Due to exam schedules, I inevitably spent another Christmas in Europe. By then I had stayed 16 months abroad without visiting home and was feeling more and more homesick each day. So as an alternative to home, I booked a trip to Germany for Christmas to meet Thomas’s family and finally see where he grew up. LUCKILY, at the very last minute, my exam schedule shifted, giving me a good month to visit both Germany AND the States!
Thomas grew up in Rottenburg, a rural town in the southwest of Germany. We were met by his parents at the airport, who are super sweet. Best of all, they spoke English fluently! I was so happy that I could communicate with them freely. I knew I had already started falling in love with this country as soon as Thomas’s mom, Gisi, served us her homemade goulash. German food is phenomenal. The next morning, Thomas’s dad, Claus, came home with fresh German rolls from a nearby bakery that made traditional southern German bread. We were surrounded with fresh rolls, quark (a dairy product that has a yogurt consistency, used as spread), different types of cheeses, lox, cold cuts, Nutella, and more. I was in breakfast heaven. They also have awesome neighbors with an apple orchard that give them gallons of freshly pressed apple juice in the winter!
After a few days of getting acquainted with the town, Thomas’s family, and his childhood friends, we got ready for a much anticipated day trip to the Christmas market in Stuttgart, a city just 45 minutes away by train from Rottenburg.
As soon as we arrived at the train station (Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof), we climbed its 12 story tower, known for the huge rotating Mercedes-Benz insignia at the top. (Stuttgart is home to the headquarters of Daimler AG, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz.) We were able to get a panoramic view of the city from up above.
I soon realized that you really have to spend the entire day there in order to try everything. There are just so many choices and everything looks amazing. After indulging in potato pancakes with yogurt sauce and apple sauce, we moved on to Magenbrot, a soft gingerbread, and then some Currywurst, a sausage that is steamed, then fried, and covered in curry ketchup (more typical in Berlin)…delicious!
As the sun went down, we warmed up with some Gluhwein as we browsed more stalls filled with trinkets, crafts, and strange snacks such as reindeer jerky.
Before catching our train back to Rottenburg, we stopped by the Stuttgart Museum of Art to get a panoramic view of the market from above.
Once we got back to Rottenburg, we took a quiet walk through the empty streets leading to the center of town, where a tree lit up the square outlined with quaint, pastel buildings. It was a perfect ending to a great day.