I was really on my game with this trip apparently. After our speedy train transit from Paris Gare de l’Est to Saarbrücken, Germany we headed out of the train station and grabbed the first cab we found. I told him where we wanted to go- the Mercure Saarbrücken City, which I had booked a couple days prior thanks to the recommendation of my friend who would also be staying there. When he heard where we wanted to go, he pointed to it and more or less (I am not sure because although German was one of my minors in college it has been about 10 years since I have really had to use it) said that he would not be driving us to it. So I thanked him for the explanation and we hopped out of the cab. Then we had other cabbies asking us what happened and where we needed to go. They could take us, no trouble. No thanks, we can manage to amble 200 yards down a hill for free. See, not so bougie!
As we got closer to our destination, I spotted an ice cream café. There are a few things about Germany that I have missed over the years and its ice cream culture is definitely one of them- along with dancing to techno music in the club until morning, loitering, kebab, and all the meats. We cooled off with two beautiful creations and then headed in to the hotel.
At the check in desk they were having a hard time finding my reservation. They checked for different days on their schedule, and looked at their sister hotel on the other side of town- nothing. Knowing that I had booked the hotel, I looked on the site I remembered using for the booking- no record. I checked my credit card statement to see if I had used a different site- nothing. I had clearly not actually booked anything at the hotel, although I had managed to successfully sign up for their frequent visitor’s club. Luckily they had rooms so we were able to book the same reservation I thought I had done earlier in the week. Phew! The room was an awesome size and so was the bathroom. There was even a mini fridge which is rare, but the air conditioning that was advertised on their site was pathetic! It was so warm in the room! There were windows that could be opened, but they were locked. So I continued to melt.
That evening we met up with my friends and I finally got to meet the first baby of our group! For a little background information- in 2008 I did a year long internship in Paris at 3M. I stayed at a dormitory for young women who are studying or just beginning their careers called a “foyer de jeune fille.” There are a few of them in the city, but I chose the Foyer Chaillot Gaillera on the Avenue George V just across the street from the Four Seasons Paris. I flew in on a Friday, and that night a big group of girls went out to a club nearby, SixSeven. They invited me to join them and although I was exhausted and really wanted to go to bed, I forced myself to go out thinking I might not get an invite the next time if I say no now! Going out was the best decision I could have made, because I got to hang out with a bunch of cool girls, three of whom became my best friends. Eleven years after meeting, they came to Charleston, SC for my wedding. The next year the three of them each had babies, and one year later we were all getting together in Saarbrücken, Germany for another wedding. It was a little surreal to see each other again, especially with the girls in such a different stage of life as mothers.
The next day was the wedding! I met the bride and her matron of honor at the hair salon to get hair and makeup done. The hairstylist did not speak English, but I figured between pictures and my German I would be fine. Unfortunately sometimes when I don’t understand what is being said to me in a language I know, I agree with whatever is being said. I did just that when I was talking with the stylist about how I wanted my hair to look. I thought we were talking about my hair being loose, but it turns out he was confirming that it should be tighter than the photos I showed him because of the rainy weather we were expecting… oops! The matron of honor helped me explain what I wanted and the stylist tried to loosen things up as much as he could, but things were quite firmly in place. Oh well.
We got the bride dressed and then I got a head start on getting to the Rathaus, German for city hall, where the marriage was taking place. Saturday was a busy day for weddings at the Rathaus! We had or wait for the previous couple and guests to exit before we could get in and there was another couple waiting to enter when we left. The venue was quite impressive.
After the marriage we were to head to the reception site. Patrick and I walked back to the hotel with Amandine, Cedric, and their son so we could get their car to drive to the reception. On our way we figured we would stop for a snack based on expectations we had for the wedding set by an Irish reception we went to last year, and what A and C know from French weddings. Eventually we made it to the reception site to learn we had missed a round of appetizers, but were in time for round 1 of desserts- my favorite!
Once we got settled in with a drink and some cake when the skies opened up into a total downpour. The dinner was a traditional German grill so the whole meal ended up delayed by an hour for the weather to clear up. With steaks, chicken, shrimp, sausage, merguez, grilled feta, salmon it was worth every minute! Then we had desserts round 2! Once we finished dessert it was time for speeches and dancing. The first set of parents in our group didn’t make it past 11, but the rest of us held out until about 1:30- not bad, but no where near close to the SixSeven days!
The next day we had to say goodbye so we all did a group brunch at the hotel before dropping us at the train station. The spread was awesome! So many German meats and meat pastes (ok that sounds gross, but they good and not all of them are liver based!) Our train trip back to Paris was uneventful. Getting off the train is always an adventure, but the man who was in front of me (and in charge of carrying multiple massive suitcases for his family) turned around to hold my arm and expertly helped me descend the steep stairs and step over the gap. Patrick could not help me because he was busy getting all our suitcases off the train!
I had one more mistake in trip planning- getting metro tickets before we went to Germany. I forgot to do it before we left. If you can get a hold of metro tickets BEFORE arriving at a large hub DO! Never buy from the people selling tickets in the station- they are often for children and if you get stopped when the cops check tickets you can be fined. Always, always, always use the bathroom on the train before you get out at the station. There are bathrooms, but they are hard to find.