A Travellerspoint blog

Quilts of Valor

If your looking to read something witty or a great adventure....just stop now. Today's writing is much more somber.

My day was filled with emotions. Today, was one of many days that we are sending injured soldiers home to the States. The difference is that today, I was a part of it (if only as an observer for most of it). I've followed nurses on the floor for the past several days and interacted with several of the patients on my floor. Today, two of them got to go home. From a nursing standpoint, there is a lot of work that goes into getting these soldiers home. Everything has to be planned and orchestrated just right in order for a soldier to keep his/her place on the flight. Just one mistake and they can't go....imagine how disappointing that would be.

Just before we wheeled the patients to the holding area, they were presented a Quilt of Valor. It's pretty simple, really. Just a small quilt, just large enough to cover. It's the story behind the quilts and the look on the soldiers face when presented it that is really important. The story that was told to me is that a mother made a quilt and sent it to her son and all his buddies liked it and wanted one. From there, the organization Quilts of Valor was born. The quilts are all made with love and each one has a note to the soldier on the back, including and who it came from.. It all seemed kinda cheeky to me until we presented one and the nurse told the soldier 'it's like a hug from home' . The look of appreciation and homesickness on the soldiers face was indescribable...

After all the paperwork and prep; I followed one of our patients to the holding area where they would board a bus that would take them to the plane. Some of these soldiers will have a very long trip in front of them. They start the day early; having to be in the holding area by 0830. The more critical patients (ICU) are transported at 1100. From the holding are, they are loaded onto buses that will carry them to another holding area at the airport. The flight doesn't actually leave until early afternoon. Then the soldiers are in-flight for 9 hrs with many of them catching another flight in the states to continue the trip home.

It's frustrating how removed we are in the states from what is happening here. These men and women are flying in daily with a myriad of injuries: gunshot wounds, blast wounds, some with minor injuries and some with injuries and amputations that will follow them for the rest of their lives. Some of the wounds are deeper....unseen....emotional, that will haunt them forever. I feel ashamed that over the past several years I haven't given these men and women much thought at all.....

I'll just leave you with one thought: No matter how you feel about what is going on with the War, if you happen to run across a soldier....PLEASE...acknowledge them....thank them...or at least smile to them. Their sacrifices are many.

Posted by Khandilee 01:27 Archived in Germany Tagged business_travel Comments (5)

Brugge Part II

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Yeah...It took me a little bit to get to part II, but here it is:

Brugge is BEAUTIFUL!! I loved it!! What a great place to spend a relaxing day away. The city was all lit for Christmas and there is an Ice Rink in the middle of the center with Christmas music and children laughing....yep, sounds just like a Christmas story; doesn't it!?

After a restful nights sleep at Charlie Rockets we started the day at another hostel, called Bauhaus. It's full of charm and has a very relaxing and cozy feel. "crammed full with impressive mirrors, old lamps from the Paris subway, neogothic arches, easy couches...." and an old clock above the bar that runs backwards! If I had known of this place; we would have stayed here (not that our place was bad).

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Arron and I mapped out a walking tour for ourselves in an effort to minimize the time exposed to the elements. It was wicked COLD! Our next stop was at Pas Partout for some traditional Flemish cuisine for lunch. The atmosphere was bland but where it lacked, the food made up for it. Aaron and I both chose the stoverij (beef stewed in beer) with frites (fries) for a mere 10Euro.

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Next off to the Belfry....

For those of you that don't want to click on the link and are wondering what the Belfry is; it's a beautiful bell tower in the center of Brugge. Aaron braved the 366 steps to the top to take in the view (I stayed below and chatted with a gentleman from Ohio!)

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The rest of the day was spent wandering around trying to find other obscure points of interest without much luck. I was freezing and got a little bitchy (yes, really! Me! Bitchy!?).
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We ended the day with a wonderful Belgian Waffle from a street stand....OMG!! I want to go back just for the Waffle!!!! It was perhaps the best thing that I have ever tasted. Beat the one we had in Brussels hands-down! Hot....sweet.....moist in the middle...crispy on the outside...... I'm drooling just thinking about it!

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Aaron was attempting to pay for our parking and ended up breaking the machine. Here he is trying to get it all figured out....
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The drive back was long...about 5 hours. Aaron was flying out Monday morning so we were late getting in and early rising to make it to the train in time to get him to the airport for the flight....

Aaron always finds a way to make things interesting. He took the train at 0512 and arrived in Frankfurt to the airport around 0700....flights were being canceled all over the board when he arrived. The flight that he had hoped to take was full and he wasn't able to make the flight. Food and water were being handed out to stranded passengers. People were camped out everywhere.....

He tried all day to get on another flight, without success. Around 10pm he called and told me that he was going to take the train back to Landstuhl. After he hung up, I looked up the train and it had a warning that the connection might not connect due to his train being late. I frantically tried to notify him (he didn't have a phone). Aaron ended up getting on the train with fingers crossed. Somehow, the train split and he ended up in Germersheim instead of Landstuhl (about an hour and half away from me) around midnight! I looked at the train schedules to see where we could get him so he could have a warm place to sleep and there were NO trains until 0430! I'm not certain of all the details but I think he slept a while in a phone booth and pretended to be a vagrant for the evening at the train station....

He finally arrived back in Landstuhl around 0600! What a nightmare!!

