Wednesday, February 24, 2016

‘Coz Europe is not just about its summer

Europe gets a lot of tourists in summer. But December is a fantastic time to visit as well. The Christmas lights are up, the Christmas Market is up and running, tiny lights and decorative snowflakes are on every street, every shop, every home, and every corner. Even the cold air feels rather magical. Everyone is so well-dressed and happy, even while doing their groceries and mundane chores. 

Most things for me have a three-point reference- India, US, and Germany. Christmas decorations in Kolkata are nice, but nostalgia and old memories have a lot to do with it. Christmas in the US is nice too, but there is an obvious element of commercialism to it- the same big giants selling you stuff, promising huge deals as you walk in the giant shopping malls that are lit from head to toe. Huge Christmas trees, a few floors high. Downtowns and residential neighborhoods lit up. Everything in the US is huge scale-wise. 

But Germany is different. Smaller. More local. More crowded. Way prettier. More culturally diverse. Cobbled streets and pretty churches. Quaint cafes. Gluhwein and Bratwurst by the streets. Almost no disposable cups and plates. People walking and taking the public transport way more. I could travel in trains and buses and just look at people all day. I used to think that where I live is predominantly White, and there is no diversity, but even if it were true, I see Germans with all shades of natural hair color, from complete blonde to a few shades lighter than mine. 

It feels good just to walk around the lit up streets and listen to people talk. No one is in a hurry. Everyone takes their time to eat, drink, and make merry. I don't know much German, but these days, I know enough German to know if someone is not speaking in German, if that makes sense. And I hear that quite a bit, other languages that I do not understand. Perhaps Polish. Danish. Swedish. A lot of Scandinavian sellers show up at the Christmas Markets to sell all kinds of locally made stuff- artwork, chocolates, alcohol, and what not. Restaurants are packed, streets are swarming with people, and there is an undeniable magic on the streets this time of the year. If you do not mind the cold, Europe is THE place to visit late November/December. 


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