What’s happening in Europe – Eyewitness Series Part Five

Travelling is good for the soul, it enriches every life, and it helps us to understand the world around us. The more places we see, and the more people we get the chance to talk to, the better we can understand others. I write about places I visit. I said this before; I love to go for walks through London, Barcelona, Paris and Berlin. I’m there together with thousands of other tourists and locals who love these places as much as I do. Too many out there want to make people believe that the world is a dangerous place and that we should all live in fear of each other. This is something I can’t and won’t confirm.

No matter where I travel to, I enjoy talking to others and learn from them, it is not always life-changing encounters but the little things count too. I started to ask others how they see the world; I really would love to know how others feel about it. 

Engaging as many people as possible in conversation is one way for me to make the world a better place. I'm on a mission. I often get asked how it feels to live and travel in Europe, since it is so dangerous with all these refugees. The business based on fear is blooming. It takes courage to have fun. I'm scared indeed of life in Europe and every single populist and racist who spreads hate. I started this series on The Touristin to hear from people how it feels to travel to Europe these days, and I ask people from different continents about Europe and how they see it. All are passionate about travelling and travelled through Europe over the last weeks or months.

For this part, I asked Henry Lee, a blogger, photographer and Germany fan from Canada. Henry is open minded and absolutely fun to talk to. He loves to live and is interested in different cultures.

Henry likes exploring Germany. He lived in Heidelberg for a while and has already seen so much of the country, but he always plans to see more of it.

It is important to me that all publications are the full version of each eyewitness’s own feelings and observations. And now Henry tells us how it feels to travel in Germany these days. 

Henry Lee I disembark the regional tram. From the subterranean passage, I climb the stairs up one level to the rest of the train station. Few people wait at the designated platform; there’s another 20 minutes before the departure of the scheduled train.

Close to the centre of Germany, I have a few days in Kassel, a convenient staging ground for other attractions in the area. I’m at the city’s main train station and I’m about to hop onto a regional train bound for the university town of Göttingen. The regional train between Kassel and Göttingen is an important means of local transportation for people who live in smaller towns and need to travel for work or school in the two larger cities.

The regional train makes a slower circuitous path through the countryside. I could have taken a faster and expensive express train, but I’m in no hurry. When I board the train, I find an open berth and take a seat by the window. Passengers pay me no mind, even if I’m the only non-white person in the carriage. A woman is on her mobile phone, discussing preparations for tonight’s dinner party with her partner. A gentleman in business attire is still on the platform, puffing vigorously on a cigarette. A young couple are sat together, but apart in their body language as they silently check social media on their respective phones. Three older women gesticulate animatedly over their conversation in Turkish.

I’m in Germany at least once every year since 2001, and I use the train as much as I can. I’ve written extensively about the advance purchase of a German Rail Pass which provides freedom and flexibility to travel whenever I want and whichever train I choose. I’m on the train like everybody else: people to see friends and family, people to school or work and back home at the end of the day, and international travellers like myself to the next place on their checklist. It’s also important for me to see how Germans travel within their own country and how they subsequently view their fellow citizens and the varied landscapes of their nation.

My recent four-week trip through central Germany in October proceeded in the same peaceful way as every other visit to Germany I’ve had since 2001. At no time did I feel threatened, and I don’t travel under a cloak of dread or fear. Yes, I have experienced racism in Germany, but confrontations have been brief, few, and far in between. In fact, the number of incidents in Germany is comparable to the number I’ve experienced in my home country of Canada. I can’t speak for others and I can’t equate my experiences with other people. After 17 consecutive years of traveling to Germany, I keep finding new experiences, meeting new people, and learning new things. The continuing fulfillment of that promise keeps me coming back to Germany.
Meet Henry on Twitter.

More: Eyewitness - Travel Europe Today

Ben Lee from the UK, Caitlin Kelly from the US and Patrycja Oosthuizen from South Africa.

Joy from the UK and Jenny Freedman from Australia.

Leah from Australia.

Lori Sorrentino from the US.

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