Letters to Vancouver: Arriving in Germany

Comments 2 by Rebecca Bollwitt

The following has been adapted from actual correspondences

I arrived on the 14th, flying from Hamburg to Stuttgart. Hamburg is a very fine city that has a dynamic blend of old buildings and startling modern architecture. They have an immense construction project at the harbour that is similar to the Expo lands development.

People are friendly, as in Canada, but less reserved initially. In Canada people “exchange glances” and look away. In Hamburg a first look is like an extended quiet conversation. It is quite engaging. I asked about this characteristic and people acknowledged it is so.

Photo Credit: PatZ on Flickr from the Miss604.com Flickr Pool

People pour out of the trains in BC furtive and suspicious. In Hamburg you leave the train as if you know many people, though you may have spoken not a word.

The transit system is what Vancouver´s aspires to be – conventional trains from the hinterlands, S-Bahn rapid trains for the suburbs and city, neighbourhood and express buses, and ferries. It is similar to Vancouver´s in having no turnstiles. Yet I saw not one police or fare-checker. This all contributes to a more trusting and confident populace. This is something of a paradox to me, because on another level, the people are highly regulated.

When my father came to Canada he showed up at the Police Station and they asked him what he wanted. He said ‘Here I am.’ They laughed and sent him away. In Germany you have to inform the government when you move, within a few weeks, or you are fined.

You can feel spring is about to arrive, the weather gets cloudy in Hamburg but rarely rains. It was very cold. In Stuttgart it is much warmer and feels like spring. I miss many things, but most of all I miss my family. (… to be continued)

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  1. fotoeinsFriday, March 7th, 2008 — 9:23pm PST

    I look forward to reading more about this … thanks, Beck, for putting this up …

    1. Hamburg : Speicherstadt, the Warehouse city by the riverfront.

    2. The apparent regulation of people : das spricht mehr vielleicht auf der Ordnung.

    3. Registering at the Bürgeramt : I’ve always maintained that’s how the folks from GEZ found me.

  2. JennySaturday, March 8th, 2008 — 5:32pm PST

    And in Hamburg you can buy a ‘family’ fare for the subway system and it includes the parents, kids and dog. I thought that was cool.

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