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We leave left Germany tomorrow yesterday (still trying to get home…HATE Delta) for our home in Durham, North Carolina after seven weeks away.  I have been ready for well over a week.  Perhaps this is a sign about how long future vacations (with work, too) should be for me moving forward.  As you’ve noticed, I’d fallen off the bandwagon a bit when it comes to chronicling my Germany adventures.  I have totally moved on.  But I thought that I should take a moment and reflect about what I’ll miss about my time here.

  1. The play areas for children, even toddlers.
    Child wading pool (1 of 2 connected pools) with fountains and other play pieces

    Child wading pool (1 of 2 connected pools) with fountains and other play pieces

    From fancy playgrounds with plenty of safe crawl space to swimming places with child-size wading pools, Heidelberg and Berlin really delivered on fun for kids.   There are public pools in the US but they aren’t usually child-friendly in a creative way. And sure there are playgrounds, but they don’t have cool hand pumps that kids can pump to get water flowing into a stream that they carved out themselves in a massive sand pit! Pretty cool, even for this 40 year old kid.

  2. The baked goods.  You know I love to eat and boy, do I love
    Currant and coconut cake

    Currant and coconut cake

    cooking in my own kitchen but I will truly miss the gorgeous and plentiful selections of delicious cakes and pastry that I’ve found here.  And because there are SO many bakeries, this is one thing here that is usually pretty inexpensive. A gorgeous slice of cake (above) at Cafe Anna for example was only 3 Euros…where in the US, it would easily be $4-6.

  3. The smart use of space.  Buildings are old here and while that sometimes means decrepit, more often it means unique and well-designed.  And it’s not just the buildings.
    _The Secret Garden_ anyone? The door to your afternoon getaway...

    _The Secret Garden_ anyone? The door to your afternoon getaway…

    In some cities, Heidelberg included, there are “gardens” to rent.  The plot of land which is maybe 1/2 – 34 of an acre often includes a small, outbuilding and has water but no electricity but it’s most wonderful feature is that it’s a patch of green that you can cultivate or not.  Or just use it as a place to host an afternoon coffee and cake with friends.  These plots are old, “pied-a-terre” type “homes”, for lack of a better word, that railroad workers used to live in while they were away from their home city.  The railroad line closed and the city now rents these plots. And they are gorgeous.  This is just one example of a dozens that I can think of where the Germans have really used space extremely smartly.  I’m still envious.

  4. Public transport.  Sigh. We have jumped on to trains, buses, subways and trams (with toddler and BOB in hand) in each city
    The "S-bahn" stop in Marienfelde where we spent a lovely afternoon

    The “S-bahn” stop in Marienfelde where we spent a lovely afternoon

    we’ve been in during our vacation.  Glorious…and so freeing! Sadly, while Durham has the Bull City Connector, public transport isn’t anywhere near what  it could/should be in the US.  Public transport has allowed us to get to friend’s houses that weren’t close to our apartment and helped us explore new places.  Same reasons (and others too like costs, etc.) are why we really should have better public transport here.

Of course I’ll also miss things like the endless fresh flowers everywhere we went, seniors on bicycles, everyone (even men in suits) eating ice cream when it gets hot, Sunday afternoons when NOTHING is open and how the heat of the day gives way to quick cool in the evenings.  We also had a few really nice evenings with my husband’s friends and colleagues that were some of our most special times here.  But I’m glad to be almost home.  We left on Monday and as I write this, we’re still not home but getting closer all the time.  Ah, yes, another reason we need better public transport!  Oh, Germany.