Day One Hundred and Seventeen: Dresden to Meissen
It being a peach of a morning, the tables on deck are soon full of bread, bratwurst and even a few beers, though it's just nine o'clock. The only seat I can find is next to a lady engineer from Lake Constance, way down near the Swiss border. She's an independent traveller, in her thirties, and although she's from the depths of West Germany her opinion on how things are going seems very similar to those of East German Felix. What she calls 'the forty years of separation' are not yet overcome and she thinks that a sense of unity will have to wait for a new generation.
'But I'm a little worried about the teenagers of nowadays,' she confesses. 'We call them the fun generation. They aren't interested in history.'
Our big red paddle-wheels chug round, smoke drifts from the newly painted black funnel. Green fields and distant low hills slide by, gentle riverine scenery reminiscent of the Thames valley. Those who aren't tucking into picnics are taking photos, or checking their hiking gear, whilst a number of sun-reddened figures, leathery and lean, tinker with their bikes. A cycle path runs the length of the Elbe and you can, if you like, pedal all the way to Hamburg. Not a bad way to see Germany.
My companion and I talk about Europe. She is oddly evasive when I ask her if Germany, as the biggest economy in Europe, feels the responsibility of leadership. To her generation, the words 'German' and 'leadership' still raise uncomfortable spectres. She shies away from politics, and thinks that the best results from Germany's up-coming Presidency of the EU will be on the less controversial ground of climate control. She expresses polite doubts about further expansion of the European Union, worrying that the rich countries will have to pick up a big bill, and is confused about Turkish membership.
'I don't know how to think,' she says, spreading her arms, 'it's half in Asia and half in Europe.'
Choose another day from New Europe
- Series: New Europe
- Chapter: Day One Hundred and Seventeen: Dresden to Meissen
- Country/sea: Germany
- Place: Dresden
- Book page no: 270
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