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Germany over coffee

Amazing what you learn about Europe by going for coffee in Eugene.

Here in sunny Eugene, Oregon, my favorite coffee shop is a place in downtown called Perugino. In fact, I’m typing this post over a double Americano at about 8:30 pm, at “my” table.
Coffee shops in Eugene—well, anywhere really—remind me that inspiration and information are everywhere; all it takes is some effort on the part of the person seeking. Switching from coffee to espresso to give me a break from figuring out how to go from Finland to Germany to France, I got to talking with the Perugino baristas. They were curious about the many maps spread out on my table—photocopies I’m scribbling arrows and lines on, big full-color spreads of the entire continent and its rail lines—and I started talking about my trip, and how I’m working on the my route.
I’ve more or less worked out a rough direction from the UK through part of northwestern Europe and then Scandinavia. Then Finland, northern Germany to Paris via Luxembourg. Then Paris to the Atlantic coast, northwest through Spain, then Portugal, then along the Spanish Mediterranean coast, southern France, and up perhaps back through Germany on my way to Eastern Europe.
But I have no idea how I’m routing through all of this. (Not that I have much of a clear idea of where I’m routing anywhere yet, but it’s somewhat starting to come together.)
Where to go in Germany? Where to stop? Where to pass through? Berlin? Frankfurt? Dusseldorf? Munich? All of ’em?
As Ryan worked up my Americano he told me how much he wants to travel again. “The past three summers I’ve gone different places,” he said, “but the one I want to go back to the most is Germany.”
I’ll be damned.
Ryan told me about his time in Germany, and how he especially loved Stuttgart. “It’s not as visited as some of the other cities,” he said. “It’s a great place, with a lot going on though.”
That’s all I need to want to go there—give me the major destinations, the obviousities like London and Berlin and what-not, but I want the lesser-known, even the more out of the way places too. Ryan also told me about a big rave festival held in Berlin, that attracts ravers, DJs and performers from the world. “DJs from all over come and set up, on big semi trailers,” he said. “There’ll be, say, a Brazilian stages, with DJs spinning, dancers, you name it.”
He couldn’t remember the name of the festival off-hand, but said he’d let me know if he remembered.
We talked a bit more, then I went back to my maps and itinerary crunching, but I never would have learned so much if I hadn’t started chatting with him. Germany was a bit of a sticking point in my head, and now, over a cup of coffee, it just got a lot clearer.
And this is what happens, this is what I’ve learned, just in a few minutes, and while still in Eugene—just by getting into a chat with someone.