After 18 months in South America, I am back in Europe. I have already written extensively about the reasons for my return. Here are the first impressions from the old continent:
- You cannot imagine how happy I was when I set foot on European soil in Funchal on Madeira.Green, a pleasant climate, wonderful architecture, no more noise, newspapers in English and German for the first time in one and a half years, large parks.
- I was seriously impressed by Portugal. In Sintra alone, I saw more different styles of architecture than in all of South America.
- Traveling through Germany by car or train is idyllic. Green everywhere, neat villages, hilly, forests of trees instead of billboards with advertisement.
- But Germany also appears too spruced up. Everything is clinically clean, as if treated antiseptically every day. Even the roads are so clean that you could eat from them. Hedges and lawns are trimmed better than my hair. The cars are cleaner than my desk.
- But life is lacking in all of this. You can walk through villages or residential neighborhoods without seeing a single person in the street, in the gardens or in the park.
- What I do appreciate however is that you can walk through the forest for hours without being attacked by dogs.
- Latin Americans who had already been to Germany sometimes asked me: “Why are there no children in your country?” Now I understand the question. There are really not many children in Germany, and the few apparently never leave their rooms.
- My Couchsurfing host in Portugal put down the shopping bags in front of her house and we had to walk back to the car around the corner to get more bags. “Shall I watch the bags?” I asked. “No,” Joana laughed, “you are in Europe again. Nobody is going to steal anything here.”
- The greatest joy is to be able to sleep through the night without being interrupted by barking dogs/music/fireworks/religious processions/screaming/shouting/honking cars.
- On the first day, I had currywurst and spezi, two culinary delights that haven’t conquered the world yet. But I guess I haven’t fully arrived in Germany until I have had a döner kebab again.
- Why are all dishes in German restaurants sufficient for two people? It’s almost like in Cochabamba.
- I still have a few Eastern Caribbean dollars from Antigua. If anyone among my reader collects coins and banknotes from far-away countries, please contact me.
- What I miss most about South America is that you can go out at almost any time of the night and you will get anything from hamburgers, fruit juices, minced meat, light bulbs, notepads to toilet paper within a radius of 500 meters. In Germany, on the other hand, you need to plan your shopping trip like a military campaign because of the restricted opening hours and the small number of shops.
- Speaking of military campaigns; my parents have realized that they don’t have much time left and they have belatedly entrusted me with investigating our family history. Although I have been to 55 countries already, it turns out that there are a few places that members of my grandparents’ generation visited which I haven’t seen yet: they attacked Norway, Poland, Russia and Northern Africa and were imprisoned in the USA and in Yugoslavia. Two granduncles emigrated to the United States.Insofar as the research will yield interesting results, I may therefore post something about my family from time to time. Because maybe others have questions on which archives to approach and on how to handle this quest systematically, too.
- I am also interested in reconstructing my grandfathers’ “travel routes” in World War II and to travel along that route now to discover and portray how much Europe has changed in only two generations.
- But the coming months I will mainly spend at an undisclosed location in Germany to put the adventures of the past years on paper.
- It’s nice to live in a house with thousands of books again.
- But I don’t have any emotional feeling of being “back home”. I am happy to be in Europe, but when I return to Bavaria after years of traveling and I notice that everything is still the same as it was 2, 5 or 7 years ago, it rather reaffirms my opinion that I didn’t miss anything here.
- Returning to Germany after one and a half years in South America offers a drastic shock regarding the visual attractiveness of our compatriots. And that’s putting it mildly. For that reason alone, Germany should accept more immigrants.
- But it’s great how long it remains light at night! Closer to the equator, the sun goes to sleep around 6 p.m., whether it’s winter or summer, and there isn’t any long twilight either. In Germany now, it’s light enough until almost 10 p.m.
- Sometimes, I still dream in Spanish. I hope I won’t lose the language too quickly.
- And, my dear European friends, what is with that deplorable custom of going out without a hat?In South America, even the children have more style.
- And now I have to plan my birthday trip to a yet undetermined location.
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All of these points I can really understand … super true and funny :)
(e.g. “In Germany, on the other hand, you need to plan your shopping trip like a military campaign because of the restricted opening hours and the small number of shops.” :) :) :)
Are you suffering from the same problem?
I wanted to get some simple medicine on a weekday at 7 p.m and I had to check for the “emergency night pharmacy”. In Bolivia or Peru, I would have walked around the corner and a smiling lady would have waited there at least until 10 p.m.
Awesome Andreas! Who are the guys on the black and white photo? One has facial features looking similar to yours (in my point of view).
The one on the right is my paternal grandfather (whom I never met because he died too young). The photo was taken at some hospital during World War II, where he was treated for being shot in the foot in Poland. Considering how World War II progressed and the atrocities committed by the Wehrmacht in Eastern Europe, he was actually lucky to get shot in the foot so early. It finished the war for him and he could go home.
