I Didn’t Give Germany A Chance

Untitled Design 7When we first started tossing around the idea of moving to Germany it felt surreal. The concept of actually living in Europe wasn’t something I could have wrapped my head around. I had been to England and Scotland when I was a baby, but Europe was this distant dream that I dreamed for a long time, but never really thought would be able to be a reality.

When we got orders, it still felt surreal. I couldn’t believe that this dream I had would be a reality. That we would be so blessed. The concept of being able to travel Europe, to go to all these countries was just too good to be true. Incredible. I thought of all the sights we could see, all the countries we would visit.

And I’ll be honest- I treated Germany as simply a location. A central spot that we could then travel out of. Not as a place to explore beyond a few historical landmarks. I knew about Germany, knew its history, it’s big cities, some of its culture (like Oktoberfest), and that was about it. I focused solely on EVERYWHERE else we could go, all the other things that we could see, all the dreams that would no longer be just dreams.

I now realize how much of a mistake this was.

Germany is stunning. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its own spots ,it doesn’t have troubles, but I definitely should have thought more about everything that we could do within its borders, rather than just looking outside the country. There is so much to see here, so many little holes in the wall spots that no one really thinks about that are just stunning. A lot of the little towns are old world quaint and each has its own history. Take Tubingen (HERE) or even Weltenburg Abbey (HERE), we had considered these both a nice little day trip, but both are so perfectly European and German, and I loved it. This was something I hadn’t really thought about when we got orders. The history here goes back much further than I had even anticipated (yep, I’m naïve) and there is a never-ending number of things to do and places to see.

And, since we can’t ignore the elephant in the room…Germany has such a way with its own history. They have quite the history here, quite the troubled past, but they’ve managed to settle with it. One of the things that has stuck with me in our time here so far is how they handle their own history. They don’t hide behind it; they don’t bring it up time and time again. They acknowledge what happened, they acknowledge the hurt and pain that was caused, they punish those responsible. They take steps to make reparations, they don’t destroy everything relating to their own history, choosing to make the most incredible memorials that I’ve seen out of the pieces. The Berlin Wall Documentation Center, The Berlin Wall, The Eastside Gallery, Dachau Concentration Camps, Nuremberg Rally Grounds, Nuremberg Court House…the list goes on. All of these places are landmarks, marking down what happened for everyone to see. They’ve made changes, they’ve learned, anyone who visits these places learns. They move forward.

We can all take a lesson from that.

Not to mention just the sheer amount of history here. In a city right near us they are excavating bodies from Roman times and have a set of Roman archways from… It’s incredible to think that some of the places that we see have that much history.

We won’t even start to get into the culture of this country. Festival season is such a fun, warm and welcoming time, not to mention the season we are about to go into…the most wonderful time of year. The way of life, the idea of a slower pace. We live in the countryside (something we’ve been wanting for a long time) and the number of animals and crops that we see daily is something else. It’s been an incredible bit of time and one that we are looking forward to continuing for the next couple of years.

I’ve found a true home in a place that I hate to admit that I discounted. I figured it would be a home base for everywhere, but we’ve really made a home here in such a short time. I won’t discount a place again.

 

Feeling Settled

Ah…home. We are home at last and home for a while…at least until next month. I can’t tell you how good it feels to be home. To be in our home, with our furniture, our bed, our kitchen. In fact, it feels so good it has me reflecting back to how I’ve actually felt over the past few months. That and our new neighbors and I have been discussing the overseas move process (they have just recently arrived).

Regardless of how you move, where you move, when you move, doing an overseas move is tough. And honestly, the hardest part is that everyone on the outside looking in tells you how great it is, what an opportunity, you must be so thrilled, etc. While that is true and is the correct assumption in most cases, most people on the outside overlook the actually move portion. We (myself included) all focus on “OMG you are going to live in Europe, that’s so awesome! You’ll get to see all these things, you’ll get to do so much, such a great opportunity” and yet there is also the whole concept of experiencing culture shock, upheaval of your routine, time difference, being apart from family and friends, looking for a home in a foreign country, not even to begin to mention the amount of time it takes for your household goods to come.

We’ve been lucky, I’ll not deny that. I feel like my outlook and my attitude has really been a game changer (notes for future moves!), along with the fact that we weren’t staying in a standard hotel room, but a hotel 1-bedroom apartment. We’ve also done a bunch of traveling (as much as we reasonably could and then some), BUT I’m not going to try and tell you that this has been a walk in the park. And honestly, I think the thing that I struggled with the most was not having a home. Not having our things. Not having that “we’re settled” feeling.

