So, I’m in Europe.
To be accurate I should say we are in Europe.
Here’s the story: Grandma and Grandpa L are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary! ‘Come to Rome and celebrate with us,’ they said. ‘Okay, yes please, and thank you!’ we said. And now we’re on our way to Rome via the circuitous route.
More specificity: we’re in Italy.
But, first we were in Germany, where I now intend to live some day, just for your information.
Anyway, we flew from the airport at home (highly unusual and convenient) to Philly, where we had a 7 + 1/2 hour layover. The first three and a half were planned and in the airport. The next four hours, however, we spent on our mercifully sparsely populated plane, which sat upon the tarmac like some sort of maimed seagull in a Walmart parking lot.
“It’ll just be ten or fifteen minutes,” they said. “The maintenance guys just need to reset the transponder.”
Well, they replaced said transponder, ran extensive tests, and at along last gave us leave to depart, exactly four hours behind schedule. It could have been much worse, of course. The plane could have been full; as it was we each had two seats on which to spread our stuff or curl in the fetal position in an attempt to sleep. Also, they turned on our personal, seat-back entertainment screens about two hours in to the delay, so we could pass the time watching tv shows or movies or playing games.
Our time in Germany, once we finally arrived, was brief but exceedingly enjoyable and impressive. From our hotel in central Munich, we visited Dachau the concentration camp during the remainder of the day we flew in and took the entire second day to see two castles a few hours from Munich.
Because I have neither the time, inclination, nor patience to type up a detailed description of our activities those two days, pictures will have to stand in the stead of most my words. I do, however, have some brief observations and statements to offer:
- Germans (at least those I observed in Munich and the places we visited) dress far better than Americans, especially guys. Maybe my idea of typical American apparel is skewed since I live in a beach town, though.
- I could pick American tourists out of the crowds with alarming ease and accuracy, basing my guesses on their clothing alone and confirming them by listening as they passed.
- There is no unspoken social rule about benches. Correct me if I am in error, but I am certain there is an understanding in the US that the bench I sit upon is my bench, and no one else shall sit upon it or even ask permission to do so, because that’s weird. In Germany people repeatedly sat down on the unoccupied end of the bench upon which I sat, without so much as inquiring if it was occupied. It makes perfect sense to do so, but the entitled American that resides in the corner of my brain despite my efforts to evict it, tempted me to haughtily demand what they thought they were doing sitting on my bench.
- A social stigma against smoking does not exist. At home smokers tend to stay a reasonable distance from crowds – though never far enough away for me – politely aware as they are that non-smokers do not like smoke blowing in their faces. Not in Germany. Those smokers just elbow right in with everyone else and spread their carcinogenic fumes everywhere they trod. It should be noted, of course, that everyone smokes in Europe. Really. Everyone. At least, that’s what I’ve been told and have previously observed.
- Germans have well-behaved dogs that make frequent forays into public without snuffling and jumping and pulling everywhere.
- German trains leave on time. To the minute. It is wonderful.
- Besides the smoking, Germany is very clean and well-kept.
- The countryside is as quaint and beautiful and floral and green and sprawling and gorgeous as those pictures you have seen always led you to believe.
- Where are the vegetables? Backyard gardens abound but salads seemed scarce in cafes at which we ate. I think this is probably just a problem with our dining habits, though.
- I want to live in Germany.
- I had forgotten how frustrating it is to travel to a country where I understand not a word of the language. It’s been a while. I felt stupid.
- I want to learn German.
[To see a picture in the gallery in full-screen, just click on it.]
I shall blog again – about Italy! – when I can, though who knows when that may be. Not all the hotels have free or functional wifi. Unfortunately, I am at their mercy.