Sunday, December 26, 2010


I'll begin with Germany. It well deserves to start our journey -- country I was born in, country I find myself most often returning to, country with Kartoffelkloesse. Most significantly, however, is the 'at home' feeling that warms me whenever I go to Germany. I have many places I've loved, several I want to return to, but very few that I could picture myself parking my cat and doing crosswords in my old age. Southern Germany easily tops this exclusive list.

To start, Germany is incredibly clean, organized, and beautiful. It is like they've been spending the last 500 years slowly auditioning for the "country most deserving of a postcard" award. You go down a random alley in some tiny village, and BAM, you find yourself facing the most beautiful mountain scenery of your life.

Or you might find yourself facing a fairytale castle (trip note: when you go, bring a tiara. It makes photo opportunities in castles that much better).

Or perhaps when you turn down that little side street you find yourself facing a gas station with a giant banana tower. Inside this magical banana, they have "gas station food", such as fresh crossaint sandwiches and made-to-order pasta. The bathrooms are also spotless with a nice little old man who tends them, proudly telling you that he has the "cleanest bathrooms in the world". And by god, he's right. Oh Germany, land of awesome gas stations.

Not that it is all rainbows and butterflies; being vegetarian in Germany often means eating an unholy amount of potatoes. In fact, on one of my high school trips I believe I ate some form of hashbrown twice a day for a week. And this was before I was of age to wash down my hungry misery with beer. (The situation has improved in the last ten years though. The last time I visited, I had no trouble finding delicious vegetarian meals, often without a potato in sight.)

Also, no matter how hard I try, I will always fail at German. My accent is usually nonexistent, although I occassionally attempt to make cat-coughing-up-furball sounds. I also never remember the different between "kein" (none) and "klein" (small)-- which means all the difference between water with kein bubbles (regular water) and water with klein bubbles (mineral water - the nasty drink of Satan). Obviously, this is not Germany's fault, but my own language handicap that creates both adventure and embarrassment (at the same time!)

But even with these small quibbles, I'd be pretty happy spending the rest of my life in some German cottage. And I bet my cat would be too.

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