Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Traveler's Reflection part 1



I have been reflecting a lot lately on where I have been during my 3 years here in Germany and Europe and I want to reflect on it all while it is fresh(er) in my mind.  It has been incredible and inspiring and a dream come true.  I want to write about it for you all!  My favorite things, the language I have learned, the cities I have visited, etc.  I think I am going to have to break it all down though… so here it goes:

GERMANY

Cities and Villages I have visited:

Landstuhl – where I live. Burg Nanstein is our neighborhood castle!  The Bismark Turm gives you a view for miles and miles!

Rammstein-Miesenbach – village nearest the Air Base. Great restaurants and fun festivals.

Spesbach – where our best friends live!

Kaiserslautern – the larger city nearest us where we go downtown for shopping mostly.  The Japanischer Garten and the Gartenschau are located in Kaiserslautern.

Hohenecken – hiked up to the castle there.

Sankt Goar – hopped on the Rhine River tour there.

Bacharach – Stopped on the Rhine River tour there.  BEST Apfel Strudel I have ever had and probably ever will have in my life’s entirety.

Rudesheim am Rhine (visited 3 times) – One of the most beautiful little villages on the Rhine.  Grape vines on the hillside, the Riesling wein fest.  Where the Niederwald Statue is!

Koln (visited 3 times) – Also written as Cologne.  Where cologne wasser (water) originated.  Koln Dom (Cathedral) is the tallest in western Europe and so incredible.  Drank Kolsch which is a very florally-hopps-y beer.  The food was amazing.  The Lindt Chocolate factory and museum is here.  Such an amazing, beautiful city.

Bad Durkheim (visited 3 times) – Home of the Wurstfest which most Americans know as Weinfest!!  Better than Oktoberfest I swear!!!

Frankfurt – Great shopping and a huge busy modern city!

Mainz (visited 2 times) – Home of the Gutenberg Museum where my dreams came true and I saw not one, but TWO Gutenberg bibles!  They also have a replica of the printing press and amazing editions of other books including Utopia by Sir Thomas Moore… it was a dream day!  The Dom in Mainz is sooooo creepy too, which is kind of cool.

Trier (visited 2 times) – the oldest city in Germany.  Many Roman ruins remain including the Porta Nigra.  Really cool city!

Mannheim – went there usually to go to Ikea, Kids Inn, which is a fun play place, and went to the city to go shopping!

Berlin – The furthest place we have been in Germany.  We saw many remnants of the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, toured the city and did mostly site-seeing.  The Memorial for the Murdered Jews of the Holocaust was astounding to me.

Munchen (visited 3 times) – Did the whole Oktoberfest thing… honestly… it wasn’t that great.  The beer was expensive, the food was not good, it was so crowded… the city however is so Bavarian and beautiful! It’s like being in another country!  We went to Legoland last summer and then stayed at a 4 star hotel for my birthday last year! One of the best birthdays ever!  We also got to do a tour of the BMW Welt and Werk (World and Factory) and that was particularly awesome!  Been to the famous Hof Brau Haus which was awesome too!

Rothenburg ob der Tauber – if I could go to any city one last time I would want to go to Rothunberg again!  It was so unique and romantic and whimsicle.  We went to the Medieval Crime and Torture Museum! And the Doll and Toy Museum… the food was amazing and different… I think it was Franconian… it was so incredible!  I could have stayed there forever.

Cochem (visited 2 times) – our favorite castle that we have seen!  It sits up on a hill overlooking the Mosel and is straight out of a fairytale.  The city below is so beautiful and romantic.  Definitely a must-see if you are in the region!

Stuttgart – our last long day trip.  We went out to see the Porsche Museum and factory and showroom, which was a dream come true because Porsches are my favorite cars EVER!!!!

Saarbrucken – a pretty very Frenchy town on the Saar river.  Best shopping nearby.  Also best sushi!

Neunkirchen – the first Hooters in Germany is in Neunkirchen!  There is also a fun zoo and a mall there!
Schwarzwald – I don’t remember what city exactly we went to but we visited the Black Forest and saw the Haus 1000 Uhren (house of 1000 clocks) because that is where cuckoo clocks originated!!!  We had real black forest cake in the Black Forest…. It tasted like straight brandy!  Gross!

Burg Eltz – Another storybook fantasy type of castle… it is hidden between hills and a gorge… it is one of the most intact castles in Germany because it avoided getting bombed during the wars.  Definitely a fun and memorable stop!

Neuschwanstein – most famously known as the “Sleeping Beauty” castle.  It was so cool to see it.  I just wish we could have toured more of the inside than they let us see.  King Ludwig was nutty!

Here are some of the words and language that I have learned being in Germany.  I read it better than I speak it, but my accent has improved:

Haus, burg, damen, herren, toilette, champignion, zweibeln, einfarht, ausfarht, puten, schinken, sahn, eis, pommes, reis, ein, zwei, drei –etc., tchuβ, straβ, heiβ, danke, danke schon, guten morgen/abend/nacht/tag, the days of the week: Montag, Dienstag, Mittwoch, Donnerstag, Freitag, Samstag, Sonntag.  Schon. Kleider, rocke, hosen, blusen, schuhe. Ja, nein, preis, bier, wein.  I learned a lot more, but that is what comes to mind now! Hahaha!

Customs:
Germans count starting with their thumbs.  Smiling to strangers is looked down upon (they’ll think you are stupid).  You never get tap water at restaurants.  Tipping is about 10% of your bill.  Say “Halo” when you meet/see someone… “tchuβ” means a casual “goodbye or later!”  Other than that, they are pretty easy-going people… not the friendliest but they are usually helpful if you need something.

Germany has been such an amazing host country for us and I feel like we are different people for having lived here.  Avii has grown up living down the street from a castle!  Adults adore and pet her everywhere we go, giving her cookies and sweets all the time.  Springtime has been my favorite season where daffodils grow like weeds!  Even the color of the dirt is so different!  It is a deep rich red color!  The German people recycle like crazy and are not so wasteful as Americans are.  There are more Italian restaurants than I would have ever thought there would be!  Schnitzel and spatzle are the traditional foods that I have come to love most… especially with rahm soβe! The people out here are fearless in their dress and style.  It’s been so incredible and I am definitely sad to leave.  I didn't make as many German friends as I hoped or thought I would have, but the ones I did make were awesome!

That is my recap on my experience in Germany… I have thousands of pictures so if you want to see any I will refer you to my shutterfly account!  Too many to choose from!  Check out some of the cities via Wikitravel!

Tchuβ!!!!
Vanessa

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