Have you noticed that people tend to share their bad experiences online, especially in groups on social media? Well, this topic led to the post you’re about to read. A friend of mine read some really negative stuff about immigration on Facebook and I told her not to believe everything she read online. People love to rant on Facebook, after all.
I realised that I’ve been doing the same, even on my blog. I’ve shared the differences between South Africa and Germany, the oddities we’ve encountered here, and even some of the bad experiences we’ve had, but I’ve never talked about what I love.
So, here we are.
Parks and Nature
I can’t get enough of the abundance of trees and greenery we have here in Germany. My native Johannesburg has a few forested belts here and there, but can’t hold a candle to other parts of South Africa, never mind Europe.
For this reason, I must share my sadness with you over the Knysna Fires before I continue with the official post. Twenty-six fires were reported to be raging in parts of the beautiful Garden Route, and have claimed 9 lives and destroyed around 150 homes (at the time of writing this post). It seems that most of the fires have been contained, but thousands of people have been upheaved from their homes, while others have lost everything in the fire. At the same time, the Cape storm has claimed some lives too, with gale force winds and frigid weather (and more freezing circumstances to come). Please, if you have the means, take a moment to donate something towards the relief effort. These people really need our aid.
Having said all of that makes writing the rest of this a little more difficult. Still, I’m here to tell you what I love about Germany, so I’ll try my best.
I love that we can walk less than a kilometre in any direction and reach a park. I love that the Ruhr is close enough for river picnics. And I love that we can have nature hikes in a number of small forests close to home. In every park is a small playground, which is Kayla’s favourite thing ever.
Germany has some malls, certainly, but for the most part, the shops are found in the inner city streets. I love the European way of shopping, because it means more time outdoors.
Again, I’m from Jo’burg, so shopping like Europeans took a minute to get used to. In Johannesburg, almost everything is located inside a mall, including roofed parking for your car. You drive to the mall, do your shopping and go home without a raindrop falling on your head. In Germany, you most likely came to the inner city with the train or bus, so the only cover you have is your umbrella.
We now shop in any kind of weather, even snow, armed with our umbrellas and warm jackets. And you know what? It’s freeing. I love that we can be outside in any kind of weather and have a good time.
Another thing I love about the market streets is that there’s usually something going on. From stalls setting up in the walkways to random brass bands playing a marching tune, the inner city is always alive with activity.
Most city centres have interactive fountains or statues for kids to play with, usually surrounded by cafes. This is a great way to let the kids rid themselves of energy (and learn something without realising it 😉 ) while you take a breather.
Sundays and Public Holidays
On those days, everything is closed, except some of the restaurants. I love that a place as busy as Düsseldorf can come to a semi-standstill on a Sunday. Germans are serious about their ‘free days’.
In South Africa, everything is always open, even on the major holidays. This means that cashiers or shop assistants have to work and don’t get to spend the holidays with family. That’s not the case here. Even the folks earning minimum wage are given the free time they deserve, while everyone else gets to spend at least one day a week with their family, instead of shopping.
Fairs, Festivals and Events
From medieval day, to family day, to summer music festivals, there’s always something happening somewhere, from the riverfront to the city centre. You can always expect to find a reason to gather up the family and make a trip to one of these, and often, entrance is free.
In fact, you’ll probably be given a lot of freebies just for being there.
I love the culture of togetherness, even if most people here don’t ever talk to anyone they don’t know. 😛
You can expect to find at least one bakery on every block, but you’ll love them all. The bread and pastries here are legendary.
And the variety! Don’t even get me started there. We’ve learned to adore some German treats, like the lebkuchen biscuits I’m always going on about. If you’re a fan of bread, this is the place to be.
Random Things I Love
- Faster internet.
- The culture of recycling. Bins for recycling can be found at most supermarkets, as well as every few blocks in residential areas.
- The same goes for donating of old clothes and shoes, with donation bins at most supermarkets. The clothes go to those in need and, because it’s so easy to donate, the bins are filled up every week.
- The kid-friendly attitude. Children are treated often! We’ve received free books, sweets and toys for Kayla everywhere. (If only it were easy to find a kindergarten too. O_O)
- German coffee, spätzle and apfelstrudel. Oh, and Haribo sweets.
Thanks for stopping by! Have a good weekend.