Auf Wiedersehen Deutschland
As the saying goes, “All good things must come to an end” and so it is with our European adventure. What started off as a two year “Schnuppertour” (roughly translated as a trial tour or taster) ended up as a three and a half year experience of a lifetime – many friends made & more places visited than I could possibly mention!
We will be heading back to Australia to reignite our lives back in Queensland – landing in Brisbane on 23 December.
However, our last six weeks in Germany were filled with activity – some interesting, some more mundane & some more than a little sad. Germany is a fantastic country to live in (if you can put up with six months of winter – but that’s northern Europe as a whole) but without doubt it’s the people we are going to miss most.
Our “Wind down” period started in earnest once we had returned from our Bratislava trip in October. We had to start readying our apartment for new tenants which not only included repainting the whole apartment (a condition of the lease) but also divesting ourselves of all the furniture & household items that we have accumulated over the last three or so years!
Thankfully, most of the latter was taken care of by staff at the school where Iris has been working. As an International school, staff come from all corners of the globe so there are always people on the lookout for furniture & household items. What those staff did not take was then put up on Facebook Marketplace – it’s amazing how quickly items are snapped up there!
Painting the apartment turned out to be less of a task than I had imagined. We held a painting day at the apartment – our friends were more than willing to lend a hand – followed by a BBQ & drinks. We actually had more people than we had painting jobs! Such a great group of people.
During November & December we soaked up as much of the German culture as we could – from Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Markets) to revisiting some of our favourite restaurants & taverns (with friends of course!).
Our last week in the country we spent staying with our good friends Christoph & Melanie who lived only a few hundred metres from our apartment in Buchschlag and that was such a godsend – as well as being very enjoyable – they are two very special people who we get along with so well. We will miss them!
When our final day arrived Christoph & Melanie insisted that they take us to the airport – which was just as well as trying to get there with all of our belongings would have proved difficult. As it was we had to repack a couple of our cases to redistribute weight as they were over allowances.
We both we wearing several layers of clothing (with small items stuffed in our pockets!) in an effort to comply with luggage restrictions, which was fine in Germany (it being winter and all) but we were going to look very overdressed when we landed in Australia!
So, what will I miss about Germany? here’s a few things that come to mind (but no doubt I’m going to come up with more in the months ahead back in Australia):
- Cakes! The sheer variety of delicious treats will be hard to replace
- The autobahn – being able to drive with no upper speed limit. There’s nothing quite like driving on a highway at 225kmh
- Knowing that you will not be “Blocked” by a driver who is in the overtaking lane & not overtaking anyone
- German beer – not only are there endless varieties but it’s all natural, no chemicals allowed!
- Potatoes, whilst you get these the world over, the Germans have so many delicious ways to prepare & present this delicious vegetable
- Riding a bike on public roads knowing that drivers will always give way
- The flea markets – where looking for bargains is almost as interesting as watching the different sorts of people in attendance
- The huge variety of festivals that abound (during the warmer months)
- The amazing Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas markets) that pop up in every town & village during advent
- Glühwein – there’s nothing like standing outside in sub zero temperatures whilst this delicious liquid warms you up from the inside
- The cost of alcohol – so much cheaper than Australia – where else can you get a six pack of beer for €3?
- The ability to hop on a plane or drive your car & within two hours be in a different country with different language, culture & architectural styles
- Public transport that not only works (most of the time) but is economical – one ticket, one fare type for the entire day
But, like anywhere, there are some things I won’t miss:
- The feeling that you have just committed a cardinal sin when you cross the road at traffic lights when the don’t walk sign is on (even though there is zero traffic around!)
- Not being able to pop to the shops on a Sunday because they’re all closed
- The endless greyness that is winter, everyone loves a change of season but 5 months of grey, dark & cold days is way too much of what could have been a good thing!
- Having to concentrate 110% on what is being said to you whenever you venture outside so that you have a half decent chance of understanding them
- Being approached by street beggars everywhere you go
- Having to tell the waiters that you want ”Still” water (& having to pay for it!)
- Not getting ice in your drink – even in the middle of summer
Thank you Germany for showing us what a great country you are & thank you to all those people who went out of their way to help us settle in to the country & whose friendship will likely last a lifetime – we will be back!