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Impressions of Russian family travelling to Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria (South Germany) for the first time in summer 2011

To begin with, we had big expectations about Igo program installed in my smartphone. However, we had a lot of problems with our Samsung Amoled navigator. It lost GPS signal, lost our car position and tried to change the route constantly. And it took a lot of time for the device to find our location on the map every time we switched it on. But at last we were used to this behavior of our smartphone. And my conclusion was that it’s possible to travel with it, but it’s useful to have a map with you just in case.

My first introduction with Germany happened from the board of Air Berlin plane, through the window. German views were magnificent! Hills and forests were everywhere. And the houses were so smart like toy houses. After landing we had an opportunity to learn them more detailed. Our sky impression wasn’t false. German houses were sweet and neat even if they were very old. Cleanness and order were everywhere. When I stood at the sightseeing platform near Neuschwanstein Castle (a visit card of Bavarian Alp), looking at the valley below, I had a feeling that it wasn’t a real country, but a magnificent picture of a talented painter. The view was so unreal and picturesque. Too perfect to be the truth.

German people were friendly and helpful. For example, when we were staying in the street and discussing where we should go, one German woman stopped, offered her help in English and explained us where to go. We met Russians almost everywhere: during our trips to castles, in shops, etc. They also were very friendly too and helped us with an advice if they could. It was very pleasant. For example, we found out from the Russian married couple that audio-guides or descriptions of the place in Russian should be in every touristic place or an Info office. We couldn’t believe in it at first, but to our surprise, it was true and helped us very much during our numerous excursions. A funny situation happened when I asked for the Russian description of the castle in the castle ticket office. A cashier had been searching for it very long time. When she took next brochure and wanted to lay it back with words, “It’s Japanese,” I suddenly saw it was a Russian one! It was possible that we were the first Russians who visited this medieval castle, so she’d never seen the Russian letters before.

We were impressed how many bicycles were in Tubingen, the first town in our route. People of all ages were riding in the streets. You could find no roads for walking people, but roads for bicycles were everywhere. As a result, there was so silent in the small streets of the town, that you could hear only bird songs.

One more surprising notice, it was very difficult to find a supermarket in Tubingen. We found only one by happy chance. Also there was a big problem with restaurants in this traditional university town. There were some near city central square, that’s all. There were a lot of cafes, ice-cream cafes and bakeries, but a lack of restaurants. It was a puzzle for us where tourists and citizens had a meal  in Tubingen. To our luck, we stayed in a hotel-restaurant and could have a supper there. But to my taste, the meal was too salty, spicy and not healthy. However, we had no choice. My husband’s dream to taste Bavarian sausages was carried out only in München. To my taste these traditional sausages have much in common with our hotdogs…

After visiting several towns in the south Germany we realized the common features for all of them. It was very difficult to find where to have a meal if you didn’t want to visit beer pubs. And all shops, including shopping streets closed at 8 p.m. the latest. So, it was absolutely nothing to do in the evening, and all tourists disappeared. It was a very strange situation for us because we used to check out clothes and souvenir shops in the evening in other countries where we had been before.

I couldn’t say it about all Germany, but in my opinion people lived very well in the south part of the country. They had everything that usual person can wish. I wondered what the Germans could dream about? The state took care about their comfort. Their towns and streets were so cosy and clean. So many traffic signs, roads of excellent quality, rest parks everywhere and they built more sport stadiums and entertainment parks. The Germans didn’t work much. Most shops closed at 5 p.m. It looked like they didn’t want to earn more money, because they had them enough and enjoyed spending time with their families and friends, or doing sport.

I remembered Stuttgart, the last town we visited, as a city of roses, parks and hills. Roses were everywhere. It even seemed that nobody cared about them and they grew themselves. I considered this city’s a comfortable place to live in. We met some Russians who lived there.

Also, we saw a protest action on the Palace square of Stuttgart. Guys protested against water pipeline that damaged the view of the city, because the pipes were located on the ground. The demand was to remove them underground. We had such a problem in Moscow too, but, of course, nobody would protest about it. We had so many more important problems. If Germans protested against so small problem it looked like they didn’t have global ones like we had in Russia. We could protest every day but so little Russian people were brave enough to do it.

I wondered what Germans would do if they had such problems like we had with destroying of the forests in Moscow region. I didn’t know if they had such problems in Germany or not. However, I read in some article about Finland, that when some time ago officials in Helsinki decided to build a new branch of public transport through Helsinki park, citizens were against and they could persuade the Government to pass the law that forbidden such building in Helsinki forests and parks forever. Unfortunately, our Russian philosophy always was like “it could happen everywhere but not in my backyard”.

 Author: Yana Serebryanaya

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