This spring Seth, his parents and I traveled to Germany. Being someone with Scottish, English and Norwegian heritage, I’ve always found it sort of charming that Seth has 100% German ancestry. This trip was celebrating his parents 50th anniversary, it just happened to coincide with our 10th anniversary and came at the perfect time to reconnect with family after our last work project.
As a part of my self care journey I thought it would be fun to let go of all control for this trip. My thoughts were; let’s make things easier by having one less personal agenda, I’ve been so stressed and trying to control too much this is a good time to let go, if I don’t know where we are going, then I cannot be disappointed if we don’t get to certain things, and it seemed sort of romantic for Seth to plan surprises for our anniversary trip.
It feels a little silly now, but I was seriously overjoyed to see that our car was not only large enough for all of us and our luggage, the controls were easily switched to English and it was a Nissan SUV, which we already drive at home so it was instantly very comfortable. After driving out of the parking lot, I didn’t have much time to panic about driving on the Autobahn, a prospect that has sounded terrifying since I first learned about it in German class in high school! Literal moments after leaving the parking garage I found myself driving on the Autobahn. Thinking “Wait! No! I need to work up to this!” luckily the combination of the familiar feeling car, the fact that I spend many hours on highways, the fact that I didn’t have time to really work myself up about it, I quickly discovered that driving the Autobahn is not only incredibly enjoyable, it’s far easier than navigating in the small medieval towns.
After about 45 minutes of driving, I asked how long the drive was to our hotel (Seth was navigating). We had been up for roughly 28 hours at this point and I was ready for a shower, a rest, and some food. Since I’d not wanted to know anything, all I knew was that we were flying into Frankfurt (pretty hard to keep that a secret). It turns out that our first hotel was in Memmingen, FOUR hours away! Oh my. This was the first time that I considered that maybe I should have known more about the planning.
My previous experience in Germany had been a cold rainy trip to Munich where homesickness added an extra layer of gloom. The itinerary Holocaust themed, was heavy and impactful, but mostly heavy. I’d taken those four days, a trip cut sort by the need to jump on a train to France and sunshine and friends, and allowed it create a signaler idea about the whole country. For years I did not want to go back, thinking Germany was damp, overcast, with relatively uninspired architecture, and sad.
My dark attitude about Germany was proven wrong over and over on this trip. Maybe it was the fact that it was sunny and warm (and still winter at home), maybe it was the mental loopiness that comes from being awake for so long, either way I experienced pure joy during nearly ever mile driven. Every turn was more beautiful that the last. While my father in law slept, my husband looked at his phone and my mother in law followed our path on the map. I had nothing to do but enjoy the views out the windshield. During this trip we put 3000 miles on the rental car while my eyes gorged themselves on each beautiful spring scene.
As we drove in to Memmingan I felt like a kid entering DisneyWorld. It was surreal to drive a large modern SUV through a medieval city. The car felt terribly out of place. It was never clear whether we were on streets or pedestrian walk ways. By this point my exhaustion had morphed into giddy joy. We parked the car, checked in to our hotel and immediately went out to explore the town.
Our time in Germany falls into 7 distinct categories; Arriving, Bavarian Vacation, Ancestral Lands, Medieval Tourist, Castles, Drawing To A Close, and lastly Exploring German Cuisine And Beer. Stay tuned for more as we complete this series.