Trip to Germany: The Other Half of My World - My Family Travels

Dry brush, boulder-filled mountains, and a famous bakery of all-American apple pies, are the day-to-day sites I see in my life at home in the inlands of southern California.  Soon these sites would all change dramatically, and through the wonders of travel, I would alight in the other half of my world.

My long plane ride landed squarely under the cover of gray and misty clouds.  As I glided down, I was met with green pastures laid out like a vast and sprawling patchwork quilt, woven by threads of waterways, and dotted by quaint rooftops. The Atlantic Ocean behind me, I had touched down in Bremen, Germany. As I stepped down from the plane, and shook out the stiffness of a ten-hour flight, a cool, damp, Nordic air filled my lungs. This was the first step into three weeks of enjoying, like this breath of air, the simple things in life.

The tranquil airport of Bremen was scattered with stout and stoic North Germans. Among them, standing less then five feet tall, was my grandmother, or Oma, as I fondly refer to her. Beaming at our arrival, Oma embraced my mother and me. This moment of warmth between three generations is akin to nothing else quite so poignant, or memorable. Any other of my vacations pales in comparison to the affection of a family reunited.

Driving north until we reached the very brink of the coast, we arrived in our final destination of Dorum. A small fishing town, Dorum is quite simple and sweet.Coming from the strikingly large cars, streets, and mega-malls of the United States, Dorum is scaled-down in the greatest sense of the expression. Tiny cobblestone roads, flanked by pony-filled pastures, tiny nooks with grocery stores, and cozy little homes converted into coffee shops, make up the gently-paced life of Dorum.

Like many of the other homes, my Oma’s house was a snug little A-frame. As I entered, I realized suddenly that in only four small steps I had made my way through the kitchen, bumped into the spiral staircase, and was already standing in the living room. After many head-bumps in the house’s dainty quarters, I learned not just to live, but to love, the pint-sized life-style of Dorum.

My favorite memory, and the thing I miss most now only three months after coming home, is the special mornings I spent at the breakfast table, with Oma to the left, and my mother to the right. Each morning, without fail, fresh bread baked just down the street, would be delivered to the house and set carefully in the front door basket. Each of us had the same bread every morning, and we enjoyed it a little more every day. We did not spread our breakfast with store-bought jams, but instead, with jams made by a nearby neighbor sold on a fussily appointed table outside their farmhouse.

My days in Dorum were no more complicated then these breakfasts. Our busiest day may have been a walk on the fishing pier, and stopping by our favorite coffee shop for one of the infinite varieties of cake. It may have been walking out on the Watt, the bare mud ground left exposed when the North Sea ebbs out completely, or simply staying home, helping Oma cook a comforting meal. However the day was spent in Dorum, I learned to sit back, slow down, and enjoy life for the little things like homemade jam. I didn’t just visit the other half of the world; I visited the other half of my life.

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