Beer and Bratwurst

I have just experienced Germany at its finest.

For the bank holiday weekend, I flew from London to Berlin to visit my friend Robert and his family. The Hoffmanns were incredibly good to me and gave me the best tour of Germany that I could have asked for.

I flew into Germany early Thursday morning, so Robert and I spent the day sightseeing in Berlin. I hadn't eaten a proper breakfast yet, so we decided to grab something in a local shopping area. We were trying to decide what to eat when Robert suggested pie and informed me that pie is a perfectly acceptable breakfast food in Germany. I think that this may have been when I first realized how well I would get on in Germany. After our dessert breakfast, we went up to the top of the Berlin Television Tower which has incredible panoramic views of the city, visited the remainder of the Berlin wall, and saw the local government buildings as well.

The day we were in Berlin was actually a German holiday called 'Men's Day,' the main event of which, as far as I could tell, consisted of men drinking large quantities of alcohol and generally making merry. We saw men riding around on bikes with baskets attached that were overflowing with beer, as well as men in boats singing what seemed to be manly, German songs. It was great fun to watch. The Hoffmann's actually live south of Berlin in a quaint, German village called Lübben, so after spending the day in Berlin, we drove back to Lübben where I got to meet his parents, Karsten and Sylvia. That night, they made us an amazing dinner of grilled steak and bratwurst, along with vegetables, fruit, and much more.

Friday morning, Robert showed me around Lübben which is absolutely gorgeous. We walked through a wooded park to his old high school where Slyvia is the choir teacher. We stopped in to say hello while she was giving a lesson, and then continued on to the 'down town' area. Lübben is actually famous for its pickles, so we stopped for a fresh one on the street, and I have to say that it was the best pickle that I have ever eaten. The Spree river runs directly through Lübben so we visited 'the island' which is a park area that is surrounded by the river on all sides.
After walking around town, we met up with Karsten and Sylvia back at the house, and then drove to the nearby city of Dresden. During the war, Dresden was almost completely destroyed by bombings, but was later rebuilt to its original grandeur- cathedrals and all. It was amazing to see. We had dinner that night at what I would call a traditional German restaurant, complete with waitresses in German barmaid outfits. It was great. On the way home that night, we stopped in at Sylvia's parent's house, and I got to meet Robert's grandparents. His grandmother is a part of a singing group that dresses up in traditional German dresses and sing German folk songs. She came home while we were there in her full outfit and even let me try it on! Robert's grandfather was hilarious and kept us fully entertained while we were there. The only three words/phrases in English that he can say are 'goodbye,' 'money money,' and 'tipsy.' We had a lot of fun joking around, even with the language barrier. Actually, both Karsten's and Sylvia's parents live in Lübben, so I had already met Karsten's parents on Thursday. I have decided that I really like the idea of families all living close together. I don't know if it will ever happen with my family, but it certainly provides a close sense of community.

Saturday was perhaps my favorite day. When I first arrived at the house, I was thrilled to discover that the Hoffmanns had motorcycles as I ride them whenever I have the chance. You can imagine my excitement, therefore, when they told me that we were taking a motorcycle tour of all the surrounding villages in their area on Saturday morning. I forgot to mention that the weather was fantastic the whole time that I was in Germany, so you can imagine that we had a lot of fun riding around all morning. At every site, they would stop so that I could take pictures, and then off we would go. One of the most interesting things that we saw was what they call the 'tropical island.' It looks like a massive green house and was originally built by the Russians to build aircraft and submarines, if I remember correctly (see picture). Now they have made it into an indoor tropical climate with palm trees and pools, and you can come for just the day or even camp there.
After grabbing a quick lunch, we headed out with his aunt, uncle, and a family friend for a picnic boat ride on their family boat down the Spree river. I can't remember the last time that I so thoroughly enjoyed myself! We ate, laughed, relaxed, and had a wonderful time. At dinner time, we stopped at a really nice beer garden/restaurant for a delicious dinner and then headed home.
As you can tell from my lengthy blog post, my weekend in Germany was one of my favorite memories from the trip so far. I absolutely love visiting new places in the company of people who actually live there because they always know the best activities to do and places to visit. The Hoffmanns were so good to me, and I truly cannot imagine having enjoyed Germany more.

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