The rolling golden wheat fields, the brilliantly blue sky. The cottony, milky clouds, the bright bath of sunshine. Church bells ringing in the near distance, the smell of baked bread, and warmth, pleasure, and contentment carrying on the wind. Laughter sounding from corners of the country, words uttered in a foreign, unfamiliar tongue. The mother to all of these wonderful statements? Germany. The place where I truly feel at home, the place where I always wish I could be. I’ve been feeling waves of homesickness ever since I left back in July, because this country in Europe is the most beautiful place I have set foot on. One of my favorite experiences there was bike riding in the crisp, cool morning to the nearest large town to purchase freshly baked goods and coffee. From a point in Wertheim Castle, I experienced the breathtaking allure of hundreds of little colorful houses nestled in the dark trees, and was able to behold the most amazing panoramic view of the cute, touristy village from up high. These two events in Germany, my beautiful biking experience and imaginative castle exploration, showed me just how amazing creation can be.
My family and I stayed in a little apartment in a tiny town called Sontheim in southern Germany for about half of our four week long trip. It was in the quaintest little neighborhood. Every adorable little house was home to a flourishing, colorful, bright garden, filled with radiant flowers and well cared for window boxes. In our apartment, there was a small balcony big enough for a table which we ate at every morning and evening, and we enjoyed a gorgeous view of the splendor created by the Lord so long ago.
Each morning for a week, my mom and I would wake up around seven in the morning and bike nine kilometers into Heidenheim, the nearest big town, for breakfast. It was such an amazing experience to feel the refreshingly cool wind whip across my face, feel my legs pumping to propel me along the stretching expanse of fields all around me. It was a time of serenity, a time to relax and simply feel at peace. I didn’t have to talk, or think, or do anything...just simply see. The land was laid out in front of me like an elaborate patchwork quilt, the grass emitting calming chirping, clicking noises from the insects residing within, yet another reminder of God’s unbelievable creation.
Once we reached the streets of Heidenheim, we did our best to keep in the bike lane, and then carefully rode on our borrowed, oversized bicycles to a small bakery that smelled of rising bread, butter, brewing coffee, and all things mouthwatering and heavenly. We ordered a few tasty bakery treats and steaming drinks and planted ourselves outside in some comfortable chairs and watched the city wake up; kids boarding school buses, adults rushing to work, people walking their dogs and pushing up their blinds to the gorgeous outside world.
After finishing our breakfast, we traveled back to our little apartment to really head off into a day of adventuring, surprises, and pleasure.
On one of our first few days in Germany, my family and I took a day trip to the little village of Wertheim. The main attraction of the day was the ruin of the castle there, appropriately called Wertheim Castle. We were able to hike a short distance up a paved road to the huge structure composed of weathered, faded reddish bricks. After arriving upon the castle gates, I, armed with a freshly baked classic German pretzel and my camera, set off to explore this nine hundred year old fortress. The castle was surrounded with a two hundred foot high wall to keep out enemies from back when it was still inhabited. I found it easy to imagine life inside the castle when people worked, lived, played, and spent their lives there.
I could see the entrances to hallways with low ceilings that must have once been grand, staircases worn away in the middle so there was a perfect imprint for the foot to place its weight upon it. There were towers and pathways and windows and balconies--an endless adventure. And we were allowed to go wherever we wanted. There was no limit to what I could climb on, no limit to my imagination, which swept me away to a medieval time when I resided in this castle, enjoying life tucked away on a hill, with this beautiful view.
Thousands of colorful houses in every shade of the rainbow dotted the countryside; red, yellow, green, blue, pink, violet, all the hues that American abodes just can’t seem to pull off, but European stucco houses can. Their orange and gray roofs made the tops identical, but the bottom halves of the houses were all uniquely different. In the distance, green vineyards flourished, while lush trees forested other areas. A river, the road to tour boats filled with picture-taking sightseers, snaked its way about, and train tracks twined through the outskirts of the little town.
The sound that lets me know that I’m in Europe is church bells. Removed from churches in America, this reverberating audibility is incredibly comforting and soon becomes a peaceful background noise, a reminder that I was blessed to be enjoying such an amazing place. The bells rang from the church in the village of Wertheim all the way up to the castle’s tallest point, from one end of the valley to another.
When it comes down to it, Germany is my favorite place in the entire world. The everlasting beauty, the sense of home. The food, which I haven’t discussed even half as much as it needs to be talked about, and the sound of church bells. Cool, calming mornings, feelings of belonging. Biking through the countryside opened my eyes to just how carefully God constructed the earth, and exploring in Wertheim helped me remember my imagination and observe what so many others have observed before me. All I want now is for someone to take me back.