Being Back Home: Southwest Germany and Its Rural Charme

Being at home
Being at home

Not being home for ten months straight can be a pretty weird feeling. You’d think after 6 years of living an expat life, I’d be used to the feeling of being away. The truth is – you never get used it. And no matter for how long you’re gone, home will always be home.
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On Growing Up Bilingually, Biculturally, and Bi-Nationally

(Note: This is a post for all you who have wondered what I am and where I am from. This is also a post for all of those unaccepting people who still think I am German. But most and foremost, this is a post for everyone seeking an answer to their bilingual identiy.)

German-American-Flag

It’s said that the strongest story you have to tell is your own story. Everyone has a unique history, an original skill set, and a story behind growing up.

I grew up bilingual with an American father and a German mother. Most people who meet me in the US assume I am American. Most people who meet me in Germany assume I am German. I don’t have an accent when I speak either language. My identity is formed of two cultures. I belong to two great nations and wouldn’t want to give this up for a million.

Most of my childhood and teenage years were spent in Germany. But the first language I ever learned was English. My German was horrible when we were down in New Mexico. At the tender age of 4 ½ half years, my family moved over to Bremerhaven/ Germany and I must have had some difficulties in pronouncing German words and speaking it. But when I was six, I joined the local German elementary school. About 13 years later I was to graduate from the German gymnasium with the highest school degree obtainable in Germany. While all my primary education is based on the German school system, all of my secondary is not. I attended American college by choice and was able to finish with a Bachelor’s degree after 3 ½ years of hard studying.

Needless to say, I love my life. It’s said that the strongest story you have to tell is your own story. Well, I think I started off great when being raised in the way I was. In a bicultural family, life is never boring. It’s not only about the language you speak, but the excitement you feel when dreaming about a life in the other country. And just the fact that you are able to take in both without giving up one another – priceless. At a young age, I felt that my family was different than the ones we were typically surrounded by. Sure, you had the normal military families, who moved around a lot and got to see Japan and Guam. But then you also had the German farmer’s families, who were rather sedentary and settled. You also had similar families like us – one parent German, the other American – whom it was easier to connect to. But by far, we were a minority.

Being raised bilingual certainly had its advantages. Getting ahead of others in school during our English lessons, for one. But it was also the recipe for failure as most teachers expected us, my sisters and me, to be perfect when speaking the language and always turned to us when a classmate didn’t know the answer. In hindsight, I don’t know how I would have handled the situation better. It’s impossible for a child or teenager to know every single word in either of their native languages. I realize that now.

Just like learning a new language takes time and effort, so does maintaining one’s native language. So I started working on it. Reading more books, learning the vocabulary. Because just speaking it wasn’t enough, it took more than that. I also had to work to get rid of my German accent when I spoke English. Going to German schools and exclusively living in Germany had brought that out. I sometimes still have one after a longer stay in the motherland. Not so much after a longer stay in the fatherland.

flags-of-europe

Another advantage of biculturalism is being able to work on two different continents without the hassles of having to apply for a visa. There is no real language barrier to overcome and I don’t have to pick my companies according to their sponsor ship. I suppose this is real freedom: Two continents to go to and two countries to choose from. Life is easier and less complicated in that matter.

Growing up the way I did is a part of my identity, a part of how I define myself. Interestingly enough, psychological research has shown that you can develop two different personalities when you grow up bilingual. At one point, my German one was more dominating, more in my thoughts. Now I have lived here for so long, I tend to think in English most of the time and act in a more American way.

But in a sense, this two-folded personality has preserved my ability to speak two languages. It is easy for me to switch between either one. It is also easy for me not to forget vocabulary or certain pronunciations. When I observe Germans who have lived in the US for an extended time frame, I see signs of them forgetting their native language (but they still speak English with a strong accent). My guess is that this happens because they don’t have the mental practice or because certain brain circuits did not develop in their childhood. All of these are theories of course, not scientifically proven (yet).

