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.

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