By the way: a lot Germans lack a sense of style but they are not really ugly.
“They are not really ugly” is a nice compliment. :-)
Some years ago, I stopped off in Germany after visiting Ukraine and it seemed too clean, too perfect. Beautiful, but sterile..at least in the places I went to. (I’m a Canadian with German/Russian roots). Enjoy your new life chapter. Hope you keep blogging.
Oh yes, I will blog even more now because I have a bit more stability and thus more time.
I am glad someone understands what I meant. “Sterile” is exactly the word that comes to mind. Some villages/towns look like film sets that haven’t been used yet.
I am looking forward to visiting Ukraine this year.
Reblogged this on AirGap Anonymity Collective and commented:
After 18 months in South America, I am back in Europe. I have already written extensively about the reasons for my return. Here are the first impressions from the old continent: You cannot imagine how happy I was when I set foot on European soil in Funchal on Madeira. Green, a pleasant climate, wonderful architecture, no more noise, newspapers in English and German for the first time in one and a half years, large parks. I was seriously impressed by Portugal. In Sintra alone, I saw more different styles of architecture than in all of South America. Traveling through Germany by car or train is idyllic. Green everywhere, neat villages, hilly, forests of trees instead of billboards with advertisement.
Returning to Europe is always like coming home to a familiar bed. Even as an Irishman who detests Irish society (the politics, the media, the inequality, the ignorance … not the people) but loves the Irish countryside and the wilds of the Wild Atlantic Way I always look down on Dublin Bay on the approach to Dublin Airport and there is always a jump in my gut like meeting an old crush. Europe is the most diverse continent and after reading this post I clicked and read https://andreasmoser.blog/2017/04/12/return-to-europe/ – I could not agree more with you that the opinion that Europe is not diverse is a liberal myth, mainly proclaimed by liberals who have never set foot outside of their parish let alone their country, or if they have, have done so on one of those sanitised package holiday experiences where the judgment of the experience is “how much like “home” the destination is but just with sunshine or snow, of course”. Europe is a treasure that most Europeans spend much of their lives denying in favour of cliched experiences at Mount Fuji, Angkor Wat, Kilimanjaro, Table Mountain …. checklists of BS locations and returning tourists who consider themselves to be modern day Livingstone. I disliked Mexico City intensely when I worked there in the 90’s. For many of the same reasons as you state. Thousands of people on every street corner and a nauseating pride in Catholicism. The homogeneity of opinion and experience. Phnom Penh was similarly cheek to jowl with humanity but interesting to a degree that Mexico was not. But even there the peoples pride in paying rambling Buddhist monks to pray for their enlightenment each morning on their doorstep betrayed a similarity globally in the obsession with insisting that we are not in control of our own lives. Of course I completely disagree with you about the Schengen thing but mainly for reasons that are nothing to do with freedom of internal movement – but you already know that and I will not launch into lecture here. Suffice to say that we Europeans are all glad to have you back and as usual your two stories in this series “Why I Will Return to Europe” and “Back in Europe” were a joy to read and research some of the information that I was not familiar with. Welcome back Mr. Moser.
Thank you very much!
I also found that most people who claim that everything in Europe is the same have either never traveled, or only gone to capital cities on short trips. If you hike through Ireland (which I have yet to visit and am looking forward to) and then along the Adriatic coast or drive through rural Romania, people will see the difference.
I am glad that a fellow traveler understands me.
Welcome back! I really enjoyed this post and can rely to so many things! I love your desk btw :)
Thank you very much!
Yes, finally a large desk with a nice view again. And nothing distracting happening outside, just trees and birds.
Let me know if you stop by Frankfurt Main. It would be great to have a coffee with you.
Thank you very much!
I have no firm plans yet, but I may indeed come to Frankfurt again one day. After all, most trains and plains go past/from there.
Such a great adventure you had!:) We’re planning a south american getaway next year!!! What countries have you been to? And do you have like a budged overview per country? I’m doing a lot of research, and that would be veery useful! Cheers! Safe and happy travels!
I have been to Bolivia (most lovely and welcoming and beautiful country in the world), Colombia (my second favorite), Ecuador, Chile, Brazil and Peru (which was the worst country ever).
I don’t have a budget overview, but Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia were very affordable. Ecuador not too expensive. Chile and Brazil expensive.
But it really depends on your style of travel. Cross-border flights are very expensive, domestic flights are usually quite cheap, so it makes sense to fly within countries, but to use the bus for crossing borders.
Thanks for the advice! I heard Brazil, Argentina and Chile are quite expensive, so we’re just gonna stay for 2-3 weeks around, and then head to Bolivia and Peru. Cheers!
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