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Virgilina resident travels to her birthplace in Germany

It was a long trip “home” and a dream come true for Meagan Owen.

Owen was born and spent the first two years of her life in Heidelberg, Germany where her father was stationed on the army base. Twenty-nine years later, she got her first taste of what life would have been like if she hadn’t have moved to the United States.

Owen and her mother had always said they’d return together one day, and when they stepped off the plane the tears began to fall.

“My aunt picked my mom and I up in the airport, and as soon as we saw her all three of us started crying. For one, we are all sappy people. It was also a hugely emotional experience for the three of us to be back in Europe together,” said Owen.

“My aunt lived with my parents for two summers in Germany, and my mom had told me my entire life we’d go back together someday,” she added.

Along with visiting her birthplace, also on the agenda Owen stopped in Vienna, Austria, Bratislava, Slovakia, Budapest, Hungary and took a cruise on the Rhine River in Germany.

Being in Heidelberg, Owen was able to see where she had once lived, where she was born and christened. Her mom took her to where she worked, some of her favorite places while they lived there like the gardens at Schwetzingen. Their first night in Heidelberg, they ate at Pizzeria Europa, a restaurant her mom and aunt often remember going to when they both lived there.

“Seeing where I came from gave me a new sense of identity,” said Owen.

She also visited the apartments her family lived in.

“I could go on and on, we packed so much into our 10-day trip.”

However, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. If Owen and her mother had waited just two months Owen would have missed experiencing the army base as it stands now.

The army base they lived on all those years ago was planned to be closed just 60 days after their trip.

“It seemed serendipitous that we ended up there 60 days before the army base was scheduled to close. Had I waited another year, it certainly would have been a different vibe, as the entire base, including the housing, will be turned over to the German government and most likely used as campus housing for Heidelberg University,” said Owen.

 During her 12-day trip, Owen spent a majority of her time with her aunt, uncle and cousin at their house in Slovakia, and while in Heidelberg they stayed at Hotel Leonardo.

But she admitted her favorite things to do while she was there was to sightsee, visit with family and eat.

“I ate and ate and ate so much amazing food. Lunch is typically the big meal of the day, and while the food was different, Europeans are so much more about the dining experience. I love that part,” said Owen.

“No one is in a rush, and there was tons of al fresco dining. I don’t think I can pick one favorite, but I was sure to try some of the traditional dishes in each country; wiener schnitzel in Vienna, asparagus cream soup and bratwurst in Germany, goulash in Hungary and sheep cheese gnocchi in Slovakia,” she added.

While indulging herself, she also thought of her loved ones back home.

All of her family and friends were very supportive of her taking the trip and were excited for Owen. 

“Anyone who knows me well knows it’s been a dream of mine to see where I was born my entire life,” said Owen.

If she could change anything about her trip, she’d only make it longer and add in a few more stops and her sister.

“I would love to go back. My sister, Monica, was born in Heidelberg too. She was unable to go with us this time, but I’d love to go with her someday. I’d also love to go back and visit different countries in Europe,” said Owen.

But sharing the entire experience with her mom and aunt was by far the best part of the trip, she added.

Even though she had to return back to reality in the states, Owen made sure to bring back little pieces of the trip with her including “delicious chocolates” from Vienna for everyone, some pretty handmade table linens from Germany and some hand painted scenes of Heidelberg “so I can have a little piece of where I was born in my home now.”

Owen resides in Virgilina with her husband, Jared, and traveling to Italy is definitely on the agenda for the future.