„I’m a country-girl”, Daphne Schreier will simply say if asked how it feels to live in tiny picturesque Wall (part of the Bavarian town of Warngau). But that’s only half the truth. As the mother of two did not simply change her place of residency but left her home country and her whole family to create her own family in Wall of all places. Born and raised in rural California, Daphne met her future husband Wolfgang while travelling the Camino de Santiago (Jakobsweg). The two quickly fell in love and after mutual visits and a year of living together in the US decided to return to Germany where they now have settled in Wolfgang’s hometown Wall. The lively, charismatic Nurse Practitioner does not fit into the typical American cliché. I met the mother of two beautiful girls under three years of age through a mutual friend. In today’s „Mein Landleben”-interview, English edition, Daphne reveals why she dreams about an open-air movie theater and Raisin Bran cereal.
From rural California to small-town Bavaria: How did you come to Wall?
My husband grew up in this town, and his heart will forever be part of the land here. Not only of the Bavarian region, but in particular, of this very small town where he was born and raised. Also, I was raised in the countryside in California myself. Even more rurally, where you have to get in a car and drive ten minutes to the closest supermarket. At least here in Wall we have a bakery, butcher shop and restaurant that I can easily bike to.
What is the best part about living in a rural area?
The nature. I adore the fields, the open space, the cows. Every day in the summertime it amazes me to watch the cows „go home“ back to the barn after a long day out in the field. In English we have an expression „until the cows come home“. But I had never seen it actually happen until I moved here.
What is the biggest challenge about living in a rural area?
The days when I don’t have a car. You can easily feel stuck here, especially when there is bad weather that keeps us all inside. With two young children it can get very challenging all couped up in the house.
Compared to life in the city: Is there something you miss?
Being able to walk to the store.
Which offers would benefit public life in your village?
An open-air movie theater in the summertime would be amazing. Also, a small vegetable and fruit store would be incredible. I always feel so frustrated when I have to drive to the nearest bigger town just for some fruit or vegetables.
What are must-haves for countryside living?
A good sense of humor. For sure openness and friendliness. In a small town, there is a small group of people who live there, and probably have lived there for many generations. It is important to try to be kind and open to the people around you. These people are the backbone of the town. They can be very important and influence the quality of your life.
How did you make new friends in the countryside?
I am still working on that, everyday! Trying to learn and speak the language, smiling a lot, being helpful, and slowly inviting other mom’s and their kids over to my house for coffee/cake time.
Is there a difference between living in a small-town-rural-area in the US and here in Germany?
I grew up in Gilroy, California, a city which is best know for its garlic. We have garlic fields, garlic factories, we even have an annual garlic festival at the end of July. About 30.000 people come to the festival each year, so the number of inhabitants basically doubles. However, we don’t have so many neighbors. And it is a ten-minute-walk to the closest neighbor. It takes a ten to twelve minute drive to get to the supermarket, store, or gas station. Whereas here in Wall, we have a bakery and a “Metzgerei” that you can reach by foot. I think, the most important things for Germans are bread and meat (laughs). So we have those things here in town. Which makes life easier. Also, I can take my older daughter to playgroup and later on to school easily by walking or biking. So the main difference between small-town living in the US versus here in Germany is the amount of time you spend in the car driving.
Even to Germans from other regions some Bavarian traditions appear special. Is there anything that you particularly noted?
I’m kind of an A-typical American. I didn’t have a strong idea about Germany before I came here. I don’t drink beer so I never knew about Oktoberfest. And I really didn’t know about “Lederhosen”. I actually thought, they’d be worn in Switzerland or Austria. I never had this cliché of Germany or being German in my brain at all. When I came here, I just thought it was a really lovely village with all these interesting traditions. I actually enjoy all of the little rituals. Only the beer drinking scares me, especially when I see young people do it. And I don’t like the shooting at “Schützenfest” because it is really loud when the guns go off. I think the Bavarian culture is really beautiful. I come from a Greek Orthodox family where we have our own traditions, so for me traditions enhance life. They make it more beautiful for the family and give you heritage as well as a sense of well-being. I appreciate tradition as opposed to having no roots at all. I hope my children will also have a sense for these traditions, too.
Is there something you miss from the US?
I miss a lot. And as the years go by, I miss more and more. I’d say about three times a week, I have dreams about food, cooking and supermarkets. I miss the variety of an American supermarket. It’s a crazy amount of variety, and it can be overwhelming, and maybe it’s not needed, but I still do miss it. For example, I grew up on cereal for breakfast. And I love Raisin Bran and can’t find it here. And then of course, I miss the language. I miss the easiness of talking to somebody and having a full conversation without having to stress out about pronouncing words correctly or creating a sentence. And calling someone and not having to be afraid of: How am I talking? Or having to start a sentence with: “Sprechen Sie English, bitte?!”(laughs) So that’s what I miss.
What are your favorite places with children in your region? And with grown-ups?
We often jump on our bikes and ride around the town and the outskirts for a little outing. In the summertime, the local restaurant Café Waldeck has a beer garden with swings and a slide, so it is a cheap date to buy an ice cream and let the kids have fun on the swings. For grown-up time, that same restaurant serves amazing local food, and it makes a fun date in the evening time. Also, if I feel like I need to get away from the stresses of motherhood, I will go for a bike ride and find a bench overlooking a field, and lay on the bench, look up at the sky, and breath in the fresh air and have some quiet time. The outdoor swimming pool in Miesbach is fantastic, with lots of grass, a huge pool for adults, and a little pool for the kids, and for only 3 Euros all day long per person.