Saturday, April 15, 2017
A large portion of my ancestry comes from Germany, so much of my time here was spent discovering people and places that had some sort of connection to family several generations back. My extended family and I were treated like honored guests wherever we went. We visited a living relation in Emden and Greetsiel, discovering the old-style harbor towns of northern Germany and sharing in some wonderful tea and history of the area where we were staying. We were accompanied by an accordion player and a local reporter when we took a boat tour around peat farm waterways, as our massive family’s visit to such a small place gathered a significant amount of attention. Perhaps the most extravagant welcome we had was in Würzburg, where we were treated to a garden dinner party by the Duke of the region. The blistering heat that greeted us that day was offset by the magnificent fruit platters, live brass band, and the food prepared for us by the Duke’s brother. As a somewhat average group of people, it was a strange experience to be treated like we were extremely important wherever we went! Chasing history, we visited a church with a beautiful ceiling mural, commissioned by an ancestor, stayed in a hotel that was owned by a another relative, and walked through a cemetery to find the gravestones of family members from before the United States transition. History and family were not the only reasons to visit Germany. The beautiful region of Bavaria seems as though it was made for postcards, with rolling green hills and buildings sporting medieval architecture and red brick roofs. Summer, it seems, is a wonderfully lush time throughout Europe, as my travels seemed to indicate. Another highlight location for me was Burg Eltz castle. A little more tourist-oriented, Burg Eltz is nestled in a valley at the bend of a river. Once a strategic stronghold, the castle seems to have been plucked from the pages of a storybook and placed in the middle of Germany. The long hike that took us down a winding road on the side of a mountain was well worth the effort, as the pastel colors and vertical design of the castle captivated my mind, sending it back to the medieval era that the structure represents. Germany is a fascinating blend of old architecture and modern advancements and is overall a welcoming and beautiful country.