My first full day in Germany has come and gone and I am completely exhausted. We began this morning with breakfast where I was thrilled to find out Germans value this first meal of the day just as much as I do! I ate my first sunny-side up egg (one of my favorite breakfast foods) since my arrival in Europe, followed by rolls with your choice (ok not your choice, my choice) of homemade jams, cheese, butter, honey, and, of course, nutella. We also had fruit, orange juice, coffee, and I am sure Brigitte would have jumped to comply with any other desire because she is just that nice. This was definitely a welcome break from the Spanish equivalent of “the most important meal of the day”- coffee and a croissant.
We then went to pick up her daughter, Jennifer, and then to meet her other daughter, Nicolai, who is also Jana and Laura’s mom, and son-in-law, Klaus, at the train station to head to the city of Mainz.
Once we got there, they showed me three different churches around the city, each possessing different Baroque, Gothic, and Romantic qualities. The churches in Germany are so different from any of the other European ones that I have visited. It is also nice because, unlike in Spain, here you do not have to pay to go into every single church. The first one we went to, St. Stephens, was my favorite because of the stained glass window art.
While walking to lunch, we ran into this food market, which I loved looking at. In Madrid, we have markets but not really outdoor food ones that remind me of the farmer’s markets at home!
We had a wonderful lunch in Mainz at a German restaurant. I had the goulash (which I later found out was made with male deer) that was delicious and accompanied with red cabbage, which is one of my favorite German foods! The rest of the day was mostly spent walking around and shopping. Although I did not come out with anything besides a bag of gummy bears, they are the best gummy bears I have ever had.
I also saw so many advent calendars! The problem with traveling on the budget airlines though is that they are really cheap about carry-ons and strictly restrict you to one bag. Unfortunately, I have ZERO space in my backpack so for better or for worse, do not think I can bring anything more than a candy bar with me back to Spain. The saying, “Take only memories, leave only footprints,” has never rang so true.
The best advent calendar I saw though? This baby:
For each day you get something from Kinder- some days it would even be a Kinder egg, me and my brother’s favorite European chocolate delight from when we were young. They also have calendars with gourmet gummies in them and one with really big pieces of expensive chocolate! It was amazing to me how many Christmas decorations are already up and it is only the beginning of November.
We went to Nicolai’s for dinner and had my absolute favorite German food, spaetzle! It was homemade by her and hit the spot. We also had pumpkin soup, which I have been craving since autumn arrived. I asked what else they make with pumpkin, assuming they at least had pumpkin pie or bread, but they said just soup! I think we have something new to introduce them to the next time they come to the states.
We also had a kind of pork that is made specially in one of the close small villages. It was all absolutely delicious and finished off by a homemade tiramisu! If you have not noticed already, the Germans love to eat. Looking back on their visit to the United States, I am starting to think that there is no way they were not starving the entire time because we did not feed them nearly this much food in a day!
Some other things that I noted:
a) My mom said this when she was visiting Spain, but I noticed it here in Germany to a larger extent: the lack of cell phones. Although everyone owns them, you do not see anyone walking around and talking on one, getting up from a meal to take a phone call, or even text messaging while sitting on a bench. I really think it illustrates to an even larger degree the importance of togetherness that the Europeans stress. I think it is something that Americans should definitely work on and something I am going to try to carry with me when I return, but who knows what will happen when the Blackberry returns.
b) Whatever happened to having pictures in wallets? Laura opened her wallet today and had at least fifteen of her friend’s school pictures in it. It brought me back to the old days of wallet photos. Now, we just associate them with senior pictures, but I remember when my dad’s wallet was filled with our portraits to display to all of his friends. I always loved looking at them and showing them to my friends. My favorite was the picture of his entire family because I loved showing off the fact that I could name all my aunts and uncles (shouldn’t be quite an accomplish, but it took time!) Anyways, I think this is something we need to bring back.
c) In Germany, you can order a beer or wine at a restaurant and buy cigarettes at 16. Get your driver’s permit at 17. License, entrance into clubs, and free reign of all types of alcohol at 18. In a way maybe it makes sense. You can start “experimenting” with the effects of alcohol early so that by the time you can drive, you know what’s good for you? Something interesting to think about.
Nicolai and Klaus were nice enough to buy me an English book about the area from Mainz to Koblenz of the Rhine River so I finally know where I am and what I am seeing. Tomorrow we are taking a tour of all the villages surrounding the river that are full of Medieval castles and unlike anything I have ever seen before. I better get to bed now so that I can enjoy a tasty breakfast even sooner!