Finding one’s identity is a crucial part of life. Mine happens to be German-American. Like other German-Americans, I am to a certain degree more German than American, with others it can be the other way around. But overall, we pretty much form a culture of our one, taking with the best of both nations and applying it to our own cultural mindset.

While I have never seen myself strictly as German or American, other people show problems when it comes to this. It seems that there cannot be a middle way in some folks’ heads. So this question of identity becomes an “issue” when people cannot comprehend the concept and try to shove me into one drawer: Either American OR German. But life is not only black and white. And we, the German-Americans, are a perfect example of yet another gray zone in reality. My identity is not only formed by language, but by culture and a sense of belonging. If someone were to ask me what I felt – more German or American – I’d say more European. After all, I did grow up over there. But I highly suppose so would most Americans, who’ve lived abroad for almost all of their childhood years.

I look at French-Canadians and how well they handle speaking both languages (although with an accent sometimes). If they do not have a problem with their bilingual identity, neither should we.

If I were to have children, I would want to raise them in a similar way. I wouldn’t want to neglect them the privilege of a bilingual and bicultural home. Life has so much more to offer than one simple country, why not bring them closer to both? There are so many advantages when learning languages from an early age. It comes to you more naturally and with less hurdle and thought process. You just know “this is wrong, this sounds right” from deep down in your soul. And of course it also broadens a child’s horizon. Not to mention the ways it opens to living in two different countries without much legal hassle.

german-american-heart

Germany: A Smoker’s Paradise

picture from telegraph.co.uk
picture from telegraph.co.uk

[This post was inspired by Sherbet and Sparkles Thoughts on Smoking!]

After living in New York for over 3 years and not visiting my home country for one full year, coming back to Germany was a surprise in many ways. And, to be frank, more negative than positive ones.

For one, vegetarianism really isn’t as pronounced as I had remembered it to be. Being a veggie from 8 years of age and on, I’ve found that, for the most part, my homeland only offers one or two meager options a la carte when eating out. If even. Once we wanted to grab lunch at a Greek place in a small Eifel town. We literally had to leave the place after 5 minutes because their entire menu contained meat. Even after inquiring if there were meatless options, the owner of the joint denied, without even offering a half-hearted attempt of accommodating his vegetarian customers.

Then, the people on the Autobahn can become really freaking annoying. I mean, being legally allowed to drive 240 km/h should make some people fell less agitated about having to slow down occasionally before they hit a traffic jam or heavily populated area. But no, just in order to do that 10km/h over the speed limit, they almost collide with every fellow driver in front of them and try to drive them off the road. Not enough that they are already honking their horns and wildly gesticulating for the driver ahead to see in his rear mirror. Nope, they have to get real close and almost cause an accident, so that he will fearfully move out of the way.

Finally, among a few more things, smoking in public has become a great nuisance. After getting used to not being surrounded by second-hand smoke for what felt like an eternity, it was almost a shock to experience smoking culture in a typical German bar. In New York, it’s been the law for a decade to take your cigarette outside (not in an outdoor food area, though). No one even complains about this anymore; perhaps only when it’s really cold outside, but that makes the people want to smoke less, which is a healthy side effect considering that smoking can kill, right?! Experiencing how American youth and culture thinks about smoking nowadays was a true eye opener in the beginning. I am pretty sure that the smoking rates here are not as high as they are in Europe, especially when it comes to countries such as France, Austria, and Germany. Not to mention Eastern Europe… Now, I know Europe can be behind in some things. Smoking might be one of these.

Germany’s indoor smoking ban came into effect in 2007 in some states and was mostly implemented by the end of 2008 in most states. What was the result of not being legally allowed to smoke indoors? Two options when it came to night life establishments: 1) Smoking outdoors on the street; 2) Having a disclosed area in a restaurant or bar, in which smokers can peacefully smoke and not bother non-smokers. Or so was the idea. And what has become of it? A complete disaster!

