In no particular order, here are ten things I love about Germany…
1. The houses. A strange topic to start with I know, but where I live, many houses stand out for their individuality, style and quality. It’s as if every resident purchased a plot of land, hired an architect and a builder, and constructed the house according to their own unique tastes. I have watched some of these new homes being created, and the first thing they do is dig a hole large enough for a year’s supply of red wine, beer and food. These spacious cellars, together with the well utilised roof space, mean the houses are often deceptively large. And as people do not normally move house, they are built to last.
2. The people. There are over 80 million people living in Germany, so I am not going to attempt to describe the average German. What I can tell you is that I really like the German people I work with, live near, and have become friends with. Their kindness has at times been overwhelming and quickly enabled us to feel at home here.
3. Its towns and countryside. Hopefully, the photos say it all.
4. The infrastructure. In many parts of this region, you can often enjoy a footpath or cycle path of a comparable standard to a main highway. I know Germany is famous for its cars, but the cyclist and the pedestrian appear to have equal rights to the car driver! And with navigable rivers, you can reach most parts of the country using a delightful combination of boat, train and bicycle. And I know this is probably way too much detail, but when you are out and about, you will find the toilets to be very clean!
5. The beer. You can get a beer wherever you like – at the cinema, at McDonalds, in the park. You can drink beer at sixteen years of age. Beer is often at the heart of great events such as the local jazz festival where hundreds of people gather in the beer gardens to enjoy the music.
6. Currywurst. Wherever you can find a beer, you can normally find a currywurst. Rather like beer, this is serious stuff. The sausage is sliced and served with curry sauce and either fries or a bread roll. There is a famous song called Currywurst by Herbert Grönemeyer and in Berlin, there is a currywurst museum. But as well as finding this rather amusing, I also think it is absolutely delicious. And, just in case you don’t believe me about the museum, here is the link.
7. The economy. I moved here in 2009 just as the rest of Europe was struggling with recession, debt and unemployment. Here in Germany, and particularly here in Bonn, it was hardly noticeable. The shops and restaurants remained full. New office blocks and apartments were still springing up everywhere. Major investment projects continued. Enormous freight trains and river barges still travelled up and down the Rhine. I felt very lucky to be here during a difficult time for many people elsewhere.
8. The traditions. Christmas markets. Carnival. Rhine in Flames. Dancing into May. Beethoven Festival. Pützchen’s Markt (see photos below). Almost every month, there is an event that brings people out to have fun.
9. The German Bundesliga. This goes well with points 4, 5 and 6 (beer, currywurst and infrastructure). A ticket for a football match includes the public transport to the event. The stadiums were all built or upgraded for the 2006 world cup finals, and they include a standing area which generates an amazing atmosphere. The standard of the football is very high, proven by the fact that there were two German teams in the UEFA Champions League final last year.
10. The location. I am a little more than a one hour drive from Belgium and the Netherlands. Just over an hour more can get me to France or Luxembourg. And if I can put up with a full morning’s drive, I can add Switzerland, Denmark and England to the deal. Because Germany is part of the Schengen Area, I can travel to more than twenty countries without getting my passport out! The freedom to travel is a wonderful privilege.
And that’s it, we’re done. Do you now feel like visiting Germany?
© Chris Robinson 2014. All rights reserved.