Yoknapatawpha Crossing

Globetrotter Grady in Münster

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As you may know, since I was telling everyone I knew and randomly met on the street, I’m in Münster, Germany right now. I’ve tried not to put too many entries in this blog about what’s going on in my life, because there are already a million of those and my life’s no more interesting than the next guy’s, but dammit all if I’m not going to bore you for a bit.

Germany is pretty amazing. Our group flew in to Düsseldorf and immediately drove to Köln, where we spent two days. Wasting no time, we found a Biergarten the first night and proceeded to test the claim that German beer is stronger than American beer. I can’t remember what we eventually decided. It does taste a helluva lot better, though.

We saw the Kölner Dom the next day, which is something like the second largest cathedral in Europe (and, by extension, the world). You can’t really describe it; standing at the bottom of this huge gothic building you and try to look up and see the top, but your head won’t bend back far enough. It’s just amazing. Oh, and a couple of people and I walked to the top of one of the towers. That was a sight.

From there we went on to several other very scenic and historic locations, and eventually ended up here in Münster, where we’re now taking classes during the day and bumming around the rest of the time. Here’s a list of the things that have really jumped out at me about Germany:

  • All the houses have these awesome shades that work kind of like a rolltop desk. There’s a solid metal sheet that rolls down over the outside of the window, but it’s made of slats, so you can still let in a little light if you want to. If you don’t want to, though, it’s like being in a submarine. You could sleep through anything.

  • On the subject of windowshades, the windows themselves are really neat. They don’t slide up and down like in the US; rather, they swing open. But in addition to that, you can turn the window handle a different way, and then the window tilts in from the top if you just want to crack it. They’ve got those on everything from my family’s modern house to the stodgy old school we’re using for classes.

  • A lot of the lights fade on, rather than just clicking on. I am a huge fan.

  • Most stores use prices like 10€, 2,50€, and so on. I have not seen a single item that costs 4,99€. Honestly, American businesses, who do you think you’re fooling?

  • The people here in Münster drive much more aggresively than most places I’ve lived (granted I’m a small town southern boy), but despite that, and despite the proliferation of bicycles, I’ve seen all of two accidents anywhere in the close to a month that I’ve been here.

  • Also regarding traffic, the stoplights signal an impending green light as well as an impending red. It’s great, as it gives everyone time to shift gears and get moving.

  • Münster is also, as it turns out, the bicycle capital of Germany. Everyone here bikes, and it’s the most bike friendly city I’ve ever been in. Not only are there bike lanes on the sidewalk next to all major roads, there are also bike traffic lights. Sweet.

  • Castles!!

  • Beer, chocolate, and ice cream – they really are much better. Especially the beer.

  • Book publishers here give everything down the cheesiest sci-fi a very nice treatment- no hokey covers and cheap paper; even paperbacks always have a tastefully laid out cover and are well bound. They also make fantastic editions of ‘classic’ literature; you can get many famous books as a hardback with no gaudy advertisements or soundbites from ‘reviews.’ All such books from a particular publisher will be matched, so they look great lined up next to each other. Oh, the simple things.

So yes. Overall I’m quite enamored with Germany. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no utopia, but I’m constantly struck by how many simple, obvious things they do here that are virtually unknown in the states. It’s a great place. You should visit.

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Written by Daniel Grady

June 11, 2005 at 16:18

Posted in Travel

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