Lots of memories are connected to how things used to be. For example, I used to reek of smoke whenever I was a teenager and came home from a party. It wasn’t possible to go to bed until I’ve taken a shower or somehow deposited the clothes far away from me. Yes, second-hand smoke always had some unpleasant side effects.

picture from www.thelocal.de
picture from http://www.thelocal.de

But nowadays, because of these so-called smoking rooms, the smoke is even more confined to a small area. Sometimes it’s not even completely isolated from the rest of the establishment, as I found out the hard way. When going out in Schwetzingen with my dear friend, we ended up at a bar with life music. It was not until we had the desire to use their restroom that we noticed the pitfall: People were standing in the corridor leading from the main bar room to the toilets and smoking their lungs out. Needless to say that just going through that thing once or twice a night was a torture by itself. Now, instead of having the smoke float through an entire room, it was restricted to a small area, making it almost unbearable to pass through. And it was not the only bar with such a “high-end” solution when it came to self-serviced smoking rooms. Why can Germans not just go outside instead of ruining an entire nightlife experience? It certainly ticked me off that night.

Berlin was slightly better in the sense of most people smoking outdoors. But Berlin is really close to Eastern Europe and a transit point when flying through the city. Just while waiting at the airport on my very last day, I was pretty annoyed by the amount of smokers surrounding me. It was one of those beautifully warm days and my flight wasn’t going until another two hours or so. All I wanted to do is sit outside and take in my last moments in the Hauptstadt. Propped on a small chair, I saw one smoker after another exiting Tegel, deliciously inhaling their cancer sticks while they were waiting for their taxi or catching a bus. I just didn’t get it. Was it not possible for these people to go without their beloved cigarettes for just one day? I couldn’t help but think about all the money spent on useless packs of cigarettes. Money that could be invested elsewhere, be it a nice dinner, clothes, or cosmetics.

For once, smoking in Germany really bothered me when being back and I’ve come to notice how little people do it elsewhere, especially in the US. If only my home country could reach a similar mentality when it comes to this subject… It made me sick to see 40-year-old women tightly gripping their cigarette while their skin in their face was making them look 10 years older. Or the smokers’ cough I occasionally heard when strolling down the streets. Really, people? They’re killing you, but you still won’t let go of your beloved cigs!

Berlin – City of Cities (Part III)

berliner dom und tango tanz

Of course the weather was crappy, no surprise there. But in the very last days it finally turned better – much better. For two days Berlin was as warm as 20 centigrade (70 Fahrenheit) and that made it all worthwhile. But even walking around in the rain slush the first two days wasn’t that bad. I had truly expected worse from so far up north, especially after being hit by snow the first week I was back home!

So by the time we got to the dome, it was peacefully sunny and people were bathing right next to the fountain, which had mysteriously turned on. We even got to see a pair of tango dancers performing right beneath the dome with a group of friends. Berlin certainly withholds creativity, so much to that. When strolling through the streets, we passed landmarks such as the Rote Rathaus and the Marienkirche – a well-known church with a clashing history of Catholicism and Lutheranism.

Alexanderplatz in action
Alexanderplatz in action

And then, finally, we stood in East Berlin: At the Alexanderplatz, where trains come together, trams meet, and subways emerge. It was a bustling center of eager shoppers, street kids with dogs, and tourists snapping pictures of the World Clock. Certainly one of the busier spots in the city, I would say. After this, we dropped by the Radisson Blu Hotel to view the Aquadom – a gigantic aquarium my friend had always wanted to view on her trip to Berlin.

The infamous Aquadom!
The infamous Aquadom!

