My trip to Regensburg, Germany was through a Sister Cities Program offered through my school. For me, it was a life changing experience, because it made me aware of what life is like for people all around the world.
The trip began with a US Airways flight leaving at 6 AM, and arriving in Germany the following day at 8AM. In order to make the time change easier, I recommend staying awake for as long as possible that day. I was able to make it through 29 hours, but then I crashed! Because this was an exchange program, I stayed with my partner, Maria, in her house in the country. Maria’s father is a bee-keeper in his free time, and living in the country allows him to keep his bees far enough away from his house! The honey they make every spring is delicious.
Before traveling to Germany, I recommend all tourists take a basic German 101 class in order to communicate with citizens using simple, easy to remember phrases. I traveled with a group of many native Germans, so I did not struggle with the language barrier. But if I were to return, I would want to know more than the basic "Guten Morgen." Many of these classes are offered online, for practically no charge. Also, my mom bought me a Frommer's German Phrasebook and Culture Guide, which helped me a lot communicating with Maria and her mother.
During the time of my stay in Germany, there was a huge music festival called "Rock Im Park." The festivities took place in the middle of this huge park that had three stages. Most of the acts were in German, but I was still able to enjoy! In my trip diary, I wrote "Rock Im Park was amazing! I would call it a cross between Woodstock and New Orleans on Fat Tuesday!" One interesting fact about Germany is that people drink juice the way Americans drink soda. Instead of buying a Pepsi or a Sprite at the concession stand, people buy cartons of juice. So if you would like to look less-touristy on your trip, buy apple juice!
Another interesting fact about Germany is their drinking age is only 16. While I was there, I was able to try many different types of beers and wines. I did not enjoy the taste of the stronger beer, but it is part of German culture. On the first evening I was in Germany, there was a welcome dinner in which all the student and parents part of the exchange program went to a beer garden for dinner. This particular resturant we were at was introducing a new brand of beer that evening. So we were allowed, after dinner, to go into the cellar and try the fresh-out-of-the-barrel beer. It was quite an experience!
Anyone that travels to Germany must take at least one day to explore the antique castles. My group of tourist Americans went to two: Neuschwastein and Linderhof. The first is very famous because it is the model for the Disneyland castle. However, I thought the second one was prettier. Linderhof was made of nearly all gold and there was a beautiful fountain in the middle of the courtyard area. It was built by King Ludwig, who built three castles, but this was the only one he lived to see completed. Visiting these castles is like stepping back into history. It is an amazing sight!
I encourage anyone and everyone to take a trip to Germany. It is so historical and beautiful and interesting for people of all ages. Ciao!
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