Thursday, 22 March 2012
10 Things I Like About Germany
1. The smell in chemist's shops (Apotheken). It's not really medicinal - more herbal, fresh and aromatic. I've never smelt it anywhere else, and it's intoxicating!
2. The fact that women (of a similar age-group) tend to smile at each other on the streets, or in shops, or trains. Rather than glower.
3. That people at neighbouring tables in a restaurant ackowledge each other with a smile or a nod, and say good-bye when they leave, rather than pretend there's nobody sitting next to them.
4. That there is a market in every town, even the very small ones. Not an artficially created Farmers' Market but a century-long established one, with brilliant fresh produce, seasonal flowers - and that everything is so nicely presented, in baskets, wooden boxes etc.
5. The fact that Germany is so centrally located within Europe. I have this thing about not liking marginal locations. It makes me feel cut-off and side-lined. (I also don't really like islands, sorry.)
6. That (whilst they do exist) there isn't a "mall culture" when it comes to shopping. Shops are strewn about the whole town and are plentiful and varied. I'd hate having to drive to some out-of -town shopping centre and loading up the car with everything in one oh so sensible trip.
7. Its variety. Big modern towns (like Hamburg), strange towns (like Berlin), picturesque towns (like Munich). Wonderful seaside, (North Sea, and Baltic), the Alps, the wonderful lakes, both Alpine and in the North. Heaths, rivers, vinyards. It's so much more beautiful than other countries which constantly blow their own trumpet.
8. Which brings me to my next point: Its modesty. Germany is probably the most affluent, economically successful country in Europe. People are generally wealthy, there's no major strife, integration is voluntary and painless. Its politics is mostly consensual.Yet it doesn't boast of its assets. Probably all due to its history, but right now, in 2012, I find that a very sympathetc trait.
9. That it's still governed by middle-class values. Many people might not like this, but I do. I'm not keen on seeing people do their shopping in pyjamas, and don't want to get used to it either. Or being asked, threateningly "And what's wrong with that, eh?" I don't like seeing people face down in the gutter on a Friday night. Or ramshackle little houses with huge expensive cars in the driveway.
10. And finally, yes: That is has a functioning infrastructure which -it has to be said - functions because a lot of money is being poured into it. What's so great about trains being late and rubbish not being collected? Or fast-lanes for rich drivers? Sorry, not for me!
My next blog might be about 10 Things I don't like about Germany....