Guten Tag! I’m told that means ‘Good Day’ in German… and that’s exactly where I’ve been off to in the past few weeks, which is why I haven’t blogged and reached out my DC on Heels friends in a while.
I was awarded a journalism fellowship to cover the art & craft of handmade goods in Germany and it was such a whirlwind of a learning and cultural experience. Before visiting the country I didn’t speak much of any German, but upon boarding my red-eye flight to Deutshland, I quickly picked up on a few things, such as:
- Wasser (translation: water)
- Bitte (a cute little old German lady sitting in the seat next to mine told me this means “please”)
- Danke Shoen (translation: thank you)
So upon landing in Frankfurt, the first stop on my four city tour, I just “Wassar, bitte and Danke Schoen’d” my way through the rest of the trip. My first stop was Nuremberg, where I visited the world’s oldest sausage restaurant, Zum Guldenen Stern Bratwurstkueche, est. in 1419.
At this place, there were no menus, just a woman dressed in a traditional Bavarian dress who plopped a metal plate of meat in front me. In the U.S. I would have said, “Excuse me!,” but when in Germany…
…And it was delicious!
The next day I visited the world’s oldest and largest pencil factory, Faber-Castell in Stein, Germany. There I had lunch in the family’s historic castle with Count Anton Wolfgang Graf von Faber-Castell who explained to me that his business has been so successful partly because a pencil is the most inexpensive educational tool in modern society.
And although the success of a simple No. 2 pencil is enough to sustain the business, they also have a luxury line of writing instruments that includes the 200 euro (about $300) platinized Perfect Pencil, which I am told President Obama has one of, and a 3,500 euro (about $4,600) Pen of the Year, which is made of gold leaf and ancient wetland oak.
The next few days were spent in Berlin at a manufacturing conference attended by the leaders of the “Mittlestand,” a network of small to medium-sized German businesses — mostly family owned — who are excellent at the their respective hand-made crafts and are considered the backbone of Germany’s economy. (More on that later in a special report I am producing for work).
Until then, enjoy the photos below from the rest of my trip, which included stops in Dresden and historic Hellarau, a quarter of the town that is home to luxury design firm, Deutsch Werksttaten.
I hope you enjoyed hearing about my European escapades!