A weekend in Dinkelsbühl and Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber – My Lebenslanger Schicksalsschatz

I’m Caitlin, I study Spanish, French and German and I’m excited to be this year’s Publicity Officer and Travel Editor for The Linguist!

Choosing only one memorable travel experience to write about after just finishing a Year Abroad jam-packed with travel in France and Germany is a difficult task. A travel experience that I particularly cherish though was during my semester in Heidelberg, Germany.

Amongst my close-knit group of Erasmus friends in Heidelberg was a German student called Andi. Andi is from a small town in Bavaria called Dinkelsbühl, not too far from a town called Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber (the latter is deemed one of Germany’s prettiest places, so naturally we were keen to visit). Andi invited us to go and stay with him in his hometown for the weekend and suggested that we visit these beautiful places along the way. 

So that’s what we did. 

A few trains later, Andi’s family kindly picked all (10 of us) up. As one could only expect from the filming location of ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ and the place that inspired ‘Pinocchio’, Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber was nothing short of spectacular. After picnicking in the shade of the town’s medieval walls, we strolled around the idyllic streets and revelled in the beauty and tradition of this untouched German treasure. 

Waiting on the doorstep when we arrived back to Andi’s was the rest of his family, greeting us with a warm welcome of hugs. In no time, we were taken to the outside terrace which was filled with a long table lined with fresh fruit, baked goods straight from the oven, and bread with chives and tomatoes picked from the garden. After basking in the evening Bavarian sun, we ventured into Dinkelsbühl for an evening tour. Of course, Rothenburg was wonderful, but there was something about here that felt so special. Perhaps it was the pinkish evening sky, or the tour guide who sang to us and took us to a variety of pubs to try their specialty beer, or the locals waving out of their windows, or the fact that as a group we were simply together, appreciating the hometown of where one of our friends grew up. 

Heading back home, all slightly sleepy and content with the day’s events, we went back to Andi’s to more homemade food. 10 little beds had been prepared for us in the attic, and with the sound of cockerels as our alarm the next Sunday morning, we enjoyed breakfast treats with fresh juices and coffee after waking up. With an above 30-degree day ahead, the plan was to enjoy a nearby lake. An afternoon of swimming, joking around on the Total Wipeout style inflatables and slides, playing beach volleyball, and reading all together was so refreshing. 

Before heading for the train back to Heidelberg, Andi’s family had once again prepared a dinner full of traditional German food like Schnitzel and asparagus to name a few, followed by a dessert of homemade waffles. We all sat down along the laid-out tables and discussed in disbelief how dream-like our weekend had been. The kindness and generosity shown to us by Andi’s family was staggering.

Andi taught us the saying Lebenslanger Schicksalsschatz, (a phrase actually used in the sitcom How I Met Your Mother) which, in typical German fashion, is composed of multiple smaller words, and it is difficult to find an exact English translation. Literally translated as ‘life-long treasure of destiny’, Andi described it as a phrase you use to describe a memory of an event or person which happened unexpectedly and that you cherish very much. In a way, I look back on this little weekend as my own Lebenslanger Schicksalsschatz; one full of childhood-like joy, enjoying the company of my international friends, feeling part of a German family who did nothing but look after us like their own, appreciating the breath-taking beauty of the places we experienced, and one that I’ll always remember. 

Although our journey home was full of delays and problems, we were all on the back of such a euphoric weekend that, in the end, we didn’t even notice.

Caitlin Gaul – Publicity Officer and Travel Editor

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