Germany was a Revelation

Posted by By at 30 December, at 08 : 55 AM Print

From my Archives

 

I have been to Germany (official name: Bundesrepublik Deutschland) before, but this was the first time I went to the country thrice in the same year (2015).

Fate and circumstance conspired to make my journeys possible. My first travel to the country was in the late 1980s when I accompanied a friend to Dusseldorf. Then, my impression of the country and the people were not very favourable. I wrote a stinging rebuke on my return. I had another occasion to lambast Germany after the Solingen incident when, on the night of 29 May 1993, a Turkish family of five were killed in a racist arson attack.

My first travel this year was in August when I went with friends and family to visit the majestic Museum Insel Hombroich. We spent one wonderful afternoon in the serene environment and had a most splendid ‘natural’ food at the facility’s canteen.

In September my friend and I went on a three-week holiday that took us to many beautiful German towns and sites. We spent some time in Hamburg before we went on to the beautiful habour town of Wismar. Let’s read from Wikipedia: “Wismar is a port and Hanseatic city in Northern Germany on the Baltic Sea, in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. It is located about 45 km east of Lübeck, 30 km north of Schwerin, and is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region.” The air in Wismar is so pure you can feel it coursing through your system.  We walked the ancient cobblestone of the town and saw buildings that look like they have been there since the beginning of time. Little wonder that UNESCO adopted some of them as World Heritage Sites.

From Wismar, we sent to Stralsund, another beautiful and Hanseatic town with a quayside that simply takes your breath away. Stralsund is a most beautiful city with an unhurried, almost lazy look of a village. It looks like the people of Stralsund take their leisure extremely serious as by 3:30 pm, the shops started closing their doors.

We took a train ride to Praha and touched the forested park at Sassnitz.

All in all, it was a most enjoyable holiday and we came back with very positive impressions of Germany.

A few weeks later, a friend wangled an invitation that allowed me to attend the 2015 FOME Symposium at the Deutsche Welle Akademie in Bonn from October 2-3. I was suitably impressed and wowed when a journalist agreed to provide me with accommodation for four days. You can imagine my shock when a total stranger handed over the keys to his modern apartment to me to share with his young family. I had a very good time with my new family and love their little boy, Theo, enormously. He was a bundle of joy, so full of life and he regaled me with many great entertainments.

I might not agree with proceedings at the Symposium, but I was suitably impressed with Bonn, the former capital of the republic. Bonn is a relatively large city (population 311k), but it manages to retain a village ambiance. My new friend lent his bicycle to me and it allowed me to see much ancient city. I loved cycling on the bank of the Rhine and was fascinated to watch the reflections of the sun on the water as it goes down in the evening.

I took away very strong and positive impressions of Germany. I find it unfortunate that the most important country in Europe remain relatively unknown or continue to be badly viewed, especially in Africa.

For example, I am relatively well-traveled and have lived in Europe for many years, I can say that most of the negative stereotypes of Germany are unfounded. For example, having lived in the Netherlands for several years, I can say that there is no way an argument can be sustained that the Dutch are more tolerant than the Germans. That the Germans are worst racists than the Dutch is also a patent and absurd lie. This can easily be debunked by citing just the good example of the fact that while there are many Africans in high positions at the DW Akademie, the sight is not something one sees in any studio in the Netherlands. The Dutch prefer their media to remain as white as their snow.

Here are some pictures:

 

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