Well, we managed to get all our luggage on the train and finally, after some searching, found our seats. A 3-hr train ride was very nice, quiet and so much more room than an airplane. We took a taxi to our apartments. We have 2 studio rooms, complete with a small kitchen, large bed and very nice bathroom. We discovered that breakfast was included and was just down the hall from our rooms. This building is fairly new and we were not in the actual hotel (Gasthaus Luise). The rooms are beautiful and we are only a few blocks away from the main town square. Great Location. We did a little shopping, had lunch and then made our way back up the hill. Apparently Gotha is built on some hills, not too many flat roads. Mom was not doing well and almost fainted on the way back, but we managed to stop and rest for a few minutes and we got her back to the hotel.

Wednesday morning my cousin Werner, picked us up from our building and drove us to the main cemetery so that mom could pay her respects to her siblings. She and one other sister (in Edmonton) are the last survivors. It was an emotional day for her, to see those markers. After about 25 years the German government disinter the remains and rebury them in a communal area, unless of course you pay the price to keep the grave another number of years. A couple of her family members have already been moved so that she could not find them. After that we went for a very nice lunch with Werner. We had planned to leave mom at the hotel, but she decided she should come along to see Castle Friedenstein.  Quite an imposing square white box from the outside. We managed to get up the hill and found our way into the building, took a couple of wrong turns and finally bought a couple of tickets to get inside. Mom had seen the outside of the building but never inside… and so on we went. Well, we managed to see quite a lot, and just as we were ending our walk around, Mom almost collapsed. Someone called the paramedics to look at her. She was Ok accept her blood pressure had spiked. Probably from the emotion of the day and perhaps the hill climb up to the castle. It didn’t seem that steep, but I don’t think she’ll do it again. We got her a taxi and back to the hotel, where she fell asleep.  End of a stressful day. I think she is feeling her age right now and being in Gotha is bringing back some bad memories. Valery, Nicole and I are enjoying our visit and see the beauty of this small city, but I’m not sure my mom does.

LATER in the day we left mom to rest and the three of us found a local wine bar and visited with the local inhabitants, while drinking some fine German Wine. A great way to decompress. Up the next day for another wonderful breakfast. They have the best yogurt hare, of course, having the full fat yogurt is always delicious. With the amount of food around here, I think we need to pace ourselves. Not sure how that is going to work.

The next day my cousin Werner came by to pick us up for coffee and cake in the afternoon. He arrived with his brother Gunter and Gunter’s daughter Sabine and grandaughter Lynne. Well that was a start of another interesting day, at 2 pm. Mom was very excited to see them. This is the remains of her family, who she has not seen in 30 years. Most of her family seems to be scattered all over the place and like many families, some don’t talk to each other. We were taken to a newly opened coffee shop for … wait for it  ….  more delicious coffee and incredible cakes. We were told this shop was the second choice, since the one they wanted to go to didn’t have cake, only coffee. Well that’s just a sin; how can one have coffee and no cake.  So after having our coffee and strawberry cheese cake (which seemed the most popular choice) we got back in the car and took a drive into the country.  Well as if we have not had enough food, we arrive at a local beer-garden. A beautiful view of the valley from the edge of the beer garden. Unfortunately, it was simply too cold to sit outside. Too bad the view was spectacular.  Well, here we are thinking we will stop for a drink, but apparently we have not yet had enough food. It is now time for dinner – so all around we end up ordering a full meal deal, with wine or beer.  They had everything from Rolladen to Schnitzel and Duck or even wild game meat.  Amazing. They certainly know how to host a party. After waddling out to the car and going back to our apartment, we spent the night relaxing with a movie.  What a day.

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