Bethany's Thoughts on Germany, October 12, 2006

written by bethany on October 19th, 2006 @ 08:13 AM

I think I could become a lowlander as I have been stunned by this region of Germany. It probably helps that the weather the last couple of days has been sunny and the land has been flat: easier cycling. I always did call myself a fair-weather cyclist. So you must wonder why I would head out on a trip mid-September to November. Optimism, I suppose. And an almost decade removal from experiencing Vancouver winter rains. The rain was definitely discouraging so the break in the weather has been fabulous. I hear we may be back to rain tomorrow. Oh, well. I guess I’ll have to deal with it.

Most of our time is spent in the counytryside with very little interaction with anyone but each other. We are seeing sides of German culture but without spending time interacting with the locals, we cannot claim immersion. The area where we have spent the last couple of days has been primarily lowlands with dikes and ditches or canals. The land is FLAT. Saskatchewan is not flat, for thoses who thought it was. Or at least the areas that are as flat as this, do not cover as much area. And flat is not boring. There are canals and dikes and green pastures of cows, sheep, and the occassional goat. Roads flanks by old oak trees complete with falling acorns (which the colors have not turned yet). Picturesque farmyards side-by-side with others in small villages. Large house and stable complexes mostly of red brick and with tiles on the steep roofs. Gardens and window boxes still in bloom with asters, marigolds, roses, and chysanthemums. It is so hard to tell what is new and what is old for buildings. New construction is still done here usually with brick and not timber-framing as per Canadian building practices.

Cycling along the Nord-Ostee-Kanal and the Elbe have been definite highlights of this trip. There is something about cycling with a sheep pasture on one side and the sea on the other less than 3 meters away. Even areas of the asphalt had a thin layer of sand that had blown up from the beach.

As we ventured out of Denmark we left he comfort of English behind. It isn’t that everybody speaks English in Denmark, they don’t. It is just that it is so prevalent. TV shows and movies are usually subtitled and not dubbed, so Danes do get exposed to English on a regular basis. Not quite the same in Germany. There are people here who do speak English but it is often not who you anticipate. The young soldiers we encountered a couple of days ago did not speak English but a 70-year-old lady in a campground did quite compentently. We are thankful that we do not have to rely upon our German. But we know that we could survive quite well without knowing exactly what the other person is saying. We’ve had some fun English/German interactions and think that we have probably understood each other. And no one here has asked us if we are from the U.S. They usually guess Britain or Denmark first and then maybe Swedan. The reactions to the fact we are Canadian and are cycling across Europe (or at least part) are often humerous and very friendly.

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