A Wonderful Weekend in Germany

This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to Germany for a few days. I had been to Germany before about 6 years ago and loved it so of course I was super excited to visit again. Our longtime family friends, the Fischers (Harald, Inga and their daughters Sophie, Clara and Lea), were kind enough to let me, Sarah and Clinton stay with them for the weekend.

Our flight was at 8:40am Friday morning. Which means I woke up at 5am because I had booked a taxi for us at 6:15am (look at me being all responsible and waking up early). We made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare, so I bought a latte to become fully conscious. After boarding our flight, Sarah and I high-fived and congratulated ourselves on successfully booking and boarding our first flight without any help from our parents. Neither of us had gone through this process totally alone before (booking the tickets, arranging transportation to the airport, printing boarding passes, making sure we got there on time, having all the correct papers for customs) and it felt good to know that we were being “real adults” in the real world. We flew Swiss, which we quickly learned is the best airline ever. On the short 1 hour flight, they gave us warm croissants, Swiss chocolate and drinks (compare to: the miniscule bag of pretzels I got on a 4 hour flight to California). They also gave the children free puzzles and Rubik’s cubes. We had a layover in Zurich, where I continued to say Switzerland (Swveetzerland) in a Swiss accent, much to the annoyance of Sarah (and probably the Swiss people who heard me). After another short 30 minute flight (and more chocolate!) we landed in Nuremburg where Sophie picked us up. The last time I had seen Sophie was 6 years ago so it was great to see her again. We were best friends when we were little but I’d only seen her twice since they left to go back to Germany. Every time we see each other though it feels like we’ve never been apart.

Sophie drove us home where we were greeted with hugs and kisses from the rest of the family. After settling in and eating some delicious German cake, we went to explore Coburg, the town the Fischers live by. I had been there before but it was so weird to see a place I had been to so long ago and thought I’d never see again. After sightseeing and doing a little shopping, we headed home and ate a wonderful homemade dinner of beef Goulash.

View from a hill in Coburg

Sophie wanted us to experience German nightlife so she had planned to take us out that night. German nightlife is quite different than London nightlife. In London, the last call for bars is around 2 or 3am so people go out earlier, normally around 10pm. The Germans however, like to go out late. The last call for bars is at 5am, so people don’t go out until about midnight. Some guys that Sophie knew came over to hang out with us before we went out and they were hilarious (they were all our age). One guy wanted us to call him Doug because he was obsessed with “The King of Queens” and constantly thought we were talking about him every time we spoke English. They spoke English fairly well but wanted us to communicate with them in German. Obviously this did not happen. We only learned how to say cheers (“prost”). They were also interested to know what other languages we knew, so about 5 different languages were spoken between us.

Sophie called a cab to pick us at 11:45 to take us to the first club in Coburg we were going to go. Unfortunately, Doug and the other boys didn’t come with us because they didn’t want to pay to go out, at which point me and Doug sang “Money Money Money” by Abba together (totally normal). The first bar we went to was a swanky, contemporary bar where we met some other guys Sophie knew through her boyfriend. Sophie’s boyfriend is 25 so these guys were older than Doug and his friends. Vitamir is a lawyer, Christopher is a Ralph Lauren model (I kid you not, he told me to google him) and I don’t think I ever found out what Benedict did. They knew English really well and wanted to communicate with us fully in English, which was definitely good. They were very nice and funny guys, and also total gentlemen! This was quite a nice change compared to most of the American boys I’ve met….chivalry does still exist! You just have to go to Europe!

After the bar, we went across the street to an underground club where we met up with even more of Sophie’s friends (she is quite the popular girl). It looked like you were descending into a castle’s dungeon to get to the club. They were playing crazy techno German music so we wasted no time hitting the dance floor. The way people dance in Germany is also different than the dancing you see in American clubs. It’s more about actually dancing than just disgustingly grinding, so it was a lot more fun. After dancing with the model for a while (of course) he said in his cute little German accent “I would love to have girlfriend like you”, at which point I had to break the news to him that I was only in Germany for 3 days. This made him very sad but he told me everything would be ok when we got married. To this I just had to laugh and keep dancing to distract him from any future marriage proposals. All of us were having so much fun that we didn’t even realize it was 4am when we finally decided to leave!

