Before I begin today's post, I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for visiting my blog. I really mean it when I say that your taking the time to come to my blog is very valuable to me. It is good to know that my invisible electronic ions floating about in our atmosphere are actually making their way to readers. It also pleases me to hear from you so please feel free to leave a comment anytime.
I would also like to invite you to become a follower this blog. It only takes a second to scroll down to the bottom of this page where there is a list of "Followers." There is a modest list of people, who I assume read this on a pretty regular basis, bless their souls. If you would like to follow this blog and get notified as to when a new post is published, then please give the little button below a tiny click.
I am enjoying the feedback from my readers and if they own a blog, I follow them as well. So, thank you for stopping by, having a look, and I welcome you to follow along as we continue to live in Munich, Germany while experiencing Europe and the rest of the world on our travels. We are always learning new things about our new country and about ourselves -- which is what this blog celebrates!
Now, on with the post!
Aren't the children in my photo above just adorable?
Well, here is the most surprising fact about this photo; they were not posing! They did not dress up in period costume for any particular reason. Seen here, they are investigating a tool used to sharpen knives and axes. What is especially endearing to me about this photo is that this is the way children in Bavaria sometimes dress, albeit mostly on weekends, when they are out in the countryside, for example, with their family. It is so.....charming!
After 18 months in this country, I now hardly even take notice of children dressed this way. I still smile and comment how cute the children are when I see them dressed this way, but it has occurred to me that I am quite accustomed to seeing them in their lederhosen and dirndls whereas, when we first moved here, it was a real spectacle. I didn't understand. at that time, that it was completely normal for parents to dress their children in the traditional clothing of Bavaria and that they didn't need an excuse or a holiday to do so. As I said, little by little, after seeing children in their customary dress (I would not call it a costume), I just began to accept that this is the way it is here.
I used to describe Germany to my friends and family back in the states as the land of "Currier and Ives," after the homespun, idyllic and pastoral scenes depicted in their greeting cards. I know of no better way to convey what I see on nearly a daily basis. Bavaria is very family oriented and you see evidence of this all around you. Hardly a neighborhood exists in Bavaria that doesn't have at least one park, playground, or recreational facility. In reality, there are more than likely a half a dozen or more filled with moms, dads, sisters and brothers, all enjoying time with the family.
Maybe I've just grown up in the wrong neighborhoods in the states, but I don't think I ever saw children swimming in a creek or a stream in my city, Toledo, Ohio. I used to believe it was because the water was probably polluted, but whether or not that was the case, I doubt if many kids there ever swam in anything other than a lake, a swimming pool, or perhaps a quarry. In Munich, I observe people wading in rivers and streams all over the city. In fact, there is a small river, literally right in front of our house, where bathers test the waters during hot and humid days. Additionally, a much larger river that dissects the city of Munich, the Isar, is teeming with swimmers and waders all summer long. Families, in the hundreds, can be seen on the banks of the Isar with a picnic or a barbecue on any given weekend.
Above is a photo of a horse and rider in Munich. Say what?? A cosmopolitan city has people on horses riding through it?
Here are the stats about Munich:
City population: 1,249,176 (2006), 1 225 810 (1998)
City Area: 310.5 sq. km. 119.9 sq. mi.
City density: 4 023 inh./sq. km. 10 415 inh./sq. mi.
I've already written, many times, about the number of people and families on bicycles throughout Munich and the fact that for every road constructed in Germany, they construct a corresponding bike path. But I didn't know that I would be on a bike path and come face-to-nose with a horse! The paths horses take are not on the city streets. But, they abound all throughout the city and it is perfectly acceptable to find a horse and rider from one of the liveries out and about on a shared pathway. I just love it!
In many ways it is like time has stood still in Germany. It is a country, like many others, that is proud of its customs and traditions. It doesn't tear buildings and houses down when they are old. Instead, it restores them to their former glory. So, instead of a city filled with the tall concrete towers of a modern city, its appearance greatly resembles a large, yet quaint, village.
Recently, in Der Spiegle Online, I came across some photos of East Germany by photographer Stefan Koppelkamm . These photos were taken of the buildings as they appeared in 1990 after war and the ill-fated construction attempts of the East German authorities. Then, ten years later, he returned and photographed the same buildings again. Here are some of the before and after photos that prove my point about how the Germans restore and renovate rather than replace.
I am sure there is more to say on this topic and you can rest assured that I will address it in the future on this blog. It astounds me how in the process of living day to day in a foreign country, you wake up one day and it no longer seems so foreign. It's like it kinda grows on you.