2015/09/07

Think: #RefugeesWelcome

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They go through hell hoping for a better future. Some of them hoping for a future at all. A future they don't see in their country anymore, the place they call home. Where they've grown up, met friends, lived with their family, made memories that will last a lifetime. Memories which will now always have a bitter taste to them. The taste of hunger, the taste of thirst, of blood, bombs, war, threat.
A fear haunting them in their dreams, clinging to them, keeping them alarmed even when they've reached the destination of their escape. Their future. Safety.

Safety? Safety is described as the condition of being protected against physical, social, spiritual, financial, political, emotional, occupational, psychological, educational, or other types or consequences of failure, damage, error, accidents, harm, or any other event that could be considered non-desirable. (Source: Wikipedia)

All these souls, most of them innocent, helpless, frightened from what they've seen, what they've gone through, risked their lives, left their home, their former safety, in belief Europe is a better place to live. I live in Germany, and at the moment, we're absorbing a huge part of the refguees who arrive. From Syria, Serbia, Afghanistan. And I only named the top three on the German list. They don't arrive in front of our town house, or knock on a hotel's door. They arrive on boats, packed with way too many people, get hauled together for registration and then distributed. This process sounds like we were machining down products in a factory. Except they're not products, they're humans. What we have here are governments struggling, being overwhelmed by the masses of people seeking help.

I don't even want to talk about the political, economical side of all this, neither about the lack of space, clothing, items of daily life in general.
I want to talk about the human side. Humanity. Religious, ethical, educational, financial, spritiual differences don't matter. We're over that. At least I'd like to say we are and not feel like I was lying to myself. But. We. Are. One. To everyone of you to whom an Afroamerican person should legitimatedly be treated differently than anybody else (for instance be shot because their fingers look like a gun to you and it was so dark you couldn't see anything - hello, United States!) or whom mosques and synagoges are a bother - you should be ashamed of yourself.
And because of you, I am repeating myself: We are one. We're human. And everybody deserves living in a safe environment. Don't think any parent would put their child in an open boat if the land was safer than the water.

We're daily watching the suffering of others on the news, presented to us so sober, factual, objective that most of us don't waste any more thoughts on it. Neither do they think about the protests, the burning of asylum-seekers' hostels, the hate. And again, I am ashamed to be connected to these people who are spreading it out there how racist and evil we Germans are. Which is why I'm even more grateful for the positive movements  that were formed. I'm speaking of Aktion Arschloch or #RefugeesWelcome. Every smile, every warm welcome is so important. To send a message out there. Those people have suffered enough. They are seeking help and we should do everything possible to help them into a new life. We're lucky to live in a stable country, peaceful, wealthy, without war and terror. If it were us who had left our homes and fled our former lives, we would appreciate it either, if some stranger would voluntarily take some of their free time to make us feel a little less foreign, a little less strange and help us begin building up and existence again.

Disclaimer: Seeing so many posts on this issue recently, I didn't plan on throwing another opinion out there. I felt like some bloggers I enjoy reading had made their point - which is also my point - perfectly clear and I didn't need my own words to state my opinion. But now, with the heartbreaking picture of this young, little boy who had his life ahead of him, laying dead on the beach, I had to. Even if nobody may read this. But there's a tiny chance somebody does and that would already be enough. I think it's so important to not just let things happen because we think we can't change anything anyways. As I said, it starts with a smile...



2015/09/05

Explore: Höllentalklamm, Germany

Has there ever been a moment in your life in which you thought "This can't be."? And you thought so because you were overwhelmed by the unbelievable beauty in front of your eyes, a beauty you've never seen before, never known of, never thought possible?
If so, then congratulations. If not, wait for it. It's gonna be worth every drop of sweat you might lose. Because I'm talking about nature. German nature in particular.

Since "Fernweh" - the longing to leave your place and discover the world - is a permanent feeling in my chest, I tend to look at pictures of foreign countries pretty often. I follow tons of photographers, travellers, explorers on instagram, i search tags like "landscape", "naturelovers" and "travelling" nearly on a daily basis. To me, it always seemed like real beauty only was to be found in afar. Nowhere near me.
Oh boy, I was wrong. During a week I discovered some places in Bavaria I would have never thought would exist. Whoops, starting to repeat myself, I should make my point now.
 
 
 
Höllentalklamm, Germany. If you love to be alone in the wilderness, don't attempt to go there on a Saturday like we did due to the rest of our plans for the week. If you love to study people, definitely choose Saturday because you will meet all kinds of them. Including the ones "hiking" up there in ballet pumps and a sequin top, with only one bottle of water.

Going all the way up to the Höllental from which several routes, to the Zugspitze for instance,  detour, took us around three hours, including a big break to eat some bits. Overnight stays will be possible from the beginning of 2016 onwards because they just rebuilt the Höllentalangerhütte. Be careful though, staying there isn't the cheapest!
Exporing Höllentalklamm is possible in one day though.
 
 
You should start in the morning, when the sun isn't up high yet and your skin isn't burning. If you're not staying anywhere near and not taking the train, you'll be glad to be an earlybird. From 8am on, traffic in and around Garmisch-Partenkirchen is jamming quite a lot. Same applies to 4pm. There are several parking areas along the way, you will find a slot closest to the hiking path if you're on time. We weren't - and had to find a spot somewhere in Grainau. Luckily, the owner of the property was a very friendly local who didn't mind us parking along his fence. He even gave us a cucumber for the hike since he had plenty.
Let me just say, the cucumber was delicious.
 
Definitely take a rainjacket with you, as passing by Höllentalklamm is a wet affair. And good hiking shoes obviously. It takes you about one and a half hours to reach Höllentaleingangshütte.
To enter Höllentalklamm, adults pay 4 euros, children, students pay half the price. Pass the turnstile and you're in and looking forward to half an hour of walking along narrow paths, on wet stone, with the ice blue stream beneath you. Partially, the air is so cold you can see your own breath. Once you've made it out, you've got one more hour to go if you want to reach the Höllental, it's worth it, too.
 
 
I never expected to see as many different vegetations and landscapes within these few hours. Basically every stage of our hike we found new beauty to admire. The 4 euros we paid for this experience seemed like nothing to us. I didn't count how often I thought "This can't be", just take me by my word - it was probably every time I peeked around me.
And also in the second I looked up and a little waterfall poured over me. Before hiking through the Höllental, I honestly believed a nature like this could only be found in New Zealand, Canada, or maybe in a national park in the United States. Not in my home country, Germany. It was a welcome enlightenment and I'm looking forward to many more.

P.S.: I took my best to do nature justice, but I still don't think a picture can. You should go and see for yourself. (More pictures on flickr.)