Saturday night was party time and my first disappointment since my arrival: No glamour in Berlin! Just when I was about to sort through my party dresses and look for fancy high heels, my friend mischievously pointed out that no one dresses up in Berlin but rather tries to dress down. Meaning Sneakers, Shirt and Jeans time. I couldn’t believe it. A city without glamour? Well, it truly exists and it’s called the German capital. I still wore fancy things and was one of the only ones when we went to a house party in Friedrichshain (not without spending 2 hours in the Berlin subway and being distracted successfully by an array of things).

The new in-drink of Berlin? Mate – a common drink made from dried herbal leaf from South America, mixed with anything alcoholic. So after a few Vodka Mates I couldn’t think too clearly but we certainly went to an “underground” club in the middle of nowhere called Rummelsbucht. It was here that we needed a password to be let in and spent over an hour waiting for the doors to open. Since it was supposedly very crowded inside, they only let the crowd in slowly (and a good amount of people were denied access). We weren’t a big fan of neither the audience nor the music and after an hour we simply gave up. Partying in Berlin – so far my impressions are rather mixed. And I am not sure I like the no-glamour thing they have going on!

Kreuzberg
Kreuzberg

Then, on one of my last days, I got to see Kreuzberg – the former hood which has now been converted into a nicer area (at least in some parts). My friend from Berlin claims that in other parts it still is pretty dangerous but where I met up it was more like a hipsterized version of a nice neighborhood. The sun was shining, people were strolling along the small creek called the Spree, and we dropped in for a coffee at a café whose bare existence oddly reminded me of Park Slope or Williamsburg or anywhere else in the world. Except for the prices, these were still pretty low. But then we turned a corner and all of a sudden there were 6 police cars parked in front of an apartment building. The traffic had come to a standstill. There was surely something wrong going on but what it was remains a mystery to me.

Overall, I have to say that Berlin does not appear to be as international as other European cities. Compared to Paris and London, the only foreign people I saw were Russian and Easter European tourists mixed with French, Dutch, and British folks when standing in line for yet another sightseeing highlight. True, we did stop by at this coffee shop where the waitress only spoke English. But I had somehow imagined it to be more crowded with an underground scene of starving artists coming from everywhere, especially New York. Where were all of those Hipsters who moved from Wburg to Germany just to make a living off of under-the-table-work? It certainly felt more like a German city to me than anything but perhaps my expectations where mildly exaggerated…

On top of this, I encountered a few Neo-Nazis who were walking through subway cars. I didn’t like this – at all. Up to that date, I’d only had the pleasure of seeing the skinheads on German news whenever there was yet another political demonstration. So close to Eastern Germany it was just a matter of time to witness them in action.

Other than the aforementioned knicks and knacks, Berlin seems to be a creative city, no sweet talking here. Be it students filming a project for their school or street musicians performing art underground and above – I can only imagine what artistic vibes will ring through the city once summer comes around. Collecting bottles out of trash cans seemed to be yet another hype throughout Germany but especially Berlin. Heck, for 25 cents a bottle I think I’d start doing the same if I needed money. And all this behavior kinda fits the general casualty you witness throughout the city.

And that was it, my time in Berlin. Short, necessary, and mind-enhancing by all means!

Bye bye Berlin
Bye bye Berlin


[For more pictures on Berlin, go to Days Spent in Berlin (3).]

Berlin – City of Cities! (Part II)

At some point during this trip I visited my friend in the Oranienburger Street, which is a quarter that still has some milestones of German history. He pointed out to me that there were certain stones called Stolpersteine (roughly translates to “stumbling blocks”). Engraved on these stones were names of former Jewish citizens, their DOB as well as their reason and date of death. Hadn’t he pointed these out to me, I would have most likely just walked past them without knowing much about them. He also showed me how at many corners you will just find a blank piece of land and told me these were once corner houses. The buildings standing on the corner of a street were common targets of air bombs during WWII and ever since then some corners have not been rebuilt.

