The Art of the Stroll

Strolling, like single-handedly dismantling a queue by utterly failing to grasp its function, is a great German past time. Whereas us English speakers tend to just ‘go for a walk’ and reserve the word ‘stroll’ for the most relaxed, aimless of walks, the word ‘Spaziergang’ peppers the average German’s response to ‘what did you do on the weekend?’ as a viable activity like going out for dinner. Germans don’t just stroll when they have nothing else to do, in manner of ‘we have two hours to kill before the movie starts, we could go for a walk’ or, ‘I feel quite ill from that enormous lunch, perhaps we should go for a walk to help me digest.’ No, Germans set aside time for a stroll, they dress specifically to stroll – lightweight jacket, sensible shoes – and they leave the house with the intention of purely strolling for a solid period of time. When one strolls here, depends on personal preference; some enjoy the post-meal stroll, some partake in the twilight perambulation, scarf firmly around neck. Many spend entire Sundays simply strolling around, doing great loops around town, pausing only for respite in the form of a gigantic slice of Kuchen and its accompanying Kaffee. Indeed the act of Kaffee und Kuchen, another great German past time, is often inextricably linked with a stroll. Either one can precede the other, and quite often both activities occur in some sort of trilogical harmony with lunch.

It was therefore with the most German of feelings, that I spent a large part of my own Sunday, strolling. We were yet to have checked out our neighbourhood which is, as it transpires, an extremely attractive one. Prior to setting out on our stroll, we lined our stomachs with the most classic of bakery breakfasts at the bakery across the road (you know the breakfast – Brötchen, individual pats of butter, little dishes of various creamy, cheesy, meaty spreads) because when you’re going to do something German style you may as well go the whole hog (or Schwein). Sensibly shod, we proceeded with our perambulations through our neighbourhood, down to the water where only the recent breakfast deterred us from picking up a bratwurst snack, and looped back up to our place via Oma’s. And to Oma’s we, naturally, bought Kuchen.

The only other time I ever recall feeling quite so German was when I was presented with a Spargel peeler.

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11 Replies to “The Art of the Stroll”

  1. I agree the Germans fuss (make big deal of something)a lot about taking a Spaziergang, but it’s usually well worth it. I always enjoy the Sonntagsspaziergänge near a castle, in the park or in the woods or mountains and then go to a cafe for Kaffee und Kuchen or a Waldschenke for beer and a bratwurst. It’s why I like living here.
    BTW- I wasn’t sure about using the word “fuss” as a verb from the adjective” fussy.” I think it might be a regionalism from Pittsburgh, PA USA ,where I grew up. But we do enjoy it, when people DO make a fuss over us. lol

      1. On that note – and at the same time completely unrelated: In the Cologne area, the word “Fuss” (pronounced like “Fuß” (foot) but with a short ‘u’ – describes a redhead. And I am already looking forward to my Sunday afternoon Spaziergang followed by the mandatory Kaffee und Kuchen. I guess I am more German than I like to admit. 😉

        1. Haaaaa, fun fact! Thank you! I am also partial to the Sunday stroll follow by Kuchen – one feels they have earned the Kuchen.

  2. I love those moments, when you feel like you’re really a part of the culture. Not that you’re just doing something Germans do but that you feel like you are actually German yourself. I had the same moments in Chile and they were precious!

    1. Interesting point, Gaby. However, despite living on-and-off in Germany for a number of years, I don’t think their ‘culture’ is within my grasp. I understand Germany, to a certain extent – culturally as well as politically – as an Ausländer – have a basic grasp of things here etc, etc. If I spoke German as a native speaker, my outlook might change……

      1. What I mean to say here is: unless someone speaks German at native speaker level, ie. Hochdeutsch, for the sake of arguement, it’s very hard not to be an ‘outsider’ despite being in a German-speakers-Freundeskreis. You may speak German with an accent. You may consider yourself integrated: your BF and family is German, you have German friends etc, etc. Until one finally leaves their ‘otherness’ behind, one cannot feel like a German. Don’t really know how it feels to feel actually German ‘oneself’….. when one is not German.

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