When you decide to become a couple, you want to dig deeper into who the other person is and on top of that show who you are. As an interracial couple, I notice visiting each other’s country is a massive part of this progress of getting to know each other. Each person is unique, but visiting places, he or she grew up, will show you different pars of that person as well. We cannot deny our roots, and they will eventually reach the surface now and then anyway. Sharing your own country can also be a great way to explain some aspects of your character, which were shaped by your home country. It’s nothing unique to your personality, but instead the influence of the culture you grew up with.
On top of that, you might try to figure out where to live together long term. Long-distance relationships and the question of where to live are going to be separate topics on this blog in the future. Still, our experiences in each other’s countries took a considerable part in our decision where to live.
Planning where to go
We started discovering each other cultures by Mr C. visiting me in Germany just after my birthday back in 2017. While getting to know each other, I showed him a massive amount of pictures of my country and left him curious about it. Due to the Japanese work culture and the long travel time to Germany, he could only realise a short weekend trip. In general Asians have fewer holidays than people in the West. On top of national holidays, I can use 30 day-offs to recover from work. Mr C. has much less and mostly needed to combine them with national holidays in Japan. When a country doesn’t need to work, it means higher flight prices which result in longer travel journeys to pick the cheapest option. In general, I noticed that it’s cheaper to fly from Germany to Japan than the other way around.
I have to admit: I love to plan, especially upcoming trips. Each time, I get super excited and try to come up with the best itinerary for whatever time is available. Of course, I won’t plan every minute of a trip, but I make sure to have a save structure to lean on while travelling. Four days are way too less to discover much, so I wrote down a list of possibilities for Mr C.’s time in Germany and let him choose. My parents would have loved to get to know him, but being a couple for less than half a year set my priorities to let him decide what to see. It was his first time outside of Asia, and even his purpose was to visit me, vacations are essential to me. I wanted him to have the best experience possible by considering his interests.
One of the features of Germany is it being surrounded by many different countries. By car, I can visit another country and find myself in another world sometimes. Buildings and nature look different as soon as you cross the border. Occasionally you don’t even notice any change except for a different language on the highway signs. Since Mr C. chose Bavaria, meeting my parents wasn’t an option anymore. Together we decided this final itinerary:
- Castle Neuschwanstein
Before our trip, I haven’t visited the city of Bamberg before, but together with my workmate who grew up in this city, I made a prior visit to get to know the best spots. Thanks to my job I had to spend more than 50 days in Munich so far, so it was effortless to come up with places I enjoyed visiting. Being the iconic sight of Germany, Castle Neuschwanstein had to be on this list. It’s not too far away from Munich by car, but you definitely enter a different world here. Except for the number of tourists stopping by every day, the whole area is filled with forests, mountains and even some more castles. Since I couldn’t make it inside that castle during my first trip to Castle Neuschwanstein, I was looking forward to revisiting it correctly this time. I bought tickets in advance to make sure we were able to enter it this time.
The cheapest option (approx. 990€) for Mr C. was flying with China Eastern Airlines from Haneda Airport (HND) to Frankfurt Airport (FRA) with a five-hour layover in Shanghai Pudong Airport (PVG). Since his arrival was early in the morning, I decided to take the day off, to pick from up at Nuremberg central station. Back in 2017, I was working mostly in Nuremberg, so I had a second apartment there which my company paid. I hoped his jetlag wouldn’t be too bad, but I already planned to head directly over to Bamberg by car to start his adventure in Germany there.
I thought I’ve prepared a good plan for us, but the odds weren’t in our favour that day. One day before his arrival he wrote to me that his flight to China was delayed. The Jinghe earthquake (magnitude 6.6) occurred on 9 August 2017 in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and caused all kind of delays in China. Starting way too late at Haneda airport, Mr C. couldn’t make it to his flight to Frankfurt in time. The airline didn’t care at all about his case. They booked him on the next flight 24 hours later and paid for a hotel in Shanghai. What a great start.
He was angry and frustrated, and so was I. We didn’t have much time together anyway, and this event stole another day out of his short trip to Germany. I decided to take my day-off from work back and go to work usually. To make the best out of the quick weekend we would have together now, I cancelled the tickets for Castle Neuschwanstein and also dropped the idea of visiting Bamberg. You need a full day here to discover. Of course, his next flight to Frankfurt had another delay of two hours, and he was very close to cancelling the whole trip and return to Japan. In total, he spent more time on the way than in Germany.
Even I would have loved to introduce Mr C. to the incredibly stunning city of Bamberg; we did not have enough time to make it in time to discover it properly. While strolling around, I fell in love with its beauty, and it became one of my favourite cities in my own country. One day I’ll bring him here because he is similarly fascinated by architecture as I am. I am sure that he is going to be as excited about Bamberg as much as I was.
I’ve taken these photographs during my very first visit to Bamberg one month before Mr C.’s first trip to my home country.
