It is a greeting that even those with the most limited knowledge of German typically understand: ‘auf Wiedersehen’, said as one bids farewell. But it is not a direct translation for ‘good bye’ — the verb ‘wiedersehen’ means to see again. Hence, it is more appropriately thought of as ‘until we see each other again’. It is that hope that fills my mind today, as I pack my bags to return home.
I’ve been travelling around Germany for three weeks, and have had an amazing time visiting various cities to which I’d not previously been — aside from Frankfurt, where I arrived and to which I return this evening for my flight. I explored Cologne, Hamburg, Leipzig, Dresden and Mainz, and managed day trips to Heidelberg and Königstein. I have been worn out by the amount of sightseeing I’ve done, but I leave this country with a hard drive full of photos and videos — and should anything happen to those, I won’t soon lose the memories stored in my head.
Mainz is Germany’s self-appointed home of wine — and who am I to disagree? This afternoon, I sampled a few glasses of the local output at the German House of Wine. I enjoyed some delightful glasses of wine while engaging in a spot of people-watching in Mainz’s Gutenberg platz. Time well spent, in my opinion!
For the last stop on my German tour, I decided I would try and relax a bit rather than continue my days of intensive sightseeing. On that basis, selecting Mainz as my final destination was rather a mistake — it’s simply too beautiful not to stop and admire some of this city’s glorious architecture. I have just over one day left to enjoy this fine country — not to mention its beautiful weather!
I’ve left the old East Germany, to spend my last couple of days on this holiday in Mainz. But as I left Dresden this morning, I spotted this mural in the Neustadt railway station. It includes several Saxon landmarks, only a handful of which I was able to visit during my time here. It’s a reminder of how remarkable a country Germany is — so rich with history and truly beautiful architecture! I’ve already decided that an imminent return here to explore still more of this country is truly in order.
The economic turmoil that has consumed much of Europe over the past five years might seem to have abated. Financial markets appear considerably less jittery this year than in the recent past, and there is greater support among European leaders for ‘growth’ initiatives rather than ceaseless (some would say mindless) austerity. The economic consequences on the ground though remain miserable: unemployment is widespread in the likes of Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal — particularly among the young.
Only last month, German chancellor Angela Merkel argued that a consequence of Europe’s economic crisis is that its youth would need to move to where the jobs are. The evidence suggests this is already happening, with Germany welcoming a new wave of foreign workers. As Kate Connolly reports in this weekend’s The Observer, Spanish emigration to Germany was up by more than a half during the first half of 2012. Similarly, Greek emigration to Germany during the period was up more than three quarters. This is a story of both supply and demand: more prospective workers are signing up for German language classes in order to sell themselves in Germany, while German recruitment firms are scouring southern Europe to fill vacancies in various skilled worker categories.
Making the move is not easy though. According to those that Connolly speaks to, it seems the harshest adjustment for those used to living on Europe’s Mediterranean shores is Germany’s rather cooler weather. Still, putting up with a dark winter’s day in Berlin seems like a modest compromise in order to hold down a decent job.