We made it back to Ottawa in one piece (no ruptured ear drums this time thankfully), complete with all of our luggage. Frankfurt airport is quite big and has loads more shopping that Ottawa does. It took us a while to find a gas station (thankfully we had Bridget with us) but dropping of the rental car was much easier because the car companies are on site so you don’t have to factor in bus time to get back to the airport.

So here I sit while the clothes are in the washing machine, reflecting on the past two weeks. Here are things I love about Germany:

  1. Beer — there’s loads of it, and it’s cheap. The selection definitely gets better as you head south.
  2. Medieval towns scattered along the romantic road actually have people living in them. They say they only speak “a little English” but if you try some German they’ll usually speak more English than you speak German.
  3. The Autobahns — there are loads of them and they make travel much faster
  4. Scenic routes — we’ve only tried one so far, but next time we’ll try the Clock Route and learn about cuckoo clocks
  5. Efficient safe airports — at Frankfurt am Main International Airport they take security seriously and have efficient processes.
  6. Fußgängerzones — every town and village seems to have them and they bring people to the core
  7. Marktplatzes — again the hub of town living, with food and craft markets
  8. Brauhäuser — brew houses that are now smoke free (great improvement!)
  9. Biergarten — usually attached to brew houses but only for summer use. I still have to go back in the summer/fall to take full advantage.
  10. Lederhosen — there’s nothing sexier than a man in short leather pants and knee-high socks strolling around town with a beer in his hand!

Now here are some things you have to get used to in Germany:

  • traffic, especially on the Autobahns
  • high gas prices
  • no facecloths in hotels

Things I love about Austria:

  1. Skiing — especially at St. Anton, with its interconnected villages. Ischgl was interesting too because it connects to a Swiss resort as well.
  2. Quaint picturesque villages
  3. Tunnels — every time we visit they’re adding a new one or twinning an existing one. Why can’t Ottawa build a 3-km tunnel downtown for transit?
  4. Food — restaurants include tax and tip, so even with the exchange on the Euro, food is good value. Not all restaurants are equal, but we found some good ones.
  5. Glühwein (mulled wine)– it’s what they do with sub-par red Austrian wine, and it’s great after a day on the slopes to warm you up
  6. Beer — being so close to Bavaria, the Tirol and Arlberg regions have lots of choice too. It’s not as cheap, but it still goes down well.
  7. Paprika Pringles — okay, they’re available in most of Western Europe, but I always stock up in Austria.
  8. Spätzle — it’s a cross between pasta and dumplings, and it’s absolutely delicious
  9. Suppe — Austrians have great soups, whether it’s a broth or cream soup. And when I say cream, I mean it comes with a big dollop of whipped cream that you stir in yourself.
  10. It’s like Canada in some ways: it’s beside a more powerful, culturally and economic neighbour that speaks the same language. Austrians are often confused with Germans, just as Canadians are with Americans.

Some things you need to get used to:

  • most car rentals are standards and gutless
  • crowds of people — Europe simply has more people, and they can compress in lines. Don’t be afraid of people touching or crushing you when a bus door opens.
  • thousands of Brits arriving during winter break (usually third week in February).