The next morning, Saturday, we went to the Veste Coburg, which is the castle in Coburg.

View of the Veste Coburg from the hike up to it

The hike to the castle had an excruciating amount of stairs but the view from the top made it all worth it. We toured the inside of the castle too and saw some neat artifacts.

Sophie, Sarah, Inga and I at the top of the Castle!

After the castle tour, we ate at an authentic German restaurant in Coburg. I had sauerbraten, which is definitely my new favorite food. It’s like pot roast but the sauce is such a unique sauce. I can’t describe the taste but it almost had a hint of gingerbread in it. It was served with 2 potato dumplings, also called “dunking balls”. So yummy. That night we just watched a movie and went to bed early for our full day of Oktoberfest on Sunday!

Sunday morning we woke up super early to catch the 8am train to Munich. It was kind of a long train ride so I curled up “like a homeless person” in the words of Sarah, to sleep on the way there. When we arrived in Munich we stepped out of the train station to find a Lederhosen and Dirndl outlet. Sophie had been wanting a Dirndl to wear to Oktoberfest because everyone wears traditional German outfits there so we had to go try some on. Of course we found really cute ones and couldn’t resist buying them (how many people can say they have a traditional German beer maid outfit actually from Germany?).

Us in our dirndls! Don't we look cute? Also notice the random man who stuck his head in the picture

Now that we had the appropriate outfits, we were ready to go! Oktoberfest is actually a huge fair that families go to, not just a load of drunken Germans (you find those in the beer halls). There are tons of rides, food and carnival games. Of course we had to have a beer at Oktoberfest (the thought of this made me cringe, I’m not a fan of beer) but to my surprise it actually was pretty good; I mean Germany is known for their beer, they can’t disappoint. After this we decided to go on a roller coaster. You would think a fair would just have small coasters, but we’re talking Six Flag status roller coasters here. Being thrill seekers, we chose the largest one to ride. It was called the Olympian Looper because it had five loops that resembled the olympic rings. It. Was. Awesome. We were all crying laughing from how fun it was (and of course doing the totally logical thing, I screamed the whole time despite my current laryngitis…).

The awesome roller coaster

After the coaster, we met up with yet another one of Sophie’s friends who was in one of the beer halls, Hofbrau. I don’t even know how to describe the beer halls. Just think of beer maids running around with their arms full of 1 liter beer mugs to hundreds of drunk Germans singing, dancing on tables, hugging and kissing everyone and just being ridiculous. Everyone is in such a good mood so you can’t be anything but happy at Oktoberfest. It was so much fun and I wish I could have spent more than just one day there.

Just a small sample of the ridiculousness in Hofbrau tent

On Monday, the girls had school and Inga had work so Harald took us to Bamberg, a historical city on the way to the airport to do some more sightseeing. The city is modeled after Rome so it has churches on seven hills.

View of Bamberg and the Cathedral we visited

We climbed 9 flights of spiral stairs to a tower overlooking the city, went in a Gothic Cathedral and then had cake in a gorgeous rose garden behind a palace. Just a normal day in Germany.

My favorite rose in the rose garden

After our afternoon in Bamberg, Harald dropped us off at the airport and we had to say goodbye 😦

In one of my previous blog posts I mentioned that I had a separate flight home than Sarah and Clinton. I was a bit worried about this because it flew into an airport I’d never been to and I didn’t know how to get home. But luckily, I sat next to this Swiss guy who lives in London part time and he was kind enough to take me from the airport, through customs, on the DLR train and then all the way to my tube station. What a kind man! He also spoke perfect English and German. This weekend has made me realize that Europeans are so much more intelligent than us. Almost every person can speak 2 languages well enough to communicate. Even Lea, who is 12 years old is fluent in both English and German. I feel embarrassed to admit I can barely say 2 sentences in Spanish…

Anyway, I apologize this post is so long, there was just so much I wanted to talk about! There’s even more but I had to cut it down a bit so I wouldn’t lose your attention.

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