As our days in Germany dwindle, I have taken to thinking about the things I will miss about living here. In no particular order, here are some things that have impressed me.
Quiet. Germany is very noise-conscious. Almost all structures are made of concrete, so closing my windows turns off much of the outside noise. The people are quiet. The airports are quiet. You can sit in a waiting area with no TV blasting at you. On Sundays, everything is closed and even quieter than normal, which removes many temptations and lets Sunday be a day of rest.
Flowers. Window boxes spill over with vibrant color on the side of half-timbered farmhouses. Blumen fields abound for you to cut your own bouquet. Even the fields of canola add to the beauty.
History. I live fairly close to the northern limits of the Roman empire and have eaten in restaurants that have existed longer than the United States. Castles and palaces abound. Many cathedrals are from a time when there was only one church in Europe. It is humbling to walk among places that have existed for so long.
Bicycling. If I will have a regret leaving Germany, it will be that I didn’t bike more. There are bike paths everywhere, not just in urban areas, but running through the country as well. They are well maintained and well-used.
Slow restaurants. We don’t eat out a lot, but it is enjoyable to not feel rushed. When you get a table, it is yours until you’re done with it, and the food is made fresh to order. It is a much better experience than dining out in the States.
Cobblestones. They are not some quaint relic from bygone days that are slowly being paved over. Many downtown areas still feature cobblestones prominently, especially the older sections of towns. Maybe it’s because we frequent the touristy areas of towns, but they are commonplace and something about them pleases me.
The sun. Sitting here on a bright sunny morning with a blue sky, green grass, and red tiled roofs outside my window, I don’t understand the complaint about it always being gray here. (Maybe it’s because Americans don’t open their rolladen?) If anything, it was the short days in December that I struggled with. When the sun shines, Bavaria is beautiful.
Law and order. Germans follow rules. While driving, I have been passed on the right only twice in the last year. When we go to the grocery for a few things, my wife puts them in her purse until we get to the cashier. There are no open container laws. We walked through the Christmas markets drinking glühwein and no one was loud or drunk. Every time I’ve ridden on a train, I’ve bought a ticket, got on, and got off with no person or machine ever asking to see my ticket.