Been on a much-needed vacation (you know you really need a vacation when you passport picture starts crying after looking at you). Berlin and Cologne, primarily, but also Potsdam, Dresden, Lübeck, Hamburg, Aachen, Düsseldorf, Koblenz and a bit of Rhine valley on day trips.
Sorry about not visiting any of my German friends, and not-German friends living in Germany. It was just not possible with my parents on a mission to see all Germany in two weeks.
Germany is still very pretty. Rhine valley especially so.
Berlin is not pretty at all, ugly as hell in fact, but a very pleasant place to be in, pretty much the only place in Germany where I just want to hang out and not look at the historical monuments. German architectural neo-Classicism sucks ass. OK, let's face it: everyone's architectural neo-Classicism sucks ass. There is just too damn much of it in Berlin. Still loved the city, though. Especially Prenzlauer Berg and Hackescher Markt. Gonna visit there again.
Potsdam was pretty but blah. Dresden was much lovelier than its pictures. Lübeck was just as lovely as the pictures of it. Whatever I saw of Hamburg was nuce, but I didn't see much. Cologne has the loveliest cathedral ever, and really nice romanesque churches, and a small but very pretty old town. They also have a philarmonic hall build underground by some morons, and people telling other people not to walk on top of it during concerts - I am not kidding. Aachen was great, Düsseldorf old town nice, and Koblenz good too. The Rhine valley was wet, and so, I suppose, was the Rhine.
Saw our local relatives. They have changed a bit, especially the one who was 2 hen I last saw him, and is now 26. Was nice to get reacquainted.
In Germany trains rarely ran on time, and waiters forgot to bring stuff all the time. I am surprised - it didn't use to be like that. Also, they are somewhat short on internet, very few free public hotspots. A local SIM card helped a bit.
Been to a wine festival in Cologne. Lots of nice sweet wines, dry wines didn't impress me. Neither did the beer. OTOH, all the weird shandy-type drinks in Berlin were a really pleasant surprise.
Gonna have some shandy now.