This project of showing my boyfriend, my country was an ordeal. It was a long and rocky way until I could give him a well-deserved hug. Even on my walk to Nuremberg central station, some more annoying things happened, so I got there in a rather bad mood. On top of that Mr C. was exhausted and jetlagged. Real-life isn’t always as pretty and smooth as love stories look in books and movies.
His first impression of Germany was: it’s different, like a different world. He would need to lie to say he fell in love with my country the first time he visited it. He had a terrible Jetlag and had issues with the dry air. Since Mr C. is used to the humid air of Asia, especially his eyes got itchy and dry often. Besides, his body got confused by our food, and he didn’t have enough time to get used to it.
First thing I got Mr C. to eat at the central station was Drei im Weggla (Franconian, three of the famous Nuremberg sausages in a bread roll) . Growing up with bread rolls, I was confused by his comment; it’s a little bit hard. I love the fact that most of the German bread is crunchy on the outside but super soft inside. But at least he liked the sausages. After finishing this snack, we stopped by my apartment in Nuremberg to have lunch together. I cooked my version of Thai Curry which Mr C. loves. Afterwards, we headed to Munich by train, which is one hour faster than going by car. Especially considering traffic towards the South.
First, we checked in our hotel. I chose Motel One Munich – Deutsches Museum I’ve visited several times on previous trips already. You still need some walking towards the city centre, but the location on that hill is impressive for a great view of the city. As requested, we got a room facing the city itself.
We tried to waste as less time as possible and walked straight down the hill into the city of Munich. We were strolling along streets, enjoying architecture together. This was one of the things Mr C. liked most about this trip. He was amazed by the architecture of buildings or their interior design.
Starting from Isartor, we made our first stop at Marienplatz, which is Munich’s most famous square since 1158. There we enjoyed the beautiful buildings, before heading towards Odeonsplatz, discovering some sidestreets I haven’t seen yet. After a short stroll around the English Garden, we had dinner at Schneider Bräuhaus München which serves traditional Bavarian cuisine.
We started day two with breakfast at our hotel, which Mr C. appreciated a lot. He loved the slices of bread combined with butter and Nutella. Before starting our journey back to my home in Dortmund, again we randomly walked around the streets of Munich’s city centre. Even entering two churches, I have always enjoyed from the outside. Sometimes you need a visitor to discover cities which became boring and usual to you again.
Due to the lack of time, I used my iPhone for pictures and left my Nikon at home. On previous trips to Munich, I created a small collection of the city’s beauty I’d like to share with you.
Another point on our list we had to cancel was the castle Neuschwanstein. Which foreigner doesn’t want to visit this iconic hotspot in Germany? I bet whoever is reading this blog knows about it, no matter where you live.
We decided to cancel our tickets for this castle and return to Dortmund by car instead. In the end, it didn’t matter how Mr C. came back to Frankfurt airport anyway. I preferred to show him my real apartment and being able to get to work usually the next morning. He was shocked by the speed on our Autobahn. Since I drive often, I might enjoy driving fast now and then. He wasn’t used to that and ended up being a little bit scared. It must be a scary experience if you always had speed limits on your highways. If I remember correctly, I managed to get up to 200 km/h. My usual travel speed is 140-150 km/h, depending on the traffic. Driving fast for a short period is a great way to wake up your brain and challenge it a little bit during a long and tedious drive. Managing to notice everything at high speed takes more power of your mind for sure.
But since Castle Neuschwanstein is an iconic building representing Germany and I’ve visited it once before, I’ll share some of the pictures.
Fun fact: I’ve visited this castle with my first boyfriend and took these pictures six years ago. We were 30 minutes too late to get tickets, so we ended up enjoyed Neuschwanstein from afar.
Being a foreigner
An aspect I experienced several times in Japan already was new to Mr C.: feeling like a foreigner. Even he is living in Japan for six years already, being Chinese camouflages the fact that he is not Japanese. He couldn’t speak any German back in 2017 and was following me around. He felt a little bit lonely since he noticed that he is a foreigner in Germany. Most people are taller than him, faces and also the language is different. Since we are from very different cultures, no matter which of us moves to the other person country will feel like a foreigner. That’s nothing we can prevent from happening. Growing up in Germany, I would say I am used to seeing “foreigners” around living here with me.
After his train ride to Frankfurt Airport the next day, he told me he hopes Germany will improve on English announcements in the future. Every time I take an ICE somewhere, I can hear English announcements following the German ones, but as it seemed back in August 2017, they didn’t correctly introduce Frankfurt Airport station. Mr C. thought he would stop at Frankfurt (Main) central station before the airport and after asking other passengers, he jumped out of the train just in time for the doors to close.
It’s always sad to say goodbye to your boyfriend for some months after just a few days you were able to spend together. But I love to keep a quote by the Japanese band Survive Said The Prophet in mind whenever we have to part:
“It’s just a simple hello and goodbye ’cause I’ll see you again”Survive Said The Prophet – Conscious