Architecture, Driving and Markets in Germany

by Martha Andrus

The Netherlands is bordered by Germany, so it is not uncommon to find many Dutch roaming the rolling hills of Germany. Germany also has Wal Marts which Holland does not have, so you will find many American expats seeking to find the Wal Marts and exploring the history of Germany. Also, most things tend to be a little cheaper in Germany than in Holland.

I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed Germany. It may be because it reminds me, somewhat, of the U.S. in its landscape and freeways. Germany is a much larger country than Holland, so there are more open spaces between towns and cities. The architecture is somewhat the same, with every small town being recognized by their tall church tower.Driving in Germany is quite an experience and it’s not for the faint-hearted. The freeways are wide and so are the vehicles in comparison to the Netherlands. There are areas of Germany where there is no speed limit and the Germans and others take this very seriously. If you are passing a car on the left on a four lane highway, you had better be watching closely in your rear view mirror for a speeding, approaching vehicle. They will blow their horn and let you know to get out of their way. We have had Porsches and Mercedes passing us as if we were standing still.

Germany is famous for its Christmas markets and I was delighted to spend time in Oberhausen and stroll through their large, brightly decorated Christmas market. Each vendor is located in a wooden ‘cottage’ style booth, most of them open but some enclosed. Among the over 300 displays you will find at least half of these serving some kind of German delicacy, from luscious, rich chocolates to sausages with their freshly baked breads, to the rich, warm red wine called Gluhwein. Adjacent to the market is one of the largest malls in Europe and a man-made snow tube sledding area. And surrounding all of this are many restaurants of all different types of cuisine, a theatre and an exhibition hall. Most of the vendors are selling wooden, carved figurines and lovely, hand blown glass ornaments and accessories. Carollers are also roaming among the thousands of visitors. If you are not in the holiday spirit before you arrive at the Oberhausen Christmas market, you certainly will be by the time you leave.