I’ve been immersed in Slavic diachronic syntax for two days (don’t bother asking, it’s just what I do), so I haven’t had much time to explore the quaint and historic Bavarian town of Regensburg.
But it doesn't take much exploring to notice the abundance of Christmas cheer. I really think that the Germans might even have us Americans beat in this respect. Here are photos of medieval streets with Christmas decorations and a Christmas market.
For me, being in Germany is a lot like being at home -- that is, besides the language, and the food, and the currency, and a few other things… but otherwise, yep, just like home! What I mean, I guess, is that in crossing the border between the Czech Republic and Germany (especially into what used to be capitalist West Germany), the change is stark. The houses look somehow more livable, there’s not the same relics of Soviet anti-charm, and people are just plain friendlier. I am, of course, in Bavaria, which many Germans claim isn’t real Germany, but its own entity entirely. Either way, Eastern Europe stops abruptly at the German border.
The downside to all this prosperity is that Germany is more expensive, and, well, a bit more boring than the Czech Republic. I like it here, don’t get me wrong; in fact I have welcomed the respite from an intense trip to the Czech Republic (though, admittedly, it only recently became intense ;). But it’s nice to study Czech and Russian, where there’s more foreign-ness in the culture from my perspective as an American.
As a side note, I was just on the New York Times web site and did a double take at the side bar of advertisements… which were in German. I mean, I know that Google automatically registers your IP address and knows which country you are in and so adjusts accordingly (which is quite irritating, actually, in countries where I don’t speak the language!), but I never noticed ads on an American newspaper site being linked that way… the amazing and spooky world of the internet, sigh.