Ok so maybe it’s not the smallest but the town of Zwiesel has less than 10,000 people living there. For the last 16 days, I’ve had the privilege of staying with some close friends in their hometown. This charming village of Zwiesel, located deep in the Bavarian forest, is about 750 years old. It is widely known for its impressive glass factory, which presents a giant pyramid made up of thousands of wine glasses in the front courtyard.
It is not uncommon to walk along the Stadtplatz and immediately see a familiar face. A friendly wave or a passing “Guten Tag” was always a pleasant surprise. A common greeting you will also find here is, “grüß Gott” which translates to “great God”. I spent a lot of time here exploring neighboring villages, like Regensburg, and attending late night glass festivals like Glas Nacht. The night of the festival I got to climb to the top of the town’s, very old, church and see the whole city from above. It was truly breath-taking.
I was also able to spend some time exploring Austria and the Czech Republic, as it is so close to the border of both. I took a tour around Prague and walked along a wooded trail, fifty feet above the ground, in Austria. I swam in beautiful lakes on hot summer days and played soccer in a garden with my teeny German buddy, Andreas.
Every morning I woke up to a loving hug or smile and sipped a cup of coffee with a genuinely enjoyable family. It’s impossible not to love the fact that the people here are so family-oriented. I never once ate one meal alone because my second family, as I liked to call them, enjoyed them with me. We talked, laughed, and shared stories in front of big bowls of spaghetti and sauces, platters of delicious meats and cheeses, soups, and refreshing sparkling water or beer.
There’s not always a lot going on but just being out and about in this beautiful town is enough to satisfy anyone’s day. Everywhere you look is lush and green. Sprawling mountains surround you like waves of an ocean, rising and falling around you. The days were unusually hot and bright, with the occasional thunder and lightning storm. But, there were many wasps there. This was supposed because the winter was too mild and not enough of them died for it to balance out again. I was stung once on my arm but a thousand times in my dreams Seriously, I had like eight reoccurring nightmares. One day, my friend Steffi and I attended a guy’s eighteenth birthday party. I had an awesome time…until I sat on a wasp. It was pretty painful. However, I was slightly cheered up by seeing, not one, but five boxes of Bretzeln, or pretzels.
The people here are proud of their heritage, and it is present in everything they do. Children and adults alike sport their lederhosen and dirndls on any random day. They enjoy Würstchen (sausages) and Bier during most of their meals, and they take short swims in their private ponds.
I learned a lot of German during my stay, including the words for cutie (süßer), bread (Brot), and flower (Blume). Now I can honestly say with all my heart, “Zwiesel, ich liebe dich.”
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