I'm in Kentucky for a few days after an 8+ hour plane ride which gave me some time to reflect on my two plus years in Deutschland. I always say that there are good things and bad things about every land, but today I'll focus on what I'm going to miss about Germany.
Bakeries: Unlike the USA, there is an bakery on every street corner and in every grocery store in Germany. Bakeries in the US have mainly cakes and donuts and cookies, but in Germany there are dozens of breads available along with an assortment of sweet things. I don't think I was able to try half the things available in bakeries, but I'll especially miss Laugenbrötchen (little sour pretzel bread) and Quarkquinis (a kind of creamy donut hole). I think its especially funny that they call the crappiest, most over-sweetened donut the 'Americano'.
Hairibo: Every grocery store and kiosk has a huge selection of these gummi candies. My favorite is Frutti Bussi, which means 'Fruity Kiss' according to Miri. I wonder if every variation has a homo-erotic translation. Once we even went to the Hairibo facotry in Bonn. This was a huge mistake because we came away with at least 5 kilos (10 lbs) of candy from there and I couldn't stop myself from eating it all in about a week.
Sendung mit der Maus: This is my favorite German television show. It means 'Show with the Mouse'. It's a kids show, but that doesn't stop most adults from watching. The main feature of the show is a question from a kid (ex: How many grains of wheat does it take to make a loaf of bread?) A cast of characters then go out and visit experts and professionals to determine the answer to the question. I also saw one of the actors from the show in my local grocery store in Cologne and was totally star struck.
Umlauten: ä, ö, ü I can't pronounce them very well. I couldn't even hear a difference between a normal letter and an umlauted letter for most of my first year in Germany. Last week though I was on a train from Brussels to Köln (Cologne) and a group of Canadian tourists (complete with Canadian flags on their backpacks) kept saying 'Koln'. I think only then did I realize what a difference there is between Köln and Koln. This is also why in my early days in Germany, Germans didn't understand what I was talking about when I said I lived in Koln. But I still can't remember the difference between 'schwul' and 'schwül', so I never use either word. One means 'gay' and the other means 'humid'.
Shanty towns: On the edge of every city in Germany are clusters of little plots of land with a small shed and a vegetable garden. The plots are tiny- no more than 10 yards by 10 yards. They are usually near the Autobahn or train tracks- not a glamourous location, but easy to see whenever you travel. They look just like the shanty towns I've seen in 3rd world countries, but with better landscaping. Miri assures me that they are just garden plots from people that live in the city center, but I still love seeing them.
Of course there's a lot more to miss about Germany: the excellent public transit, well organized recyclng programs, beer, bike lanes, speaking German, but I have to get back to preparing for the trip. So auf wiedersehen, Deutschland. Wir sehen uns nächste Jahr.