Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Good German

For all the reasons I make a poor German, there are plenty of reasons I love Germany. I don’t want the world thinking I am anti-German. I’m just pro-food-that-makes-me-feel-good. Selfish, I know.

There are quite a few things the Gemans get right. Let’s start with chocolate. I’m not sure if it’s because Pete is full-grown and can eat whatever he pleases, but I am under the impression chocolate for breakfast is A-OK in Germany. And you know what? That’s A-OK with me, too. As stated before, Nutella is a mixture sent straight from the gods. Spread on fresh baked, warm pretzels? De-lish! Top it with homemade strawberry jam? Heaven.

In the grocery store, there were TWO sections for chocolate. How can you not love a country that holds chocolate in such high esteem?

I also love the greenways. Pete grew up in small town in southern Germany. His parents were farmers. Unlike the United States where a farm means you live in a lone house in the middle of your fields, agriculture has been around for hundreds of years in Germany. Therefore, the towns cluster around the castle and the fields cluster around the towns. The towns all seem to be about a mile or two apart, which is perfect for walking or bicycling so there are paths (a.k.a. greenways) that connect all the towns.

We walked twenty minutes through dormant fields to get to his best friend’s house. Along the way, we passed neighbors and friends who were also out for walks. I love that people walk to get somewhere – even if it is just to better health or to get out of the house. No one seemed to mind it was only 30 degrees. Not even me.

Last year, our trip was all about family. This year, in addition to the family, we found time to sneak away to Rothenburg. Pete had never been, even though it is only two hours from his house, but I had been in high school with my parents. (My house was over 4000 miles away, but hey, who’s checking? Plus, we didn’t have cows to look after in suburban Virginia.)

We stopped on the way back from visiting his aunt, so by the time we rolled into town, it was dark and extremely cold. Pete thought I was dragging him to some lame village where we would have a hard time finding a decent meal, but instead we found a magical little town. Apparently, it is one of the only towns that wasn’t bombed to bits during the world wars. It still has the wall surrounding the city, the amazing old buildings, the twisty streets and the gates that kept it safe. It was nicknamed the Christmas Village. The influx of tourists confirms that people love it. It was the only time during our trip that I heard more English than German. And it annoyed me. Go figure. I can finally understand people and I want them to go away. I’m crazy.

The wall around the city. Despite how bright it looks, it was pitch black. Hello flash!
The town center and the tree. One of the gates to the city.

Hopefully, we can continue exploring the surrounding areas one village at a time over the years. I was informed that France, Switzerland and Austria are all within two hours of his home town. All I have to say is there is a lot of world out there to see, and I plan on seeing as much of it as I can – including lots of Germany.

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