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Recollections of a Rover “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move; to feel the needs and hitches of our life more nearly; to come down off this feather-bed of civilization…” -Robert Louis Stevenson-

Misjudging Germany

GERMANY | Wednesday, 15 May 2013 | Views [411]

Oh, the joys of being wrong about a country. This is a classic case of expectation vs. reality. I only visited a small part of Germany (Bonn), but it was a refreshing experience and threw away any innocently-founded prejudices I had had.

 

What I expected: A severe, almost desolate landscape. A childish image of ruin.

What I encountered: One of the cleanest and greenest countries on Earth (in my biased opinion of course). Try a train ride from Cologne to Bonn; I wish mine was never-ending. Under an autumn sun, the countryside is a vibrant lime colour. Lush flora zooming past.

Walking through the streets of Bonn, traditionally colourful German houses are gradually replaced by haughty modern skyscrapers. And wonderfully unavoidable is the imposing Rhine river that pierces through the country’s body.

Who I expected: An intolerant Aryan population. Narrow-minded of me? Ashamedly yes, but I couldn’t help it. All I knew of Germany was what I had learned during History lessons in high school.

Who I met: A salad of cultures and nationalities. Such a variety of [beautiful] people! We encountered a Libyan expatriate. He told us about life in the tumultuous country, how he was forced to leave home,  and the struggles of keeping in touch with friends and relatives. The patriotism for his nation was brimming in his eyes and evident by the passion of his tale.

What I expected: The English language, everywhere.

What I struggled with: I had been told that most Germans would speak English. Whoever told me that was wrong. The majority that I came across only spoke German and - luckily for me - some French. Before you go, learn some useful phrases (guten tag and danke is NOT sufficient to get you around).

What I expected: A difficult and tiresome journey.

What I experienced:  Yes it was (dragging my 30kg suitcase up a flight of stairs). But it was also one of the happiest times of my life. I met lovely and well-travelled friends, covered a United Nations conference, and had sushi and German beer for the first time.

 

I spent less than a week in Germany, but left besotted with the nation. To be utterly clichéd but honest: Deutschland, ich liebe dich. Germany, I love you.

Tags: bonn, cologne, environment, german, germany, green, language, rhine, river

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