Shelby Rodeman found it hard to say "Auf Wiedersehen" to Germany after spending a memorable three weeks there in late May and early June.
The 2016 Frazee graduate was in the Bavarian capital of Munich for most of the trip, staying in an apartment with her boyfriend, Trysten Ross, a football player with the German Football League team, the Munich Cowboys. The pair spent a lot of their time exploring Munich, and also visited the nearby countries of Austria and Croatia.
The whole trip, Rodeman says, "was amazing."
"It was a really unique and unforgettable experience," she recalled in an interview Monday. "My overall impression is just, everywhere you walk, there's something to see - there's always something beautiful. There's great architecture, and great food."
Rodeman drank cold beer from big mugs and noshed on giant pretzels and German bratwurst - all the things that a person just has to do while in Germany.
One of the restaurants she and Ross went to, the legendary Hofbrauhaus, "was literally the best restaurant, best going-out-to-eat experience, I've ever had," she said. "Best food, best beer, best pretzels... You can't top it."
The pair also loved Munich's bustling and historical city center, the Marianplatz, visiting it several times. The architecture there dates back to the 1600s - a look and style that Rodeman described as "really awesome."
Ross, who arrived in Munich in early March, took Rodeman to all his favorite spots around the city once she joined him there, including a few local parks and the Nymphenburg Palace, a Baroque-style castle. They also toured the extravagant, late-1800s royal palace of Herrenchiemsee, taking a ferry boat across a lake to get there.
"That was breathtaking," said Rodeman, adding that the view of the water from inside the castle "was incredible."
Rodeman got to know some of Ross' teammates and their girlfriends, who toured a couple of the sites with them. Most of Ross' teammates were born and raised in Germany, said Rodeman, while six of them "were imports." There were four Americans (including Ross), plus one from Great Britain and another from France.
American football players are highly sought after in the German Football League, Rodeman explained, as Americans take the sport more seriously and start their players much younger than the Germans do. Because of the American players' advanced skill level, each team in the German league is allowed to have only two American players.
Ross was a linebacker for four years with the Bemidji State University football team, and also served as a team captain. An International Falls, Minn., native, he and Rodeman met at BSU, where she was also a student, studying elementary education. He was contacted by multiple teams right away after submitting his player profile on Europlayers.com.
"Getting to travel for his football games and watch him play for a German team was really cool," Rodeman said. She got to watch him play in two games with the Munich Cowboys, in the cities of Burghausen and Passau, both of which she described as "beautiful."
Ross got a couple breaks in-between games and practices, and he and Rodeman took those opportunities to do a little adventuring outside of Germany. They spent four days in the coastal city of Zadar, Croatia, and one night in Salzburg, Austria.
"That was my favorite night and day of the entire trip," Rodeman says of her time in Salzburg. "It was just perfect, in my opinion."
Salzburg is where "The Sound of Music" was filmed, she said, and it's where Mozart was born: "I got to walk in the garden that you see in 'The Sound of Music.'"
The older and newer sections of Salzburg are divided by a scenic river, and there are all sorts of "gorgeous flowers everywhere," Rodeman said, along with ornate fountains, bridges and old churches. The Fortress Hohensalzburg, one of the largest medieval castles in Europe, is perched on a hill overlooking the city, and the whole city is surrounded by mountains.
"The view from the fortress was probably the best part," she said, although it was hard for her to pick a favorite thing about Salzburg: "It was by a river, there was an old fortress there, and mountains in the background, and you just can't get better than that. It was really cool."
Croatia, she found, had a more exotic feel. She and Ross stayed in the coastal city of Zadar, and hiked around Krka Falls, a nature reserve with a series of seven waterfalls along with monastic and castle ruins.
"It was kind of a rainforest area, by the sea," Rodeman said. "It was beautiful there... There were streams everywhere, and when you looked into the water, you could see lots of fish."
Zadar's peninsular Old Town is known for its ancient Roman and Venetian ruins, and Rodeman said she and Ross spent a lot of time there.
"It's exactly what it sounds like," she said of Old Town. "It's really old. It was really cool to see buildings and roads and wells that have been here for hundreds and even thousands of years... There was so much history behind everything. It was a cool experience to be walking down a road that somebody walked on hundreds of years ago."
This trip was Rodeman's first international vacation, and it was her first time flying solo. She had such a great time, she said, that it won't be long until she'll be saying "Guten Tag" to another foreign destination.
"I'll definitely be traveling overseas again," she said.