So if you didn’t know my grandmother on my mom’s side immigrated from Germany to the US when she was 6 years old in the 1930’s with her brother and mother following her father’s lead. She then returned when she was 13 when her parents went back to settle land. It was so close to World War II breaking out that they almost didn’t make it out in time, they left on one of the last ships from Italy. She told me she remembered seeing the Statue of Liberty and feeling like she was home again.
When I was growing up I always loved to hear her stories of traveling, Germany, her family and growing up in Detroit. I was fortunate to spend 21 years with her until she passed away two years ago this January. It was these stories that sparked my interested in anything international really. My Grandma would receive letters from time to time from her cousins in Germany and I wanted to visit them the first time but didn’t end up having the time to contact them. So I obtained their email addresses and they invited me to join them in visiting their parents (my grandma’s direct cousin) where they lived near Munich.
Turns out I had met my cousin Dierk before, but it was in the year 2000 so I was only 6 or 7. Turns out that was because of a business trip in Detroit and he had sent a letter but didn’t receive a response. Thus he decided to show up at my Grandparent’s house and they welcomed him with open arms. Just like how Dierk’s parents Lothar and Urusla opened up their home to me.
So I made my way via bus (to Saverne) train (to Strasbourg) another train with a connection (Stuttgart and Munich) and the metro to Ottobrunn which is where they live. By this time it was really late and I was exhausted so we did our sightseeing in Munich the next day. Not gonna lie, I got a bit nervous as I made my way to Ottobrunn because on the Train we had announcements in French, German and English and then when I switched trains just German and English when I got to the subway it was German and English until we got out of the center it was just German…thankfully I got off at the right stop.
Christmas Markets are an excuse for delicious food. So the first picture is a food I forgot the name of [edit it’s called: apfeltaschen] but it’s one of the best things I’ve tasted ever. It’s kind of like stuffed French toast with sugar and cinnamon on the inside and apples on the inside and it’s served warm, so delicious. I also had some Nun’s Puffs (nonnenfürzchen), brätwurst, more hot wine (glühwein) and pretzels (brezel). I also got to taste Bavarian beer which is regulated by a purity law from the 1500’s it can only have water, hops and barley in it. A little different from the crazy flavors produced by microbreweries in Michigan.
Interior of the Baroque Church, St. Johann Nepomuk built in the 18th century, it was supposed to be a private church in the beginning.
So booths at the market contained a lot more produce then what I’ve seen in France and many more “authentic” gifts so to speak. And I saw St. Nicholas, definitely time for a photo op.
Here we have Marien Platz which is one of the main squares/new town hall and part of the residence which had more markets! Including a large scale “Christmas Pyramid”.
With more walking around by the Theatine Church and its surrounding square and the Opera house. Much of the city was destroyed during the last world war and the Opera house was part of many things that was rebuilt and it took a while since they decided to build it in the old style.
The we walked around the English Gardens- called this because unlike French Gardens, it’s supposed to look more natural and less symmetrical. Even though both types are man-made.
Last touristy thing I did was go to Tollwood’s market and “Heimart” which means either Homeland or Motherland, where you were born or where you ancestors come from. It was part art exhibit, part market and even had a bar or you could take a seat on a patio or on a beanbag like you were at home. “Home is a feeling not a border” was written on different languages and projected on the walls of the tent.
Talking about my grandma and my side of the family made me feel connected again to my grandma. It was also great to learn more about her, her brother and my great grandparents and also contribute information to our family tree. I’ve learned about my ancestors going back to the 1700’s. I also felt bad I didn’t speak any German as Ursula seemed a bit sad about it but my grandma only spoke it until her mother died and no one else learned. Maybe now I’ve got an incentive to learn, I mean it is in my blood after all.
Auf Wiedersehen Deutschland !