Everyone is curious what it is about Germany that made me fall in love with it. I can't narrow it down to just one thing but there is one thing I'd like to talk about here. Gemütlichkeit. The perfect storm of the best of Germany.
Let me start from the beginning.....
Traveling to Germany, I'm sad to admit, was a side thought. We tacked the country onto our second trip to Europe because it was close to where we were going and we heard you should check out the castles there. I mean, I really hadn't heard much about it, except the usual misconceptions. My Aunt Juanita had some awesome pictures of it and I remember her talking about how beautiful it was, but that's it. So, in planning a visit I researched the castles we should see, picked out a couple of other highlights and plotted our course. The final route had us begin in Munich, south to King Ludwig's (I choose not to call him "mad", but that's a subject for another story), over to and through the Black Forest, up the Wine Road, through the Rhine Gorge (where the highest concentration of castles along the Rhine are) and up to the Netherlands. There are innumerable amazing things I could tell you about the journey but this story happens in the Black Forest.
We checked in pretty late to almost all of our hotels. This isn't very European but they seemed to overlook it everywhere we went :-) Our hotel in the Black Forest was no exception. We arrived around 10pm. The Frau who was waiting on us was very friendly. We supposed it had something to do with a little spirit, the kind you drink.... or at least that's what our noses lead us to believe.... Nonetheless, she was very attentive to our needs.
We were starving but everything in town looked closed already so we were hoping she could just give us a couple of pieces of bread or crackers, just to hold us till morning. She tells us she will call her friend and see what we can get. She calls the friend... chat, chat, chat (can't understand a thing).. and then tells us that her friend owns the restaurant downstairs. He's closing for the night but he can give us pizza. We are grateful for anything and head down to get our cold piece of leftover pizza. And here comes the gemütlichkeit....
There was only one table occupied in the restaurant when we arrived and they were finishing up. You could hear noise from the kitchen of things being cleaned for the night and the hostess lead us to a table. We tried to explain we were just there to pick up some pizza but she seated us anyway and gave us menus. We picked out a pizza and placed our order. Once we had our drinks and our pizza was cooking the owner told the hostess she could go home for the night and it was just us. Soon our pizza came. It was one of the best pizzas I've ever eaten and not just because we were starving. It had delicious homemade crust, the perfect amount of cheese and chunks of fresh vegetables. We weren't served the pizza in a to-go box but at our table for us to enjoy. We offered again to take it with us but the owner insisted we relax and enjoy. He continued to clean as we ate but there was something inviting about the sounds from the kitchen. It was like visiting your family and staying up late around the table. Stefano, the owner, kept checking on us and even hung out with us for a bit and shared his story. His parents were Italian but he had grown up in Germany. His father had owned the business and now it was his. He asked about us and we chatted a little and finished up our pizza. Of course we felt like we had already overstayed our welcome, so we thanked Stefano over and over for the pizza and were ready to pay our bill. He would have none of it though and insisted we try his tiramisu. So out comes tiramisu and coffee. In that moment, in that little restaurant, the perfect storm. Hospitality beyond compare, delicious food, friendly conversation, cozy atmosphere, the feeling that you had been doing that same thing forever in that same spot, the feeling that you belong there...... gemütlichkeit. It's a beautiful German thing. - Tega
I get my need for travel and exploring from my parents. No matter where we lived when I was growing up they made sure we explored every inch of it! Sometimes it was obvious why we were visiting a place and other times.... not so much. The latter were the times I'd ask "Now, why are we doing this??". My mom would always answer "So we can say we did". Good answer Mom. Words I live by to this day. Now, there may have been a chance I would've shaken this line of thought but around 11 years old I fell in love with one of the best story tellers around, Jimmy Buffett. When I heard him sing the words "you do it for the stories you can tell", well, that was it. Here was complete confirmation that almost anything was worthy of doing.... if for no other reason than for the story you could tell.