First Impressions of Germany

So on our first morning in Germany, we were delighted to wake up and find everything covered in snow.

Christian, our Couchsurfing host, and his friend Kevin trekked like gentlemen in the fresh powder to fetch us some Brötchen. We draped the yummy rolls with nutty slices of black forest ham and squirted mustard on them from what seemed like a toothpaste tube.

German bread


My friend Marina, who hails from the balmy Mediterranean of Crete, was especially excited about the snow. And as a born-and-raised Michigander, I felt it was my duty to teach her how to make her first snowball, or as they say in German, schneeball.

Cologne, Germany

I loved strolling Christian’s neighborhood of Nippes (Admittedly, the name made me giggle. It’s pronounced exactly like “nipples” without the “l.”) It was residential without being staid, and the buildings were very colorful.

Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany

Marina had her next lesson in snowy climate fun when we stumbled upon a real-live, street-wide snowball fight. I asked Christian how to say “snowball fight” in German while dodging schneeballs left and right. (It’s Schneeballschlacht, fyi. Doesn’t that sound a little scary?)

Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany

We spent the next three hours at the NS-Dokumentationszentrum, Cologne’s World War II History museum that is located in a former Nazi interrogation prison.

The experience was moving, informative and emotionally draining. By the end of it I was begging everyone to leave because I desperately needed an alcoholic beverage of any kind.


Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany

We sought nourishment (and warmth) at a cute bakery. I thought it looked like the perfect place to rest my weary, frostbitten feet, but I was rushed along to a nearby Christmas market with a Brötchen in hand.

Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany

We then headed to Cologne’s Angel Market, which turned out to be my favorite Christmas market in Cologne. I loved the twinkling star-lights above all of the buildings.

Cologne, Germany

We finished off the day with some Glühwein, which is essentially hot wine stewed with spices like star anise and cinnamon.

Cologne, Germany

And as I learned in Germany, Glühwein and good company are kind of necessary after a long, cold and snowy day.

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

16 thoughts on “First Impressions of Germany”

    • Thank you! Just looking at them makes me want to relive the weekend. I am actually strategizing to find a way to move to Germany to learn the language… we’ll see!

  1. You know, your previous post about Germany was really insightful. Germany is a history-rich country and yes, it is really a pity they cannot appreciate themselves fully. Other countries committed similar atrocities in their past but that doesn’t prevent them from appreciating the fact that they are currently completely different. And by the way, I’m sure none of those you talked to were even born during WWII.
    But… that is Germany, that’s the way it is :)

    • I agree, I think Germany still has a lot of healing to do and I really do hope that Germans can regain their pride without feeling self-conscious about it.

  2. What an excellent experience. Sounds like a perfect day, honestly!

    I know some of the WWII exhibits can be draining but I never pass them up. I read a lot about WWII and it’s so weird to think that, really, it wasn’t that long ago it all happened. Props for sticking it out.

  3. Haha I love the German language as well. I traveled with a German girl in India for three weeks and made her me teach me lots of random German vocab, it always made me giggle!

    • Haha that sounds like so much fun! That’s how I was with the Germans I hung out with; I hate when I’m the only one who can’t speak the common language so I always try to learn at least the basics :)

  4. Wow, there is a heavy snow now in Germany. I was in Berlin like 2 weeks ago and it was freezing cold, but didn’t snow. I tried some German bakery but didn’t like it as much as croissants and buns in Brussels. :):) Enjoy!

  5. I have to get to Germany next winter. Looks like Cologne is a great city for those Christmas lovers out there and SNOW would be a nice change too! Merry Christmas!

    • I was told that we got very lucky because it rarely snows in Cologne! But definitely go for the markets, they were amazing and a lot better than France’s. Merry Christmas to you as well!

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