This blog post is a bittersweet one for me…really, it’s one I have been dreading. And it’s only made worse by the Timehop app reminding me that it was two years ago today I started this blog, and one year ago, I was celebrating its 1-year anniversary.
In a year, I’ll be reminded that this was my good-bye blog to a place I have grown to love – I love everything about Germany. Not just the travel, but the culture and the people. Personally, I absolutely loved my job and the people I worked with, I loved the community we lived in and everything we built here. It really makes it that much harder to say goodbye.
I could go on and on about how sad I am, but instead, I want to focus on everything (that I can think of) that I LOVE about this place:
- Walking everywhere – The German culture is heavy on the outdoors, which doesn’t just make it easy to walk everywhere, but there are designated bike lanes, sidewalks throughout town and paths in the woods and in the countryside!
- Public Transportation – Oh the trains – I love taking the train places and they go everywhere! It’s going to be hard without having that option everyday.
- Farmer’s Markets – I’ve looked into the Fresh Farm delivery system for when we get back to Savannah and the prices are ridiculous! I’m going to miss my weekly trips to the markets where I’d spend minimal amounts of money on delicious produce and flowers that would last for weeks.
- Grocery Carts – No cars getting dented here! You pay to use carts, which mean if you want your money back you have to return the cart back to the designated areas.
- Castles – It’s sad but it’s you almost become immune to driving on the autobahn and seeing castle ruins on the side of the road. It makes me sad that I started taking it for granted.
- Quaint German Towns – It’s crazy because German towns almost don’t seem real – like they were made for tourism…when really, even the unknown towns (to non-Germans) are as cute as the popular tourist ones.
- Beer and Wine – Delicious beer and wine for pennies (euro pennies, that is!) I looked at one of my favorite restaurants in Savannah’s menu and they were selling a bottle of Riesling from the Mosel Valley for $34!!! I can buy the same product here for $3!! The sticker shock is going to hurt!
- Biergardens – There is honestly nothing like meeting a group of friends at a biergarten on a warm summer night.
- Fests! – Germans have a festival for anything and everything – and it’s not just big towns either! Some of the best fests I have been to were in the smaller towns. Germans know how to celebrate – and they do it while acting like adults and treating everyone like adults (no paper products here for the eco-friendly Germans!). I’m going to miss having at least 5 fests to choose from each weekend!)
- Sundays – Everything in Germany shuts down on Sundays. I’ve come to appreciate that it is truly a day of rest.
- Christmas Markets – There is nothing like a German Christmas market to put you in the holiday spirit. If I write more, I may start to cry now. These were beautiful and fun, even in the cold.
- Gluhwein – PSA: I HATED Gluhwein the first time I tried it, but I think it was a bad batch. What makes walking around a Christmas market on a cold night in winter even better is the gluhwein. (On a side note, I’m coming home with packets to make the wine and a fail-proof, I hope, recipe!)
- Fall – The colors and crisp weather – you don’t get fall in Georgia like you do here. Two years ago was the first time I had a true fall in 10 years. I forgot how much I loved it!
- Bäckereien – Germans buy their breads and pastries daily because the ingredients they use mean the products will only last a day or two. A chocolate croissant and cappuccino? Perfect way to start the day.
- Gelato – No where in the states can I buy a gelato for the equivalent to 1E that will be worth anything. In Europe, paying more than 1E for a scoop is highway robbery!
- Windows – German windows have three settings – closed, cracked and all the way open. I love the windows here and wish I could transport them back to the states!
- No Jaywalking – Even if no car is in sight in either directions, Germans will not cross the street until given the green light. It’s an oddity to us Americans who are go, go, go but I now feel guilty crossing on a red light!
- Safe feelings – This may be one of the hardest ones for me to leave here, but I feel incredibly safe here in Germany. I’ve gone running on cold winter nights at 10 p.m. and not worried even a little bit. I won’t even think about doing that in the states. I am not so naive to think that there aren’t threats over here, but they are different threats somehow.
