Gems in Germany

Rain greeted me my first day in Europe! For years I planned to loose my European virginity in England, but Germany won the prize. Looking out during the final 30 minutes of the flight I was in awe of the landscape. Nothing but shades upon shades of green and as we landed, rain, pouring rain. Instantly my mind began to contemplate the ability of anyone to drive at over a hundred miles per hour in the rain. Why? Because that’s what I had always heard about Germany, everyone loves Germany because the Autobahn has no speed limit, but surely they must make exceptions in the rain. I would later learn that the “no speed limit” rule did not apply everywhere and thankfully so!

Surprisingly the airport in Frankfurt was simple to navigate, customs was smooth, and my luggage arrived intact. Now I don’t know about you, but driving in the US unnerves me, so I wanted no parts of driving in Germany. But if you plan to rent a car on your visit, I would suggest that you do a little research about the different traffic laws and how the Autobahn works. Thank me later and no charge for that tip! Just know that BMW, Mercedes and Audi rules the road and stay the hell out of the left lane. Don’t expect to see police cars waiting to catch you speeding, you won’t, they have hidden cameras. Trust me, the roads are a masterpiece of smooth paved pitch, I don’t recall feeling a pothole, you will be tempted to speed, just do so safely.

Harsberg

How cute is this town, this house, my home for the next two weeks! Yes I had a visit from a few bats the night I opened the blinds to let in the cool night air, but that was the only moment I became completely unnerved. The blinds called Rouladen’s, keep the house dark and also very cool. During the summer months especially in July, the sun rises at about 4 am and sets at 11 pm. Rouladen’s kept the light from disturbing your sleep, this was such a life saver for me because I had the worst case of jet lag in Germany.

Fields of Green

Germany is clean, very clean and the neighborhoods are built with outdoor activity in mind. Daily I saw families of all ages walking, running, and riding bikes at different hours of day and night. Often with pets, because this has to be the most pet friendly continent! The weather was sunny yet mild and what I noticed immediately was the humidity that sucks the life out of you in southern states during the summer was not present. As a black girl when you can take a hike mid day and not sweat your edges, its a blessing!

The neighborhoods are so cute in Harsberg. I spent lots of time just walking and admiring the comfy homes nestled between hills and valleys surrounded by windmills. I really couldn’t tell the socioeconomic status of any area, not that it is important, but every where I was just looked quaint and cozy. I had the same observation regarding people, nobody seemed to stand out based on clothing or cars, everyone drives a BMW, I didn’t notice anyone “looking expensive” and I found that very refreshing. Everyone seemed very low key and minded their own business.

Cigarettes and Safe Sex

How cool is it to know that you can walk down the street and buy a cigarette if you like, forgot your condoms, run into a bathroom at your local restaurant, that is where I found these! In France I saw this condom machine on the street! Seems like we can take a page from this book in the United States and make safe sex fun, available, and less of a taboo for our teens and young adults.

Europa Galerie Saarbrucken

Looking for a great place to spend the day shopping, eating, sight seeing and experiencing local culture? Europa Galerie Saarbrucken is a great starting point. I was lucky enough to catch some Capoeira (Afro-brazillian martial arts) I was captivated by the music, the acrobatics, the raw passion displayed by the artists.

Self Cleaning Toilet

Toilets were a thing of fascination for me in Germany. The older toilets are designed to prevent water from splashing when you poop, but in doing so the poop piles on what looks like a shelf in the bowl. Most public places have a more modern design, while they still do not hold a lot of water, the poop piles less! For a girl who travels with bleach to public restrooms, the toilet in this picture gave me life! Not only are the doors floor to ceiling so that you have complete privacy, this toilet self cleans by spraying sanitizer on the seat before you sit down and after you get up! Now that is what I call providing a safe, healthy environment for people to use the restroom. Think about it, you don’t want the person in the stall next to you to know your business, I could have stayed in this stall for an hour and not disrespected anyone else with the noises or smells from my bowels. Lets just be honest, we have all had those unnerved double flush moments in public and we go to wash our hands and people are giving you the eye roll because they saw your shoes in the stall that assaulted their senses! I didn’t have that problem in Germany!

My introduction to Europe was a complete success! I was able to visit three countries and drive through Luxembourg on the way to Belgium, so I will count that as a forth. Though I didn’t do an excellent job documenting my culinary delights, I enjoyed everything I ate in all countries. Yes food takes a bit longer to prepare, but you know it’s cooked to order and fresh. Yes you must try all types of “wurst” yes you must add the mustard, don’t leave without a schnitzel, drink that big ass beer, eat a pretzel, and if Rouladen (thinly sliced beef with a light smear of mustard rolled in bacon with pickles inside seared then braised in gravy) is on the menu it is my absolute favorite and you must have it! I am not much of chocolate lover, but this chocolate is nothing you have ever tasted, enjoy it.

While each country offered something completely different, one thing was consistent during my visit. Europeans mind their business and go about life enjoying it with friends and family, they appreciate nature and didn’t seem pretentious at all. Locals were friendly, but didn’t overshare, and the pace of life seemed a lot slower. Sadly I didn’t have the opportunity to visit a concentration camp or a castle, but those are primary destinations on my next visit if I am blessed with the opportunity.

“I’m just a brown girl, traveling the world, trying to make something beautiful”

Ny Unnerved