Germany Comparative

I just love this detail from Neptunes statue in Berlin

Well time for my Germany Comparative.  This has been waiting for my completion of my visits to Germany, which was Berlin.  What to say, what to say.  Ending with Berlin was an amazing experience because as you know, if you have been reading my blog, I absolutely loved Berlin.  It far exceeded my expectations.  During my travels, it has been mostly Germans whom I have met and then have had the opportunity to meet up with again on their home soil.  This in itself gave me a view of Germany that I didn’t otherwise get in some other countries.  Certainly seeing a country through someone else’s eyes is a different perspective than seeing it through your own.  Although my eyes still do a fair share of their own looking.

The dramatic statue outside of the Altes Museum in Berlin

There is a stateliness about Germany.  There is also a feeling about Germany that is hard for me to put into words.  Perhaps it is because I see it through a filter that includes the knowledge of the last two wars.  I don’t know if I do that alone or if it is done generally throughout the country as reminders and references to its past.  But it is something that lends to a different feel than when you visit Britain for example.  This too though could also be influenced by the fact that I am British and not German so Britain clicks with me more naturally.  However I could say that I did not experience this nuance that I am referring to in other countries, just Germany.  And what is that nuance?  Hard to put into words, but one example might be that given the amount of damage Germany received during the end of World War Two, their major cities, like Cologne and Berlin, do not have as many authentic ancient ruins as those found elsewhere.  This is unfortunate but is just the case.  Definitely Cologne got the worst of that.

Remainders of the wall

Also I was only in the North of Germany and certainly one has to realize that the south has a feel and a culture of its own that can’t be assumed to be the same as the north.  So of course this comparative is only from that experience.

The Field Stone Church near Jurgen's

From an architectural perspective, Germany definitely had its own feel.  Lots of brick and stone dominate the buildings.  The red brick in the north is distinctive.  Significant buildings are always very large and imposing.  The building in Berlin rival buildings from Roman times.  Although lots of buildings have had to be reconstructed from war damage, there are still some spectacular structures that have escaped much damage and still remain in their historical glory.  Lubeck of course had some very unique and lovely buildings.

Those distinctive towers at Lubeck

I was not overly enthralled with the German diet and found that some of my friends who are German but travel also prefer foods that are not traditionally German.  They like Asian or Indian food.  But the prices for food in the grocery stores was reasonable with lots to choose from.  Prices for food in Italy are cheaper but Germany is still affordable compared to the likes of Sweden and Norway.  Also wine and beer are quite inexpensive.  Not quite as cheap as Italy, but pretty darn close.

A funny thing I came across in Berlin

Except for Berlin, I was surprised that there were not nearly as many people who speak English as I would have expected.  In Cologne especially, some of the younger people did but many of the people I would encounter in shops and in needing to ask questions, did not speak much English.  In turn they seemed like they didn’t have time or couldn’t be bother if I couldn’t speak German.  My Cologne friends agreed that this is sometimes the reaction.  Berlin, most spoke English, so I did not have the same problem.  Having encountered and worked hard on each language I was exposed to, but the time I hit Germany, I think my brain was on overload, and except for the few basic things I needed, I did not manage to learn much of the language as it did not come easily to me.  I think I have a preference for Latin based language and their sound like French, Italian and Spanish.  Although I have found Dutch to be the language that is most displeasing the my ears.  It always sounds as though they are about to spit all over you.

Iconic red brick churches

Travelling by train in Germany is very efficient and is the most economical I believe.  I very much enjoyed every train trip.  The countryside is always very beautiful.  Especially along rivers.  Going from Cologne to Luxembourg afforded me this experience as one little town after another popped up along the river always dominated by a church spire and some castle ruin that can be seen on the highest  point.  I liked the fashions that I saw in Berlin as anything goes, but did not find that I was as drawn to the fashion in other areas.  Compared to Italy, I don’t think Germany tries to categorize itself as a fashion mecca.

A little Cologne corner

For the most part, Berlin was the friendliest.  I don’t think it is on purpose, but I think due to the pride of the German people it can come across as not really approachable.  Once you get past that and approach them and make conversation, they are quite friendly.  But it was rare on my trip that any German person initiated conversation with me.  I felt that they kept to themselves more.

Funky detail

This head was looking towards the church - this was St. Germain I believe

Unfortunately my time in Germany, except for a couple of days in Berlin, was not with the best weather.  I know the Germans love the sun because whenever it did make its rare appearance everyone was out in droves.  I would like to still visit places like Munich, Dresden, Hamburg and the lesser known places.  I really love the medieval elements that persist in Germany and of course Germany was a significant part of the Roman empire so the history related to that also appeals to me.  So cost-wise it is an affordable place to be.  Hostel costs are the same as pretty much everywhere throughout Europe – so not cheap cheap.  Rail travel is the way to go although you can get around quite easily with EasyJet.  I would choose EasyJet over Ryanair as the former uses the main airports and not these ones that are way out of your actual destination.  I think the next time I go to Germany I would endeavour to explore the less known places for all their charms and history.  Of course what will linger most for me regarding Germany are the new friends I made.

An interesting sculpture in Berlin