Jewish Holocaust Memorial
Jewish Holocaust Memorial

Berlin has a pretty interesting history, come to think about it, and I am glad that I was able to take in so much of it. Such as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews in Europe, which we visited the other day: An entire field with nameless gray stones of different heights dedicated to the Jewish homicide. I find the idea great but was appalled by the amount of disrespect people showed by just climbing the stones and posing for good pictures on top of the memorial. I would have found it better to personalize the memorial with names of the deceased but of course this must be an impossible project so I find the concept of nameless stones good in a way but also unimpressive at the same time. Such is the case sometimes with modern art – and the Holocaust Memorial has only existed for the past 8 years.

Back to my first day: After visiting the museum, we went on to snap pictures of the Wall, which consisted of two walls with a narrow walk way in between (some things you have to see until you believe them!). I heard there is a great piece in a different part of Berlin and Liz from JustBe.LoveAll.LiveLife has artfully captured the Wall from this part of town in her post out & about in Berlin (see the very last picture!). You can see how it is artfully decorated by graffiti and paintings from famous artists of the city. My local friend told me later-on that the city wants to build a huge mall on the spot where this remnant of the Berlin Wall stands. She has even joined a protestor’s group to prevent this from happening. In any case, the Wall would be hopelessly destroyed – a piece of history never to return. Small chunks of the Berlin Wall are still sold throughout the city, so I was glad to snag a few for friends overseas (the price is relatively cheap compared to the kind of history you are paying for).

Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie was right around the corner and with it huge amounts of tourists. I thought this picture to be very funny and moment-capturing: A group of Turkish tourists posing with costumed soldiers re-enacting American and German militants. What was especially humorous was that at first it was only two people taking a picture but when the posers said it’s €1 for one picture, the entire family moved in (what a great way to get your money’s worth). There is a Checkpoint Charlie museum which we successfully avoided we found a bit too overpriced for what we were getting out of it. Plus the tourist masses in front weren’t really inviting in terms of waiting time.

After a coffee break and waiting out the rain inside, we ended up at a beautiful, peaceful spot: The Gendarmenmarkt in the middle of Berlin. It is here that you see several different churches all at once in addition to small tourist groups, street performers, and kids performing bike tricks.

Gendarmenmarkt
Gendarmenmarkt

And finally we got the see the Brandenburger Tor, which is pretty much the epitome of Berliner tourism and a symbol worth checking out. Just as we were in front and contemplating which way to go next, a random car stopped in front of us and a party of 12 people exited, carrying a Meditarrenean bride along. She was dressed in a lovely white dress – obviously belonging to a wedding party performing some sort of ritual. Someone turned on the music in the car and the group began dancing in a circle for the length of one song. Until now we have no idea which country this group originated from and what tradition exactly they displayed but if anyone can come up with anything, please let me know. Regardless, this tradition is simply lovely and must be one of the highlights of a wedding when marrying in Berlin.

Brandenburger Tor
Brandenburger Tor
Wedding in front of Brandenburger Tor
Wedding in front of Brandenburger Tor

The next day we made our round towards the one and only Reichstag right next to the Gate. Then back towards the Museum Island, while walking along a street called “Unter den Linden”. With fancy souvenir shops, a great Nivea crème store, and lots of embassies on our way.

[For more pictures on Berlin, go to Days Spent in Berlin (II)]

Berlin – City of Cities! (Part I)

Berlin Brandenburger Tor
Berlin Brandenburger Tor

My urge to see Berlin had been strongly manifested in the past 5 years. Ever since I’ve visited Paris, New York, and London, I’ve been yearning to check out what my OWN capital is up to. Not enough that living in New York brought with many, well, err embarrassing revelations. “Oh, I love Germany. Berlin is such an awesome city” was the phrase of most Americans I talked to during dinner parties or normal bar chats. New Yorkers love to find something in common with you as soon as they find out where you are from. “Berlin? Yeah, I’ve never been there. How is it?” was my usual response to it in the beginning. As the time went by, I merely swallowed this last remark and played it simple by smiling and nodding whenever Berlin came up. After being back home for two times already and not being able to scoop in a trip to the Hauptstadt, I just knew that this time was the trip of all trips: Time for some Berlin fanciness and me bathing in it!