- Rules – This links into the safe feelings. Germans are all about rules – there is a time and place for everything and for the most part, Germans abide by these rules.
- Cheap Travel – Of course traveling in Europe is going to be hard to leave behind, but John and I will continue to travel in the US and other places, so that is not a problem. But $50 round trip flights to Rome? Or $60 to London? That’s sad to leave.
- Drivers – EVERYONE PAY ATTENTION – the left lane is ONLY for passing! Germans get this, I wish Americans would. Also – USE YOUR BLINKER! I’m worried about the driving a lot!
- Responsibility – I’ve touched on this a little bit, but I love how Germans expect everyone to have personal responsibility. They don’t put screens on windows or nets to cover openings on bridges, because you should really know better than to fall out or through them. And you should teach your kids the same. I love this mentality.
- Gemuchlichtkeit – This means “warm feelings” in German, and it’s a sense of togetherness. Germans get a reputation for being cold but that is not the case at all. More often than not, at a biergarten or restaurant, you will share a table. And everyone is nice and friendly. Good feelings all around.
- White Asparagus – NO, the stuff in the canned food section is not the same. Not at all.
- The church bell – We had a church right near our apartment and I got so used to listening for it so I knew what time is was. I really miss that – I never had to look at a clock while home!
- Clean everything – Trash is put in garbage bins, and if there is a fest, the grounds are cleaned every night. People respect their surroundings here. It’s all so clean!
- Autobahn – The autobahn is kept pothole-free (really free of anything) and this goes hand-in-hand with good drivers. The roads have to be immaculate because at the speeds people drive, a pothole would be deadly. So they keep up the roads year-round.
- Speeding tickets – I’m actually going to miss the speed cameras, because more often than not, a ticket will only cost you around the equivalent of $30 or less. AND it doesn’t go on your record. The states really need to stop the whining about the flash and go with this system (as long as the ticket prices lower!) I’m not looking forward to if and when I get pulled over and get a $100 ticket.
- Noise levels – Everyone who visits, or first moves here, notices how quiet it is…even if there is a crowd of people. And if there is a loud group, it’s usually Americans. We can be in a crowded restaurant and still maintain a conversation at a normal level. Music isn’t blaring, people aren’t shouting. It’s so enjoyable.
- Germany – There is so much more to this list: biking, grocery shopping daily, wearing a dirndl and it being totally normal. It’s been such an amazing and life-changing experience and I hate to see it end.
Now, I don’t want to end this on a “German is awesome, the States aren’t” note, because that’s not true either. Of course, America is home and I do love it. It’s just different, and in some respects, better.
- Mexican food – There are Mexican restaurants here and they just need to be avoided at all costs. They are not good at all, and expensive at that!
- Lines are lines – Germans don’t do lines at all. Unless you are vigilant and a teeny bit aggressive, you will wait forever in a bakery on a Saturday because people will cut and not think twice.
- English – It’s so nice to travel to places like England and Ireland and Scotland, because you can understand everything! My German improved leaps and bounds over here, but it’s so nice to just walk into a place and understand what is going on.
- Convenience – Need medicine at 11 p.m.? You’ll get it at 8 a.m. The concept of 24 hours, or even a grocery opened past 10 p.m., is unheard of here! And gas stations? Better keep the tank full at half because you could find yourself stranded quick! It will be nice to be back in the land of open all-night and rest areas at every exit!
- Family and friends – We made great ones here but we also have great friends back in the States, and I can’t wait to see them all again. And it will be so nice to be only a short plane ride, or even a long drive, away from my family again.
So, this is my good-bye blog, but I’m not done posting quite yet! There are so many places I still want to write about and I have trip recaps to finish. I’m just going to save those for those nights I feel especially sad and need to reminisce a little bit! Farewell Germany, it has been a pleasure.