Have you ever dreamed of living in a castle? Have you ever imagined yourself as a king or queen, prince or princess? I have.
When I was a little girl, I used to pretend I was a princess. I imagined that I lived in Fairy Tale land in a castle on top of a hill. I played with a golden ball in the courtyard and rode a white horse around the countryside. An evil witch kidnapped me and I was saved by Prince Charming. We got married and lived happily ever after. That was when I was six. Time has flown so fast. Now I’m in my forties and do not dream or imagine as much except every once in while. Every now and then, I remember my castle on the hill.
Maybe this is why I like Europe. There’s so much history here. Germany in particular has stolen my heart. I knew as soon as I saw its charming little towns, lush green forests, historic castles, and magical ruins. It’s hard not to let my imagination run wild.
My first experience of Germany was in 2010. It was an accidental visit. I didn’t come as a tourist but as a patient. I was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 when I had a medical condition that required a MEDEVAC (medical evacuation). I was transported to Landstuhl and had to stay for 3 weeks after my surgery. I hated staying in bed. I would rather be in Afghanistan. Two weeks into my recovery and bored out of my mind, I signed up for a free tour offered to military members. It was to one of the towns near Landstuhl. I can’t remember the name of the place we toured. I was too busy taking in all of the surroundings.
When we reached the town, we walked around an old cemetery and the grounds of a small church. Then we had lunch at one of the restaurants. We walked down to the dimly lit cellar of the restaurant and I had my very first taste of German food. The tour guide recommended schnitzel. Cool I was familiar with it, or so I thought. When my food came, I asked if I got the right order. The waitress said I did and the tour guide agreed. What is this breaded flat meat? I didn’t say anything and just ate it. It was different from what I was used to but it was good. You see I’m from California. We have a fast food place called Wienerschnitzel. They sell hotdogs. I was expecting to eat a hotdog that day. Come to find out the schnitzel I had at this restaurant was the real deal. Wienerschnitzel you set me up to be a fool. Anyway, it makes for a good story. It just makes me smile every time I remember my first schnitzel and every time I eat one now.
After lunch we went to an old castle tower. Everybody climbed up for a view at the top. I was still in pain from my surgery but nothing was going to stop me from seeing the view from up there. I struggled with each step but got to the top of the tower. I looked out and saw the beauty below. I remembered my castle on top of the hill. At that moment, I imagined myself as a princess. This must be what it’s like to be a princess, looking out her window and waving to the townspeople below. I raised my arm and started waving. One of the other patients that came with the tour asked me what I was doing. I said “I’m just waving to my townspeople” and gave her a big smile. It’s at this moment that Germany had me hooked.
I returned to finish my tour in Afghanistan. It’s a weird thing to say but getting sick was the best thing that ever happened to me. I’ve never forgotten my experience in Germany. I never thought I would ever see this place again. But it must be fate for us to be together.
I’ve been living here for over two years. I feel like I haven’t even seen half of the towns in Germany. I love the town where we live and I like the directness of Germans. They’re not rude as some foreigners think. They’re just frank. I like it because I’m the same way. I don’t beat around the bush. Like my good friend used to say, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” Exactly, let’s land the plane and get to the point.
I love traveling. I especially like places with castles and ruins. My favorite castle is Pels Castle in Romania. It’s not the biggest but the details inside are stunning. I look forward to our next trip because I know I can revisit a childhood fantasy. Once again, I can be a princess living in a beautiful castle on top of the hill.
Cochem Castle in Germany