Living in Germany
Memorable years spent in Deutchland
Bratwurst, beer, and black forest cake. The first encounter made once I put my feet down for the very first time onto Deutchland soil, was of a culinary nature. With my husband being stationed in Darmstadt,Germany, there was no better way to get acquainted with a new culture while still enjoying familiar American surroundings on the U.S Army base.
I spent a great three years in Germany and I still cherish great memories as I mentally unfold the pages of a virtual picture album. I still remember the cold merciless German winters, where the trees unfolded against the howling winds and the snow accumulated over the frozen streets. Yet, even though the cold was overwhelming at times, I still did feel the warmness of adorable towns lit up for their Christmas markets, where people gathered in the quiet dark nights. Christmas markets were unique and not like any Macy's or fancy stores we have in the U.S. Rather, markets offered hand made crafts that were quite irrestistible featuring candles, wood carved toys, blown glass, and much more. The smell of roasted chestnuts filled the air as you sipped on a glass of tasteful mulled wine. I loved to buy "Lebkuchen", typical gingerbread biscuits and offer them as a gift to friends and family.
On the other hand, summers did get quite hot at times and nothing was better than an ice cold beer. I used to go downtown by riding the streetcar, a reliable transportation system that would deliver you punctually along the main arteries of town. Transportation was great and I never really used the car. Tickets for the street car were bought easily at small convenient booths accepting Euro coins.
I have to admit that I really regret not being able to learn the German language. I thought from scratch that the language was very difficult to learn and never really put much effort.
I took a class of three days covering the basics, so all I have brought along in my cultural baggage consisted of only a few words such as "Enshuldigung" excuse me, "Guten tag" good day and "sprechen zie English?" do you speak english?
Germans were very courteous and friendly from what I could see, however the language barrier prevented me from getting much acquainted with them, such as mingling at bars and restaurants. I did notice that Germans tend to sit at the table you are seated at and later learned that this is a normal procedure. Tables are not considered private, so you may have some Germans join you for a talk as you are sitting alone.
However, I was happy to see that Germans were very fluent in English and everywhere I went somebody seemed to understand me.
The black forest is a must for anyone visiting Germany. I loved the lymph green forests and the fresh air. It felt like Hansel and Gretel would have popped up from behind a tree at any time as I strolled the rural, earthy paths. In the midst of the woods I stopped at a shop with plenty of wood carved coo-coo clocks and majestic grand father clocks. Afterward, at a local restaurant, I tasted the best black forest cake ever and it seems like as of today, I could still taste it's juicy cherries and the dark chocolate sponge cake topped with refreshing whipped cream.
As fall approached, a lot of my friends were going on day tours: destination Aushwitz or other famous concentration camps. I really never gave this a thought, as I felt I needed to see much happier places. While interesting and historical, I thought that concentration camps should not go into my recreational plans and so I kept them in my mind as a closed chapter of the past. I opted to go on a nice cruise over the Rhein on a foggy fall day instead. My husband and I enjoyed the romantic cruise over the river as the tour highlighted beautiful castles and churches. While I returned relaxed from my day trip, my friends seemed sad and bothered from the concentration camp viewings.
Back to food, potatoes and sausages are a favorite dish. However, there is much more than schnitzel and kartoffen. I am proud to be very open minded when it comes to food. I will try just about any dish and I am happy to have done so in Germany. Some of the best foods can be found there if you are willing to try different dishes.
German bakeries can sure be a fantastic sight. I remember a great variety of breads, pies, cakes and pastries. I used to love visitng the bakery, just the smell and sights were enough to make my day special. Nothing beats a warm slice of apple strudel in the morning!
As you can see I am very fond of my memories of Germany. Germany is much more than beer, bratwurst and black forest cakes. It is a wonderful country full of history and culture. Whether you visit the charming Christmas markets, modern metropolis, or the crowded fall Octoberfest, Germany will stay fresh and fond in your memories regardless of time. I know this for a fact, as German memories come back to me any time in my living room as my coo coo bird calls out the time from my authentic coo coo clock each day.