I had almost forgotten what it felt like to be surrounded by fresh air, green grass, heaps of trees and wilderness. Being in a metropolis for way too many years in a row, my body was craving some action closer to nature. Indeed, the parents still live in the middle of nowhere and close to the ultimate paradise of forests, farmlands & Co. While of course there is not much action going on otherwise, it is amazing how you can feel when being surrounded by nothingness for a few days in a row. I had almost forgotten what it really felt like to be home. Our nature is simply stunning: Hills, fir trees, solitude – it is all still there.
One advantage of growing up in a deserted area (people-wise) is that you are pretty undisturbed when going on forest walks, plucking grass or committing other fun activities. On one of my last days in the Eifel, the weather was decent enough to go outside for a longer period of time. It was indeed the first spring-like day. So the parents and I decided to roam the area and start hiking from an old monument called Mariensäule. It literally translates into “Maria’s Pillar”, referring to the significance of Maria, mother of Jesus. There are quite a few Mariensäules in Germany, each carrying a different reason and meaning. This one is close to Waxweiler and was built in 1946 in order to commemorate that this part of the Eifel was not attacked during World War II.
Since this area is in the middle of nowhere, we were a bit surprised to see three other groups of people sitting around the monument on a Friday afternoon. Two boys in their early twens were drinking beer, obviously oblivious to the religious background of the statue. An older guide was explaining some background information on the area to a couple of tourists. A little taken aback by the fact that we were not alone, we made our ways into the forest. But as soon as we entered the darkness and density of the trees, nothing mattered anymore. It was rather soothing to see, hear, and feel the peace. We were walking around a few beaten paths and decided to take a few others. Sometimes I thought I heard a large animal following us, but it could have been so many other things, such as the wind, a bird and whatnot.
Our area is known for its wild pigs, foxes, and other creatures, so I wouldn’t have been surprised in the least had we been confronted with a burly pig at one point in time…
Feeling connected to earth, my heart tore wide open. I had almost forgotten how good it is for your soul, mind and body to march around in open nature. To just be present in all its uniqueness. Nature is natural. Anything else isn’t. Being away from all of this for so long had probably taken its toll on me. I never knew how much I’d appreciate the beauty of simplicity. One moment, I was lying in the grass, looking at its greenness. The next minute I was looking up at trees and finding an entire carousel of multitude. Then again I was searching for mysterious shell imprints on rocks, also known as fossils. Fossils are imprints of oceanic life inside of rocks. This means that our area was once the bottom of an ocean. A long, long, long time ago (had I been raised next to an ocean, I would have been quite happy).
It’s quite surprising how I grew up in an area that is known for its high amount of fossils and actually never took advantage of it until recently. I remember always being very bored with fossil hunts in middle school, when the teacher would drag us to the Dauner Maare or other spots and have us listen to the lectures of a nature freak (at least that’s what we called him). I guess when you grow up, you really learn to appreciate the small things. Fossils are indeed fascinating, and the parents and I must have searched for at least half an hour until we decided to move on. I threw a few rocks to the ground and tore them open but I did find this interesting one at last:
We crossed a road and hiked up a hill, on which there was a hut. To our surprise, a group of young adults (they must have been anywhere from 18-20 years old) met here and one car after another zoomed past us until 5 people had accumulated in this BBQ hut, ready to party. I couldn’t believe that that was how the youth of that region spent their Friday night – roasting some food and drinking beer on a beautiful spring day.
I guess I would have approved of it more if I hadn’t had the “fear” of all of them driving back home drunk. Well, drinking and driving has always been an issue in this area. Mostly because getting around without a car is almost not feasible (not even biking really solves the problem, because the distances from one village to another are too far).
We then returned on a similar path we had taken and I got to take this amazing picture of the sun setting behind a hill in front of a 300-year-old cross. It was just there, lying around in the grass, no fence or descriptive plate needed. 300 years is not immensely old for Europe, whereas in America people would have probably made a huge fuss about it.
The first blooms were starting to sprout from the ground. Narcissi everywhere. One of the flowers I had almost forgotten about, too.
There are many great things to do in Eifel-Germany that are nature inspired. The Teufelsschlucht has old caves you can venture through in one day. Then of course zoos and wildlife parks (which mostly feature one lone wolf and a lot of bambis). Not to forget the old Roman Aqueduct, which extends to a total of 100 km and is estimated to be 2000 years old.
The Eifel gets boring after a while for city people, but if you’re really deprived of nature and want to get away from a stressful life, this would be a great place to start.