Since I’d been before, I knew I’d enjoy Germany. I believe Reba was just a hair skeptical about how fun it would be, since some of Germany’s best stuff — beer, sausage, etc — doesn’t appeal to her. But in the end she loved it.
This post will take you through our travels in Deutschland, from our arrival in Berlin, then our southbound road-trip all the way to Munich
Back when I studied in Europe, I heard endlessly how much Berlin would be. It’s too bad I never got the chance to go. This year Reba and I redeemed that, and we parked ourselves in Berlin for a few days.
The theme of our visit here would turn out to be SURPRISE.
After our long, long art-treks in Paris, we were a little too tuckered out to take full advantage of the city. Of course we saw some of the major sites, like the Brandenburg Tor:
And the nearby Holocaust Memorial:
Let me retract that. It’s not the “Holocaust Memorial”, it’s called the “Berlin Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe”, which I think is a more powerful and honest title for it.
Those stones are part of a massive network of slabs, between which only one person can fit at a time. The ground slopes in waves between them, and the no two stones are the same height. It’s disorienting to move through it.
Underneath those slabs, there’s a free historical exhibit about the Holocaust, and I was impressed. In one room, you stand on top of large glass displays of post-cards that victims had written. In another, you sit in a dark chamber that has only a person’s name projected on a wall, while a voice narrates the person’s experience under the Nazi regime. It cycles through thousands of names, and most of them end in “…their final resting place is unknown.”
Of course we also had some more chipper experiences in Berlin, since, SURPRISE!, the Berlinale Film Fetival happened to be in town while we were there.
Sometime after the Holocaust Memorial in fact, we, SURPRISE!, ran into some familiar faces:
That’s right: Reba and I were in a Papparazi Mob.
Natalie blitzed right out of the building and into her car and zipped off. It looked like she had somewhere to be.
Christian, however, stuck around in the cold even though he didn’t quite dress for the climate:
Class act, Mr. Bale.
Reba and I saw the two stars’ movie, Knight of Cups, during its Berlinale premier. I absolutely hated it. A lot of walking, a lot of wordless screaming, a lot fully-dressed people wading into the ocean and kicking it. F-.
We also absolutely hated the other movie we saw during the festival, a collection of shorts.
Overall the festival scored 0/2 for us. But we enjoyed seeing cinema with some of its most enthusiastic supporters. So serious was the atmosphere that the theaters forbade us from bringing popcorn inside. Crazy!
So after a fairly subdued time in Berlin, we set out to pick up our rental car. And, SURPRISE!, we found Europe’s premier vegan grocery:
Reba could hardly contain herself. And I must say, I never met a nicer bunch of service people.
Shortly after getting some vegan goodies, we got our Peugeot and started driving.
I should say, Reba started driving. She’s the one who knows how to drive a stick.
It was a short ride from Berlin to the nearby city of…
Gorgeous city. Strikingly pretty. And I took almost no pictures of it. Here’s our cool little B n B though:
We had a nice time here, although we tried our damndest to see Foxcatcher at a little arthouse theater, but they only had it in German. Obviously.
Anyway the next morning I had a fantastic breakfast of some apple-cherry-strudel thing, a coffee, and nice dark beer.
Reba also enjoyed a beer, in the bathtub, while watching HBO.
Then we went and visited the weirdest museum I’ve ever been to: The Dresden Museum of Hygiene:
They didn’t allow any photos inside, so I had to sneak even this one:
In case you don’t have supervision, those are plush versions of some common, horrifying bacteria.
It also had some cross-sections of human muscles, a breathalyzer test, a transparent cow, and a thorough breakdown of Germany’s favorite sexual positions. All in a museum that’s basically for children.
After Dresden we drove a short way along the highway to…
I don’t have too much to say about Kassel. It was just a way-station along our road-trip before we took a serious turn south. We stayed in a strange aparment with a bed so small that Rebecca at one point rolled off to sleep on the floor.
The next day, though, we got to…
Literally meaning, “Bath-Bath”, this town has been a historical favorite for spa-seekers everywheere. Mark Twain loved to visit it, even.
We went and bathed in a nice modern spa complex, that had a nude co-ed top floor with a bunch of different rooms. I thought we’d both be a little awkward up there with all the German nudes, but we hardly even noticed it.
It’s a sophisticated operation. You get wristwatch that serves as your entry-token and wallet for buying juices and snacks. There were all manner of scented and colored sauna rooms, and some strange showy spa displays that we didn’t see too much of.
And that night we went to a grocery store and got back to our apartment and cooked ourselves a nice pasta dinner. A memorably wonderful evening.
The next day was even better. For the first time we drove into the Black Forest, to the little woodsy town of…
So quaint. So charming. Breathtaking. Just look at it:
One of the most lovable places I’ve ever clapped eyes on. Not to mention the Black Forest Cherry Cake:
The enormous cuckoo clocks:
And the strange demon-festival that happened to be going on while we were there:
On our way out of Triberg, Reba and I got what would become the only major souvenir of the trip: a cuckoo clock for our home. It’s a keepsake that’ll last forever. I hope.
And the fun didn’t stop at Triberg. The next day we set off to fulfill one of my childhood dreams, at…
This little town’s claim to fame is Neuschwanstein Castle, the apical project from the Loony King Ludwig II. And what a project it is:
We had a great little hike to look at it up close.
But we had to sneak past a barrier to get the best view of the whole complex:
No exaggeration, I’d been wanting to see that castle since I was 10 years old. Its only rival in my heart was the Hagia Sophia.
As a town, Fussen wasn’t too shabby either:
Believe the hype – that castle and its town are spectacular.
After that tour of a Romantic-era holdover, we drove to one of Germany’s industrial hearts…
Now, the city itself wasn’t much to rave about. But for Valentine’s Day, we treated ourselves to a very special tour of The Mercedes Museum.
Amazing facilty. Huge and well-designed, and full of some of the world’s prettiest cars:
And behold, my dream car, the 1955 300 SL:
Same car as Elvis!
That night we went and got sushi, and had some drinks at an Irish bar with some Irish guys who had some serious sorrows to drink away. It was a fun night, but intense.
And the next day we drove out to…
Again, a stopover town without too much exciting stuff. It had a good grocery store offering gluten-free fare, but that was about it.
The next town had a lot more in store for us…
Helluva city! Home to some of the world’s best beer and brats. Too bad you won’t be seeing any pictures of it. I forgot my camera everywhere we went!
We slept in a place near the train station, and got to see the sleaziness of the nearby bars. We also got to see Foxcatcher in English, FINALLY, as well as Wild.
So here are my only pictures of Munich:
What a lovely city!
Seriously though, I had a great time in Germany. If I felt a little more cruel I would bore you with the various beers I tried, but suffice to say that Germany’s brew-capital status is well-deserved. And nobody oversold Germany’s natural beauty, either.
The country truly has a lot to offerr, and I hope I’ll return to my familiar Vaterland someday.