• That Time I Stayed with a German Family

    Date: 2011.12.16 | Category: Life, Me, Nostalgia, Travel | Tags:

    When I was in college I was fortunate to make friends with a German exchange student named Anja. During our time in college together, I was her wheels in the U.S. and she helped me with my German homework. We got to be good friends.

    So when I studied abroad in the summer of 2005, I planned to fly to Germany during one of my long weekends and stay with her and her family.

    When the appointed weekend came, she picked me up from the Hannover airport and drove me to her home. Her neighbors met me in the driveway, anxious try out their English on me. Her parents were exceedingly gracious and welcomed me to their home.

    It was an interesting experience. I spoke a little German and her dad spoke a little English. She was fluent in both.

    During my stay I was treated to a traditional home cooked barbeque, complete with German beer and schnapps shots after the meal. I was 20 at the time, but legal drinking age in Germany was 16. I learned that her grandfather was taken prisoner during WWII in Ruston, Louisiana (where my grandparents grew up and still live). He told me he was thankful to be taken by the Americans because all the soldiers he knew who were taken by the Russians froze to death.

    One day of my visit, after a breakfast of fresh baked bread and chocolate spread (Yum!) she drove us down the Autobahn to Berlin. We parked on the outer limits of the city and took the U-Bahn (underground) into Berlin.

    I couldn’t get over how clean the city was.  We started by going to the top of the Alexanderplatz and getting a good look of the whole city from the top. We then made our way to a backerei for lunch. The bread was absolutely incredible, and we had Russian cake for dessert. We made our way across the city, stopping to see a fountain, the German History Museum (which had lots of interesting pictures from WW2), the Berlin Cathedral (which was stunning beyond words), the famous Brandenburger Tor, and German Parliament. We also walked along the line that runs through the city that marks where the infamous wall used to be. Needless to say we were exhausted. Anja drove back while I kept falling asleep.

    Berlin Catherdral

    Anja and me in front of Brandenburger Tor.

    During my time there I had lots of first experiences, including my first trip to an Ikea (I had no idea what one was at that point), first trip to H&M, first time trying German ice cream (kind of tangy, but really creamy).

    I also got to see beautiful old windmills and an ornate Russian church.

    Windmills!

    When it was time to go, her parents presented me with a really nice book with pictures and histories of Gifhorn, which is the city they lived in. I packed it and the German chocolate I had bought up with all my things and headed back to the airport.

    That short trip is still one of my favorite memories.

    Another day we went to Hannover.