When you don’t have that home base, that place that you know you are going back to, your own bed, your own furniture, it makes a world of difference in your psyche.

I’ve come to realize that having the home feeling, the home comforts is important. It doesn’t have to be a lot, it can be one or two things, it can simply be a place, but we all need to have that feeling. I’ve heard a lot about “home is who you’re with, not where you are” and yes there is a large amount of that is true. We had our little family and that was a lot, but still, there is something to be said for having YOUR OWN PLACE. Somewhere that is yours. Somewhere that you can have your own belongings, deal with your own food, clean in the way you’d like to clean (whether it’s doing it yourself, hiring someone, whatever).

So, we are finally getting that feeling of being settled. Of having our home. Of being able to cook full meals, clean every day, spread out the way we want to, let the boys carry on how they want to, and just generally relax. While our home isn’t fully done, we are still waiting on all of the wall décor (another story for another day), it feels like home. I feel like I can breathe. We’ve been doing playdates, figuring out our routines, trying to see how everything fits together, and just overall enjoying our time.

While we may not be traveling this month, or until the end of next month (hopefully!), there is a certain level of bliss of “just being able to stay home”.

Round the Kettle Ep 9 – A Catch Up and International Women’s Day

Good afternoon! It’s been a while since I’ve done a Round the Kettle post, but they are coming back now. It’s a rainy Sunday morning when I’m writing this, and to be completely honest, I am writing it in my car, while the laundry is going, and the kids are bored in the back seat. Unfortunately, the laundry that we have to use is right next to the playgroup building for the boys…cue crying over wanting to go and play (it’s not open…). Such an excellent example of the week that we’ve had. I’ve had a cappuccino this morning, which was incredible, and am hoping that caffeine can tide me over for a little while. It’s been a week of very little sleep.

We’ve had a lot going on and I have a lot that I want to share with you.  In fact, I don’t really know where to begin…

How about we start with YOU. How are you doing? How has the start of 2019 treated you? How have the past couple weeks been? Any major news that you want to share?

We’ve reached the end of our first month here in Germany and that initial spark we felt upon arriving here has NOT faded in any way and I don’t know that it will. We’ve had quite the time exploring the area’s “near” us, getting settled in to new routines, and trying ALL the food. Germany has so much to offer and we jumped right in when we got here. Even our “close to home” weekends involve something out and about. It’s been a rollercoaster being in a little hotel apartment (especially for the boys who desperately want to run constantly), but we are making it work for us.

The past couple weeks have been about figuring out what the week looks like for us. Obviously my husband works 5 days a week, but his schedule is different than it has ever been, and the boys and I have a large element of freedom now with schedules. I am not working anymore (while we are here) and that has allowed the three of us to spend our days out and about, only returning for naptime/evenings. We’ve found a playgroup, library story-time, and a local park to spend our mornings. The boys have been loving this change to say the least.

I’ve been enjoying this new freedom to our days as well, although I can say it is for sure a change. It is a bit different as the things that I would normally handle (house related, laundry, etc.) isn’t necessary. We do our laundry somewhere else once a week, and there isn’t much I can do cleaning wise. This has given me quite a bit of time on my hands- which I’ve been using to get some writing and reading done.

This past week was International Women’s Day and I was seeing a lot of positive conversations across the board about how far women have come. One conversation that I took part in, and that I felt was very important was one about having a choice. I’ve talked about this before in a previous post, but I think for me, the most important thing for women is having a say in their lives. Having a say in what they want to do, in what they are passionate about, in how they want to spend their time. Whether that is as a stay at home mom, a corporate business woman, or somewhere in between.

The other conversation that I was a part of and thoroughly enjoyed (and saw a lot of) is about how as women we’ve come so far in building each other up, rather than tearing each other down. I am a firm believer that we should always applaud others (not just women, but across the board). The achievement of others may not have anything to do with you, but your reaction to their achievements says a lot. We should spend more time applauding others for what they are choosing to do or not do (obviously this does not apply to negative actions such as drugs/alcohol/etc.) rather than nitpick, degrade, or pass judgement.

What are your thoughts/reflections on International Women’s Day?

I think that’s all I’ve got for you on this rainy Sunday afternoon!

