Monday, March 16, 2015

My First Shot At Travel Writing


Here I am in Tubigen, Germany

A Post By Jonathan

I've been lucky enough to travel quite a bit in my life, but for some reason I've never written about it. I don't know why, exactly. Maybe it's because I never thought anyone would find my trips that interesting. I mean, it's not like I've been hacking my way through the Amazon or anything (would love to hack my way to the top of the Amazon bestseller's list someday though... *wink, wink*). I have been to some pretty cool countries, but many a traveler has seen the same wonders I have --Big Ben, The Great Wall, The Taj Mahal included-- so I guess I just felt like I never had anything new to add.

But now that I'm a member of this awesome blog (shout out to my fellow Boarders!), I figured it was high time I take my first shot at travel writing. So here goes!

Just a little over a week ago, I had the awesome opportunity to visit Germany. Deutschland! The land of my ancestors, where the beer flows like a river and the bratwursts grow on trees. Although work was the main impetus (warning: impetus will auto-correct to impotence if you're not careful...) for my trip --I led a group of college students on a study abroad-- I had some time to do a little sightseeing on my own. And holy shiest was I looking forward to it.

While the city where I did all of my business (no, not that kind of business...) didn't turn out to be the most interesting place in the world, I had been sent on a bit of a genealogical mission by my father-in-law to locate the village of Wachendorf (population 1,220), where his great grandfather, also my two month old son's namesake, lived before immigrating to the US in the 1800's. So while my students headed off to typical sightseeing destinations like Prague and Heidelberg, I jumped on two trains and a bus to find some random village in the middle of the Swabian Alps. Sounds pretty cool doesn't it? Hey, this travel writing stuff is easy!

Mission Accomplished!
I had done a little reading online before heading off to Wachendorf, and the only thing the place seemed to be famous for was something called a "sports complex." At first I wondered if that was a Dennis Rodman type of thing (get it, sports complex? *crickets* okay, moving on...), but when the bus dropped me off in front of a place with a bunch of tennis courts and soccer fields (known as "football fields" in Europe, I would later learn...) I knew it was an actual place. Not knowing anyone in town, and not having a clue where I was going, I saw a sign for beer and walked into what turned out to be a mini sports bar in the middle of podunkville, Germany. Imagine my luck!

The place, which looked like it was frozen in the 70's, was empty except for the barkeep. He couldn't speak a lick of English, but he definitely spoke my language when he poured me a pint of golden suds. I sat at a table by myself for a while, when all of a sudden in walked practically the entire village. Apparently a televised "football game" was starting in a few minutes, and I was there at prime gathering time. Man, did someone slip some Felix Felicis in one of my beers or something?

Before I knew it, I was surrounded by a host of local Wachendorfians, and boy could they drink! After a few rounds of beer and questioning, it turned out that the guy sitting next to me was related through marriage to one of my father-in-law's distant cousins! Feel free to hang up the Mission Accomplished banner now... All I had left to do was take some pictures of the local sights and be on my merry way. One of the younger guys, who was also one of the few English-speakers in town, was nice enough to drive me around so I didn't have to walk.

Here's a picture of my drinking buddies. The guy who I'm blocking out is the distant relation and the guy all the way to the left is my driver friend/guide. This is a selfie, by the way... With an arm like mine, who needs a selfie stick?
I even got an invite to come back the next day to watch a real life "football game" at the Wachendorf Sports Complex. I agreed, and that visit was just as fun.

I had a number of other adventures while in Germany, which included a visit to a Prussian-era castle (did you know Germany has over 20,000 castles?) and a stop over in Tubigen, which has a lot of old German architecture. But I guess, with my visit to Wachendorf, I got a taste of local culture that few others have a chance to experience. And that, my friends, is something to write about!


To close it out, here's a picture of Burg Hohenzollern, the Prussian Castle I went to!

10 comments:

  1. I miss traveling. I traveled a lot pre-kids. Sigh.

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  2. I hear ya, Kimberly. I missed my two month old terribly while I was gone, but I got my first smile and laugh when I got back, so that made it all worth it in the end.

    Maybe we should do an ATB tour?

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  3. Since this post makes me want to visit Wachendorf, so I'd say your first travel writing venture was a success! And I like your idea of an ATB tour....

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    1. Thanks, Carrie! If you decide to go, let me know. There's this really angry cow you should look out for...

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  4. What a cool trip! And to have found some distant relation while there- I do think you had some lucky Harry Potter juice. =) I'd love to visit a real life castle someday too. And hurrah for baby smiles!

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    1. Definitely need to learn how to brew me some liquid luck, Leandra! I bet that stuff would sell like hotcakes! Baby smiles are the best!

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  5. That looks like a lot of fun. I visited Germany--but I was six. And I'm sure you can imagine it was quite a different experience for a six-year-old!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Stephanie. It was a lot of fun! And sometimes I have the maturity of a six year old, so you'd be surprised at how similar our experiences were;)

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  6. nice, I'm jealous! I was never much of a traveler and never had "the bug" to do it...but I wish I had more of a drive because I reallllyyy want to visit Australia and hold a koala!

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  7. Well then I think we'll just have to start our ATB tour in Australia, Beth! That way we can all hold koalas! All it takes is one good trip and you'll get the bug...

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