So, after 13 glorious days of exploring Germany and not working, I am back – well, I actually got back last Wednesday but haven’t really had a chance to write yet.  The trip was amazing.  The time flew by way too fast, as vacation always seems to do.

We spent 4 days hanging out with my grandparents and great aunts and uncles, then we hopped a train to Berlin.  Let me tell you, if you’ve never been to Berlin, it is such a cool city.  There is this eclectic vibe to it –  you have brand new, old, East and West German architecture all mixed together, which is something you rarely find here in the states.  Unfortunately, we were only there about 2 days, so we didn’t get to explore all of the museums and historical sites in any real depth.  We did take a city tour, which led us through the East and West portions of the city and over to Museum Island.  We would have loved to actually go inside the museums, but there just wasn’t enough time.  Next time we head that way, I want to set aside so time to really explore the city and all it has to offer.

After Berlin, we headed to Erlangen and Nuremberg for a few days to visit with Little S’s host family.  We had a pretty chill visit because we wanted to save our energy for Munich and Oktoberfest.  After 2.5 days with the host family, we hopped another train to Munich.

Munich is also a very cool city that I would like to explore a little more.  We only had 3 days there and a majority of the time was taken up by Oktoberfest.  T and I went 3 days in a row, basically closing down the tents around 11 p.m. each night (Little S and JT stayed late night one, the other times they left early).  Day 3 was rough because we got to bed a little after midnight, but had to be up by 5 a.m. to get to the airport.

Oktoberfest is really quite an amazing thing to see and experience.  It’s basically this extra large fair with crazy rides, food, souvenirs and beer.  But I’ve never experienced anything like it in the US.  There are no entry fees; you just come in and out of the Weis’n as you please.  And the beer tents aren’t really tents at all.  They are large wooden structures, about the size of an airplane hangar, that can fit thousands of people inside.

What really impresses me about the whole thing is that no matter which tent you go into, you are served beer in a glass mass (mug) and food on real plates with silverware.  And the food is really food, not crappy hot dogs and nachos like you find at fairs over here.  You can get a half of a roasted chicken, roulade with dumplings, goulash with spetzle, and the list goes on.  If you’re in the mood for something more snacky, you can find bratwurst or leberkaese on hard rolls with mustard.

People are also so friendly.  You end up just cramming into tables with total strangers from all over the world, and at the end of the night you have a new friend.  Everyone dances and sings while jumping up and down on the benches (which is kind of hard to do while holding a liter of beer in a giant glass mug, but oh so much fun).  And with all the inebriated people in the area, there is very little violence.  I feel like if something like this existed in America, drunk people would be starting fights all over the place and beating the crap out of each other.  The entire time we were there, I never saw any major incidents even though there were thousands and thousands of people there.

This trip really got me thinking.  I like being in America, but sometimes I think I like the European way of life so much more.  Everyone is so much more relaxed.  If you want to buy a beer at the store and drink it while you walk through the city, no one thinks twice.  Over here you’ll get in trouble for an open container.  I also love how amazing public transportation is, no matter how big or small the city is.  My grandparents live in a tiny town, but they still have access to buses and trains with very little hassle.  In Atlanta, I can’t even get to a train station without taking a bus for 20+ minutes or driving for 10, and by that time I could be at my destination.

I am also super impressed with how environmentally friendly everyone is in Germany.  Toilet flushes can be started and stopped to conserve water.  People practically recycle everything because it’s so easy to get it to the appropriate place to turn it in.  Recycling trucks don’t come into my neighborhood, and there isn’t a sorting facility anywhere near by me – so what do I end up doing?  Throwing it all away.  People also don’t drive gigantic cars.  All cars are small and way more fuel efficient than the monster trucks and SUVs people in the states insist on driving.  No one really needs a car that big, especially in a city!

So, that was my mini trip recap and rant.  The whole thing would have been even cooler if I had the pictures to insert into the post, but my laptop is not really working again so I haven’t loaded the pictures up yet.  I guess it’s time to buy a new laptop…As soon as I get some pictures onto a computer, I will post them for your viewing pleasure!