About two months ago.....I had my 40th year since arriving in Germany originally (1978). I've come and gone....come and gone....come and gone.....and come back. I've sat and pondered upon the 1978 period, and my perception of Germany, and what has really changed over the past forty years. So, ten observations.
1. In 1978, everywhere you looked around the Frankfurt region, everything was built to last, and work. You just never saw anything that was broke or 'kaput'. Today? Virtually everywhere you go or view....something is disfunctional or marginally working. If you bring up the Berlin Airport, the Hamburg Opera House, or the Stuttgart subway project.....Germans just grin because it's now a daily event to point out things which just don't work. I can't really explain how things got so screwed up over forty years except that the old guys retired, and the new guys just aren't up to the job.
2. In 1978, you could go out to a local gasthaus and have an entire plate of home-cooked food with a German beer for about five DM's ($2.50). Today? About 50-percent of the restaurants won't serve anything with the home-cooked slant to it. Most have some frozen package, which they heat up and serve. If they do offer it, it's in the range of twelve Euro for the Schnitzel platter, with the beer. That's about $14.50 US dollars.
3. In 1978, you just didn't worry about crime. Well...you did worry about the Red Army Faction and terror attacks (like you do today). You could have left your car unlocked and nothing would have been stolen from it. Today? You lock everything. When you exit a train, you scan your surroundings. Walking down some shopping district, you scan 360 degrees.
4. In 1978, German guys used to stop on the way home and have a beer or two at least twice a week. Today? Maybe one guy out of fifty would stop off these days. Germans drink less beer these days.
5. In 1978, you could walk along the streets of Frankfurt and admit that 50-percent of the women were dressed in some awful fashion design that made no sense. Forty years later.....you could walk the same streets, and find that again.....fifty-percent of the German women are dressed in some awful and weird fashion statement....that makes no sense.
6. In 1978, just about everywhere you looked in Frankfurt....massive construction was underway. In 2018, just about everywhere you look in Frankfurt.....massive construction is underway.
7. In 1978, over a whole day of walking around some metropolitan city in Germany.....you might have seen five beggars. In 2018, you go and walk the same streets in that metropolitan German city for a whole day, and you probably note at least forty beggars. Oddly, most of those today aren't German.
8. In 1978, over an average day of walking around....you would have likely bumped into Germans, Turks, and Americans. In 2018, in an average day.....you will likely bump into a minimum of forty nationalities.
9. In 1978, you would have stopped at a German cafe and sipped some of the strongest coffee in your life. In 2018, well....nothing much there has changed.
10. In 1978, you could have boarded a German train with no AC, and in July....the only cooling effect was to let down the window. Today, all of the trains have AC, but none of them are built to handle a temperature above 32-Celsius. So you tend to think about getting off about an hour into your trip....just to have a beer and chill off. In 1978, the toilets onboard the trains worked.....although I admit they simply just dumped whatever you 'did' onto the tracks. In 2018, the toilets are built to store and then dump each night at some maintenance point. However, about 30-percent of the time, you find a nice sign on the toilet door noting 'defective', and you start planning a brief stop at the next station to do your business.