6 things I loved about Germany

6 things I loved about Germany

Written by Heather

Topics: Experiences Abroad

This is the second post in the series “The time I went to…“. I write about travel experiences that I previously shared on my OLD blog — the one only my mom and a few friends read. Bless your hearts mom, Dennis, Evan, and Gunther.

I’m sorry, Germany, but you were never on my “top 10 places to visit” list. I don’t know why, but the original “top 5″ list included England, Ireland, Australia, Thailand, and South Africa. Which countries rounded out the top 10, I don’t recall, but I’m pretty sure you didn’t make the cut.

Thankfully, a visit to Germany was still in the cards.

Back in the old school days of LiveJournal, I got to know two fabulous people who both lived in Germany and only 45-60 minutes away from one another. After knowing them both online for two years, I decided I had to to meet them in person. So in May 2007, I crossed the pond to visit friends in London for a week (who ironically I had also first connected with on LiveJournal) before heading to Germany for two weeks.

Thing I loved #1…meeting Gunther and Elle

Not only was I going to be meeting my friends for the first time, but I was also going to be staying with Gunther and traveling with him for the entire two-week trip. I sure hoped we liked each other in person as much as we seemed to get along online.

Thankfully I had nothing to worry about. Both of my pals were as sweet as can be, and we chatted up a storm…in English. The German language learning CDs I’d been listening to for weeks helped me get by with basic greetings and questions, but I was able to rely on them to play translator when necessary.

It’s hard to believe I haven’t seen them since 2007. I need to go set myself up in Europe one summer and reconnect with friends who live in various countries (note to self: make this a GOAL).

Thing I loved #2…listening to the language

People always say that German is not a pretty language. That it sounds harsh. I disagree.

I’m not exactly sure how I would describe it, but I absolutely loved listening to it.

When Gunther and his family gathered for dinner every evening, I quietly sat in the corner and smiled in between bites. From time to time someone would pose a question for me, and Gunther would translate. I remember thinking it was one of the most beautiful sounds I’d ever heard. And yes, I *can* sit quietly for extended periods of time…I know a few of you are in shock.

Thing I loved #3…surviving a bomb threat

Gunther and I were eager to visit Munich’s Olympiapark. Shortly after we began exploring the complex and taking photos, a loud siren blasted through the speakers, making everyone in sight plug their ears. Minutes later a German voice sounded from the speakers. I looked to Gunther, whose eyes opened widely. A scratchy English translation followed, and all I could pick up was that we had to leave the park immediately for some type of emergency.

Gunther and I headed to the main gate with a couple of other folks and learned that the voice had announced a bomb threat had been called in and that we had to leave. WHOA. Everyone tried to remain calm but we all looked at one another uneasily.

When we got to the main gate, the ticket lady was just as surprised and uninformed as we were. She made several calls while we all stood around, anxiously waiting to learn more. Several minutes later, we finally learned that someone was testing the PA system with old recorded messages and had failed to notify anyone. *Facepalm* Letting go of angst and woe, we headed back into the park. Moments later the park was apparently on fire, but we did not head to the nearest exit.

Thing I loved #4…butt and leg toning walks

I had mentioned to Gunther that I would like to do a fair amount of walking during our trips to Heidelberg, Munich, Berlin, and Stuttgart. He seemed somewhat hesitant to walk for hours on end (who wouldn’t?!), so I figured we’d walk a bit here and there. Apparently he took me seriously, because in addition to walking throughout the cities, he took me up insanely steep hills (like the one to Heidelberg Castle) and around countless stair wells (climbing to the top of the tower at St. Peter’s in Munich). One day in Berlin, we walked for 10 hours.

View from Heidelberg Castle

View from Heidelberg Castle

Resting and taking a few photos from St. Peter’s

Despite all the carbs, gelato, and Banana Java Chip frappucinnos, I left Germany slimmer than I had started. Thanks Gunther!

Thing I loved #5…Banana Java Chip frappuccinos

After living in a coffee-obsessed country (Australia — NOT the US), I’m now partial to independently owned cafes than the big chains. But ya know what, sometimes the chains do it right.

On my first trips to Europe, I’d always pop into a Starbucks to see what they offered that differed from the American menu. And in the summer of 2007, it was the Banana Java Chip frappuccino. A few friends thought it sounded disgusting, but trust me, m’dears, it was heaven in a plastic cup.

Once I learned that the Banana Java Chip frap was NOT coming to the US (I actually wrote Starbucks), I started ordering the drink every chance I had. Gunther gave me a slightly disapproving look (okay, maybe just the one time I had TWO in one day), but I figured I had earned it with all of the walking we were doing.

Thing I loved #6…feeling at home

Germany set me at ease. It felt like home. A sense of comfort and relaxation welcomed me at the airport and stayed with me throughout the trip.

Maybe it’s because my mom’s family heritage is mostly German and I was returning to the birthplace of many generations before me. Perhaps it’s because some of the heavy lifting of trip planning was in Gunther’s capable hands and I was able to let some of that go. Whatever the reason, I loved how I felt in Germany.

Or maybe it was seeing the Statue of Liberty on the top of someone’s home

And if there’s one place that MOST felt like “home” in Germany, it was Berlin. With perhaps the exception of Sydney, there is NO city I’ve instantly connected with the way I did with Berlin. For that reason, Berlin deserves its own post. Look for it at the same time next week!

28 Comments Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Gav says:

    :-)! Another great post babe.

    I agree about the German language. At school we had 2 years of French before having German and French for a year and then options for the last two years of school. I didn’t like French, but loved learning German and would have chose to do that if I could, but the way the options worked I couldn’t do German and Photography :-( So had to choose one!

