I went to the bookstore today just to look around. I've always enjoyed looking through travel guides. The destinations don't have to be exotic (I once spent a great two days in Pittsburgh ... very underrated place), I just think it's fun to explore other places whenever you can, however you can, and if unfolding a map in a bookstore is as close as you can get to somewhere you want to go, so be it.
In the travel section, guides for Italy take up seven shelves (they were small shelves, but still, it's impressive). Italy wasn't what I was interested in, though. With three large folders of trip information provided by the travel company and the EAA, and four guides to Italy on loan from one of my friends, I have all the information about Italy than I'll ever need (volume aside, it sure is fun to go though).
I was interested in Germany. And the guides for Germany only took up one shelf. Is that a proper proportion? OK, maybe Germany isn't as sexy as France or Spain or Italy, but I've seen pictures; it looks gorgeous. And their movies are good, too.
By comparison, there was half a shelf devoted to Cuba. Because of U.S. travel restrictions, I can't even go to Cuba. Is it even fair to advertise a product most consumers can't access? Anyway ...
There are a couple reasons why I wanted to read about Germany. One is that family is from there. One quarter of them, anyway. The rest of me is Polish and Slovenian, and I've always been keenly interested in the three nations of my ancestors. (Completely irrelevant tangent ... during the recent Beijing Olympics, I turned on a men's volleyball match between Poland and Germany and didn't know who to root for ... I actually stressed about it for a little bit before finally siding with Germany. Don't tell my mom, she was probably rooting for Poland, the eventual winner.)
My great-grandparents on my mom's side emigrated to the U.S. from Germany. They were from a town called Aschaffenburg, near Frankfurt. That's significant because Frankfurt is where our group from Atlanta will change planes before flying on to Milan to start our adventure.
The fact that my first steps in Europe will be about 25 miles from where members of my family came from is unbelievably exciting. I was flipping though books on Germany so I could cram for my three-and-a-half hour layover in Frankfurt. The city is only 15 minutes by train from the airport, so a quick look isn't out of the realm of possibility, but I will have many guests accompanying me, so sticking around the terminal is likely.
Still, if have the opportunity, I have to make time to step outside the airport. You can't say you've been somewhere unless you've touched grass or dirt or at least asphalt. I want to make sure my first somewhere in Europe is Germany.