Proof I don’t look my age :)

May 20, 2014 (10:30am, CEST)

I was finally at the Frankfurt airport, bags checked in, ready to go, and consciously aware of the fact I don’t have much to show for the fact I went to Germany except for my Deutschland scarf, my WHU student ID, and lots of pictures. On my way to my gate, I was popping in and out of airport gift shops and boutiques, partly just out of curiously, partly out of a genuine hope I could find something reasonable priced and sized and legal to take back with me.

A little shop with a promising title came into view, and I thought “Why not?” I went in and immediately took in the neatly arranged collection of alcohol and pre-packaged sausages. Biscuits and such were in the back. Near the register was a large container filled with little liquor bottles, mostly about 20ml. Jaegermeister, schnapps, Kleiner Feigling. I gave away my first Kleiner Feigling, so I decided I could buy this one, empty the contents, and bring back the cute little glass bottle and I would be content.

I was searching through the bottles for KF when a store associate said, “It’s all alcohol, you know.”

Me: “Yes, I know! I’m looking for Kleiner Feigling.”

He reached over to help me go through the pile, but hesitates and looks at me. “Wait, how old are you? You need to be 18.”

I laugh. “But I am! I’m 19.

“Oh gosh! Really?”

“Yes! I have my ID if you want to see.”

“Oh, no. It’s fine. I believe you.” We both laugh.

I saw something that amused and puzzled me, so I point it out. “What happened to the ‘Best of Germany’?” Sure enough, the shelf that was labeled “Best of Germany” was nearly entirely empty while the rest of the store was impeccably stocked.

Turns out the “shelf” was a refrigerated shelf that broke down earlier that day, and since most of the items was cheese, they had to move them elsewhere, leaving only the vacuum-sealed sausages.

I paid for my bottle and turned to leave.

“Wait!”

I turned back and saw there was another associate. He was pointing at my bottle with an absolutely priceless look on his face.

The first associate looked at me, smiled, and waved me on. “It’s okay, she’s old enough.”

The poor guy didn’t look convinced. I tell him my age. “Are you sure you don’t want to check me?”

His eyes got even bigger when I said 19, and his body frame quickly relaxed when I asked him to check. “Oh, no! You’re fine! Have a safe flight!”

And with that, and another peal of laughter from both sides, I figured I was ready to come home.

Why I Don’t Have Much Souvenirs From Germany

…except for some Ritter Sport chocolate bars (slightly melted at some point and resolidified, still good though) and an empty shot bottle.

Every time I travel, I try to search for budget and space-friendly gifts that are representative of the country. For places like Ireland and Greece, this was easy. One can’t go wrong with the four-leaf clover magnet, a classic Irish blessing, or olive oil soap.

When I first came to Germany, I tried putting the stereotypes behind me. I mean, Oktoberfest only happens in October, right? (and the last bit of September) What about the rest of the year? I quickly learned that Germans really, truly, passionately, do love their beer – with a few exceptions, but that goes without saying for anywhere. In Munich, you can order beer by the liter. BY THE LITER. Which is 1.567 quarts for the customary unit lovers and will cost you around 10 euros. And if you are male, please, don’t order anything less than a liter. From what I have heard, Bavarians (both when drunk and sober) will judge you. No pressure. And for the ladies, half a liter is perfectly fine, but they will be pleased (not to mention impressed) if you go for the full-sized Stein.

As I spent a great deal of time on German trains that take me up and down the winding Rhine river, I had quite a while to think about what is it that I really liked about this country. For the most part, I couldn’t get over how beautiful and clean everything is. Even the fields of yellow canola flowers were breathtaking–endless expanse of bright yellow against the verdant green. Of course, these flower fields served a practical purpose (for canola oil production): something I should have expected from Germany.

I grew up in Hawaii, so I am well acquainted with the importance of souvenirs for tourists; most of them only get to come once to the Islands. In Hawaii, the safe choice is obviously a box of macadamia nuts, either chocolate coated, sea salt or honey roasted, wasabi flavored, etc. I haven’t encountered the German equivalent of such that is neither alcoholic nor perishable. If alcohol were an option for me, it would have been easy! Of course, wurst (sausages) were abundant, but I doubt TSA would approve.

However, I was determined to make something work. Here’s the story of my acquisition of my last memento from Germany.  I know it doesn’t make sense that I can have so little from the place I spent the most time in. But I really did try.

And in a way, it does make sense, because I’m definitely going back.