I love Germany.
Germany is a country I have wanted to visit most of my life, so when the opportunity arose for me to go to Germany two different times this semester, I jumped at the chance. If you know me, you probably know that I’ve long dreamed of seeing Germany. Whenever we did those little ice breaker games and the question came up: “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?” I always said Germany, with my reason being some mix between my heritage, the history, and–most importantly–the number of people I know who live there.
So when I had my Easyjet boarding passes printed off and was on the train to the Manchester airport early one October morning, I knew I was in for a bucket-list-checking-off, memory-making trip of a lifetime!
My first taste of Germany was the city of Munich. Munich is probably the city in Germany I’ve wanted to visit for the longest amount of time because that’s where Ines is from! So when I found out in July that she was getting married…and her wedding would be in October…in Munich…I was beyond excited. (Sidenote: It’s actually really amazing how everything fell into place. I had to go through some hard stuff with changing plans, transferring colleges, and changing plans again…but if I hadn’t, I would have been in America this semester and wouldn’t have gotten to go to Ines and Nicola’s wedding.)
So I woke up early, hopped on the train to Manchester Airport, grapped a cup of jo (Pumpkin Spice Latte! Finally!!), and–after a bit of a delay–boarded my flight.
Once I arrived in Munich, Ines was giving me chocolate almost right away (she knows me WAY too well..haha. Also: Kinder Country bars are the bombbbb.), and I got to finally meet her family, who I have been hearing about for years from Ines and my Grandma!
The next afternoon, the wedding festivities began! Overall, the wedding festivities were such a fun, multicultural experience! First was the civil ceremony which included most of the German and Sardinians decked out in traditional dress. Even though I didn’t understand the Italian-Germany ceremony, this was when the important papers were signed, and I could already start to get a sense of the….differences…between the Italian and German cultures. :)
Next we drove past the Oktoberfest grounds (the celebration having ended just days before) and to the huge beer hall for the toast (No worries, mom, I stuck to another class Bavarian drink–apple juice and club soda! :) Yumm!). I also got my first taste of the Bavarial pretzel, or Brezeln. All I can say is YUMMM!! :) Crispy and salty on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside, these are the greatest! Nothing like the pretzels you’d find in a bag or even the giant pretzels you buy at the fair. The toast was a great time of celebration, and I learned that Italians sure know how to celebrate! Laughter echoed through the giant hall as the Sardinians sang song after song, even attracting some onlookers with their iPhones and cameras at one point. After the toast, it was off to bed to rest up for the big celebration tomorrow!
HOWEVER, when I got back to my hotel room, I got the pleasant surprise of finding out that Inga (who studied abroad at MLC my junior year) was studying in Munich! So early the next morning, I hestitantly hopped on the U-Bahn, hoping I was on the right train with the right kind of ticket (#langugagebarriers), and got myself down to Marienplatz to meet up with her. Over the next few hours, we walked through the English Gardens, a couple cathedrals, saw some of the main sights, and just caught up on LIFE of the past 3 1/2 years…and I also got to introduce Inga to the wonderful drink known as the Pumpkin Spice Latte. :) Standing by a red brick bridge, under trees with orange and gold leaves, while drinking a PSL? Yes, it finally felt like autumn.
Then it was back on the U-Bahn to go get ready for the wedding! We went to the beautiful cathedral for the lovely service in Italian and German with singing in English from a gospel choir. After lots of hugs, pictures, and blowing bubbles, we were then off to the reception at a fabulous lakeside hotel. The venue was absolutely gorgeous, and the food was probably the best I’ve had in my life! It was also such a great party! In proper Italian-style, the meal lasted for a few hours and was a fun time of conversation and meeting new people. I even got to meet a couple from England who traveled and taught English for five years–basically I want to be them. :) Then it was time to DANCE! This went on for hours and hours and was such a blast–too much of an experience to be able to capture in words.
The next day (Sunday) was too be my last in Munich, so after a nice sleep-in, I got to spend the afternoon with the Hansons and Ines & Nicola walking around the city center. We got to see some great sites like the Theatinerkirche, the spectacular city hall, Hofbrauhaus, try some traditional Bavarian food, and just enjoy each others company and conversation. Then it was off to the airport for me and back to Wales.
