When I Think of Germany…

Germany was the first European country I ever visited, and for that it stands out among the rest.

Streets-Tübingen-Baden-Württemberg

The first time I set foot there, I was 18, knew about 10 words of German, didn’t bother researching any of the main attractions, and scrunched my face up at the taste of my first German beer.

You could say I did it all wrong, but green as I was, that one trip would shape the course of my studies. I  gained a lot from that trip, including the motivation to study a new language. Who else chooses to minor in German Studies in university? Oh yes, the four other students in my German literature class.

Burg-Hohenzollern-Castle-Bisingen

When I think of Germany, I think of the castles and forts scattered across the country side. For most locals they are quite commonplace, but for a foreigner it’s like stumbling into a fairy tale. I remember walking into my friend’s room in Kirchheim unter Teck and gasping at the sight of a castle perched on a hill outside her window. A castle! Outside her window!

When I think of Germany, I think of the most delicious breakfasts (this coming from a bread and pastry lover.) Most mornings included a trip to the local bakery where we would buy more kaiser rolls than any person should consume in one week’s time. The table would then be set with a myriad of toppings and spreads: butter, strawberry marmalade, nutella, honey, peach preserve, sausages, cheese, and more sausages and more cheese. After ingesting three, maybe four, okay, more like five kaiser rolls, I would then pack more into my bag for the rest of the day. Do you see why eating in Germany can be a bit troubling for the hips?

Bebenhausen-Baden-Württemberg

When I think of Germany, I think of road trips to Tuebingenwrong turns that led to a desolate monastery in Bebenhausen,  and journeys across the border to France. I am also reminded of the Autobahn and how terrifying it was to be a passenger when cars are zooming past at 160 km an hour.

When I think of Germany, I think of chocolate, delicious German chocolate! And of the Ritter Sport factory in Waldenbuch, because aside from being a lover of baked goods, I simply cannot resist a good bar of milk chocolate. Do you know how many flavours they have in there?! I walked out with several kilos to ‘take back as souvenirs’. Who am I kidding? I ate most of it. The favourites: Rum Trauben Nuss (milk chocolate with rum, raisins, and hazelnuts), Alpenmilch (milk chocolate made with alpine milk – makes me think of Heidi…), Knusperflakes (milk chocolate with corn flakes), Voll-Nuss (milk chocolate with whole hazelnuts), Alpensahne Praline (alpine milk with pralines)…and I better stop there.

Bebenhausen-Monastery-Baden-Württemberg

When I think of Germany, I think of my first hostelling experience in Frankfurt’s red light district, and how that hostel in Germany would shape the way I chose to travel in the years to come. My first morning there I ate breakfast with a girl who was Florence bound, alone. Solo travel had never occurred to me before listening to her talk about her plans.

When I think of Germany, I think of the 2006 World Cup, and of the madness that ensued in the streets when Germany defeated Portugal to win the bronze. Schweinsteiger and Petit were heroes that night! Traffic came to stand still for the next few hours while the crowds paraded down the streets arm in arm, waving flags in their hands.

Kirchheim-unter-Teck

When I think of Germany, I think of hearty home cooked meals of Spätzle and Schnitzel made from scratch, and of the smiles and ‘yummms’ exchanged over lunch with the wonderful Hoss family in Wolfschlugen.

So yes, Germany is a pretty special place if I say so myself.

31 Comments

  • Zhu says:

    I had a similar experience… with China. I traveled there when I was 16 and naive, and I also took Mandarin as my major in high school and university. I sometime have a love/hate relationship with the country but it is a special place to me!

    I’m surprise you chose German though, the language and culture aren’t that popular in Canada, most students seem to take French or Spanish. No wonder you were only five studying the language!
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    • Audrey says:

      It’s funny how visiting a place when you’re young can shape you in a way. German really isn’t that popular at all in Canada. I did take French in high school until it got cancelled due to lack of enrollment (whaaa?!), and I already speak Spanish fluently so I figured I’d challenge myself with German – and challenging it was! Their grammar is the most complex I’ve ever studied!

  • CreditDonkey says:

    Hi Audrey,

    This reminds me of Switzerland, the first ever European country I’ve visited. I love going to the grocery stores to smell the freshly baked bread. The chocolates and cheeses are also heavenly and the view is spectacular!

