Friday, May 29, 2009

I didn't expect to be impressed with Germany

I’ll start with telling about the rest of my flight.


I kept looking back at my watch. 11 o’clock PM U.S. time, 12, 1, 2… I was so tired, but not even my seemingly-awesome inflatable neck pillow didn’t work.

I noticed that the sun was rising, which was interesting, since I had seen it set only a couple of hours before. There was a commotion in the plane and I saw people leaning to look out the

window. I looked, and I saw the peaks of the mountains from Greenland poking through the clouds. It was the first sight to take my breath away.

That’s when I decided that sleeping could come later.

We arrived in Frankfurt, which was fine. No big deal. It’s a huge airport, though. Then we hopped on our first coach bus. The seats were a zillion times more comfortable than the plane. I konked out (fell asleep) right away.

I was jolted awake by Tim, my seatmate, yelling, “Holy crap!” My groggy eyes saw the wall of a building about three feet away from the window my forehead was previously shmooshed up against. Apparently the roads are a bit narrow.

We got to the 101 year-old church that we were going to sing at, which is gorgeous. Take a look at the pictures. Each wall inside is covered with beautiful mosaics. Those tiles were so small! I’ve found that stuff like that, the things that blow my mind, that took obvious skill and persistence, tend to piss me off. Not in necessarily a bad way, but I just find myself thinking, “Come ON!” and get frustrated with the grandeur of it all.

I love it.

After that we had the rest of the day to explore the city. Me and my friends decided to take a random turn on to a street we didn’t know and try our best to get lost. It wasn’t easy to get lost, given that it’s quite a small town.

The neighborhoods are great, complete with cobblestones and roses on the walls. That’s something that really surprised me is that gardening is very important here. I haven’t seen one empty yard with a green lawn and lawnmower lines, like we treasure in the States. Each yard is full of roses and wonderful shrubbery.

I was surprised how peaceful Bad Hamburg is. People just walk aroun

d, unhurried, with no real destination. Good thing there’s plenty to see. There are no lines on the road; walkers just get out of the way when a car comes. Even the dogs are relaxed; I haven’t seen one barking or leash-pulling dog this whole time, just happy dogs happily trotting around with their owners.

It’s a very nice place to breathe.

My first host family was a cute little family—the father, klauss; the mother, Karen; and their 3 year-old son, Kai. Kai was probably the cutest kid I’ve ever seen. German being spoken by a toddler is very interesting; he kept asking us questions in German and not understanding why we didn’t understand. One morning, he came into the room in which we were sleeping and said, in German, “Are you up? Are you up? Are you up? Are you up? Are you up?” until Klauss came in and explained what he was saying.

For dinner they fed us bread with sausage spread and cheese spread. The sausage spread was a little gross (maybe it was old), but the cheese was very similar to Laughing Cow cheese. For breakfast they gave us bread with spreadable honey made from dandelion flowers, which sounds quite gross, but was delicious.

We took a trip to Worms (pronounced vorms, as to not gross anyone out), which was the place where Martin Luther attacked indulgences and came up with a lot of his major theologies in the 1500s. This is also where he was brought before a religious court (“The Diet of Worms” is what it’s called, which also sounds pretty gross) and asked to recant, but refused, causing him to be exiled to the outer reaches of the empire.

This was an awesome place to be because, besides from being a spooky old church, the amount of religious history that took place in this church is humbling.

I always sympathize with Luther because of the fact that he went against the current of the Catholic church, which I did for awhile (and still do, haha). The Catholic church was the popular church of the time, and now I also find myself questioning a lot of methods in other churches as well. So, thinking of him, going against the grain for that sake of what he thinks is right is something that inspires me to stick with what I believe.

Maybe I have a chance at this whole “following Christ” thing after all.

After Worms, we took a trip to Rudesheim, which I believe is nothing more than a pretty little city. My group of friends and I were quite hungry, so we looked for a restaurant. I only had one rule, which was that we would not eat anywhere with a menu printed in English. My friends thought it was a stupid idea, but they went along anyway. We actually walked around for quite a long time because there were a lot of English menus (it’s quite a tourist city). We finally found a nice one with decent prices and went in. There was an outdoor courtyard where we could sit, surrounded by old stucco buildings, and an overhanging gazebo covered with vines.

Oh, and we were eating right next to a nun. She was sipping wine and slurping noodles. I couldn’t help but watch her. (Notice her in the bottom of the picture.)

My friends laughed at me when the server brought out menus completely printed in English.

I ended up ordering apple juice with carbonated water (which is really popular around here), marrow soup with dumplings (beautiful and delicious), and my first German sausage. It was very tasty, on top of mashed potatoes and purple sauerkraut.

Oh yes.

Then we traveled back to Bad Hamburg for our concert. The German composer of one of our songs was there, which was an honor. The concert went pretty well, actually quite horribly, but we got a standing ovation and an encore. I didn’t expect that. The people in Bad Hamburg are so kind.

Afterwards, around 9:45pm or so, a bunch of us decided to “hit the town,” and get some ice cream or some tapas—maybe hit up some fun little shops. What we found, though, is that all stores close at 7pm, and all restaurants close at 10. So when we finally got downtown, everything was closing down. We caught an ice cream place right before it closed, and I bought a scoop of pistachio and a scoop of dulce vida. It was delicious.

I found it quite strange at 10:30pm, when it felt like it was two in the morning. Everything was completely closed down, there was only a few people walking the street. I’m an American boy; my night’s just getting started! We went back to our host’s home, stumbled through their dark apartment because they were all asleep, and got ready for bed.

Bright and early (7:30am) on a beautiful Friday morning my roommates and I took a walk to the church with Karen and Kai, and on the way we noticed that Bad Hamburg’s weekly market was just opening. Seeing a bunch of fresh, beautiful, fruit, we couldn’t get our wallets out fast enough to go get some. Strawberries, raspberries, and cherries all picked right in Bad Hamburg. There’s just something about eating fresh, warm fruit in a little German town on a sunny morning that just made me so thankful that I’m alive.

The second moment that took my breath away.

As I type this, I am on my way to Lübeck, Germany. That will be another post.

Peace, all. I miss you.



  1. YAY! Pictures! You look so happy! Snappy blue coat too! It sounds wonderful! Tell us more!! Tell us more!!! (Isn't that a song from Grease?) Only a couple of days there and already two moments that took your breath away. I love it. Keep looking for Him in these beautiful breath-taking moments. We miss you! We're proud of you! We love you! Mom

  2. Looks like a great time and it is only just the begining. I knew you'd like Germany.

  3. Sara didn't know you could make the pictures bigger by clicking on them. She wanted me to share that so others would know that you can do that as well.

  4. 1. I love getting lost on purpose! I've tried it before too (but not in Germany, which is at least 10 times cooler)!
    2. I'm so excited (and jealous) of all the prettiness you are going to see. Just think about this for a second: 3 months of prettiness.
    3. Being in towns old enough that nuns wander randomly and the streets are barely wide enough for buses... awesome.
    4. Kai's haircut??