I had SUCH a fab time in Munich. The city was so beautiful–from the brilliant fall colors to the huge, historic buildings. Also, visiting it felt like such a piece of home. I had always wanted to visit Ines, especially since she has come to visit us so many times in Minnesota, and I also got to spend a lot of time with the Hansons who are also from Mountain Lake–I got to catch up on the latest ML news, and just have that connection to home for a few days.
After a few more weeks of class and field trips around Wales, I was headed back to Germany–this time to Potsdam and Berlin to see Nicki and Leona! I was so beyond excited to be reunited with these two as almost all of my great memories of senior year include them! I was also excited to be back in Germany once again, ready to practice the few German phrases I had added to my vocabulary, and ready to eat some more of that great Milka chocolate! :)
I arrived in Berlin late Thursday morning and with the help of Leona’s text messages and the Travel Info receptionist at the airport, I hopped on a train to Potsdam (once again, hoping/praying I was on the right train and that I had changed at the right place…haha). But soon I was reunited with Leona and got to go to her house and meet her family (again, people I had heard a lot about and even seen on skype!). We spent a lot of time just eating chocolate and ice cream and catching up…but it was also Halloween, so we needed to celebrate! Leona had been sewing herself a pumpkin costume the last few weeks, so we quickly pulled a costume together for me as well, did some crazy face paint, and then walked around the city and went trick or treating! This was so much fun, plus I got to try lots of new German candy :) and learn a few new German phrases. After getting all tuckered out from trekking around Potsdam, we came back to eat our candy and watch Pride & Prejudice. Typical. In just a few short hours we basically summed up senior year: chocolate, ice cream, eating cereal with big spoons, and watching Pride & Prejudice. Basically the best. :)
The next afternoon we took the train to the city center to Berlin…well, Leona got off a few stops earlier to say goodbye to a friend, and I continued on! After exploring a little bit on my own and finding the Brandenburg Gates, I got a call from Nicki that she was on her way to meet up with me! I was so excited to see her again, and we spent the next few hours wandering around, seeing the sites, and–once again–just catching up on life!
The next afternoon Leona and I met up with Nicki once again for some SHOPPING on the main shopping street in Berlin! We hung out there for a few hours, but then Leona was off to say goodbye to another friend, and Nicki and I headed on over to the mall closer to her house–one a little more in our style (and budget) range. :)
But before our shopping continued there, we first had to stop for an EIS (ice cream) break, of course…and finally, after YEARS of waiting (see my “I Scream, You Scream, the WORLD Screams for Ice Cream” speech senior year about ice cream around the world), I got to try SPAGHETTI EIS!!!!!
Nicki and I sat down at a table at the adorable little Eis Cafe in the mall and opened up the grand menu filled with all kinds of crazy, elaborate eis creations (although, I unfortunately had left my memory card back at Leona’s, so I have no pictures of it…)
For those of you who don’t know, Spaghetti Eis is a brilliant German creation. Basically it’s ice cream made to look like spaghetti, complete with vanilla ice cream “noodles,” strawberry “spaghetti sauce,” and white chocolate “parmesan cheese” dusting the top! Plus, stick in a cookie just for a little extra glam. And it tasted SO GREAT! Bucket list–check!! :)
(And yes, I was outrageously excited in this moment…just ask Nicki! haha)
After some more shoppinngggg along with getting to try the amazing “Currywurst” (another delicious German food creation….anybody else sensing a theme here?), Leona was back and we were ready for a fun night all together followed by a slumber party at Nicki’s (with more Pride & Prejudice, of course!).
Sunday afternoon (we..err..might have stayed up a *little* late and consequently slept in a *little* while :P), it was back to Potsdam for Leona and me. I also had the conclusion to my lesson in the beast known as the Berlin public transportation system. It’s great for getting around, but boy, is it complicated! Where as in Munich, I just had to deal with the U-Bahn, but here we were zipping around from train to U-Bahn to S-Bahn, to bus to tram. Thankfully though, I almost always had Leona and her nifty smartphone app with me telling exactly where to go.
Back in Potsdam, Leona and I decided to do a “biking tour” of the city! We got to see some sights like her beautiful church and its grounds as well as a great view from the top of the city!
We closed out the night with some Harry Potter (just to bring things full circle), and then in the morning, I was back on a train to the airport…sad to say goodbye to Germany again…and probably for longer this time.
Overall, I really loved Germany so much and so enjoyed my time there. I loved the people, the places, the language, the culture, the food, even the climate! :) Basically, I’m moving to Germany the first chance I get. Now I just have to learn German and find a nice German boy… ;)