Summertime, und das Leben ist einfach
Sometimes it is the simplest things in life that fill you with such joy. Summertime in Germany has given me many reasons to feel this way. So sit back, relax, grab a Popsicle and I’ll tell you what makes a hot day in Deutschland just so cool.
The one thing that truly marks the summer season is the ice-cream cone. Look down any street in Germany and you’ll see dots of color bobbing all over the place. To say the Germans enjoy the cold creamy treat is an understatement. They are obsessed. It even goes as far as signs of ‘no ice cream cones’ posted on storefronts. The cones are among us. Watch out. However, with an ice cream café on almost every corner, a plethora of flavors, and because the parlors are only open when the heat strikes, it is easier to comprehend the popularity. And at a mere 70 cents, why not?
One of my favorite ways of enjoying the sun definitely lies on the Rhine, with all it has to offer. And the Germans find great pleasure in this too. All along the Rhine are great walking and biking paths. Might I add, since we’re talking about Germany here, you can imagine the fair share of rollerbladers I see zipping around every day.
It’s as if they stepped directly out of Berlin, circa 1990. Fanny pack and all. Gotta love Europe.
Germany is very well known, of course, for its beer gardens (biergarten), and for good reason. The large, open-air establishments are filled with long wooden tables, set up cafeteria style. It is a great way to socialize with others, and when you bring beer(s) and food into the mix, not having a good time would be out of question.
The idea of the beer garden came about in Bavaria (Southern Germany) in the 19th century. At the time dark lager beer was most common. Because it must keep cool in order to ferment, breweries created cellars underground. Out of convenience, tables were set up close to where the barrels were stored, and beer was served right on the spot.
This idea quickly spread throughout Germany, and that, my friends, is how the biergarten was born.
If crowds are not your thing, have no worries. Germany presents the privilege of carrying an open alcoholic beverage almost everywhere. Along the Rhine and next to the biergartens, are large grass areas where one can bring (let’s just say) a bottle of wine, a blanket, and a good book and simply relax. It’s one of the most enjoyable ways to spend a summer evening.
This particular summer, I have to mention the World Cup. It has been incredible to experience soccer in a country where it means so much. Germany made it almost to the end but was defeated in a rather disappointing loss to Spain, the eventual World Cup champion. Germany was on a continuous high while their team was still in the game. There was endless partying, everywhere.
We hosted and attended numerous soccer parties, biergartens were constantly full, and televisions were set up at every restaurant, café and even in retail stores in town. I don’t think I have ever seen so much black, red and gold in my life. Nor was there a second when I didn’t hear a vuvuzela droning away. June was a whirlwind of emotion for Germany. The heart and dedication they put forth towards their team is undeniable. I feel incredibly lucky to have witnessed that.
As my year here is coming to a close, what I have experienced over the last couple of months — and knowing what adventures lie ahead in the remainder of the season — leaves me smiling from ear to ear. Summers here are full of life and leisure, good food and drinks, and all in the company of truly wonderful people.
The Germans clearly have no problem taking a step back, slowing down and enjoying their time under the sun.