I`ve never been to Germany before except fleeting transfers through airports. I was a little surprised that, when we let the children choose our main holiday, Germany was the answer. The more I thought about it, the greater the helpless feeling which I haven’t felt for many years.
I’ve travelled well I think. All continents: for both business and pleasure. My favourite destination is France. We started many years ago with a safe trip to Paris and with growing confidence we’ll deliberately aim for somewhere off the beaten track – as French as we can find. We’ll book directly so that we can go somewhere a little different. We/I quite like the uncertainty and the feeling of exploration which a package holiday just can’t provide. I’m no snob – I can “all-inclusive” as well as anyone – it’s just I prefer an experience vacation.
With France the difference is language. Most holidays I’ve been to tourist destinations where English is accepted or I’ve been with guides. In Spain and Italy I can get by with enough nouns and simple verbs but in France I feel I have enough French to survive well. I can make my point and even ask questions to learn a bit more but I am bit slow understanding French spoken to me. This puts me at a critical point in that the better I get at pronouncing and constructing sentences, the more the French think I ought to be capable – it’s a nuclear arms race which I always lose.
And so to Germany where I have no vocab, no grammar and when I see the written language I can’t pick out the meaning in the way I can in other languages. It may as well be cyrillic script. Worse still, its a major European country where I feel I ought to be more capable and where the people rightly make no concessions to non-speakers. Thankfully my daughter is good at German and thrives on being our leader and my wife can be polite in it. So I’ve learned my Please, Thank you, Yes, No, numbers 1-5 and, of course “beer”. To be fair the numbers seem a bit of a luxury as I do have fingers.
Despite best endeavours here I am, helpless in Munich, and feeling as out of my depth as if I was in South America or Asia. I am totally reliant on my daughter for communication around me and to explain what is going on. It struck me that as time goes by increasingly technology, English vernacular, values and customers…my children are far more intuitively engaged with technology for example. Is the German experience actually a sign of things to come?
Is this what old age will offer?