So, this is the report on my great tour of Germany in June...Actually, it was just one night in Dusseldorf, two nights in Dortmund and two nights in Cologne...
But it was a long-awaited trip to my husband's home country, and this time we were actually going to stay a few days and visit several cities.
Of course, I've been to Germany a few times, but it's been at least 6 years since my last visit. Professor M visits his home town (and his extended family) once or twice a year, but usually when I'm really busy at work and can't accompany him. So, I was really looking forward to this trip. Not least because it was great to see my husband's relatives again.
There was also a lot of great coffee and cake, and all these lovely little pastry shops (and I don't even like sweets or desserts! Other than chocolate, that is) with cute decorations.
This may come as a surprise to you, but I don't speak German...I know, I know, that is just unbelievable, given that Professor M and I have been together for over 20 years. And yes, he knows some Finnish (enough to read election results in the newspaper and order in a restaurant). So, how is it possible that I've never learned German?
Well, before I met professor M, I always avoided learning German (besides the mandatory English and Swedish, I studied French and Spanish at school). No, nothing against the language, and I'm not put off by 'long words' (please, Finnish words are at least three times longer!). No, it was because I always thought that German words have way too many consonants. And I'm dyslexic; how could I possibly ever get all those consonants in the correct order?
Still, surely I should have made an effort to learn the language by now? After all, I'm married to a German, I've had 20 years for heaven's sake! Yeah, well, I do plan to learn German. One day. When I retire. At the moment, taking a language course is the last thing I want to do.
Actually, I did take a beginners' German course once, years ago, in summer university. I was bored out of my mind. I ended up explaining (over and over again) grammatical terms to my fellow students, and finished the grammar exercises in half the time the others needed. Hell, I could have taken two or three courses in that time! No, I'm not 'brilliant' or anything. But I've studied a lot of languages in my life. And more importantly, I had to take a few linguistics courses as part of my university studies. All of this means that I know how languages are constructed, and therefore it is easier for me to learn a new language.
So, given all that, I really have no excuse to not learn German, right? Other than taking a language course is absolutely the last thing I want to do on my day off. Let me remind you what I do for a living: I teach a language (English as a foreign language). When I'm not teaching, I really need to do something completely different (from work) to avoid going bonkers. So, I take Photoshop courses, I read newspapers (in several languages) and I watch all sorts of crap on TV. But I absolutely refuse to think about grammar rules and vocabulary and inflections.
But, you probably want to know about the trip...So, in Dortmund we spent the day with Professor M's relatives, but there was some time to 'soak in the atmosphere' (= walk around aimlessly, pretending we're sightseeing), too.
Instead of museums and tourist attractions, I prefer seeing ordinary neighbourhoods where people live and work. And if you've been following me on Instagram, you know that I always photograph random architectural details instead of landmarks. That's because I want to record my impressions rather than the must-see, one-size-fits-all guidebook destinations.
And what struck me here was how familiar everything looked to me. The architecture, both old and new, reminded me so much of my own home town, Helsinki.
And then there are the locals...
This cute couple caught my eye in Cologne. Yes, Herr und Frau Ente (= Duck) didn't have time to stop for a chat because they were on their way somewhere, wherever ducks go on a busy Tuesday afternoon... But Herr Ente was following the lead of the very determined Frau Ente, just like dutiful husbands everywhere (Professor M's observations, not mine).
And there was the inevitable river cruise (in Cologne):
And some more architectural detail spotting, of course...My own taste in architecture and design is very modern, spacious, Scandinavian (obviously), but in my 'sightseeing mode' I love to explore both the old and the new.
So, what makes me take out the camera, then? That's easy: anything that is interesting, unusual, inspiring or impressive. And in Cologne it was this:
What about my travel wardrobe?
Well, that's for another day and another blog post...
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