He is safe here with me for now and we will probably be having Christmas together....

Posted by Khandilee 11:11 Archived in Belgium Tagged automotive Comments (2)

Belgium....Part I

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Airplane Aaron Strikes again!

Out of the blue, I am talking to Aaron on the phone from Germany and he asks what I’m doing this weekend. I let him know that I’m off work Friday to do house-hunting and then off the weekend. So…..

After much discussion (well, not really that much), we decided to meet in Belgium! Brussels to be more exact…..

Early Friday morning, off I headed a mere 18 hours after getting behind the wheel in Germany and headed off down the autobahn towards Belgium! It was a smooth ride (if you forget about the fact that I haven’t driven a standard in a really long time), although a bit long. I got stuck in traffic coming into Brussels. I ended up at the airport nearly an hour late.

As I walked through the ‘arrivals’ area, I didn’t see Aaron. On my way back through, Aaron nearly walked into me as he was walking out of the little shopette. I nearly cried when I saw him. I hadn’t realized how much I really missed home. It was wonderful to see a familiar face. Thanks Aaron for bringing me a piece of home.
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We drove around Brussels trying to find out way to the Grand-Place for what seemed like forever. We thought we had the right place and parked and found out that we weren’t at the right place so decided to have lunch because we were both starving. Lunch was at a cute little French Bistro tucked into one of the many little side streets. The cutest thing was that the bathroom was HALF-Way up a spiral staircase. The waiter had to show you how to get to it for fear that you would walk right past. I have to wonder how many people walked up then down then back up without finding the WC (bathroom/water closet), before they decided to start showing patrons the way!

When we found the Grand-Place….it was breathtaking. It’s a beautiful square with amazing architecture all around. And then, to top off the feast for the eyes, we were treated to HUGS!!!
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We window shopped and of course, I had to stop for a bite of Belgium chocolate! Can you say ‘wonderful’!
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By this time, we were FREEZING. Poor Aaron, only brought a sweatshirt for a coat and even with my wool, scarf and mittens: I felt like a popsicle.

We found a charming café’ where we indulged in coffee and an authentic Belgium Waffle. We sat right next to the fire and were thawed in no time.
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As we were leaving the square on our way back to the car to head to Brugges, we found a leather coat store. After about an hour of deliberating and trying on of several different ones, Aaron finally decided to buy! I think he looks quite handsome in his new coat….

We found Santa, doing a little Christmas shopping taking a much needed break right before the Christmas Eve rush...

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A trip to Belgium wouldn't be complete without seeing the Manneken Pis

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On to Brugges…..

It was a short trip on the Autobahn (I’m feeling a lot more comfortable now, besides the little beater of mine will barely do 120kph), and we were in Brugges. It’s a very quaint little town. We found a cheap hostel to stay in for the night and although it isn’t 5-star by any means, hopefully it will allow us to get some much needed sleep. Especially Aaron…I don’t know how many hours he has been awake but I think he is starting to hallucinate now (not really).

I’m headed to bed now so will fill in the rest after we return back to Landstuhl tomorrow evening.

Posted by Khandilee 03:06 Archived in Belgium Comments (4)

My Car (That I can't drive yet)

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Posted by Khandilee 14:15 Archived in Germany Tagged automotive Comments (1)

This weeks update and Day Trip to Trier

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So, it would appear that I am only updating about once a week. I guess that's going to have to do for now. It's been a busy week. Still trying to get all the paperwork and BS done. It's still frustrating at times. It would be nice if there was someone that really knew what needed done and when...I'm certain that the whole thing could go a lot smoother!

As much as it pains me, I have decided to leave Aco with Mom for a few extra weeks. The home/apartment owners here have quite the racket going on. I was hoping to move into a different 'temp' apartment soon, so that I could bring Aco out here but it's just not a good decision financially. The cheapest places are wanting around 100euro/night for a place! It's crazy! That's over $4K/month!! Yes, I do get a stipend for housing but I just can't see spending it on housing when I can use it for other things like my car and other fun stuff! So, I'm staying here at the base hotel until I find something permanent. Hopefully, by the beginning of February.

It's amazing how easy it is to meet people here (other Americans). Everyone is friendly and as anxious to have someone to go out with as I am! I only have to be alone if I choose to be.

Had a day-trip to Trier on Saturday with the USO. It was a good time and a very long day. I finally got to try the fabled Gluewein, pronounced "glue-vine". It's wonderful! Hot spiced wine...warms the tummy! I could have indulged to greater lengths but controlled myself.

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The Christmas Market in Trier was out of control. The masses of people were nearly too much... A lot like a local fair or community festival at home. Lot's of food stands, crafts and (unlike home) alcohol! The Germans sure know how to have a good time!

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A couple of interesting tidbits: The door below has numbers written along the side, these are a tradition. According to the tour guide, when the owners donate to the local charity (I think the orphanage), they will put a date on the door. It's supposed to be good luck! Porta Nigra or "Black Gates" are This is a very distinctive part of Trier's history and if you want more information you can click here. Trier is reported to be the oldest city in Germany..
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I also visited the Roman Baths and played with a kids machine and got a little present for Trinity!!
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A Christmas Market wouldn't be the same without a visit from SANTA!
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Here are more pictures of the day.

My favorite shot of the day:
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Posted by Khandilee 13:42 Archived in Germany Tagged women Comments (2)

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