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European lessons: Curiosity, history, and revelation page 3
Visions of Germany and France, by Karen Owen

 Munich's Marienplatz features the Ratskeller, where conversation between tourist and resident is easy.
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Date published: 11/25/2012


But I was impressed that these programs were so prominently featured on television in our cozy hotel room near the Marienplatz, with its charming Middle Ages glockenspiel, the Ratskeller, and biergartens. I had read and heard from many sources that the German government and people have genuinely worked to acknowledge their past religious and racial prejudices, their "killing fields," their sad place in history. The words "never again" adorn the memorials. It's one of the reasons, after 35 years of travel in Europe, that I finally allowed myself the pleasure of being a tourist here.


Today, despite the challenges within the EU, Germany itself is prosperous. The same appears true to the tourist's eye for my personal favorite in foreign countries: France. There, the press acknowledges the challenges faced by its economy, and when you're taking the train into the Gare de l'Est, the suburbs look grim.

But it's hard not to suspect that there's something in these two modern and progressive countries that's going right. If the citoyens of France aren't "free" because of their so-called socialist form of government, it's impossible to discern.

When we were departing for home, our driver to the airport enthusiastically said, "Please come back to France! You are always welcome in France! Americans are always welcome in France!"

He certainly doesn't have to twist my arm.

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Karen Owen is Viewpoints editor of The Free Lance-Star.