Ordinary Adventures in Darling Deutschland
not baby pretzel.
I have the pleasure of being in Germany for a few days while Kris does his taxes, and we visit with his mama. Kris gave me the option of joining him for this trip, and I blurted “yes” before he could finish the question, because something about me wishes I was German. Don’t know if it’s the pretzels (actually called “Brezeln.” SAY WHAT?) or the small towns perfectly lined with green spaces, or the fact that everybody is on time (praise Jesus), but something about good ol’ Deutschland brings me so much joy. I ventured here on a class trip in 8th grade and I most certainly did not want to leave. Being so enamored by a place, despite taking giant tour buses and eating at kitschy rest stops with yodeling servers, is a testament to the beauty of Bavaria in the summer.
So anywho, today I woke up in the lovely town of Dietzenbach, on the outskirts of Frankfurt. After a fresh cup of coffee in bed, (seriously, Kris’ mother is another level of kind) it was time to get the bread for breakfast, so I hopped on a bike and joined Kris’ mama for the morning routine in town. After a nice, carb-filled German breakfast, Kris and I ventured out for his “tax guy” appointment, which lasted a whopping 20 minutes. What to do with our free afternoon? Well, luckily I know a guy who knows his way around the German countryside, so off we went. HOORAY ADVENTURE TIME!
Here’s the great part about Germany. You can have two hours to kill and see about four different ancient villages, all with their own charming touch, and then taste schnapps on the way home!
First stop? Alzenau. A gorgeous town center surrounded by some super old castle/fortress thing. I’m into it. Though I was a bit disappointed when we walked through the main gate of the fortress, and onto a path that led us directly out another gate, and back onto the street. “Huh?” I thought aloud. “Can’t we go in the castle thing?!”
“No honey. They still use it for offices. It’s still working,” said Kris.
German taxpayer dollars doin’ it right.
Ok, so I took this boomerang that makes me giggle at my stupid self in front of the castle, and off we went. Next stop? A small tower with a viewpoint near an apple wine vineyard. Apple wine is a signature drink in these parts, and it reminds me a bit of a flat Sommersby cider, but in a nice way. (They should definitely hire me to do their advertising.) We did our cardio up the stairs of the tower, and were rewarded with a lovely view overlooking the countryside. Ok, so now if you know me, I’m definitely getting hungry. I normally say “I’m hungry” out loud about thirty minutes before I think I’ll be getting ‘hangry’ just to cover my bases. So we stopped at the local grocery store, got a weird yogurt drink, and proceeded to the next place. Albstadt! Albstadt is a special little village, as it’s where Kris spent a large part of his childhood. Every street has a story and every person invokes a memory. It’s not every day you get to experience this part of a person’s history, and I feel lucky to have been in Albstadt twice.
The first time we went to Albstadt Kris was really hyping up the famous hazelnut schnapps that’s distilled right in the center of town, at Edelbrennerei Bernhard Reus. Award-winning, acclaimed hazelnut schnapps…. And the tasting room was… closed. NOT TODAY SATAN! We google’d that sh*t and arrived during opening hours! Uh, to be clear, “opening hours” means the couple that run the place are home, and should they hear your car pull up, they will come outside and consider opening the tasting room. Or in our case, Ulli will come outside, be absolutely thrilled to have a former Albstadtanian (like that?) back, and invite you in for a top-notch tasting. It was wonderful. We walked in to the wooden, Bavarian-style attic filled with shelves of prized schnapps, framed by walls oozing character and tradition. As luck would have it, two of Kris’ Albstadt friends came to join us, complete with their blind dog (duh), and we all sat and drank smooth, buttery-sweet schnapps together. There were grand conversations. I would know. I was the mute in the corner, completely concentrated, forehead scrunched, my brain whizzing through my internal rolodex of German words, trying to decipher everything… I’d say I had 28% success. Schnapps helps.
After a few schnapps and plenty of water, it was time to head back “home” to Dietzenbach, as we fly back to Portugal tomorrow. My brain cells are taking a nice nap after their express German Schnapps Translation Workshop, but my heart is so full. I know I’m in a relatively strange position in life to have this occasional bed in Germany, while living in Portugal, semi-employed, blah blah blah. But I felt compelled to write this post today because it was so damn fun, and so “ordinary” as far as the travel scale goes. The pictures are nothing like my dip in the mystical waters of the Blue Lagoon, but the experience was just as grand, and oh-so cheap!
Today reminded me so much of my hometown and all of the treasures that these little “ordinary” pockets of the world hold. I’m in a sensitive financial position (lol. le broke.) so I’m trying not to do anything too extravagant, and today made my cheap heart flutter. A few hours packed with wonderful, charming and historic places, all for the cost of free ninety-nine. (Ok, we paid for gas, which is really expensive compared to the US, so Americans should stop complaining about gas prices, just saying, rant over.) But anywho. These pockets of adventure are all over the world. You just have to drive. Maybe it won’t lead you to Albstadt, but if you wind up anywhere like Dietzenbach, Germany or Ericeira, Portugal or Middletown, MD something tells me you’ll find a small piece of what feels like “home.”