 

 

Nuremberg – Day Trip #1

The last weekend in February we decided to take a little day trip over to Nuremberg. While the list of things to do in Nuremberg can be extensive (depending on your interest), we had picked out two history related places to go and check out. We figured we would spend a few hours in the city, walk around quite a bit, and then head back home. Happily, we were completely wrong.

Both my husband and I are very much interested in World War 2 history. I tend to read a lot of historical books (both fiction and non) that are based in this time period (honestly I go in between WW2 and Tudor/Elizabethan England) and my husband watches A LOT of documentaries from that time period. In fact, so much so that if you named one we’ve probably read or watched it. So, not only is being in Germany such a blessing for culture reasons, it’s also ripe with history (not only WW2, we can’t wait to explore ALL the histories that Germany has to offer).

So, on this first trip into Nuremberg (as we will be taking several) we decided to head to the Nuremberg Courthouse and the Reichsparteigelande (or the Nazi Party Rally Grounds). We figured that this would be more than enough for one day trip, and boy were we right. We started our day with a hearty hotel breakfast (seriously the food here is amazing) and then headed out to start at the Nuremberg Courthouse.

Let me start by saying that being in these spaces is incredible. I don’t know that I truly have the words to describe, but I’ll try. It is breathtaking and surreal, cool, but at the same time somber. A sobering experience to be in the same places where so much hatred was spewed and then where those same people spewing hatred were brought to justice. Standing in these same spaces that have become so entrenched in history is a completely different experience to just seeing it in a documentary. Walking through the exhibitions attached/within these spaces is full of so much information and I can say that I have come away with a whole new understanding that documentaries just can’t give.

IMG_9472For the courthouse, you are given a little handset that relays the information about the trials and the various parts of the exhibit in your native language so you can get a full understanding. Not only do the handsets detail out the rise, fall, and trials from the Nazi Party, but it also goes into testimony and audio accounts from the trial.

IMG_9457 There is something to be said for listening to the audio of the trial while sitting in the gallery of the courthouse.

The exhibition upstairs is extensive and contains artifacts, a layout of the courtroom, as well as a little mock courtroom that would show exactly what it looked like during those days (the upstairs gallery was converted to the exhibit which is the only difference).

A tip if you are going- the courthouse is still actively in use, so plan accordingly. If they are having a trial in the courtroom you will not be able to go in, but you may (or may not I’m not entirely sure) be able to peek in the upstairs windows to still see the courtroom. The cost is reasonable (especially for what you are getting), but like many other places in Germany you will want to pay in Euro.  We spent around an hour and a half at the Courthouse but could have stayed longer. If you have young toddler age children, I would recommend a)bringing a small umbrella type stroller, and b) be sparing with what you choose to listen to in the audio upstairs. The audio at the Courthouse is quite long and not all toddlers may want to stay still for the length of time that it requires. I still suggest going as you do not want to miss it.

Overall, a MUST SEE in Nuremberg.

IMG_9598Our next stop was the Reichsparteigelande. This is about a 20-minute drive from the courthouse and is truly a site to see. We started at the Documentation Center, which is the unfinished remains of the Congress Hall. The cost is incredibly reasonable and once again, you are given a headset to detail out the exhibit information in your native language. Some of the headsets have a mechanism that starts the translation of  the various videos that are shown when you walk within a certain distance of the video screen. My husband’s headset worked like this, while mine did not, so it is very hit or miss on that.

When you enter the museum and exhibit, you are walking through the very walls of the hall. That in itself is eerie, but everywhere you go there are either artifacts from his time, or from the war. The floors in the first room have boxes within them with pamphlets, war displays, and other relics. The walls are lined with information. The information is much more succinct than the Courthouse, but still just as powerful.

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As part of the exhibit you can walk a walkway out to the interior of the hall (where it was not finished). This is an overlook of the grounds that would have become the hall if completed. You are also able to walk the lower grounds when you leave the museum.

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IMG_3280Once finished with the exhibit, we headed out to walk the trail that would take us over to the main highway street, the stadium, and the parade street at Zeppelin Field. This is a very pretty, paved walkway that follows along the outer edges of a man-made lake. At each point of interest there is a large information board/sign that breaks down what you are seeing and where you are at on the route in both German and English.

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The main street is about halfway between the Congress Hall and the Parade Street/Stadium. The main street cuts through the two lakes (on each side of the street) and walking on it was another surreal experience.

