Hello from Germany! Or may I say Gute nacht. After nearly ten hours of travel, and several near hangry episodes, I finally made it to what quickly became one of my favorite places. Everywhere you go, there is a quaint cafe inviting you to experience all that Deutschland has to offer. I love the charm that comes along with the idea of traveling to a foreign country without knowing the language. Instantly everything is offbeat, but fun, and a refreshing sense of adventure begins to displace the stress you brought from home. Truly, there is no comparison to the novelties of international travel.
When I first stepped off the plane, my initial impressions stooped below my eager expectations- thanks to the two hours we spent trudging our way through customs, and the luggage slinging train ride that almost resulted in missing family members and run away bags. Fortunately, we befriended a seasoned German couple that had just made it back from Canada! When he saw we were in need of help, he kindly escorted us and our suitcases to the proper exit. If not for him, I would think chivalry had completely died in Europe.
The first stop after the Frankfurt airport was the enchanting city of Würzburg, which turned out to be a pretty lively place. While we were wandering the streets, discovering all kinds of hidden treasures, we ran into a festival. I still have zero clue as to what they were celebrating, but it gave off a cheerful vibe and fueled the rest of our day. Side note- Did you know that Dirk Nowitzki has a vineyard there? Neither did we until one of our waiters discovered we were from Texas, and proudly shared of his relationship with our very own Dallas Maverick. If you ever decide to make the trip out here, be sure
to wear your walking shoes because my goodness the Fortress Marienberg was breathtaking. I mean that literally considering it was a lengthy hike across the river and up the miniature mountain (some would call this a hill, but I would disagree). Fun fact, this fortress has been inhabited since the late Bronze Age by the Franconian-Thuringian dukes, and was the first Würzburg episcopal church built in 741. On our way up, we saw several street performances that were actually pretty well done. The first was a gang of German break dancers that took pride in their beatbox, and the choreography to soul-filled music, but just down the road was a small girl with a powerful presence as her violin sung sweet sounds that continued throughout the beginning of our hike. Getting to the top of the trail made me really thankful for the world’s ice cream makers. Y’all, it was so hot. Luckily my mom has a sweet tooth and was easily persuaded to help sniff out the ice cream shop that everyone else seemed to be coming from. Perhaps Germany wanted to give us a warm welcome. Overall, the first day was great, and the perfect way to start our trip even with the couple of bumps in the road. Würzbug, you were good to us, but it’s time to say hello to Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
If I had to to sum up the way my family travels in just a few words, I would have to use these- Let’s. Do. It. All. Yes, you read that correctly- ALL. Our morning began pretty early because we were packing the car to head to the next town on our list, but the first step was to overcome the notorious autobahn. For those of you that have never heard of the autobahn, this is the set of German highways that have cars driving roughly 90 or more miles per hour, and they are ENCOURAGED to do so. Come on America. Let’s make this happen. In all seriousness though, Germany does a great job when it comes to driving. When you’re on the autobahn, you never pass anyone on the right, only the left. This might not sound super amazing to you right now, but it’s actually genius because it makes driving safer, and much more predictable…not to mention quicker. When my mom pointed out that the cars didn’t have any dings in them, my sister lovingly made the remark that everyone was driving 130 km/hour, so there was no dinging involved, just huge collisions. Thanks, Madison. We can always count on you for the uplifting story. When we pulled into Rothenburg, one word came to mind- whimsical. This city wasn’t like anything I had ever seen before. I thought I might have fallen into Pinocchio’s village for a few seconds. The buildings were skillfully crafted with stone that was accompanied by mindfully placed planks of wood that gave off the stereotypical German ambiance. If you aren’t careful, you might mistake our Hotel for part of the smurf village with the abundance of flowers, and the round wooden door (don’t worry the front desk didn’t show any signs of papa smurf). From here our trip only got better. The Burg Hotel has taught me two things so far. First, Germans have two attitudes towards Americans. On one hand, they are grouchy and look like they woke up to a bad cup of espresso with their face all scrunched up. But then there are others that are eager to get to know you and teach you everything you could possibly want to know about their home. For instance, while we were going through the final stages of customs at the airport we found an officer that was a small young man with a thick accent. When he saw we were from Texas, he decided to let us know that he liked “The Lone Star State.”(Way to go Texas. You’re influencing people everywhere.) The fascination of this little town continued when we met the owner of our hotel, who is an older gentleman that greeted us at the door. He even drew us a map of all the things to see in the city. But there was one major mistake made…..I know, it was going so well…he told my mom there was too much to see for one day. Rookie he was, bless his heart. If you don’t know my mom, it would be wise to learn that Germany is her favorite place in the world. Since I was a little girl, my mom has told me stories from when she and my dad first visited and journeyed along the Romantic Road. Finally, in 2017, we are here. With that in mind, I am sure you can imagine that she had every intention of making it to everything on that old man’s list. Here are some of the things we did- climb the Town Hall tower (52 meters tall), explore the German Christmas Museum, Night Watchman’s Tour, experience German food, drink wine and coffee, walk around the city’s defense wall, climb to the top of the watchman’s tower, visit the oldest house in town, attend a town square convect…just to name a few. But y’all we did it. We did it all. I guess you can say we lived up to my self-proclaimed motto.
Adventure wise, I really loved making it to the top of the Town Hall tower. You could see the rolling hills, the small cottages, and take in the beauty of creation in another part of the world.
The thing about traveling abroad is that life is so incredibly different. To the point that every few hours I had to stop and say to my family, “I don’t understand the European lifestyle, but I love it.” They have the most interesting ideas. As we were walking through the cobble-stone streets, I had to take a moment to take it all in. Think about it, I am in a country that is over 3000 miles from my home with people surrounding me that do not speak my language, yet I feel at peace. I also enjoyed walking the wall because it took you to the oldest parts of the city that have stood the test of time, a thing we all get to know the older we get. As far as family time goes, driving in the car was a lot of fun. Good ol’ adrenaline brings the Nelson family together. We laughed together as we jammed out to American music on the German radio stations, and broke into hysterical tears as we were all passed by a mini van going 160 miles per hour. Who knew soccer mom’s could be such dare devils? Germans really do take soccer seriously. The last story I will share was from lunch. Our hotel has a separate garden that functions as their restaurant, and we decided to give it a go. My mom and I ordered pesto pasta with rosemary tomatoes, my little sister ordered chicken curry, and my dad got French fries. But, if you know the Nelson’s, the deal breaker is always the dessert. Rothenburg ob der Tauber is known for this particular dessert called Schneeballs (Snowballs), so naturally we ordered two to try. It was…well I will use my family’s comments to let you make up your mind on whether or not to try it when you visit: “Throughout my entire life, I’ve only ever met one dessert I didn’t like, and I have had more than my fair share. But let me tell you, I met the second one. (Mom)”…”Ehh. I kept eating it thinking it would get better. (Madison)”…”Oh, it’s awful. (Dad)” Seeing as it wasn’t our favorite dessert, we simply couldn’t resist ordering a raspberry cheesecake when we saw the waiter deliver it to another table. So the cafe garden was redeemed by the fruity goodness, but I leave you with this warning- don’t waste your time on Schneeballs.