What’s happening in Europe – Eyewitness Series Part Three

Leah is an avid solo traveller from Melbourne, the capital city of Victoria in Australia. She loves architecture and street art and went on a three week long trip to Germany this summer. She can confirm that they do eat a lot of sausages and cabbage and drink beer everywhere in this country. She noticed that each region has its own speciality sausage and way of preparing the cabbage, and she found herself ordering it over and over to compare which is best. Follow Leah's adventures on Instagram.

Leah’s Germany trip makes her the ideal candidate for the What’s happening in Europe – Eyewitness Series. It is important to me that all publications are the full version of each eyewitness’s own feelings and observations. And here Leah tells us how it feels to travel in Europe these days. 


I've recently returned from a three week trip to Germany, and have definitely marked it as a country I wish to revisit and spend more time exploring.

When I told friends and family I'd booked a trip there - the reactions I received were 50/50. Some comments were very positive “it seems like a great country” and “you'll have a fantastic time,” whilst others were more interesting, “what made you book there, is it safe to travel to Germany?” and “there are lots of refugees there- be careful, there could be more terrorist attacks, like the Christmas Market attack in Berlin”. My response to the latter comments was that something unpleasant could just as likely happen in Melbourne, Australia where I live, and that I'd remain alert to my surrounds - which I have always done as a female traveling solo.

I myself was purely excited to be going to Europe, to see Germany, its countryside and its architecture, and was happy to reserve my own judgement until after I'd been. I arrived into Berlin, which was such a surprise, and so much greener than I had imagined. Tree lined streets and great swathes of parkland to the West of town where I was staying. I spent three days exploring on my own, caught numerous U-Bahn trains back and forth across town, and to be honest, never felt unsafe, although I was conscious of keeping my bag secure around busy areas such as Zoo Station. I never gave much consideration to the ‘refugee issue’ - as I honestly didn't notice any people who ‘stood out’ in Berlin, and instead spent most of my time there marvelling at the architecture around Museum Island, and trying to comprehend the Berlin Wall, and how it managed to stand until 1989.

From Berlin, I did a ten day guided tour, through Dresden, Rothenburg, Nuremberg, to Munich. Out to Hohenschwangau to see the beautiful Bavarian countryside and the fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle, and also to Dachau concentration camp, to reflect on the atrocities of the past. From there, we continued across the Black Forest and Titisee, then up to Heidelberg and Mainz, the Rhine River Valley, and finishing the tour in Frankfurt.

Munich was the first city that I really noticed immigrants or refugees- in that I saw a few small groups of women wearing burkas and hijab’s in the very crowded Marienplatz. Considering the crowds there - the Marienplatz was by no means over-run by them, although their choice of dress did make them stand out in the multitudes. After my tour ended, I spent just over a week in Cologne, where once again, I noticed the occasional immigrant in my wandering, but no more what I'd see in my own hometown of Melbourne.

People may ponder Angela Merkel’s decision to open the German borders to refugees in 2015 during the height of the Syrian refugee crisis, but I think the country has done well to absorb them. I never got the impression that it was being overrun by immigrants. I got the sense that most German people are conscious of the atrocities committed during WW2, and as a result are now very accepting and tolerant of those who might not look or dress the same, and to give them a fair go. This does not make them tolerant of terrorism, just willing to accept and judge people by each one's action, rather than by stereotypes. And this makes Germany a great place to visit.

If you’ve considered a trip to Germany but were unsure, my advice is to not hesitate, go! It isn't overrun with immigrants, and I, as a solo female traveller did not feel unsafe there. Sure, you should be aware of what's going on around you, especially in crowded areas, but that can be said of anywhere in the world.

Did I mention that everyone speaks English? Which makes it super-easy for non-German speaking people, although I think it's respectful to try and learn at least a few simple words of greeting, please and thank you etc. before you go. And most of all, if you do go, have fun and enjoy! It's a wonderful country to visit!

More eyewitness’s experiences

More about Europe

I wrote this at the end of last year. Travel: This is the truth and nothing else. For more about Europe please also read Travel France. Strasbourg off the beaten track. The European Quarter - the Spirit of Europe. Follow me on Instagram to see my recent and ongoing European adventures.

From Berlin with love