It’s been a week since we returned from our 3-week adventure in Germany, ended by a 3-day run in Austria. The trip was filled to the brim with Christmas cheer, new and old friends, and a whole lot of eating! Here are 5 things that we will never forget about our time in Deutschland!
1.) Christmas Markets
Caleb – Raise your hand if you’ve been to Disney World. OK. You know that feeling you get when you’re in Disney? That feeling that everything around you feels sort of magical? Well, that’s exactly how we felt at our first Christmas Market. An entire city block is transformed into a winter wonderland complete with garland and lights covering every inch of the way. The smell of grilled bratwurst fills the air while people huddle beneath one of the many Glühwein stands enjoying the seasonal beverage. Each market has its own style which makes every visit its own unique festive experience.
2.) German Food
Caleb – No matter what time of the day it is, mealtime always seems to be its own important juncture. We had no shortage of delicious faire from sun up to sun down. Whether it was the full platter of sliced meats, fine cheeses, and brötchen (bread) for breakfast, or the Schnitzel, wurst, and potato salad we enjoyed in the evenings, this meat and potatoes diet suited us just fine! Between meals, coffee and kuchen (cake) seemed to inevitably make their appearance.
Caleb – My grandma Ushi is German. Growing up, I didn’t really think much about the family she’d left behind in her homeland. Grandma married Grandpa after the war and moved to the States soon after. Her parents, brothers, and the rest of the family stayed in Germany. She still visits them often, and many of them have made trips to America in years past. But I hadn’t met most of them until we connected on Facebook and they ended up hosting us for several nights in their homes. In a lot of ways our meeting can be described as one big blind date. When we arrived, we were greeted with a room full of over 20 smiling Germans singing a song to welcome us. From that point until we left, they were so hospitable and kind. My dad’s cousin and her husband hosted us 2 nights and her daughter (my 2nd cousin) hosted us another 4 nights near Munich. Our trip just wouldn’t have been the same without meeting all of them. We definitely hope to have many more dates with them in the future!
4.) The History
Becca – We always knew the history of Germany was pretty interesting, but we found out just HOW interesting it was after visiting cities like Berlin. As we drove into the city, we came in from the side that the Soviets had control of after WWII. Bland apartment buildings, one after the other in rows, lined the streets. They were hurriedly built after the war so that people would have a roof over their heads instead of being left homeless on the streets. Everything important in the city had been bombed. Churches, government buildings, monuments. And every city we visited in Germany was the same – each place had pictures up of what the buildings looked like before the war, and then after the war – completely destroyed. I felt like I kept asking, “Was this destroyed in the war?…and was THIS destroyed in the war?” To which the response was always, “Everything was destroyed. Everything.” It was amazing to think how much has happened in the past 70 years to renovate and restore these buildings and churches that were thousands of years old – to literally have to build them back up from the ground. And along with that, so incredibly sad to think that all that history, and so many beautiful things and people, were destroyed simply because a government wouldn’t raise the white flag. It brought up to me again and again how great our need is for a Savior.
5.) Hamid & Jessi
Becca – And last but not least, we LOVED being able to stay with some of our dearest friends in the world, Hamid and Jessi. They did it all. They planned the entire trip and were our translators, travel buddies, amazing restaurant-finders, Christmas market companions, and winter coat lenders (which was a LIFESAVER as Germany is FREEZING and we had NO winter gear!). They even let us barge in on spending Christmas with their families, which was a really special time for Caleb and me. For those of you that don’t know the story, we met Hamid and Jessi 2 1/2 years ago hiking in Yosemite National Park. One couple got to asking the other couple to take a picture for them, which led to a conversation, which has now led to them coming twice to the States to visit us, and one trip for us to Germany. Sometimes I wonder how people who have spent such little time together, in the grand scheme of a lifetime, can be such good friends. But we are. And we plan to stay friends for pretty much, well, forever!
All that to say, our time in Germany and Austria was a blast, and we’re hoping to someday go back in the summer so we can experience the great outdoors and maybe get in some hiking in the Alps! We’re currently a week into school here in Egypt, and are looking forward to some special visitors coming soon. 🙂 We love you all!!