This winter break, I was lucky enough to spend time in beautiful Germany and Italy for the holidays. My second time in Germany and first time in Italy. I was particularly looking forward to it because
Christmas in Germany!!! I mean this is where the Christmas market was invented right? I always imagined Europe to be more the “real Christmas” as it’s closer to the North Pole and the St. Nicolas to have come from Europe, right? I was excited to spend the holidays at a German home with German traditions and observe and experience the whole thing.
There’s a lot I saw and felt so I plan to split the experience into several post. Hope you like it.
So here is where I spent the majority of time. This is where my bf is from and it’s here on the left side of Germany. About a 2 1/2 hour ride from Munich airport, which we drove on the autoban – Its true there are parts where THERE IS NO SPEED LIMIT! and this is where you think, OK, I get it. Germans are good at their cars and they’re confident enough to have real people use it for its full capacity. Where else do you see in the world that let’s people go 280km/hour on the road with other drivers? Most cars don’t get to use half their speedometers capabilities and I feel bad for those Porches and Lamborginis driving around in Tokyo pumping up their engines going 80k.
- It is the 6th largest city and the 4th largest metropolitan area in Germany
- It’s famous for being the home of Mercedes and Porsche and sometimes referred to as the “Cradle of the Automobile”. – the automobile and the motorcycle is said to have been invented here and museums are a big attraction for visitors.
- It is considered a wealthier and intellectual city with industries in automotive, tech, science research etc., (like how we imagine Germans to be). But it has the most patents and designs registered in Germany so hey, that’s something to be proud of!
Here’s the view of the city. in a valley.
And the magnificent city center plaza. Governmental buildings, museums shopping centers concentrated in the center of the city.
The picturesque city is spacious and compact. Coming from Tokyo where every inch of the city is built up with high rises and no space to spare, it was refreshing to see architectural beauty standing so boldly with space around it. And it is so compact that 10 min. away from the city center, you’re already in the suburbs with rolling hills of farmland and vineyards. Not to be stereotypical but there were a lot of cabbage fields!
In the village/ town? I was staying at 10 min outside Stuttgart, the architectural interest to my eye was still the same. Churches, homes, stores, all seemed to have been built out from a fairytale. From Grimm’s or Andersen’s stories of Snow white or Hansel and Gretel. People really live in these houses? Aren’t they elves and aren’t they going come out dancing and singing in their lederhosen?
But no, they were normal Germans and they do live modernly in these traditional architecture homes. Beautiful.
We looked for a cafe to warm ourselves and was lead to this. I mean come on! How is this a real cafe?!
In Japan, we call these kinds of fairy tale like or romantic things “Merhen”. We say that about an atmosphere or even fashion, if they are wearing something cute and lovely like lolita style. In search of this world in English, I learned that “Merhen” was actually “Marchen“, a German word which means fairy tales! Exactly!
One of the cute findings in Stuttgart – Cone shaped cabbages. How cute is this? I didn’t have a chance to eat them but apparently they are sweet and a product of this region, even made into a statue.
Loved checking out the local farmer’s market.
Another thing that I loved was the public transportation. I’m a big advocate for public transportation in big cities, coming from Tokyo but what impressed me about it here was the “honor system”.
We hopped onto the bus/train with no passing gate and no apparent ticket purchase. I asked if it was free, but apparently she held a ticket that covered us but didn’t show anyone or pass through any machine. It is assumed that you buy a ticket before you board so that when the random person comes to check, you prove it. If you don’t have a ticket, you pay a fine but more importantly, it embarasses you to have taken advantage of this beautiful trust system and discourages you from doing it again. What would happen if this was implemented in Japan or other countries? Interesting to know.
Surprisingly for a city of Porsche and Mercedes, not all cars were that .There were still VWs of course and French cars, even Japanese, Korean and Japanese cars! I don’t know why that would particularly surprise me but I guess I was being stereo typical and thinking everyone drives a German car. Dumb assumption.
Overall, the impression was as they are known for, organised, controlled, orderly. They take their recycling seriously and they value good behaviour. A very comfortable environment coming from Japan. People say there are man things similar about Germans and Japanese and not just the war. The way people are conservative and like to follow rules. They don’t like things to be or people to be out of line. “The nail that sticks out gets hammered”. Probably still relvant to both societies. Things work and are on time and they like solving problems. Have extremely high level or road work and things are fixed overnight, quick and efficiently. All things to be very proud.
Sadly, some idiot has also told me that what we also have in common is the “lack of humor”. Well, not true. We’re not the most outwardly comical and goofy people in the world but maybe the seriousness gets in the way to perceive us as such, but we do have a sense of humor!!
Anyway, this was post 1 of my German journey. More to come in the next post!