For me as a self-appointed detective, there’s nothing more satisfying than suddenly discovering things that have remained unnoticed to me before. An easy way to achieve such insight is by bringing some distance between myself and the stuff I am used to. Thus every time I visit my home country, I discover new oddities that possibly have been recognized by foreigners already, and are totally normal to us Germans usually.
Apart from tiny, yet odd inconveniences (why are there so many doors in an airport toilet? Like, at the entrance to the washroom, then again at the entrance to the room that has the actual toilets, and each of them weighs approximately 30 kilos that you have to stem while carrying and dragging your luggage through them – in Helsinki airport, there are no doors at all apart from the actual stall-doors…), there is one omnipresent major problem that Germany still did not manage to fix in the year 2015: access to the internet is basically non-existent.
While I can use whatsapp for some mysterious reason even in a cottage in the middle of the woods in Northern Finland (where there’s no normal phone reception, by the way), in Germany, there’s not even free wifi at the airport. At the airport! Most of the cities I visited in no matter which country have free-city-wifi by now. But all you can get at an International Airport in Düsseldorf, Germany, is half an hour wifi offered by some (shady) contractor in exchange for your soul – meaning, it is in principle inaccessible. If you want to purchase a prepaid data card for your stay, forget it – the bureaucratic restrictions make 3 euros roaming per day way more attractive than they initially sounded. And why is that, in a country that claims to be the leading power in almost anything technical? Well – of course because of bureaucracy! What if someone downloads some weird animal porn in your free wifi area? Then you will be the one held responsible for that, and thus probably hunted and executed by an angry animal-rights-organization!
Oh Germany – and your bureaucracy. The next time I notice it is when I unfortunately have to visit the doctor during my one-week-stay. I left my EU-Kela-card at home, and now my country people don’t really want to treat me. That I have the health insurance number does not matter – probably, when they were briefed, they were only trained for typing this number from a physical card into their system, not from a picture on my phone. Well, no can do. It makes no sense to argue with Germans about bureaucracy, that I know. I have also forgotten about the fact that paying by card is almost impossible here, too. Cash is what speaks to us Germans. If you do find a shop that accepts plastic-payment, you better are on holidays – luckily I am – because it might take up to half an hour to process. Techniwhaaaat?
Don’t be fooled by my sarcasm – of course there are lots of good things about my country that I just needed a reminder for. People are funny – not in a hilarious way, but in a dry, ironic way. They smile at you, and flirt with you; briefly: they interact with you even if they don’t know you! And yes – dear Finns, this goes out to you – even if they are sober! Incredible. I am so not used to this that at first, I almost pay the 10 euros for a coffee that the barista claims to charge me “because we are in Düsseldorf here, and that’s expensive!”, not noticing it is a joke. Only when he offers a friendship price of 9.90, it becomes obvious. Well, eventually also the fact that a coffee for 10 euros is not so farfetched in Scandinavia might play a role here.
There’s food variations of all kinds, and it’s affordable and tasty. There’s bakeries – oh, how have I missed bakeries. When you roam a bigger city, there are all kinds of artists, small cute shops with unique items, cafés, bars, people in the street, people in the cafés, laughing, chatting, enjoying life. Maybe, my home country is not so bad after all. Maybe, I could eventually come back here some day and live a decent and happy life.
By the way, what all those tiny and artistic shops selling unique items have in common, is the nature of one item in particular: They all sell boxes. Small and medium and large boxes to organize your buttons color-wise and your screws size-wise. Because if there’s one thing we Germans love to do, it’s definitely organizing things. ❤