Lingen is a small town in the Northwestern part of Germany close to the Netherlands. We have a family friend, Mike, who welcomed us to stay w/ him and his family.
My brother, Matt, first met Mike in the early 90’s when he lived with Mike’s family for 6 weeks in Lingen for a study abroad program. They instantly clicked and were like brothers. Mike and his sister, Bianca, then came to visit our family in Texas, I was only 6 or 7 at the time but still remember their vibrant personalities and how fun they were to be around.
My brother and sister took me to Europe in 2008 for a college graduation gift and that was the last time I had seen Mike. 8 years later, here I am again (now with my husband) visiting Mike and his wife Merche along with their 3 wonderful and adorable children.
Mike and Merche introduced us to a typical German breakfast: lots and lots of bread, spreads of all sorts (jam, hummus, cheese, etc.) and the unfamiliar but traditional minced mett (pork) spread atop fresh bread, sprinkled with onions and pepper. I tried a bite, not much my style as I’m not a big meat eater but JC enjoyed it!
The Soblys’s packed us all into their family car for a day trip to a small village in the Netherlands, Geithoorn. The village consisted of various narrow canals, miniature bridges, stone and jewelry shops and adorable homes with colorful gardens.
That evening we partook in Lingen’s Old Town Festival, an annual celebration over the weekend with 5 stages of live music each night and lots of beer! Apparently the concoction of beer and sprite, called Alster, is a common drink of choice. It is very refreshing but I preferred straight beer. If sprite isn’t your flavor of choice, it is also typical to mix with lemonade or coke.
We met many of Mike and Merche’s friends since it seemed they knew almost every single person in town! Almost every 10 feet they’d run into a companion; it felt like we were walking around with a celebrity!
The next evening, Mike and Merche invited us to join them at their monthly Kegel night. Kegel (German for Skittle) is similar to bowling but has 9 pins in the shape of a diamond that are held upright by string, wooden balls and inward curved lanes creating higher difficulty in knocking over all the pins.
There are different games to play each round keeping it fun and interesting! We were horrible at it in the beginning but finally caught on a bit and had the best time!
The group members were so lively, energetic and loads of fun. The losing team for each game had to toast to the wining team. Too. Much. Fun!!
It seems Germans will come up with any excuse to get together and have a party. They even throw a “roof installation party”. Seriously, this is a thing. Once the roof is complete, party time! Mike joked that Americans come up with crazy excuses too like a party to determine the sex of a baby (aka Gender Reveal)!
Mike was hoping the roof would have been finished the weekend we were there but unfortunately it got pushed back to the following weekend. He was bummed we weren’t able to see this German tradition/party and so were we!
We spent our last night in Lingen over at Bianca’s house for dinner and drinks with her family. I didn’t get to see Bianca when I was in Germany last so the only time we ever really met was when I was just a little girl! Facebook has been our only form of connection and contact.
She and her husband, Michael, introduced us to herb liquor made in Germany. It was thick, smooth and delicious! We then tried Bison Grass Vodka. There is literally a piece of straw grass in the bottle which gives it a green tint. It was good but definitely strong! It was absolutely wonderful catching up and meeting her husband, daughter and son.
We can’t say enough great things about the Soblys’s and all of their hospitality and generosity. Despite our minimal visits with each other, they are like family and it’s like picking up right where we left off! An absolutely joyous visit and we keep prying to get them to come to Texas. One of these days!!
Thank you Mike, Merche, Bianca and Michael!!
Dates Visted: 9/16-9/20, 2016