I woke up the other morning missing the sea and feeling a bit more homesick than usual… I’ve always lived a maximum of 15 mins from the seaside! Obviously in Cornwall it was actually difficult to get very far from the sea as we were surrounded by it. Whereas, in Finland we lived in the Turku area, then for a short while in Kemi and Vaasa, which are all on the coastline of Finland. Even when I lived in the US, our home was only a few minutes away from Lake Michigan, which is HUGE and doesn’t really feel like a lake at all. So apart from a year when I lived in Santa Fe (New Mexico is beautiful in it’s own way), I’ve always resided near a large body of water! So life here in beautiful but land-locked Wiesbaden differs a lot from what I’m accustomed to, as the only way to get a dose of waterside surrounds are to walk/cycle along the Rhine. This in itself is also really pleasant, but not quite the same thing as a beach.
So homesickness motivated me to continue with my theme (inspired by the everyday life challenge) of taking notice and being grateful for what I have. So I decided that rather than complaining about what I’m lacking, I’ll create a list of ten things I really like about Germany and where I live! It actually did make me feel much happier 🙂
1) Even though I live in a city with a population of 273,000 (plus approximately 19,000 US citizens due to the military base) everything is really clean & tidy and I feel the buildings in Wiesbaden are especially well maintained. I am aware that larger cities like Berlin and Cologne are not quite as super clean as Wiesbaden, but they still aren’t too bad in my opinion. I think Germans just generally appreciate orderliness!
2) Healthcare here in Germany is generally very good and so it should be, as the national health insurance contributions are much higher than in the UK. I’ve worked in the NHS for many years and I’m sad to say that no matter how much internal ‘tightening-up’ of budgets takes place, the funding shortage is not going to be resolved. I think the only way England can hope to realistically improve the NHS is by increasing NI contributions or directing more tax money towards healthcare rather than other things.
3) The forests here are substantial and not just little woods! In Cornwall I used to miss the forests of Finland very badly at times. (I’m trying to remind myself about this each time I miss the sea 😉 ) I find walking in the woods not just enjoyable, but therapeutic and de-stressing. There’s quite a lot of research out there now evidencing how important it is to be in nature, as regularly as possible. This of course doesn’t need to be the woods it can be the seaside, fields & meadows, a park or a garden! Forests just played a big role in my life when growing up; even as a teenager when I was struggling emotionally with something I’d go for a walk in the woods near my house and usually came back feeling better.
4) This may sound silly, but I’m so excited about having wild blueberries and mushrooms again. These were a regular part of our diet in Finland and I often craved them when I lived in the UK! Now in the autumn I can treat myself to many delicious meals with porcinis, chanterelles, truffles etc. and I also freeze berries and mushrooms to eat outside of their season.
5) This part of Germany has an amazing wine culture. In fact Wiesbaden has the largest Wine festival in all of Germany every summer 🙂 It only takes 10-15 minutes to drive to the closest vineyards from Wiesbaden, where you can take walks surrounded by vines overlooking the Rhein river!!This is the nearby Schloss Vollrads vineyard and country estate.
6) Delicious food and and great cultural experiences! I think many people elsewhere in Europe underestimate the German food experience. I adore the traditional farmers markets most cities have 2-3 times a week. The fruit and vegetables are wonderfully fresh and Germans are very clued up on seasonal eating. Some of the best berries I’ve ever tasted have been here in Germany (can’t wait for strawberry season to kick into full swing)! Also, Germans really know how to prepare their meat properly and portions are usually generous. Furthermore, this region has some fantastic restaurants from various other food cultures, which I’m gradually exploring. See more about eateries and food at http://www.eatingwiesbaden.com – a great food blog run by a British expat! Further cultural delights can be enjoyed by taking walks on the leafy streets of Wiesbaden, lined with lovely buildings and villas. I love the Art Neouveau architecture of this town, as I’ve almost always lived in historical houses, so I feel more at home in this town than I might somewhere completely post-war/postmodern! I should also add that this town has a fantastic theatre, orchestra and ballet.
7) The climate is amazing in comparison to what we usually had in Cornwall and it’s better than Finland as well! OK so Cornwall may be more moderate on average, whereas Hessen (the county where I now live) fluctuates much more, however, it’s fabulous to have a long warm summer and cold enough winters to sometimes get snow. I know many Americans living here may disagree, as some are from the permanently warm southern states. I, however, love the clearly defined change of seasons. It’s what I’m accustomed to while I grew up in Finland and as a little girl in Wisconsin. However, it’s also a blessing that it never gets as unbearably cold here as it does in Finland during winters!
8) Germany not only has beautiful forests, but also proper mountains for skiing and other winter sport and as a bonus the Swiss Alps are not much further if higher altitudes are required!! I don’t live in the mountainous area of Germany, but it’s not a long drive! We are not lacking in gorgeous scenary here either though, as we have the rivers and lot’s of scenic areas of hills and valleys. In fact I can see the Taunus hills from my windows!
These photos were, however, taken near Zürich which is only about 4 hours by car from us. This is quicker than it used to take us to drive from Cornwall to London!!
9) Christmas markets and Christmas in general is fantastic in Germany! Even when we still lived in the UK, my daughter and I accompanied B. on his business travels here several times during Christmas market season. They are just so atmospheric with lovely crafts and food to buy, as well as Glühwein of course!!
10) Last but not least, the location of Wiesbaden is very handy for travelling to many other European countries. So visit’s to France, Switzerland or Italy only take a few hours by car! It used to take me just as long to drive from Truro in Cornwall to my daughter’s university in Sussex, as it does to drive for a holiday to Lake Como in Northern Italy from Wiesbaden 🙂