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German sisters ride into Texas on cross-country trek
SAN ANTONIO -- A chance encounter at the Mission Concepcion in San Antonio led to a visit by two sisters from Munich, Germany, to Wilson County.
Julia and Gina Raddatz, ages 24 and 22, respectively, were bicycling through the Lone Star State and decided to stop off in San Antonio to see the city.
“We love it here,” Julia said. “The people here in Texas are so wonderful!”
The sisters are on a cross-country bicycle ride, which began in Philadelphia and will culminate with a visit to Los Angeles.
The pair hail from Munich, where both attend college, majoring in American studies.
“Since we were teenagers, it has been our dream to come to America,” Gina said. “We have been planning this trip for years, saving money here and there.”
The Raddatz sisters biked from Philadelphia, through Washington, D.C., then through Virginia, and on to St. Augustine, Fla.
“From Florida, we started to head west, towards Los Angeles,” Julia said. “We camp out and sleep where we can -- under trees, or in churches. The churches here have been very good to us. Some places have bought hotel rooms for us. It has been wonderful.”
As the girls were enjoying the Mission Concepcion in San Antonio, they met Wilson County resident Charlotte Foster.
“My sister-in-law and I were visiting the mission and walking through, just looking around,” Foster said, adding that they’d seen the girls. “Then my sister-in-law asked them if they were twins, since they look so much alike. We just struck up a conversation. Then we asked them if they were from San Antonio, and they said, ‘No, we’re from Germany and we rode our bikes here from Philadelphia.’”
Foster invited the sisters to her home to have dinner.
“At first we told her no, because she lived 30 miles away from the city and it would have taken us a long time to get back,” Julia said. “But after they left, we changed our minds and said yes because it would be a good experience, so we called her back.”
“They called and I went in my truck to pick them up,” Foster said.
The Raddatz sisters said that America has exceeded their expectations.
“It’s even better,” Julia said. “I must really say this. Some people talk it down a lot, but we love America. Some people say that Americans just sit around and eat burgers all day, but we know that’s not true, because we are in American studies. People in Europe have prejudices, but they’re really dumb.”
The girls’ parents did not approve of their cross-country trek.
“They worry,” Julia said. “They are always checking Facebook and searching the Internet to see where we are. The trip has been hard; sometimes we argue. We had these moments where we get tired of the bikes, but we get over it.”
The sisters were in the country in time to view the American election process.
“It’s a little strange,” Julia admitted. “It’s strange how not every vote counts. A Republican in California and a Democrat in Florida, it’s funny how their vote doesn’t really count.”
As far as Wilson County, the sisters said they love it.
“It’s pretty,” Gina said. “Floresville’s a charming little town. These main-street towns are the best.”
Julia and Gina are headed north through Austin and then to Albuquerque, N.M., before heading toward their ultimate destination: Los Angeles.
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