 3:00 is coffee and cake in Germany. Met Erik when he came home from school and Andreas got home from work and we went on a family bike ride along the river and into the city. The scenery was amazing and the fall colors accented the beauty of this historical city. I got the nickel tour of the Altstadt (West Bank) which I would come back Thursday and tour on my own and a guided tour Friday. Then we stopped for dinner and got my introduction to German beer and cuisine, wonderful time spent getting to know my host family.
      Thursday morning on German time I was up with my normal routine of up early and get my run in followed the streets down to the river and back. I was very fortunate my host had great coffee and even their own espresso machine. Fresh bread from the neighborhood bakery and coffee got my day started as I headed off to explore the city. The house was a block from the Tram stop which took me directly to the historical part of the city. The public transportation was very clean and the most efficient way to get around the city. I walked the city taking in all the historical buildings had lunch at local brewers pub and discovered that Pilsner (Pils) was what the region is best known for. After lunch I toured the "Johanneum" Royal Stables which was turned into the transport museum. The history of the automobiles, trains and trolleys kept me captivated for a couple hours.
      I headed back to the house and spent the rest of the afternoon with my host family took Romy to gymnastics then to the transit authority where Andreas is the finance administrator. I took a tour of the facility and they had a collection of historical trams and equipment as well as a display of how it looked when it was East Germany. Then home for dinner before going to play indoor soccer with Andreas and a group of his friends. Well conditioned for running but not soccer I was one sore puppy that evening and even into the next day.
      Friday was an early morning starting with a very easy run to loosen the legs before spending the day walking the city with the group from Columbus. I rode the tram down to meet the group for a guided tour of the city. The history was astonishing and put a new perspective on how young our country is to be in a city over one thousand years old. We had lunch as a group, the relationships built with the other ambassadors made this trip even more rewarding. The tram ride from downtown to the Sports School was kept exciting when part of the group missed the tram. I was familiar with the tram route so I ran back to collect our stragglers, all together we went to a reception with the Mayor of Dresden. We toured the sports school and the dormitories where students specialize in one of seventeen sports. This school had produced Olympic medalist dating back to the 1968 Olympics to 2012 had two students on the German rowing team. Very impressive how the East German system has been integrated into the unified Germany. The evening was wrapped up with dinner at a friend of my host they spoke English and had actually lived in Texas for a couple years. I was shown so much hospitality and felt like part of the family.

      Saturday morning Andreas and Erik took me on a tour of the city by tram and sky rail the views over the top of the city were spectacular. I could see many of the city's architectural landmarks including a great view of the "Blue Bridge". From there we went to meet the rest of the family at the stadium for a professional soccer game. My first time to a European Football game had expected intensity but the energy in that stadium could power a small city. The home fan section for the Dresden Dynamo was one end of the stadium with no seats 20 - 25,000 fans standing/jumping and singing and chanting. The fans were almost as entertaining as the plays on the field.
      We went home to relax and rest for race day finishing the evening with a traditional pasta dinner.

To be continued....

1 comment:

  1. This is so exciting, Peter! What an amazing experience!