It’s been six years since we lived in Germany and high time we went back to visit. Finally living on the right coast, we decided to take advantage of the military’s Space Available option and see if we could fly to Germany on the cheap. We got super lucky and landed the last four seats on this no-name airline taking military families to their new overseas assignments.
We had no specific plans in Germany aside from just spending time with friends and soaking up the atmosphere that we have been missing.
No trip is complete without castles though, so we checked that box. Row 1: Schloss Marksburg, The Rhein River from Marksburg, Idstein. Row 2: Wiesbaden Casino, Burg Hohenzollern, Knights in Hohenzollern. Row 3: Heidelberger Schloss, Heidelberg’s Powder Tower, Bad Dürkheim area from Wachtenburg.
Other architecture is pretty awesome too. I don;t think I’ll ever tire of pretty little German towns. I love the way the Europeans combine ancient and modern as well. Row 1: Idstein, Limburg, a metal covered door in Schloss Marksburg. Wiesbaden, a house in Waldenbuch with decorative slate shingles, The Ritter Sport chocolate factory in Waldenbuch. Row 3: The Ritter Sport museum and shop, the corner in Heidelberg that used to house the gallery where I had my first solo show but is now an apartment, Mannheim market.
I didn’t realize how much I missed the food until we returned to Germany. There are certain things I make at home, but so many others I had forgotten about, or that just aren’t the same out of context. Row 1: Spaghetti Eis (ice cream extruded to look like Spaghetti and topped with strawberry sauce), chocolate and nut ice creams presented to look like a baked potato, Döner Kebap (Turkish fast food). Row 2: Curry Wurst (fest food!), Frühstück (breakfast with eggs, cold cuts, cheese breads, yogurt, coffee, the works!), and Flammkuchen (Alsatian pizza-like tart topped with creme fraische, cheese, bacon and onions). Yeah, we gorged on the Flammkuchen. Row 3: Dampfknödel (steamed bun dipped in vanilla sauce), an assortment of cakes (to be enjoyed with coffee and friends at about 4:00), home made jams and jellies from friends because everyone knows how to make them.
Even with ice cream and Flammkuchen, the kids needed more than castles and charming architecture to keep them happy. So, we entertained ourselves the way locals do. Row 1: Ge-Force roller coaster at Holiday Park, Kettenkarousel at Holiday Park, Fourth of July fireworks at the German American Fest in Wiesbaden. Row 2: Chiseling for fossils at a quarry near Stuttgart, planes, trains and automobiles (with slides) at the Technic Museum in Speyer, rock climbing at an indoor playground in Stuttgart. Row 3: amusement rides at the fair in Speyer, Sommerrödelbahn in the Odenwald (luge on a track).
We also thoroughly enjoyed watching World Cup Fussball. We went with friends to a biergarten in Wiesbaden for the Germany France game, to the local Schützenhaus (gun club) for the Germany Brazil smack down, and with another group of friends to a biergarten in Mannheim for the finale against Argentina. It was so much fun to genuinely join in the camaraderie, national pride, and simple excitement. It reminded us of our fantastic summer living in Germany when they hosted World Cup in 2006, but even better because Germany won for the first time in 24 years (and the first time as a united country). Here’s a bunch of the kids all dressed up at the fest after watching the Germany France game.
Another thing we remember fondly was the small town fests. Germans can celebrate anything. Apparently there’s even a Cesarean fest in the town where the first one (in modern times) was performed. We went to the Radish fest in Glasshütte with our Stuttgart-based friends.
The big draw was the old timer tractors brought out by the local tractor club, called Schlepper Freunde. Two were Porsches and one was a Mercedes.
We took silly selfies as friends often do.
And then my family took more silly photos when I left my phone unattended. They look like they should be on an album cover, don’t they?
This guy regaled us with hours of polka. Very fest-like. Though he stuck to the traditional and didn’t play Country Roads…
Yes, those are ketchup and mustard udders.
Did I mention that one set of friends lives just above the Ritter Sport chocolate factory? The air even smells like chocolate! The factory has a great little museum and shop. We came home with the 2 kilo surprise bag of assorted goodies.
The Germans are nothing if not efficient and organized. Even the trees are numbered (well, not all of them, but the ones that are regularly cared for).
Other trees are cut and stacked for firewood. There’s nothing quite like a perfectly stacked row of German firewood.
And then there’s the truly unexplainable. The town of Bad Dürkheim has a mineral spring where they pump the salty water to the top of a giant loofa wall so that people may enjoy the curative powers of salty air as the wind blows through the wall.
Heidelberg University has the Studenten Karzer where unruly students were incarcerated for infractions such as shouting too loudly at night, or using the familiar instead of formal salutation with a policeman. Students memorialized their time in the prison by painting graffiti on the walls.
And this is the Mephistophemobil at the Technic Museum in Speyer. It’s a wagon adorned with all kinds of things to make a racket as it rolls along. Notice the garden gnome and red antlered antelope.
We had a fantastic time revisiting old stomping grounds as well as exploring new ones. Here we are in the family tree-painted room of hohenzollern castle.
And here I am with the wonderful ladies who I breakfasted and sewed with every other Friday when we lived in Heidelberg.
Two of our neighbors from Heidelberg who now live in Switzerland made the drive up to spend a day with us!
And we spent a super four days with our exchange student and her family (including Oma and the boyfriends).
Sadly, after two and a half weeks, we had to go home. All the flights back to Baltimore on the comfy planes were full, so we hopped on a cargo plane to Dover. It was loud and lacked amenities, but allowed for great legroom and a surprisingly generous box lunch. It was all part of the grand adventure and the kids actually enjoyed it as it’s not every day you get to fly in one of these behemoths with containers and a HMMV in the center aisle!
Tschüss Deutschland, as ever, it was great.