Every week I’ve had in Germany has been different and special in its own way. For example, last week I cooked dinner for my host parents and the new member of our family who will be staying with us for an undefined amount of time (which I don’t mind as now I have a host brother and he brings home piles of cookies from his work). I decided to make a recipe that is a traditional meal for my family around Christmas time: Cheesy Cabbage. My brother, sister, and I always look forward to this dish and I was excited to share it with my host family. Since my host mother is vegetarian and I’ve now made the same commitment, this meat-free meal was perfect. I have had no school since the 1st of October, so I was able to use the whole day to prepare. I went to the store that is only a 4 minute walk from my house and I bought the ingredients and a fresh loaf of bread while reading off of the handwritten recipe from my mom. By the time I was done cooking the kitchen was a mess and everyone was ready to eat. We ate the entire thing and now they want me to cook more often. I’m looking forward to it.
Last weekend, I traveled to Berlin and Hamburg with my host parents to attend a They Might Be Giants concert. So, on Friday we got up early and started the drive to Kiel, where we would drop off Molly with a friend who would look after her while we were away. I really hated to leave her and missed her the entire weekend, but she had just as much fun in Kiel as I did in Berlin and Hamburg. The drive to Berlin was about 5 hours from Husum and I learned a few things along the way. First, German Tankstelle (gas stations) are incredibly clean and I would love to live in one. Second, you have to pay to use the restroom in a rest stop. It’s usually less than €1 but you get a voucher that allows you to get a certain amount off of a purchase in the rest stop. So we usually pull all our vouchers and buy candy every time we go to the bathroom. Never forget to grab your voucher on the way to the bathroom. It’s not worth the look of disappointment in their eyes when you could have bought Kinder eggs but instead all you get are gummy bears.
Berlin was just as beautiful and imposing as I thought it would be. Right away I saw the St. Marienkirsche and the Berliner Dom, some of the oldest and most beautiful architecture I have ever seen. After walking around awhile, my host mom and I went back to the hotel to get ready for the “They Might be Giants” concert. (BTW, look at the view from my hotel room. I almost didn’t want to leave.) The concert was in a small venue with a bar so it felt very personal and relaxed. In addition, I am now a “They Might be Giants” fan and my host mom and I sing songs from them often, much to the annoyance of everyone else around us. The next morning, we saw the Brandenburg gate and the Bundestag, even though the police had most of the popular areas blocked off due to the Turkish president being in town. We walked along the river and enjoyed the rare sunshine until it was time to go to Hamburg. Overall, the capitol was pretty great and everything I expected it to be.
Arriving in Hamburg, we went to an Indian restaurant down the street from our hotel and I had my first taste of my now favorite food, Palak Paneer, which is a sauce made with spinich, spices, and hard white cheese poured over hot rice. I’ve eaten it three times already since I first tried it. Besides the amazing food, Hamburg has a much revered and much appreciated party district. A few, to be honest. I got to experience this while walking around Hamburg in the evening to shop for a present for my host dad. The city was completely packed and some lines to get into bars were even streaming into the street. The atmosphere was chaotic and positive, everyone just looking to have a good time. Hamburg is definetely one of my favorite German cities now. That night at midnight we sang “happy birthday” (the German and the english version) to my host dad and gave him the Eierliquor (egg liquor) cake we had secretly baked and snuck in the car.
The next morning, we met with a couple who are friends of my host parents and went to “Miniture Wonderland”, which is probably the most extensive and detailed train display in the world. It featured displays of places in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Scandinavia, and other various regions. Someday I hope to return with my dad, who is a hopeless model train fanatic who has created his own displays every Christmas since before I was born. That’s why model trains always remind me of Christmas. After, we took a boat tour of Hamburg and saw the Elbphilharmonie, which gave us a beautiful view of the city to end our weekend trip. We also stopped to see a motorcycle parade, where I saw a man in a passanger car, in a suit, sipping a martini. Classy.
I hope you enjoy my recounting of my adventures in Germany. Next up: a trip to southern/middle Germany that left me wanting more.
A fake building is put up in Berlin to cover construction.
St. Marienkirche Berlin
The view from my hotel room in Berlin at night
The statues of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
A very tiny murder!
Hamburg at night
View from the boat tour
Hamburg at night
The motorcycle parade
Hamburg smells suggestive
The Brandenburg Gate
A “statue” in Hamburg
The view from the Elbphilharmonie
The river in Berlin: the Spree
The Elbphilharmonie (the wavy building)
Abby, if you like Palak Paneer, you should try the equally delicious Mattar Paneer! Also on the topic of food, according to someone I met at a party recently you should try to find the beer Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel. It is from the Bavaria region, but you may be able to find it elsewhere.