I was ready to devote 4 full days to my capital and chose those to be at the very end of my trip. So after taking a train up to Cologne and then flying over to Tegel, here I stood: Among the bustling vibes of one of the most notable airports in the German country. From Tegel I went on to Charlottenburg, which is a district that stands for new extravaganza, hipster restaurants, and the one and only Charlottenburg Castle (which unfortunately I did not get to see during my trip! Booh!).

Our first night out was a culinary experience at a simply delicious Vietnamese restaurant. SaiGon Today offered an array of healthy looking dishes and a variety of even healthier fruit drinks. Cocktail-inspired drinks containing no alcohol – they were yummy to say at the very least. And this is where the first surprise came in handy (or rather, no surprise, as I’ve heard of it before): Berlin is cheap! Dirt cheap! Food, drinks, necessities – you name it! Especially if you are into Döners (Turkish delicatessen with lamb meat), you can get these for as cheap as 2 Euros in Germany’s capital. Everywhere else in Germany you’d be paying 3 Euro and up (Trier’s infamous Kepabhouse sold its stuffed bread for a whopping €4.50 on a Saturday night). For a dinner with drinks we paid less than €10 – not bad, folks, not bad at all!

Saigon Today - worth checking out!
Saigon Today – worth checking out!

Saigon Today Berlin healthy drinks

My first full day in Berlin was devoted to catching up with a dear friend I hadn’t seen in almost 5 years. The main reason this city was so much fun was because I got to see so many people I hadn’t met in ages – exactly what I needed at the end of my trip to Deutschland. Together we went sightseeing for the first two days or so. And our first stop? Breakfast at the Cafeteria Skyline right around the corner from the Tiergarten. It belongs to the Technical University of Berlin (TU) and goes all the way up to the 20th floor, where you have a great view over the entire city. What else is there to wish for than an excellent panorama showing it all? Thanks to my local friend, I’ve discovered this hidden gem and can only encourage you to go check it out and have a rockstar breakfast for €5 only (coffee and bottled water included).

View from the cafeteria from high above
View from the cafeteria from high above
5 Euro breakfast!
5 Euro breakfast!

We then continued our tourist day and visited the KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens), which is a rather posh store, reminding me of Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s with a touch of Saks Fifth Avenue, right in the middle of the city. Of course we also had to walk up and down the Kurfürstendamm – the most popular street in Berlin as it hosts tons of souvenir stores for tourists but not much else, as I am disappointed to point out.

After buying a few souvenirs, we hopped on the subway, not without difficulty when searching for an ATM for my friend, who has an account with one of the biggest banks in Germany. For some reason, all of the bank ATMs were underground and looked rather shabby than trustworthy. At the Potsdamer Platz we were able to snap a picture of the oldest clock in that spot (probably from the 60ies, since the entire area is relatively new) before we took off to the Topography of Terror. This is a museum-like building right next to the remnants of the Berlin Wall. It shows the history of the Nazi-terror during WWII and the prosecution of the Nazis after the war. It also has some bits and pieces on the Roma & Sinti and other groups who were persecuted by the Nazi regime.

After spending an hour staring at the pictures and descriptions beneath and listening to tour guides discussing this dark piece of German history, I simply had enough. I think we certainly entered overkill mode on this topic when looking at the endless amount of outrageous and brutal pictures which were exhibited. Which made me come to the conclusion that Berlin is most likely the only city in Germany that displays this part of history so accurately. It has an array of museums, history pieces, and other exhibitions on Nazis and Jewish culture during WWII, an era seemingly forgotten in other cities of the country. Since 90 percent of the city was destroyed during the war, Berlin also has a relatively new flair, including buildings and culture. Other tourists consider this city very hip whereas I found it at times rather bland and unappealing than attractive.

