Castle Hotel in Hesse, Hessen, Germany

Yesterday, Patti and I dropped by to visit friends here in Austin. While there, we met Alyssa ( I hope I spelled this right, Alyssa), a 16-year-old high school foreign exchange student from Germany. Over dinner, drinks and catching up with everyone at the house, I got the chance to practice the German I learned when I was in college. My major at Southwest Texas was Journalism AND German. At the time, I had hoped that when I graduated, I would get the chance to go work on a newspaper in Germany.

I was also fortunate to visit Europe in 1971 when I was a junior in college. I had a Eurail pass, a youth hostel card and a book of hostel locations throughout Europe. Every day was a different visit with a different country, meeting all sorts of people and seeing things that I would not have seen had I remained in the U.S. I  practiced my German wherever I went, whether it was Frankfurt, Munich, Heidelberg, Hamburg, Cologne or any of the other places the train took me in Germany. My regret: at the time, I could not manage a visit to Berlin. On that trip, I also got the chance to visit France, Netherlands, the Benelux countries, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and the Channel Islands between France and England.

Throughout last evening, Alyssa, who is from Hessen, and I reminisced about some of these places I visited years ago. We traded German expressions and, she modestly and politely corrected me when I did not exactly remember the right expression or term.

Thank you, Alyssa, for the opportunity to practice my German and recall some travels from many decades ago.

Alyssa was a reminder that no matter where we go and whom we meet, there is an opportunity for a new and treasured experience.

Haben sie alles eine stille Nacht!