Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Bad Tourist in Germany

Bad Tourist

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.

chocolate shop

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.

Dortmund
Dortmund

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):

Köln
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:

Cologne
Köln
Cologne
Köln

What about my travel wardrobe?
Well, that's for another day and another blog post...

Tiina
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8 comments

  1. Wow, what a great post. The penultimate photo leaves me breathless. And I like your candid conversation about not learning German. It's exactly how I feel about certain subjects similar to my job.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. There were actually several of these buildings by the river, they were quite impressive. I just love architecture...
      Yes, we all need some time off from work, and the best way to relax is to do something totally different. But I do plan to learn German, eventually, one day...

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  2. You got some really fab photos!

    I'm always jealous of people that are gifted at learning languages. It's always been a struggle for me.

    bisous
    Suzanne

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always thought it was easy for me to learn languages. Then I started studying Japanese... That was so frustrating, I just couldn't wrap my head around it, and I gave up after 2 years. So, maybe some languages are easier to learn than others, or maybe it's just a matter of finding the right 'match', i.e. the language that suits you.

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  3. I live next to Germany( 20 minuten drive) and I can understand it but not speak. For some reason I could t be bothered to learn the language properly. What a stunning pictures, especially the last two! Just perfect! I want to look inside to see how it looks!

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    1. Well, I always say I speak two languages (Finnish and English)... Most people have rather good passive language skills (i.e. they understand a foreign language quite well even though they might not be able to speak the language very much). I understand some German, too (I can follow the news, i.e. i often know what they are talking about). That's a good starting point and it's easier to activate your language skills then (and this is my professional opinion).

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  4. Wow! Some of this architecture just blew my mind. Literally! Amazing. AS far as languages go, I love the English language and have always been fascinated by it for as long as I can remember. But when it came to learning foreign languages, I downright stink! It's like a mental block of sorts. Five years of French and all I can say with any fluency in the language is that I do not speak French! And a few curse words in Italian that I learned growing up in a large Italian family. Other than that, I've got nothing! And I am so envious of those who are fluent in multiple languages. But I guess we all have our strengths...foreign languages are just not mine!

    Thanks for linking up with me On the Edge of the Week!

    Shelbee
    www.shelbeeontheedge.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I assure you anyone can learn a language. We might not be as fluent as in our native language, there might be some grammar mistakes, but then the point is not to be 'perfect' but to understand and speak a language well enough to use it at work for instance. And the best way to learn a language is to speak it, even though you might be far from being fluent. Trust me, I know: I make a living by making people speak a foreign language...

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