I’m now in New York, so naturally it is time to complete a blog post on Germany.
Mom, Dad, and I left Rome, I guess exactly 2 weeks ago, and boarded a flight to Dusseldorf, Germany. I kept saying Dumbledore, which I think the town should consider. We landed and proceded to the rental car counter.
N.B. – my dad likes car trips. It’s in his blood. So, why not make Europe a car trip? Don’t mind the super efficient European public transportation. No, that’s for sissies. We drive. Actually, this turned out to be a brilliant plan, as you will realize from my forthcoming gushing about the absolute beauty of driving along the Rhein River, through the Alps, (to grandmother’s house we go!), and around the Lakes district .
We opted for a gps system, which we named Mr. French for some now forgotten reason. This was clutch, as Mr. French effortlessly guided us through Germany, Switzerland, and Italy in his English accent. Don’t call us uncultured.
So, we drove to Münster, where we had the most lovely time with our family (family friends, technically), the Goez. Chris was a foreign exchange brother to my father and spent a year living under my grandparents’s roof in Tulsa. He and his wife, Ruth, have visited Oklahoma a couple of times since then, but we had never made it to their home.
Münster is a fairytale-like place. We arrived for 2 perfectly sunny days. This meant that all of Münster, including its 60,000(ish?) students were out riding their bikes and rollerblading along the park promenade and 2 lakes that rest in the center of downtown. It’s so outdoorsy and jovial. Real downtown Münster consists of stone paved streets with flat front brick buildings and gothic style churches and bell towers. The streets wind and promote an ambling pace.
Chris and Ruth explained that the town was almost completely destroyed during the war, so nearly everything has been reconstructed since then. Only a few facades survived, including Chris and Ruth’s house. Chris showed us the bullet hole dents still visible near their front door. So, while the town looks so quaint, there is the reminder that it is a reconstruction – it’s original history almost completely leveled.
Chris and Ruth kept us well fed. We went to a dining club public house type place the first night to try the local fare. Beginning with a lard spread, stew, then sausages, and beef and onions, and sauerkraut, and ending with sorbet and rhubarb. Oh and don’t forget the beer. And beer with strawberries that I quite recommend. I was full to say the least.
The next day we spent exploring the water castles of Münsterland. Yes, water castles. These are castles dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. They sit on land surrounded by a moat, or moats, depending upon how paranoid the owner was. They’re absolutely gorgeous. One is called the Versailles of Germany, to give you an idea. Münster boasts 99 water castles. We saw 4. A reason to go back.
Ruth rounded out our day with a delicious meal of spargel – locally grown white asparagus – and schnitzel. With strudel and spaetzle as other specialties, I think the Germans are just trying to confuse the rest of us with all these ‘s’ foods.
Münster and all of Münsterland are beautiful. The farms look idyllic with their neat rows of spargel and bright yellow canola crops. The little town of bustled with outdoor activity. It felt college-y and friendly. Just really happy. But, maybe I have a skewed perception because I was really happy there. All of us were.
Seeing Chris and Ruth was so much fun! They were incredible hosts, giving us tours, great food, and better company. They truly shared their home and entire town with us. We all had such fun laughing and catching up.
The whole stay again cemented my theory that so much about travel is the people in the places. The people you meet, or, in this case, get to see again. But this time, we saw them in their place. Saw their pride in their place. Shared their home experience with them.
This is something special and privileged and intimate. And, I thank them so much for allowing us in.
Until next time, Münster.