This past week was one year since we first arrived in Germany. It feels like only a few
months ago, but time flies. Weather wise last year, it was 40 degrees when we landed in the morning, our sponsor picked us up from the airport wearing a winter coat, we knew immediately that was a bad sign. It rained all the time, and was barely 70 everyday and quickly changed to a cold winter until, not kidding, almost July this year. July was 90 here most of the time which we are told is completely abnormal, but coming from Florida before, we are good with 90. When August suddenly arrived, we started getting sad because we knew what last year was like at this time and we started to feel fall in the air. Fingers crossed winter holds off for a little longer in Germany.
In the past year we have kept up with the majority of our goals for living in Europe, but lost on some others.
The main take aways:
- We have successfully traveled to a new place outside of Germany every month, visiting 12 countries and numerous cities.
- Goal for this next year is the same with 25% more travel inside Germany too (Munich, Berlin, Hamburg etc.)
- We have not learned German nearly as well as we had hoped. It’s really hard here. Day-to-day, we work speaking English, English is on the radio, we are generally greeted in English or the moment we try to speak German and they realize we aren’t local. Good and bad because we will be completely fine here only speaking English, but its terrible because we want to assimilate the most we can with the time we have here.
3. Thanks to our fantastic friends we met also one year ago this week at the wine fest ‘Stuttgarter Weindorf’, I learned how to make my favorite german thing: spätzle.
To complete our German dinner night, we also made meat Rouladen (meat roll-ups) stuffed with mustard, pickles and onions in the center, tied off with string and cooked in a purée broth of veggies, bullion and wine sauce. Our friends had a pressure cooker to brown and cook everything from the stove top in under 30 minutes. Click here for a similar Rouladen recipe.
View the photo album on CLICK HERE.
We all reunited at wine fest again this week which will be an annual tradition for us now we hope. This time went the day before and made reservations for a table since we were a group. It was the best way to go. We didn’t have to stress about finding a seat or squeezing in with others randomly and fight for a spot.
There are fests for literally everything here. Most recently, we attended an onion fest, followed by an apple fest, followed by two local wine fests and when we return. we will head to a sausage fest (literally sausage) and then a firework fest with an international firework competition.
Germans go all out with traditional dress, built up booths a.k.a pop-up restaurants and displays, detailed elaborate decor, always live music, always full restaurant service with real glassware (with a pfand return system) – never a red Solo cup.
At the beer fests, we group up with others and spring for a full table to guarantee one weekend night inside the tent. Otherwise, during the week, its possible to pop in without any lines or issues at the Stuttgart fests. Can’t say the same for Munich.
Above all the Beer Fests, Spring Fests, Fall Fests, Wine Fest etc. Christmas Fests are still my favorite of all time.
4. I officially have a rose garden, and grow pink carnations like
Mommom remembers her sister growing in Italy.
5. I got a job and a German car, neither of which we thought would happen so soon after moving here. Driving in Germany was easier than I anticipated but learning the small things like right of way rules and some signage takes some getting used to. We learned really fast where the speed cameras are located on our usual driving routes. There are about 10 to watch for on the way to work alone and they are sneaky, dropping the speed limit down 20 km just before the camera and raising it again soon after. Tickets are issued in Germany and neighboring countries for 2 km over – there is no 5-10 mile over grace period here like in the U.S.
Public transit is great, time-consuming, but great. We learned you have to push the button to open the train door. We spent a lot of money this year learning the train ticket system, that on many occasions we could have used day passes or group tickets if we had thought about it and planned better. We also discovered regional tickets for travel within our state in Germany instead of buying separate tickets to further out places that cost more. The new VVS mobile app for purchasing tickets on-the-go is the best.
So what’s up for next year? We still need to explore more of the Black Forest and get a cuckoo clock, learn German, go (back) to Oktoberfest in Munich, go to Berlin, and drive the castle scenic routes. just to get us started.
Sounds like it’s been an amazing year! Keep striving to meet your goals, you’ll be speaking German before you know it!
Enjoying your blog, very helpful and informative, not to mention great pictures! We are headed to Bonnigheim (north of Stuttgart) for a home exchange and wondered how difficult it would be to take a day trip to Munich. Would you recommend using the bahn as much as possible versus driving? We are mostly seeing the sights of Black Forest region, going to Heidelberg, Gutach, and possible Munich. A few people have told us there are “stalls” on the autobahn that get lengthy. Thanks!