It’s an odd feeling, to be homesick for a place that’s not your home. But that’s how travel can change you. At least, that’s been my experience, with our recent trip, traveling to Germany. We had an opportunity to make essentially a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Freiburg, Germany, to visit my wife’s extended family of cousins there. In a real way it was so magical, so heart warming, to be welcomed into another family, another home (we stayed with my wife’s distant cousin Jochen and his family in Denzlingen, a small village outside of Freiburg), another country. I confess, I kind of fell in love, with the country, the people, the place.
I’ve always believed that places have a spirit, as odd as that sounds. Some places are special. Magical. Everywhere I went I could feel it. Not just the feeling of wonder, how many countless generations it must have taken to wear to stones smooth. No, it was a sense of recognition. Of feeling at once at home and also completely alien, lost. It’s an odd sensation.
Never mind the commonplace miraculous, the wonder of modern travel, being out-of-place almost instantly, and the sheer joy of being somewhere-else. It probably took my distant ancestor Barnabas Horton months to sail across the ocean from England to North America. It took us 10 hours to fly from Dallas to Frankfurt.
We flew into Frankfurt, and ended up taking a train from Frankfurt to Freiburg. The Frankfurt train station is amazing, a modern marvel. It looks like a spaceship from the outside. It’s pretty majestic from the inside, as well.
Our kids seemed to enjoy it just as much as we did.
Another few hours of the comfort of modern high-speed train travel and we were in Freiburg (seriously, America needs trains like these).
Once we arrived we were welcomed by our extended Schneider clan with delicious desserts, coffee, milk, apple juice, the most enchanting mineral water (that’s definitely making it to my top 10 list of things I miss) and Fanta (always a hit with the kids).
Did I mention the desserts? Seriously. The Germans know how to bake. I mean, seriously (more on that in another post).
The hospitality we were shown was boundless. The coffee machine in our host family’s kitchen was a little miracle. Espresso every morning, at the press of a button. The gift of wakefulness in a fog of jetlag.
And breakfast! Every morning it was fresh bakery rolls and bread, served with the most delectable preserves and butter.
And nutella. Can’t forget the nutella.
The most amazing thing though, was the gift of family. Of being so utterly at home somewhere else, being given the gift of being able to share their culture, their food (and wine, and sometimes their cherry schnapps), their smiles and laughter and joy. Honestly, I had a lot of anxiety about traveling to Germany. The unknown always scares us, at least a little.
But everywhere things are the same, no matter how different they are. People love their kids. Family is universal. People love people.
The gifts we’ve been given are priceless. In the end, we were homesick for our home, and it was time to come home. But there’s always going to be a part of our hearts that will dwell in Denzlingen, in Freiburg, in Germany.
My next few posts will be about various aspects or events on our trip. Not all of it will be focused solely on food. I hope you’ll stick around to read about it, though. Let me know if you’ve traveled to Germany, and where you went, and what you experienced. You can connect with me on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.