Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A German Wedding

Until this weekend, neither Andrew nor I had ever been to Germany—never seen a German city, never even had a layover at a German airport. We’d tried to go in the past, but we’d always been thwarted by scheduling problems or other obstacles. So when Andrew was invited to the wedding of a friend of his from school, we were excited to finally set foot in this as-yet, for us, unexplored country.

When Andrew and I arrived at the Munich airport on Friday afternoon, we were immediately struck by the utter lack of chaos—as well as noise. The airport was bright, new-looking, and clean, and no one was talking. People left the plane quietly; families and other travelers walked through the airport corridors with their bags, quietly; we all gathered at baggage claim, quietly, watching the extremely quiet conveyor belts carry the luggage by.

We ran into more quietness later, as we headed to Herrsching, an hour outside of Munich, in our rental car with three other people we know from Barcelona who were also attending the wedding. We moved fast on the autostrade, but, sadly, we moved fast in the wrong direction; when we finally left the highway to ask directions, we found ourselves in a quiet, seemingly uninhabited village. Fortunately we found a gas station, with someone who could help.

We spent the weekend in and near Herrsching. Friday night was a dinner at our hotel, where most of the guests, including us, were staying. It was a charming, very Bavarian place, with lots of dark wood beams and rustic wooden furniture. We had some hearty German food and huge glasses of locally brewed beer. The next day, the wedding took place at a small church; the reception, later, was at a beautiful monastery/brewery, Klostergasthof Andechs, about thirty minutes away. There, too, the rooms were cozy, the food hearty; we had celery root and venison for dinner. Andrew and I were two of the only three Americans there.

The highlight of the reception was the “program,” a staple, we were told, of German weddings, which took place after dinner and consisted of numerous skits and songs performed by friends and family of the bride and groom. According to other German guests, this was one of the most extensive programs they’d ever experienced: it lasted for almost three hours, ending around midnight, when the dancing began. Andrew and I left around 3 a.m.; the party didn’t wind down until 5. When Andrew explained that American weddings almost always end before midnight, no one could believe it—they were actually horrified.

Our flight left in the early afternoon on Sunday, so we didn’t see any of Munich; we’ll have to return to see Germany in a touristy way. This time, it was wholly a cultural immersion.

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