After living in the US, New Zealand, and Australia, moving to Europe takes some adjustment.
I mean, I’m used to space. I’m used to great distances, usually made of water, in between me and other people. When I move from one country to another, I’m used to grand trips, long immigation lines, annoying customs forms, and habitually ridding myself of half of my possessions so I can fit everything I own into one suitcase. For four years, this was normal life.
Then I came to the Netherlands, and Simon asked me, “Do you want to go to Germany today?” And there was no packing, and I did not have to wear my hiking boots like I did on every flight around Australia, and we were there for lunch and back in the Netherlands for dinner. And my mind was conspicuously and oddly not blown at all. No, siree. It was just a day, like any other–except for the fact that I spent it in two different countries.
To be fair, we didn’t go very far, though you certainly could. Dedemsvaart to Cologne would take less than three hours; Berlin comes in at a less day-trip friendly but still weekend-getaway reasonable at about six. To give my fellow Midwesterners some perspective, it takes longer just to get through Wisconsin.
However, when you’re doing this for the novelty, even three hours is a bit much. We drove a mere 15-20 minutes from the incredibly underwhelming border (“btw, you’re in Germany now” said the sign) to Nordhorn — which, in case you’re wondering, translates to “North Horn.” I’m here to help.
I’m probably not the best person to sell you on Nordhorn, given that we literally only went there because of its proximity to our house. I’m not even sure if it’s a town or a city — or for that matter, when a town becomes a city. The population is just over 50,000; make of that what you will.
The area does have a nice kind of old-timey feel to it, which may be a unique feature and may just be, like, Europe. There’s also a lovely garden with lots of birds, weird artwork, and a few cheeky rabbits.
After taking a walk around, we bumbled our way through the German language enough to order some coffee and cake. By the time the sun was setting, we were on the road home again.
I almost felt silly for bringing my passport along.