Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - June 19, 2015
We rented a vacation home in Metz, France last year that we enjoyed so much we decided to rent it again. It is a bit unusual in several respects. The inside has an open feel accented by an eclectic collection of furnishings. The outside is covered by vines and the yard is full of roses and peonies. While there is a neighboring house to our north, the southern side and the back yard open on a large field that is ablaze with red poppies when the sunlight is just right.
But after almost two weeks, husband Art, youngest daughter Katie and I had pretty well settled in and were ready for a special weekend. It would be special because our German “daughter” was coming! It had been a year since we last saw Nadja, so we cleaned the house, did some laundry, picked up clutter and put fresh roses and peonies in vases.
She was to board her plane in Berlin at 6:50 p.m. Friday night and arrive at 10:10 at the Luxembourg airport. But at 6:28, she messaged us. Her flight from Berlin to Amsterdam had been delayed because of stormy weather in Amsterdam where her two flights were to connect. But when we learned the second flight had been delayed as well, we jumped in the car and headed to the airport hoping she'd be able to make the connection.
We were excited to see that the flight from Amsterdam had arrived, but then Art’s phone started “buzzing.” Nadja hadn’t made the connection! She was in a line to be issued a hotel voucher.
I was mightily disappointed as we headed back to Metz. Katie said she could tell by my sad “puppy dog eyes.”
The next morning, we repeated the Metz-Luxembourg trip. Nadja arrived at 10:30. We all hugged and then she filled us in on what happened the previous night. So many had been grounded, the local hotels were full and she was sent to one in The Hague, 45 minutes by bus from Amsterdam. She got to bed about 2 a.m., only to be awakened at 4 a.m. so the bus could take her and the other stranded passengers back to the Amsterdam airport! She had managed only two hours of sleep.
But after our year-long separation, the conversation was lively on the trip back to our place and through a lunch of yogurt, cheese and fruit. Then it was off to bed for her!
After a couple of hours of sleep and a mid-afternoon lunch, we headed to downtown Metz with no particular agenda. We walked to the Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains abbey, a structure built around 380-400 as a Roman gymnasium, making it one of the oldest churches in all of Europe. Then we strolled toward the downtown and stopped to watch children riding Shetland ponies in the park. From there, we walked to the Saint-Étienne Cathedral, known as “God’s lantern” because of its large expanse of stained glass windows.
People selling books and other items had set up shop in the cathedral square. Nadja, Katie and I bought some linoleum-block prints from a nice fellow who really struggled to speak to us in English. He apologized, but we told him that his English was a lot better than our French!
We noticed quite a few police officers nearby and heard noise coming from the city hall. At first, I thought it was some sort of protest, but soon realized it was a wedding. A lot of clapping and drumming and cars honking followed.
It was barely over when a second wedding party emerged making every bit as much noise as the first.
Once off the square, we went into a couple of vintage clothing and collectibles shops where the girls bought several items.
Tired, we made our way back along the Moselle River. It had been an absolutely gorgeous day - lots of sun, but not too hot.
We rested and then cleaned up a bit before going to the Super Wok Chinese buffet. It wasn’t exactly French cuisine, but Art had been wanting Chinese for some time.
The girls finished off the day by taking a walk along the banks of the Moselle.
Sunday broke as another beautiful day. I fixed toast, scrambled eggs with chopped onion, peppers and mushrooms, and a fruit plate of strawberries, peaches and raspberries. We then headed south of town to Jouy-aux-Arches, a cute little town that has the remains of an old Roman aqueduct squarely in its middle. After some pictures, we drove further south to Noveant-sur-Moselles, another quaint village.
Between the two, I had noticed a sign for a memorial regarding the Sept. 7, 1944 battle for Metz by Gen. George Patton’s Third Army. We returned and took in some of the information panels along the Moselle River, but I think I was equally amused watching folks along the banks fishing, grilling, sunbathing and just generally enjoying life. A swan ignored everyone as it moved twigs and grass from one side of the nest to the other.
All too soon, it was time to take Nadja back to the Luxembourg airport. It had been a whirlwind weekend, yet one where nothing we had done was exceptional. What was special was being together.
At 7:49 a message arrived. Nadja was in Amsterdam waiting for her return flight to Berlin.
24 hours of traveling, being in four countries twice on just one weekend was worth seeing you for less than 20 hours. Thanks for having me over!
The pleasure was all ours!
Left: Nadja, bottom, and Katie at a flowerbox at the edge of the Moselle River; center: Katie and Nadja bargaining with a vendor in the Metz cathedral square; right: Art, Katie, Gloria and Nadja next to the Roman aquaeduct in Jouy-aux-Arches.