Every time I return from Germany, I am in the in-between transition state. Some of me is still in Germany and the other half is trying to readjust to my normal life in California. Visiting Germany has never been a vacation, but more about reconnecting with a deeper part of myself—a part of myself that I left behind many years ago.
Enough of that, let’s talk about my latest trip. Because of COVID, I wasn’t sure I was going until about two weeks before my departure. Because of that, I missed getting my German Rail pass in the mail. I now have an unused one here in the States because it arrived a day after I left. My advice is to buy your pass at the main railroad station in Frankfurt. I don’t know if they sell them anywhere else. The reason I buy a pass is because it gives me the freedom to choose any train at any time. For example, I was able to leave earlier than planned for Berlin because of bad weather. I wasn’t committed to a particular train at a particular time.
The first week I stayed in my village reconnecting with friends and family I had not seen for over two years. I took care of other business too. Throughout my stay, the weather was beautiful, crisp autumn days with the dimming light of the season in northern Europe. It rained only a few times. One of the highlights of that week was taking my family and friend Monika out for dinner to an Italian restaurant in the nearby town of Northeim. In Germany, even in the small country towns, you will find Italian or Greek restaurants, an Italian ice cafe and a Turkish döner stand. Our food that night was delicious and everybody had a great time.
I left my village mid-week to spend two wonderful days in Hamburg. I had a room in the Westin, located above the Elbe Philharmonic Hall. This place is phenomenal, a shimmering wave of glass built on a solid brick warehouse. One of the concert halls was built in the middle of the Elbe river. The place has a publicly accessible viewing platform that has amazing views of the city and harbor. This is my second time there and I am always in awe.
My friend who has lived in Hamburg for decades gave me a grand tour of the city. One of the foods I always have when visiting Germany is Matjes herring. Matjes are young, female herrings who haven’t laid eggs yet (virgins). In Germany, they are served different ways. In Hamburg and northern Germany, you can buy them on a bun. My friend, Elli, showed me where you can buy the best herring buns (Matjes Brötchen). Next to the fish market is the restaurant Rive where we had dinner the second evening. This restaurant offers good food with a view of the harbor.
Hamburg is a major tourist destination and I hope to visit it many more times.
Then it was off to Lüneburg. It is a beautiful and well-preserved medieval town and very livable with a vibrant inner city that has stores for everyone. Read more about Lüneburg and Berlin on a previous blog post. I have visited Lüneburg many times because my niece lives there with her husband and new baby. There is nothing better than holding a tiny baby in your arms.
From Lüneburg, I went to Berlin for a few days. I invited my 16-year-old grand nephew to join me. We had a very good time together. I showed him the city and my friend, Tara, introduced him to Thai food. He loved it. As the oldest of three children, he was an agreeable and delightful travel companion. I enjoyed his company.
I spent one day by myself in Berlin and loved it. It was a beautiful autumn day. I had dropped my grand nephew at the train station and walked from there through the Reichstag and Brandenburger Gate. It was a spiritual experience that took me back decades. Memories flooded back in my mind, images of death and despair. In the 70s, I saw an East German refugee being shot at the wall.
After Berlin, It was back to my village for a birthday celebration and family gatherings.
As for COVID, Germany seems to have gotten it together after a very rocky start and no vaccines in the beginning. Everyone is being tracked; you have to show an app or in my case (as a foreigner) a vaccination card to enter a restaurant, theater, hotel and more. For two dollars, you can buy a self-test which is used frequently. I tested myself for the new baby and when I returned from Berlin. Just because I am adventurous doesn’t mean I should endanger my family or anybody else. I never felt unsafe. Everybody wears a medical mask inside and in public places. To re-enter the US, I had to take a PCR test 72 hours before my departure flight, which I did at a local train station. A young, extremely helpful person person downloaded the appropriate app on my phone and I was all set. United has a travel-ready site where I downloaded all the needed information. All I had to do at the airport was to check in my luggage and show my passport. It's important to prepare and do your homework in advance.
All in all, I am so happy I decided to go and would do it again tomorrow. But I was equally happy to be reunited with the old man and the sea.
Thanksgiving is next week. Here are some of my recipes I have used over the years. It has become a tradition with my family to serve my red cabbage for the holidays. And then there is my cranberry sauce, as well as the chestnut, shiitake mushroom stuffing which I have made for many years.If you want a delicious turkey sandwich, try my cranberry ketchup, a real treat.
Here is the link for the recipes.
I wish you all a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving , sharing good food with family and friends.
WELCOME TO SUNNY COVE CHEF
Thank you for visiting my blog. My two passions are cooking and traveling. Traveling exposes me to a wide variety of food and experiences. I walk around cities looking for markets, restaurants, bakeries, shops, you name it, and if it is related to food you will find me there, tasting, smelling, talking to vendors, and having a great time.