As fellow German I always thought Germans were not exactly renown for their hospitality. No Frenchman would go “outre-Rhin” and expect to be invited to a Weißwurst by a total stranger, right? But there seem to be exceptions.
When Jona and I crossed the border from Belgium to Germany at the charming village of Lichtenbusch, it took only a few minutes for the first German (cyclist) to stop and ask us if he could help us with directions. “We must look really desperate”, I thought to myself and enjoyed the little chat. It was already late in the afternoon and we had started looking for places to put up our tent for the night. A little local advice could only be helpful.
Although we have been on the road for only a few days now, I feel safe to say that those little encounters are often quite similar: a person would ask where we come from (“London, Brussels, uhu”) and where we are going to (Southeast Asia, okay, wait what?), only to shake her head and wish us luck.
Ask your wife
But this time was different. After we had already said good-bye, our German caught up with us on his e-bike trying to stop us again. “I wasn’t able to reach my wife”, he said, “but I am sure she wouldn’t mind if you camped in our garden tonight.” I was stunned and we happily agreed as we weren’t sure about our prospects to find a tent-friendly piece of forest any time soon. But I was concerned that we might indeed cause him trouble at the home front.
My worries were unfounded: Aforesaid wife not only agreed to us camping in their garden, she also served us awesome dinner and formidable breakfast combined with interesting conversations until late in the evening. Our hospitable couple topped it all with a warm shower, fresh water melon and the keys to their apartment (“just lock the door before you leave”), which allowed us to leave the next morning whenever we wanted. Thank you guys!
A traveller’s theory
It all felt like back in the times when my brother and I went hiking in the Moroccan High Atlas and were invited into people’s homes at almost every turn of the road. But in Germany? Here’s my little theory: Looking at our hosts’ apartment that morning, I found an old Russian map of the Pamirs at the wall, lots of camera equipment in the living room, and Tibetan prayer flags in the garden. Our couple were travellers and thus might have experienced themselves the meaning of hospitality to strangers — and the value of a warm shower. 🚴💨