Thursday, October 20, 2016

10 Things I Love About Life in Swabia

I came across a blog post with a similar title and theme the other day, and I loved the positive tone of it. This world needs all the positivity it can find these days, so here we go, though this is not a ranked list - it's just a numbered list.

Ten Things I Love About Life in Swabia

10. die Lage / Location

While I happily spend most of my time in the Schwabenland, its location in southwestern Germany allows for us to travel in just a few hours to other favorite spots as well:
  • der Bodensee / Lake Constance
  • Breisach on the Rhein and the Elsass area of France (also Straßburg)
  • Niederau in Austria
  • München
  • Bamberg
  • Switzerland
  • Vienna 
  • heck, even Rome was just a short flight away!
Austria (2008)

9. das Essen / the food

Maultaschen, Zwiebelrostbraten, weißer Spargel in the spring, Kässpätzle, Kartoffelsalat, Butterbrezeln...What can I say? I enjoy eating and I love Swabian food. Not all Swabian dishes, I assure you. I like my Wurstsalat Swiss-style (the Swabian version has blood sausage in it), I don't plan to try saure Kutteln (innards of some sort) anytime soon, and I prefer my Linsen mit Spätzle und Saitenwürstchen without the lentils. I do like many Swabian dishes, however, and I enjoy trying to make several of them at home from scratch.

Zwiebelrostbraten mit Bratkartoffeln
Maultaschen dough needs to be thin enough to read a newspaper through it!

8. meine Nachbarn / my neighbors

By this I mean the people I have met here in the area and also literally our neighbors. One neighbor has shared the bounty from his apple, plum, and quince trees with us, another has invited us over several times including for Christbaumloben and we've had them here for a Grillfest and fun conversation, two have offered to let us use part of their small driveways to park our car during our construction phase (we're having all our stone replaced - walkways, patio, and driveway). The people we know here are genuine, friendly, helpful when help is needed, reserved, and kind. 

7. die Geschichte / the history

The history of Württemberg especially is very interesting to me. The Württemberg royalty had connections with the Romanovs, there was much strife within the family line regarding successions and residences, and many of them (including the wives of rulers) did important things for the country and its people. The Reformation played a crucial role in Swabia's history as well, but all I knew about it from my education in the US was that Martin Luther nailed 95 complaints to the door of some church and then split from the Catholics. I have much still to learn, but even today the divide between the Catholic and Protestant communities is significant and intriguing.

I'd have to get out my notes to give you more, so I'll just say that I enjoy digging into the history of every new town I visit, discovering new castle ruins, and expanding my knowledge about the area. For me, living in a place where I can learn something new every day if I choose...that's huge.

6. mein Dorf / my village

Others might be bored to death here, but I love it. We have one star-worthy restaurant, a quality butcher, and Mustafa with his produce truck stops in front of our house every Tuesday evening. It is so quiet here that we know when the neighbors' grandchildren are visiting, because we otherwise hear nearly nothing. Not even dogs barking. I can walk the perimeter of the three sections of the village in about 45 minutes, we have a peaceful little cemetery behind a lovely little church, and we are within walking distance of our supermarket for those days when I'm feeling less lazy than usual.

5. andere Städte und Dörfer / other cities and towns

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time you know my favorite city in the world is Esslingen. Talk about history and beauty... But in the Schwabenland you can also visit Nagold, Herrenberg, Stuttgart if you want a big city, Ludwigsburg, Tübingen, Schwäbisch Hall, Ulm, Rottweil...





4. der Schwarzwald / the Black Forest

We live almost on the edge of the Schwarzwald, and when we have a few free hours, we can just go for a drive along windy, hilly roads (M does the driving, of course). The scenery is gorgeous, and if you like hiking, biking, wellness hotels, river fishing, camping, nature in general, skiing, or motorcycing, the Schwarzwald is the place to visit. Cuckoo clocks are a thing too, for the touristy types among you.

on the Lotharpfad

der Titisee

3. Weinberge / wine country

I'm not a fan of beer except on a horribly hot day when the beer is diluted with Sprite (a Radler), so it's a good thing M didn't settle in Bavaria. The most typical Swabian wine (Trollinger mit Lemberger) is not my favorite, but regardless, there are usually plenty of options that fit to every dish I might want to order in a restaurant. And the servers in the restaurants know about wine. If I don't recognize on the wine list what I like, I can tell him or her that I like a dry white wine but not Riesling, and s/he can recommend one that is usually right. The vineyards themselves are beautiful in the summer and fall and provide lovely scenery for a Sunday walk.

near Esslingen

2. meine Freunde / my friends

If we didn't live where we do, I wouldn't have met the folks who were my students and who have become my friends. I would have met other people, probably equally nice, but not these guys. We meet for coffee now and then, and they bring a huge American smile to my face when I see them in town. When I haven't gone to the almost-weekly Sprachcafé for a while, I miss them! One has moved away, though, and another is moving in a week. They are going where they have relatives or better opportunities, but selfishly, I wish they'd stay here.

I also met my friend and Sprachpartnerin, Hedda, right in our town at the second Kochkurs we attended two years ago. We've had quite a few interesting experiences together since then - I joined her on a trip to Straßburg to visit the EU Parliament, she visited my class at the Hermann-Hesse-Kolleg twice and met my Syrian and Eritrean students, she took us all to a café after their final language test, she came to watch a riding lesson of mine, and I've been to a Kaffeekränzchen (tea party) at her home with a group of her friends.

1. unsere Zeit / quality time with M

I won't get too schmaltzy or kitschig, but truly my favorite thing about living here in Swabia is the time M and I spend together. We are best friends and soulmates, and after living the first 6 years of our marriage on two different continents, this is our time. I don't like being gone in the evenings, and I don't plan anything on the weekends that we can't do together. This why it's hard for me to return to the U.S. for a visit, because he normally can't come with me. I feel out of my element when we're not together, and I'm generally irritable. We're both better people when we're together. Home is where he is, and although I love to travel, this is where I want to be.

What do you love about where you live?


  1. I've spent about an hour in Esslingen, but it was about 21:00 in winter. We were just passing through on the way home. I guess I really need to go back for a longer visit!

    One of my favorite things about Konstanz is being able to see the Alps across the Bodensee. Of course, this doesn't work in summer when it's so humid, and they aren't visible through the winter fog either.

    1. I definitely recommend Esslingen! And if the timing works out, I could meet you there and show you around. :-) I love that about the Bodensee as well. There is just something about mountains!

  2. This was very nice! I'd love to write one about the Pfalz. My two favorite things here are the mountains and the wine. I also love that the university is here (despite it being very ugly) and that a bunch of my friends are science geeks.

    1. You should write one! It was a nice reflection and a reminder of positive things.