Saturday, May 19, 2007

Observations from 6 hours in Heidelberg, Germany on May 19, 2007

I am writing this from the Diner's Club lounge in Terminal 2 at the Frankfurt airport. Since I am about 25 hours into a 44 hour trip to Malawi, Africa is -- GOD BLESS Diner's Club. This lounge is air-conditioned, has free wireless internet and an abundance of food and drink. Not only that, there are very few people here, and it is all VERY pleasant.

After walking over 10 kilometres today all over Heidelberg, I have a few observations to make. These are not intended to astound anyone. These are just things that stood out to me.

1. Everything in clean.

2. Everything seems to run on time, and it is important that it is on time -- not late, not early, on-time. This morning when I asked about a Lufthansa bus from Frankfurt to Heidelberg I was informed that it left at 8:00 -- EXACTLY at 8:00 am -- and it did. This afternoon, in Heidelberg they loaded up the bus. It was full -- no room for any more passengers -- but it was 2:53 pm and it was scheduled to leave at 3:00 pm. Well, we all waited in our seats, and at exactly 3:00 pm the bus driver started the bus and we left.

3. Very few American tourists -- lots of Germans, French, Italians, Eastern Europeans, Koreans, and Japanese. Maybe it's because the tourist season hasn't started in the USA.

4. Young women in the USA dress much less modestly than young German women. Whether dress has anything to do with the following, I'm not sure. But a couple of days ago I was waiting in an office briefly and I read a Time magazine article indicating that American pregnancy rates, abortion rates, pre-marital sex rates, etc. are all higher than in Europe. Rather ironic since North American Christians tend to think Europeans are immoral.. I suspect that murder rates are much lower here as well. I have always wondered why American Christians tolerate high levels of violence on TV, and low levels of sexual activity. Perhaps it is more Christian to make war than to make love. My suspicion is that Christians should be against both sex and violence on TV.

5. Older (+40) German women dress much less modestly than older American women. I wonder why this is. But this trend could also partially account for the low birthrate in Europe among non-immigrants. I remember being in Turkey at a resort a couple of years ago and seeing a lot of 50-70 year old European men in "speedos" and 50-70 year old European women in bikini or "mono-kini" bathing suits. It struck me that seeing all that skin on people at that age would naturally reduce the birthrate. I think when you are 70, and you insist on wearing a speedo or "mono-kini" you should only be allowed to do that at night or during solar eclipses.

6. There are bicycles EVERYWHERE and people walk A LOT. Seemingly thousands of bicycles, driven by people of all ages and economic levels. People walk here -- it is kind of like a religion. (I have German relatives who are obsessed about taking a daily walk even when the weather is absolutely horrible). Perhaps this is also why you see far fewer obese people here than in the USA -- where we think walking is a mortal sin. We'll drive around in a parking lot for 10 minutes finding a parking space close to the entrance of the store we want to go to.

7. Cars are a lot smaller. Not only are there SmartCars, but Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Peugot, Honda, Toyota, Mazda, Volkswagen, etc. are all producing cars that appear to be about the same size as a SmartCar -- and people appear to be buying them.

8. Not having a speed limit on the Autobahn is a good thing. On the way to Heidelberg I sat behind our bus driver and we were generally traveling around 165 kilometres an hour (thats' about 100 miles an hour). And, even at this speed, she drove in the right hand lane because people were passing us.

9.Gasoline is expensive. In Heidelberg is was right around US$7.00 for a US gallon. No wonder everyone drives small cars.

10. Recycling and being "green" is valued.

11. The loudest tourists are Americans and Italians.

Like I said -- nothing brilliant or remarkable or perhaps anything you are the least bit interested in.

Well, that's what happens when you are tired and jet-lagged and facing another 19 hours of travel.

No comments: