Beneath the surface

A while ago I was set an almost impossible challenge: to write honestly about the city I lived in, without making it sound completely horrible. Trust me; it’s harder than it sounds!

For three years I lived in Mannheim, a city in south-west Germany. It was almost completely flattened in the war so the majority of the buildings are concrete blocks, no more than six storeys high. Add a grid pattern street layout and you’re left with what looks like a pile of grey slates. Clearly it’s no Paris but, as with people, it’s what’s underneath right?

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Mannheim is situated between two rivers, the Rhine and the Neckar. Warm afternoons were spent picnicking by the banks of the rivers, summer evenings sipping cocktails with friends at our favourite outdoor bar. Boat rides in Luisenpark, swimming in the nearby lake, dinner at the Fernmeldeturm revolving restaurant and nights by the Wasserturm (water tower) fountains. Okay, so Mannheim isn’t so bad in the summer! But once the trees drop their leaves and the sun appears less and less, the “greyness” becomes more prominent and you quickly run out of things to keep you occupied. I guess it’s a shame I always went back home during the summer. It’s an easy place to live; it has plenty of shops and places to eat. If you like Turkish food, there certainly isn’t a shortage in Mannheim! It’s a university city but not a large city so it’s relatively quiet.

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Perhaps the most important aspect for me is the memories I created whilst living there. I met many wonderful people, a few became some of my closest friends; I travelled a lot because of the location; I got my first taste for living overseas and I learnt about myself and the world outside of the bubble Australia seems to exist in.

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I don’t recommend Mannheim for tourists, and I’m not in a hurry to go back. But it’s not the worst place in the world, far from it. I can say this honestly because as I said my final goodbyes, all those memories came flooding back, making this place harder to leave than home.

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Comments
5 Responses to “Beneath the surface”
  1. It kind of reminds me of my small town in Sweden called Uppsala. I think small towns really do show the essence of a country, moreso than big metropolitan cities.

  2. Lena Harman says:

    I like the way you write, its a joy finding a blogger like you. I like your entries they are all a great mix of inner self discovery and exploring the world – all the luck in the future :)

  3. I am having the exact same feelings about the town I’m living in – Würzburg! It’s actually quite a pretty town, but the weather leaves a lot to be desired, especially for an Aussie from Perth! We had a lovely warm week last week, and the first wine festival, and I actually felt like I’d miss Würzburg when I went back to Australia next year. But it’s back to being gloomy and cold today!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, and can I just say, that first photo in the park with the tyre swing – absolutely gorgeous!

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