    If you still have those learning CDs I’ll taken a listen sometime :-)

    As for sitting quiet and listening, you’re a great listener a great talker as well, but you do listen :-) *HUG*

    If we ever see a banana java chip frappuccino on our travels, then I’ll definitely be trying one or several ;-)

    I’m looking forward to reading the post on Berlin, hey I may be reading as you write it – can’t wait to be there, not long now :-)!!!

    • Heather says:

      I still have the CDs :-) We’ll have a listen while you’re here! You can teach me some German and I’ll help you with Spanish (if I ever get on the ball and start studying it again).

  2. Erica says:

    We’re heading there in September and I’m super excited (I’ve never been excited about Germany before). I can’t wait to meet MY online friends as well! :D

    • Heather says:

      I’m loving my current job, but it would be nice to be able to meet up with you all in Europe too. Looking forward to hearing where all you plan to go!

  3. Honestly, Germany’s never been high on my list either, and I couldn’t tell you why – nothing against it, just nothing drawing me to it. But Rodolfo LOVED Berlin, and now he’s got me interested. Good to hear you enjoyed it so much!

    • Heather says:

      Exactly — nothing against it but nothing was drawing me to it. I’m glad to hear Rodolfo was a fan of Berlin too — it’s a city that’s been getting a lot of love from travelers lately!

  4. Jaime says:

    Love this, Germany is actually my favorite country in Europe… I loved it for some of the reason you listed and for a few others. Like it’s bars & beer…lol!!! Berlin was my fav city too… crazy fun city!

    • Heather says:

      It took writing the post to make me realize that I’d really like to go back soon. That’s the tricky thing sometimes…so many places still left to explore, but you want to return to your faves!

  5. Mom says:

    Thanks Heather for re-writing about your time in Germany. I so much enjoyed reading your blogs when you actually went and I am enjoying reliving your trip with you..I want to go!

    • Heather says:

      Aww, thanks madre! I loved taking photos for you of the street signs featuring your maiden name :-)

      I got you to Australia — now I need to get you to Europe!

  6. Gunther says:

    That was almost five years ago. Incredible.

    I probably should mention that when people in the South of Germany talk with friends or family they tend to speak in their local dialect which sounds a bit softer than standard German.

    “I left Germany slimmer than I had started.”
    You’re welcome! ;)

    Gosh, that Gunther sounds like an awfully nice guy. ;)

    • Heather says:

      Well then I love the softer, local dialect. So pretty!

      Yes, you are quite nice ;-) Let’s try to meet up again before another five years go by!

  7. jade says:

    Woah- a bomb threat?! Holy crap! These photos make me want to visit Germany, which, like you, I didn’t really care to before. That greenery is just so green!!

  8. Nicole says:

    As always, your pics are amazing! I don’t think I’d seen them before, so it was extra fun for me to read this post & see some of the places you visited. Hoping to get to Germany myself someday, so when I do I’m sure I’ll be re-reading your posts for some tips. Crazy about the fake bomb threat – yikes!

    • Heather says:

      Aww, and these were taken with the Kodak Easyshare too. Reliable, trusty digital camera that I felt almost silly putting aside for a D-SLR that I still hardly know how to really use. Thanks to the most basic of editing/post-processing, I was able to help the old photos just a tad.

      Let’s go to Germany together?!

  9. Rebecca says:

    I just have to say, yay for LJ! I was a huge user back in the day and made so many friends (online and met some in person too!).

    So great that you turned a country you didn’t have any interest in, into a place you love!

    • Heather says:

      I posted on LJ *all* the time. Loved it. Sometimes I think about going back to post more of my semi-private ramblings and thoughts. It’s a locked account/friends-only, so I may just do that…if I can recall the password!

  10. Kyle says:

    I LOVED seeing this post. We freaking adored Germany and our only regret was that we didn’t have more time there. It’s great to see that you loved it too!

    And I am German/Dutch in heritage and I had the same feeling of home while I was there. Looking around at everybody with round faces and muscular builds I felt like DAMN these are MY people!

  11. Andrew says:

    So good to see good things written about this lovely and wonderful country. The place usually gets ignored by the big American tour hordes. If they do end up here, it is ONLY usually to hit Berlin and Munich. This is a good thing to see Germany, but a shame to stop at just those too. There is so much to Germany more than beer (although worth it just for that).

    I had a post a few weeks ago about the Beautiful German Language. It is not melodic, but more rhythmic. More like watching a marching band than an orchestra.

    • Heather says:

      Maybe I can convince Gav to take a trip to Germany with me next time I’m visiting him in London for a decent amount of time. I’d love to take more train trips and see the beautiful countryside!

  12. This place feels like home. I’ll go into every corner of the country, and I’d find something new to enjoy. After two years in Heidelberg and leaving in 2003, I’ve been back to the county at least one to two times per year. I hope to be in the country for a few months at the end of this year in time (once again) for their Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas markets).

    Thanks for your post, Heather!

  13. Mandy says:

    Thank you for the pictures of the Olympic stadium. I recently lost my favorite Uncle….who helped build it as a young architect (I´m more than a little proud, if you can´t tell). Side note: you are able to absail off the stadium. Highly recommend it, though the safety portion is only in German.

    • Heather says:

      Mandy, I’m so glad I could post these photos for you! I really enjoyed walking around the grounds. And of course I would love to return!

  14. Adam says:

    I’m pretty sure I had the Banana Java Chip frapp in Sydney in the same year – I guess it would have been Feb/March 2006….

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