Without a doubt, the greatest thing about traveling is the people you meet. Sharing an activity, a trip, a conversation, or even a drink with a great and friendly person who has a unique, interesting perspective on life can be one of the most lasting and wonderful things you can experience during your incarnation on planet Earth. I don't care if you've been to the Sistine Chapel or the summit of Everest (to use the most extreme examples), an experience is always best when shared with the right people. In Tubingen, I was lucky enough to share it with several people who made it so I didn't feel like a backpacker or tourist, but instead as a member of a family. And an amazing one at that.
My first encounter happened just after my arrival to the Stuttgart airport when Anne (who I already met in Russia) and her flatmate/friend Julie picked me up and drove me to their flat. We didn't get there until around midnight, but most of the residents were still awake and hanging around the common kitchen area. Right away, I was greeted with an incredibly warm welcome as I was offered food, tea, and whatever else I wanted. We all talked for a little while, everyone interested to get to know me, and I myself likewise interested to get to know all of them. But unfortunately, they had class the next morning and I was a bit worn out from the day of travel so we headed to bed and agreed to discuss further tomorrow.
I did not know it yet, but I was in for a whirlwind of experiences that I couldn't have ever imagined happening. First and foremost, I was treated to delicious and hearty dinners (like the potato, chickpea, and corn pie above) that simultaneously made my tastebuds dance for a week and made me feel like I had the strength to climb a mountain. They all had a rotating system going in which two flatmates would cook and prepare dinner for everyone night by night, and without fail, each one exceeded expectations. Not to mention, I was given homemade dark beer and hard cider to wash everything down, thus allowing me to eat and drink like a king for the whole week.
But better than the food was the conversations and experiences I had with each of the people there. That is what I'll always truly remember from my visit. I'll remember Mattias (didn't live there but visited/stayed most days) talking about his experiences being born and raised in Namibia, and hearing his thoughts about part of the world I knew little about. I'll remember walking through the woods on a trail with Anne and her sister Lea as we went to a medieval monastery atop a hill (which may have been one of the best landscape views I've ever seen), and the energetic sociological discussions with Anna (next to me, wearing glasses in the picture). I'll never forget the two communal student bars (discussed below), and I'll never forget when Hannes (farthest to the left in the top picture) took me to his own personal beehive and let me try some of the honey. Never before in my life had I seen so many bees.
My point is, they are the ones who made the trip what it was. Tubingen was an interesting city, but I could have been anywhere with this group of people and still have had a great time. So, to all of you, thank you so much! For more, I will soon add to the Awesome People page. But for now, in the words of The Grateful Dead, "Keep on Truckin'."