Reporting my observations of our time in each country is a daunting task, especially given my irrational fear of an inevitable and slow decent into dementia. Summing up said observations in a single blog post is absurd and maddening. In every day there exists innumerable occasions where we are privy to the minutiae of our passage through each day, each town, city, village, country field, toll road, gas station, traveller and local we come across. My observations in each occurrence are jotted down, if I’m feeling particularly industrious, and become notes that out of context promise to elicit nothing more than a curious head scratch or a chuckle of fond yet fuzzy recollection-if I’m lucky enough to have not yet completely lost my marbles.
When we set off on this trip, I had grand intentions of compiling the best. ever. travel blog. I was going to freelance, blog regularly, network myself on social media, and be ‘connected to travel culture’. I was going to document this experience, exploit the current fascination with authentic, simple living, and create for ourselves an avenue which would open doors for the future of our lives of intrepid travel and discovery. On paper it makes perfect sense. I am a writer. I take hundreds of photos each day, I am interested in the underpinnings of societies and want to taste the local flavour of personality and culture.
It took one week before I set fire to those grand aspirations and gleefully threw gasoline on the flames. It became apparent early on that the kind of writing that I’d set out to do, the kind of chronicling and delving and self-awareness that interests the collective of people focused on awareness and self-actualization . . . is actually a lot of work: a lot of work that would have taken me away from the very reason we set out on this adventure in the first place.
Unplugging wasn’t a conscious decision made at the onset. I had plans: SIM cards and top ups in every county, a 4g router that would have ensured I stayed connected to the world and our friends and family back home. I initially resisted my complete failure at seeing these plans to fruition, but that failure was the beginning of us eschewing this connectivity with the onlineworld-a world that seemed further away as the months passed blissfully in a haze of winding roads and gas station fumes.
In the end, the balance I’ve struck includes trips to McDonalds to assure our family we are alive and well (I can’t lie, I have eaten there three times), Instagram posts from gas stations, cafes where we lingered over coffee and hot chocolate, and furtive minutes online in the bushes behind establishments which had unlocked wifi.
Incidentally, we are still connected, but in a more meaningful sense. We have found our most memorable experiences on this trip as a whole have not come by way of exhaustive online queriers or hours on message boards, but without fail have come from interacting with people along the way. We make an effort to introduce ourselves and make small talk. We roll down windows. We take those high fives. We engage people with stories to tell, and in return we have made stories of our own.
Anyway, Germany was amazing. I’m not sure why I’d brushed it off as nothing but a necessary stopover before returning to the promise land (France), but it quickly established itself as a force of exceptional beauty, kindness, culture, and nature.
There is lots of old stuff (some of it depressing):
But mostly it is a country with exceptional landscape and exceptional beauty:
The operator of this roller coaster scoffed when I inquired whether or not children were allowed to ride (initial inspection revealed nets on many corners of the 15 minute downhill ride, presumably to catch errant children), and then scoffed even further when I asked if Henley could ride in front of me. Because, why wouldn’t a five-year-old be sent down a spiralling mountain track affixed to a death trap of steel and iron responsible for her own safety (braking)?
In the end, it was obviously very fun.
Germany: Danke, Danke, Danke. Your Bavarian Alps inspired us and your Black Forest enchanted us. We will be back.
(also, thank you for allowing people to paint things like this on the side of houses.)