    I wish I could have visited Germany and Austria as well!
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  • Pictures are so amazing, especially the third and fourth one. it’s so beautiful to see the trees overcomes on walls.
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    • Audrey says:

      Thank you! Those two are from Bebenhausen – a little town that we stumbled on by chance after we made a wrong detour somewhere… 🙂

  • memographer says:

    I love Germany! and your post brought vivid memories of my first trip. The castles, beer, schnitzel, language… And 2006 victory!!! Oh, man! Or should i say “Oh, Schweinsteiger!”?
    A funny thing- I got your new-post email when I was working on my post titled “When I think of Laos”… Can you believe it? I have thought (for real) there is a spy cam in my office 🙂
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  • Rachel says:

    I’ve always had the difficulty pronouncing “Roggenmischbrot” , but the taste is a simple as “oh yes, feels like heaven”.. even with just coffee. I’ve only seen a small part of Germany when I was privileged to attend a business seminar of some sort, and as my stay was very limited, I was only able to explore Leipzig. It was a great experience after all, but I’d love to get to know Germany more.

  • Callie says:

    Good memories! The breakfasts sound killer…
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  • Mariella says:

    That’s a beautiful post, Audrey… It always gets to me when someone talks about my home country with so much appreciation. I used to live in Tübingen, too, and I love Bebenhausen and all the Baden-Württemberg castles. Thank you for this! Have you explored the North of Germany a bit? It’s where I grew up – doesn’t have so many castles, but does have the sea… :))
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  • Jackie D says:

    Oh this warms my heart. This is how I feel about France in a lot of ways. Those breakfasts sound killer (literally) — I am sitting here eating a banana and now all I want is a massive plate of pastries, THANKS 😉
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  • Tom @ Waegook Tom says:

    You’re making me want to go to Germany so badly! I’ll be stepping foot there for the first time next June (Berlin), and then hopefully again next December for the Christmas markets. All this bread sounds mighty troublesome, though. But the beer…mmmm….and I also must try currywurst. And sleep in a castle.
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    • Audrey says:

      Oh the bread is troublesome! That is the one country where you can pack the pounds overnight. Haha, it’s a good thing I don’t live there.

  • Alex @ ifs ands & Butts says:

    Although it seems we had very different first experiences in Germany, the part you visited is now most special to my heart and it only took me 3 days of being here to realize I had to move here and one year later I did…. now, if I had just learned the language first…
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    • Audrey says:

      Sounds like Germany stole your heart! 3 days is fast! The language is definitely a toughie. I studied it for 4 years and it still makes me nervous to open my mouth whenever I find myself in a German speaking country.

  • Michelle says:

    I know exactly how you feel! Haha. They offer German studies as a major at my uni, but I don’t think anyone’s majored in it…it’ll probably be marked as a historical event when someone does!

    I was in Germany for the first time last year, and when I got home, all I could think about is when am I going to move there?! And now that I’m here, all I can think about is, how can I live here longer?! Haha. Although my German teacher and the Principal at the school I teach at here have all said that everyone they met who lived in Germany for a while never seem to want to leave!
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    • Audrey says:

      It’s true! I have some friends who moved there after university and they absolutely loved it and even extended their stays after their first year. There’s just something about Germany! Do you think you’ll be staying there for a second year?

  • Agness says:

    I don’t remember the World Cup in 2006 at all :(, feeling so embarrassed right now. You should see Berlin nowadays, it’s so beautiful. I visited so many Christmas markets and had a lot of hot red wine and a tone of sausages :):) Wish you were here!
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    • Audrey says:

      Oh, the World Cup! I really get into football when it’s on. I’m already planning on Brazil for 2014. There is no way I’m missing out on that event!

      And I sure would enjoy Germany this time of year. I bet we could eat our fill of sausages and mulled wine. I hope you’re having lots of fun over there!!! 😀

  • Colleen Brynn says:

    I loved Germany too… it was SUCH a fairy tale for me when I was going through a bit of a castle-obsession phase… can’t say I’m totally over that phase and it’s been some 7 years since I was last in Germany. Wait… SEVEN years??? Holy…
    Guess I should go back soon… If only for the snacks and castles.
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  • TammyOnTheMove says:

    Aw, you make me miss my beautiful home country with this post. Glad you like it so much. Can you imagine how chuffed I was when I discovered Ritter Sport chocolate in a supermarket here in Phnom Penh? Sometimes they even do Milka chocolate which is even better!

    Can’t wait to go back in April for Easter and all the food goodness and Beer of course. Prost! 😉
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  • Ceri says:

    What a fabulous ode to a country I’d love to visit. 🙂 Did you manage to pick up much German when you were there?
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  • Kori says:

    I lived in Germany for a couple years and must say I miss it each and everyday. The people is what truly makes Germany so great. I lived in Wittlich for a while and made some friendships that will last a lifetime. Germany is definitely one my most favorite places to visit in Europe. I love your pictures and the site!
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  • Germany is a pretty special place for me, too. I love the fairytale atmosphere, the castles, the food, the Christmas markets. There are so many awesome things! 🙂

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