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Distractions from Germany

The world is, well, let's say a crazy-feeling place right now. So many things coming together to weigh on us. It feels uncertain and scary and hopeless and sad for many for much of the time.

But I’ve found something unexpected to distract me. To give me a welcome reprieve.

When I picked up The Best American Travel Writing (2018) I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. I worried it would make me feel worse. That these beautifully crafted essays would simply remind me of all the things I can’t do right now; all the places I can’t go.

But instead, something about it has made me feel more connected. To the authors and their curiosity, to their subjects as diverse as Egyptian cats and chili peppers, to the world in all its unexpectedness. And I do feel a yearning, but the good kind, you know? The kind that’s helped me feel a little more hopeful and excited.

Anyway, I thought this week I might offer you all the same chance at reprieve and share with you a series of emails - only slightly edited - I sent from the road. From various places in Germany to be exact, where I spent two weeks in 2014.

May it bring you distraction.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Well, I made it. I slept terribly on the plane, so we'll see how long I last today...probably not long. I am only staying in Frankfurt one night. It's really only meant to be a layover - Munich is where I'm off to next, but it was too expensive to fly into and I would have had to connect through Moscow (yikes!). Getting from the airport to the hotel was a quick train ride and a short walk. The weather here is beautiful...not so for my stay in Munich I'm afraid.

Anyway, I don't have big plans today, just going to walk around a bit and get my sea legs so to speak. I should be back to my room by late afternoon, so I can try to call you around 5 pm which should be 9 am your time (I'm tired, I hope I did that math right).

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Salzburg was pretty, even though it poured down rain for most of the afternoon. The guided part of the tour took us to a couple churches and other notable places around the city, so I didn't do much other than walk around and get wet during my free time. My favorite part was the hot dog and beer I got from a street vendor - you eat standing at a little counter attached to the cart. It was really interesting watching that guy work! Then I bought a chocolate covered pretzel that was approximately the size of Oregon and tasted like a would have loved it :)

Everyone pretty much drives BMWs, Mercedes, VWs, big surprise. I've only seen two Fords, but I did see a Jeep in Salzburg today. I took a picture of it for you. I thought you'd get a kick out of seeing a Jeep with a Euro license plate!

Actually met some people on the tour today, which was nice as it gave me someone to talk to. You'd be surprised how many people talk to you when you travel alone. I think they think you must be lonely, which, let's face it, sometimes I am.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ahhh! So much I need to tell you!! Audis and could I forget those when I gave you my list?!? There's also a brand called Opel that I see quite a bit.

Yesterday we took the Autobahn!! I didn't really get the full experience - buses have a speed limit of 100 km/hour, trucks too. Cars don't have a speed limit - obviously - but they do have a "recommended" speed. Last thing from yesterday’s trip to Oberammergau is the air brushed paintings on the houses! Religious scenes mostly, but some had fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood. So amazing.

Today was my trip to Bonn. You know, as a traveller, just when you think you've figured everything out is when you should start to worry. The first train I took, nice, modern, signs that tell you all the stops in English...not so for the second train. I was worried the whole time I had gotten on the wrong train. But nope I made it. The trip through the Rhein valley...simply breathtaking. It's what you think of when you think of Germany. Green cliffs with castles on them, little villages with churches...amazing.

I have more detail to give you but currently I am standing outside a Starbucks with my internet at his place :( ...and everything here is closed. So, tomorrow I'll come back while he's running errands and I'll tell you the rest.

Friday, May 30, 2014 (The University Life)

I am basically staying in a college dorm...complete with stale beer smell. I am sleeping on my brother's bed and he is sleeping on a mattress on the floor that he borrowed from a guy upstairs. It's quite interesting to say the least, but at least the shower is decent.

My brother, as I said, doesn't have internet so he spends a lot of time at Starbucks. Yesterday was a holiday so most everything was closed; Starbucks was open, but it was on Sunday hours thus the closing early and thus me having to stand outside to email you! It was chilly and raining (again), so that should tell you how important you are ;) Today finally though we have a nice day and sunshine! And it should stay sunny at least the rest of the time I'm in Bonn.

For dinner last night, I had currywurst...which is exactly what it sounds like. I also had banana beer...which is also exactly what it sounds like. Dessert was warm apple strudel with ice cream. Yes, it was amazing.

More about the train ride yesterday. The track went right along the river for most of the second half of the trip, so like I said I got to see a lot of sights. They farm right on the side of the hills - well, they're more like cliffs actually - I have no idea how they do it, some of them are very steep. There was a guy sitting across from me the whole time who didn't say a word to me, that is, until these four guys got on. They were loud, looked like they might be in some Euro punk band, and they had literally an entire crate of beer. So, I'm pretty sure he started talking to me because he felt uncomfortable for me. He told me he was born in Bonn and so was Beethoven! (My second composer's birth place!) Bonn is also the home of Haribo, the maker of gummy bears!! He said this year he gets 10 weeks of vacation...I wanted to cry.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Nothing much new to share since we talked. When I met up with my brother we went back to his place to do laundry. Then we walked back to town instead of taking the bus so I could see more. We just got done with a traditional German meal...sausage, sauerkraut, potatoes, and of course, beer. Will be heading back soon to call it a night, so I wanted to take the chance to say goodnight :)

Saturday, May 31, 2014

My brother and I are taking the train to Koln (Cologne in English) today, so will have much more later. Just wanted to say goodnight and that everyone here wears converse tennis shoes.

Monday, June 2, 2014

After schnitzel for dinner (my favorite dish so far), and a few hours by myself last night (my brother went to a friend's to watch soccer-guess he needed a break from me too!) I am feeling better today. Ready to enjoy my last day in Bonn and my last day with my brother because I'm sure I'll miss him as soon as I've left.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

So, yes, I did make it to Hamburg after a four and a half hour train ride... sadly, my Kindle did not :(((( Ugh, I left it on the train! Not only am I bummed that I have to buy another one, but that was all my reading material for the next five days.

Anyway, after I got here and realized that, I decided to take a nice long walk to take my mind off it. So far, Hamburg is the prettiest city to just walk around in. AND, while I was walking I came across a bookstore that had English books...whew! At least that problem is solved.

Quick stay here, just two nights then I head to Berlin and my last stop.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

My train this morning was two hours late leaving and it was crazy raining in Hamburg (so I felt right at home ;)...but I finally made it to Berlin. I'm not in an especially picturesque area so walking around hasn't been super interesting, but my room is really nice and I don't mind staying in.

I'm going to a city called Potsdam tomorrow (just for the day) to see a palace although, honestly I'm a little bored by the thought of it. There's only so many palaces/castles/churches one can see in any given trip and I think I've about reached my limit.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

It is hot and sunny here today, and since I forgot to put sunscreen on this morning I spent most of the day trying to avoid being in the sun. I'm all checked in for my flight tomorrow and I cannot wait! My own bed, my own shower, my own food…it's going to be good to be home.

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