ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Traveling and Living in Germany

Updated on August 20, 2016
WIESBADEN TRAIN STATION
WIESBADEN TRAIN STATION
The Real Frankenstein Castle
The Real Frankenstein Castle

Many Adventures

When I arrived in Germany at 15 years old during 1968 as an American military dependent, I was in store for many adventures. I hadn’t wanted to go when my step dad received orders to report to Wiesbaden Air Force Base. But later, I was glad I did, because I would have missed out on some of the best memories of my life.

Since we were in a foreign country my parents decided one of us should learn how to speak German and I was selected. I took the class at my school, General H. H. Arnold High School, in Wiesbaden, at that time the largest American military dependent school in the country.

This turned out to be harder than expected since at my last school in California I had just completed 2 years of Spanish. My poor German teacher had a heck of time getting me to quit forming sentences in half Spanish and Half German, with a little Japanese thrown in from also living there for a time. However, I learned enough to get around and communicate with the locals and read train and bus schedules.

Our parents made sure we saw as much of Germany and neighboring countries as possible taking us on many tours and sightseeing trips like the Rhine River cruiseand Frankenstein . Not the Hollywood version, but in a real, small town called Frankenstein which wasn’t on the usual tourist maps.

In the meantime, I had met a German boy about my age, Heinz, and we became fast friends. Heinz spoke better English than we did and that was a big help to us during our stay in his country.

While my parents took us to many usual tourist spots, Heinz took me places I could see the daily life most Germans lived. We did a lot of bicycle touring through mountains and little towns off the beaten path and I learned a lot. One thing I learned is there are six different dialects of German spoken in Europe and if you aren’t fluent in German, which I wasn’t, conversations can become very confusing and sometimes you may inadvertently offend someone. This happened to me while Heinz and I were on a city bus.

What to see in Germany

Respect For Elders

To understand the situation, you need to know Germans have a deep respect for their elder citizenry. An older Gentleman boarded our fully loaded bus and stood holding an overhead hand strap. The old-timer glared at me for a moment before launching into a tirade of German, some of which I wasn’t familiar with. What I got out of his verbal attack was something close to “The seats were really nice”. But that didn’t make any sense! Meanwhile, everyone on the bus was staring at me with amused smiles. I replied in German they were indeed nice seats. He continued to stare at me menacingly until he disembarked, at which time he launched another verbal assault. There were more snickers and smiles from the passengers.

Confused, I asked my friend why the old man was so upset. He didn’t want to tell me, so I prodded him until he relented and explained. Apparently the man didn’t know I was an American and had asked why I didn’t stand up and give him my seat. This was expected behavior from a younger person. So, I learned a valuable lesson in common courtesy that day.

Heinz also took me to many of his high school functions such as sports meets, dances and places where I also met many of his friends. On this note let me comment, I never met anyone who supported Adolph Hitler…they will quickly change the subject if brought up!

I also discovered Germans are family orientated and love sports activities. In fact, many are members of local sports clubs. On weekends, families out for a walk or cycling are common sights. I became a member of a few my friend belonged to such as a weight lifting organization, swimming club and a race walking team.

I spent a lot of time with Heinz’s family and went many places with them. I often ate at his house and became fond of his mother’s cooking. But, German meals differ somewhat from that of most Americans.

For instance, it’s rare they cook an evening meal. Supper is often a simple affair usually consisting of whole grain breads, cold cuts, cheeses and fruits. It was strange eating sandwiches without mustard, mayonnaise or other condiments. And drinks are served at room temperature because they believe cold beverages are bad for digestion.

In spite of this don’t get the impression the German diet is all health foods. Anywhere you go you’re bound to find local sausage shops. Germans are famous for their large variety of different sausages, such as knockwurst, bratwurst, Wiener schnitzel and sauerbraten to name a few.

Germans also consume a lot of alcoholic drinks. In fact, wine is common at meals and is even served to children. By the way, the Germans don’t suffer the alcoholism rate America does.

Their world renowned beers are much stronger than normally available in the United States, usually around 12% alcohol. Their well known wines are a major export. At that time the legal drinking age was 16.

For all of Heinz’s assistance we also took him along on many of our family outings. We once invited him on a camping trip along the Rhine River. We drove our car packed to capacity with drink coolers, barbecue grill, large family sized tent and a ton of food. When we arrived at our destination we found the site to be a bicycle camping ground. Many Europeans love to tour by bicycle and the camp ground was dotted with tiny, multi-colored nylon tents. Cyclists, by necessity, travel light with only the bare essentials. We received a few odd looks as we unloaded our huge store of gear.

Our camp took shape as we pitched our big tent, fired up the large grill and began preparing lunch. We watched the neighboring campers as they lit their tiny styrene fueled cooking cans. Soon, our charcoal was ready and Dad threw some hamburgers on the grill. Shortly, the delicious aroma of grilling meat began drifting across the grounds. Campers began peering out of their tents to see what was on our menu. Eventually, a few started milling a little closer to get a better look. One of the braver ones came over and began a conversation with Heinz. By this time we had made a few big American sized hamburgers piled high with lettuce, tomatoes and the usual fixings. Dad offered a plate to our new found friend which he hungrily devoured with delight. He had never had an old fashioned American barbecue.

Other’s gained courage and started trickling over. We generously gave them all a plate and had a great time talking and comparing notes about our different countries, while Heinz translated for us. The meals they had brought remained unattended and forgotten.

Following our meal we kids wandered off to explore the river bank where we found a group of other kids. They happened to be from London, so we were able to converse a little easier. But their British accents were somewhat difficult to understand at times and vice versa. They said they planned to visit America someday, but then most Europeans say that.

I wonder if our British friends ever visited the United States. If they did, I hope they didn’t end up in Boston, Texas or the deep south. If they thought they had trouble understanding us…imagine the load of trouble they would have had with those dialects!

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)