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.