How Bavaria Captured My HeartPublished on June 21, 2018
When I first booked my tickets to Germany, I got so many questioning looks and even more questioning remarks about my destination of choice. I remember my mother asking, who goes to Germany? What’s there to see anyway? Why don't you go to France instead? I had already made plans with friends and so I was going to Germany and that was that!
I was going to explore Bavaria first and foremost, with all its castles and all its fortresses (do you happen to know the difference between a Schloss and a Burg?). This part of Germany, Bavaria, had forever won my heart. When I first arrived in Berlin – a very friendly city where everyone speaks English – I thought, hey, I can do this Germany-thing with the very little German I speak! Part of my itinerary however was to attend a wedding in a small town deep, deep in the heart of Bavaria, and they don't speak English there.
From Berlin, along beautiful German highways – which are not only perfectly German with straight lanes and speeding German cars, but are also lined with beautiful scenery on both sides – I began my magical trip into this country! Once in Bavaria, my first stop was Munich, the affluent city, to me, stood rather pale compared to the beauty of the rest of the German state of Bayern. I had a traditional Bavarian lunch at the 16thC Hofbrauhaus featuring my favorite spatzle! Bavaria is not really a vegetarian-friendly place with all the sausages, but cheese spatzle you can find anywhere and everywhere. From Munich, my trip to Franconia began, Middle Franconia to be specific. On the way, I made a stop at the beautiful city of Bamberg, which belongs in a storybook, really, with its paintings and buildings and wonderful gardens. The funny thing is that there’s a US military base close by so you see all those military people hanging out in the quiet medieval Bamberg.
The longer you drive, the more different German begins to sound. The Franken have quite a special accent, so if you do speak the language, don't worry if you don’t get what they say. It’s a very special and very musical dialect, closer to Austrian German than to German-German, at least to my non-native speaking ears. Once in Middle Franconia and once acquainted with the Ts that sound like Ds and Bs that sound like Ps, you can start at the star of the show: Nürnberg. Nürnberg is a city rich in history and culture and is where the Nürnberg trials took place. The city is also where one of the most famous Christmas markets in the world is located. The pretty little old buildings are still quite a sight to feast on after a trip to the humbling Cathedral and a very dense but very important visit to the Documentation Center located on the Nazi Party Rally Grounds. There is a charming fountain, the Schöner Brunnen in Nürnberg, that is said to bring luck if you spin the brass rings - that’s if you could spot them or reach them if you are as short as I am. Moving on from Nürnberg, as the cities turned to towns and the towns turned to villages, I finally arrived at my destination: a village within the municipality of Kirchensittenbach (home to the Hohenstein castle).
The quaint village of Dietershofen is intimate beyond belief. If anyone ever tells you that Germans are cold, they haven't been to the countryside. I have never experienced warmth as I have experienced it in a family home deep, deep on German soil. While I was there for a wedding, I managed to hang around long enough to observe the people. Given that I don't speak the language, I was as equally curious about them as the locals were about the Egyptians in town. With its half-timbered houses, lack of network coverage and tightly knit community, I felt like I was taken back in time. That truly gave me a chance to take all the beauty in. In Dietershofen, sitting between two hills, I got to walk through the fields and see the deer towers. I also got to enjoy beautiful homemade apple juice and for the first time, I saw apple trees. The city girl in me was so excited to ride a tractor, help in walking the sheep and guiding them to their grazing spot - I also realized, for the first time, that sheep are born with tails…
I went for short hikes and felt the mulch beneath my feet, experienced days of summer rain and had my eyes paint beautiful moments and memorable views on the walls of my memory before leaving with a warm heart and tearful eyes back to the relative coldness of cities.