It’s been nice. Our little apartment in Bonn. We packed up, cleaned it spotless and gave the keys back.
The door closed with a loud thud behind us marking the end to another chapter of our travelling life, and what a fantastic couple of months it has been
Living in Bonn has been a different experience to living in Saarbruecken ten years ago. I was a student then, and it was my first ever big trip so everything was exciting and novel. This time round I had more responsibilities, I was still working full time, at home, with limited social opportunities. However, this time I had a husband with me, and had more money to explore so you can say, I am living a more realistic life abroad than before.
Returning to live in a place after having such romantic memories of it will always be different, as you start to realise its quirks and flaws. You start to notice the old school processes and the complicated layers of society, you start to appreciate things we take for granted in a society as new as Australia, things you don’t realise until you have travelled, that having access to modern facilities (such as elevators and air conditioning) in every building is actually a luxury.
European infrastructures are ultimately a lot more ancient to that of Australian, New Zealand and even the USA. In comparison to all other developed countries, there are still buildings that are too old to install modern facilities on, and too fragile to even consider additional railings to support the less mobile. Spaces are smaller and population more dense, and self check out machines are still a new concept in many of Germany’s supermarkets.
However, living in Europe certainly has made me more appreciative of life. Travel, in general, has made me more appreciative of everything. The saying is that you don’t realise what you’ve got until you don’t have it anymore is truer when you are foreign to a place.
It works both ways. Not only do you realise how much you may miss about a certain part of your life, sometimes, you might find yourself questioning: “how come we didn’t have this where I come from?”
At the same time, I have loved living in Bonn (or in Europe in general). The way everyone is more appreciative of the daylight, and during the summer months when the day doesn’t get dark until 10:30pm, everyone is still out and about, soaking up the last bit of day light before autumn comes again to take it away from them.
Being so close to Germany’s many borders, we were able to venture out almost every single weekend. On top of visiting nearby cities and towns along the Rhein, we visited Limoges, Paris, Saarbruecken, London, Berlin, Brussels, Luxembourg, Amsterdam, Stutgart and Freiburg. We’ve extensively utilised the train and flight systems and loved every inch of journey we made.
Then, there’s the daily fresh markets selling seasonal fruit and vegetable. I am going to miss that the most. I’ve bought more variety of fruit and vegetable here in Bonn than I even did in Sydney, and have grown fond of the real meaning to ‘seasonal eating’. I have watched stalls stocked with asparagus in June, celebrated mangoes and berries in July and now with the approach of autumn, pears are beginning to appear among the other regular items. Chestnuts will soon follow.
Tomatoes, come in five different colours, shapes and sizes and discovering the assortment of potatoes, zucchinis and random greens are just part of my daily visit to the market.
Things like these make any complicated bureaucratic system that I’ve had to deal with less significant, because I’ve learnt that there are no perfect places, and all we can do, is to embrace what is good about a place and put aside what isn’t. Implement the good in our daily lives, even after you return home.
For example, ten years ago, I had picked up the habit of bringing my own bags to the shops because that’s what people do in Germany. This is before Australian supermarkets introduced this system and were still pumping out millions of plastic bags each day. When I returned, I took this habit with me, and was glad a year later the green bags were finally introduced.
You see, some societies are old and some new, and there will be things that one excel at and the other lack. There is no point in complaining about things, but to learn and grow. If there is a way that works better, then learn it and use it.
Now that we are leaving, I have things that I’ve learned which I’ll take with me to my London home. I’ll miss Bonn, even after only two months. I am going to miss the market, I am going to miss our long walks along the Rhein, I am going to miss my daily bread rolls, I am going to miss the street food and I am going to miss speaking German.
I suppose I am starting to waffle in this post because…
I don’t want to go.