Clock at the Potsdamer Platz
Clock at the Potsdamer Platz


[For more pictures on Berlin go to Days Spent in Berlin (I)]

Trier – Old Roman Home

Trier Altstadt
Trier Altstadt

I do have to say that during this trip, I’ve seen many facets of my old home I wouldn’t have considered to be particularly exciting as they turned out to be. Aside from living close to Belgium and Luxembourg, we also live close to Treve or Trier: Officially the oldest city in Germany – built by Romans and severely influenced by the old Roman culture.

Trier has come into existence as early 2000 years ago – as a city NOT just a settlement. Its per capita rate has been up and down, but remains at a steady 100,000 citizen rate for the past decades.
Now, aside from Trier having some shopping opportunities, bars, and clubs, there is much more to see culturally speaking.

The most striking feature about it is the Porta Nigra, roughly translating to “Black Gate.” The Porta used to be light grey when it was built around 200 AC but over the years it has turned into its distinct black color. Built by the Romans, it has been modified over the years and been fully reconstructed by Napoleon in the 19th century. Since the medieval ages it is officially called “Black Gate” and it has gone through centuries of history one cannot fully comprehend. Among other landmarks of Trier, the Porta was designated a World Heritage Site.

Porta Nigra with a cute sightseeing car in front of it
Porta Nigra with a cute sightseeing car in front of it

The Amphitheater was built around 100 AD and used to host 18,000 crowd-hungry people in the past. It still stands nowadays and is a common place for the so-called Brot & Spiele (Bread & Circuses) during the summer. This is the biggest Roman-inspired festival in Germany, showing gladiator fights and showcasing old Roman stories. Sometimes well-known German actors and actresses participate in these shows, which makes for an even bigger audience.

The Imperial Roman baths were built around 400 AD and show the Roman bathing culture back in the days. Visitors are able to see the different pools, to learn more about its history and to walk around the grounds. It’s an interesting concept, albeit I dare say a bit overpriced (such as most cultural sights in Trier).

Bikes close to the Dom
Bikes close to the Dom

Then you have the Dom of Trier, which is a beauty to look at once you stop by. During the winter months leading up to the holidays you will find a neat Holiday Market around it and the city’s market place. It’s pretty large and vendors come from as far as Luxembourg and Belgium.

During the summer, the city hosts its annual Altstadtfest (Old City fest), which starts at the Porta Nigra and goes all the way through the pedestrian zone until it ends at the Viehmarkt. It’s humongous and you can find many good vendors during the day as well as great wines in the evening. Since it’s usually in June, the weather is warm enough to be walking around outside and taking in the activities. There are bands, entertainers, an amusement park, and much more, meaning you can either go there by yourself or with the entire family.
In addition to this, you will also find many smaller wine fests in the town surrounding Trier, as it lies on the river Moselle, which is a well-known vine region throughout the world. The most striking feature (aside from the red wall when you enter the city) are the amount of vineyards you see once you walk along the Moselle river. Vine fests usually take place in July and August. Trier’s Weinfest is in the beginning of August and if you are really into vine, you should certainly check it out!

Among the Moselle River
Among the Moselle River

Other than the cultural sights and annual events going on, I have to say that Trier is pretty boring. I am not a big fan of their night life, as I’ve already pointed out in Deutschland: The First Few Days back in 2011. True, you can walk past the Karl-Marx-House on your way to bars, but really, who wants that? Most of the time, the places are rather deserted (at least throughout fall to spring) or don’t host a quality audience I can connect to. And the clubs have rather crappy than great music. I guess I am simply over the fact of going out close to home but I also find this to be for a good reason. While I was there in April, I enjoyed taking some good shots and walking in and out of stores but at the same time, I was essentially bored in this city. Trier – worth the visit but move on after!

[For more pictures on Trier, go to Trier – Old Roman Home (I) and Trier – Old Roman Home (II).]