Towards the end of the path around the lake you are able to enter the Parade Street at Zeppelin Field. IMG_9609

If you watch any documentaries on Hitler, this is a space that you will most likely see. It is the overlook where he would review the troops, speak to his followers, and such. Most of the parade grounds have now been converted to use in everyday activities; a soccer field, American Football field, and some other sports are played and there are carnivals, and such held all along this route. However, the original outline and different buildings/stands are still there and intact. You are able to climb up the stand and look out at the parade route in the same manner as the Nazi Party Leaders.

IMG_3365Our day ended with starting to watch the sunset on the lake, which is always a beautiful sight to see. There are a couple of restaurants and places to stop and eat nearby, but we decided to head back to the hotel as we had two very tired little boys that were reaching the end of their ropes.

A tip if you are going to make this a trip, which I highly highly think you should, make sure to wear comfortable, breathable clothing. You will be walking a few miles if you choose to go to all the spots and while the trail is paved and easy to walk, you will want to make sure that you don’t get any blisters or sore feet at the end. Along with that, an umbrella stroller or the like for younger kids is a bonus if you do not want to carry them most of the route. Our oldest ended up riding on my husband’s shoulders most of the way.

Overall, we had such a wonderful first trip into Nuremberg. There is so much to see and do that I know that we will be back to do more. When we do, I’ll do another post detailing out what we’ve seen.

Our February in Travel

So, we are living in Europe. A dream come true for both of us. We’ve got our little family of four and we planning on traveling, adventuring, as much as we can over the next few years that we are here. I am documenting these travels on Social Media, but I also wanted to have a little space for it here. While there will definitely be individual posts when we have big trips (to specific locations…e.g. London, Rome, Venice, etc.), I also wanted to talk about some of the smaller trips that we are taking. The little weekend trips to new towns, new places. The little trips that may not have enough to really devote a single post to. So…

At the end of every month I am going to do a little recap of that month in adventures. This might seem a little over the top given the Round The Kettle updates every couple weeks (those are happening again starting in March), as well as individual posts for the bigger trips, but even just the past two weeks we’ve been here I feel like there are moments to capture and lots to talk about. This whole country and area of the world are just chock full of places/things to talk about and I want to remember it all. Not every month will have a long post, or maybe even a travel post at all.


Our first weekend here we wanted to get used to driving around here as well as see some of the sights of our area. We were “fresh off the plane” so to speak and weren’t entirely sure where anything was, let alone towns, stores, or restaurants. We took a day over the weekend and drove throughout the little towns here and there, taking all of the sights in. The roads are windy, in some places tight, but overall pretty easy to navigate. Everywhere you look is a combination of old world charm with these pops of color. And clean, everything is so clean. Also, we found our first castle, which was charming and wonderful as a historical sight. We weren’t able to hike into the actual castle, but we hope to very soon as well as hope to explore other castles in our area.

Our second weekend we decided to venture first to some stores nearby, just to find out what is what. We headed to some clothing stores, grocery stores, and a local handyman store (like Home Depot). I will say- nothing is truly different from back in the states. The groceries stores are a little different and the way that they shop over here is different, but overall an easy adjustment to make.

Once we felt comfortable knowing what was around us, we ventured into the big city that was near us. This city has the local train station spot, and “old district”, several malls, and a gorgeous bridge and river. Not too mention several museums and a royal area that we cannot wait to check out next time we visit. Whenever we need “bigger” items or need to do a real shopping trip this is probably where we will head. It’s also a really pretty spot to stop at, to shop at, and to just walk around and soak in all the beauty.  Of course I located both a book store and a tea shop and made a couple of purchases :).

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On our final weekend in February, we really adventured out and headed to our first visit to Nuremberg! I think I am going to do a whole separate post on what we saw in Nuremberg (probably to be posted in the next week), but for a brief rundown we went to the Nuremberg Courthouse to view Courtroom 600, where the Nuremberg Trials were held and we headed over to Reichsparteigelande (Nazi Party Rally Grounds). Both of these were such cool, eye opening experiences. To stand where so much history has happened is something that words cannot begin to describe. It was breathtaking to say the least. Stay tuned for a full blog post and pictures coming this next week.

That was our February in travel! I hope that you enjoyed this little breakdown. Please let me know if you want me to continue to do this as a breakdown of our month with longer posts for “bigger” trips or do you want each trip to be one blog post? Let me know!