I was in Konstanz at the beginning of September for a friend’s wedding.
I was struck how little has changed in the town centre since I first went there in 1993.
The same businesses seem to be running with the same management, the same bars, the same ice cream shops, the same cinema. Old logos and signs are still in evidence. The hairdresser’s near a friend’s hotel was celebrating its 45th anniversary.
Germans seem to look the same as well. Older people wear expensive but sturdy and long lasting coats. Teenage fashions don’t look that different. Even the punks lounging around drinking warm beer and begging haven’t changed their clothes (probably literally), although a few more piercings and tattoos are in evidence. The travelling alcoholic tramps – a very German sight at every railway station and town square – all had the same type of rucksack their doubtless long dead colleagues used to, clinking with empty bottles of the same brands of beer and schnapps.
The kind of obesity that’s now common in the UK doesn’t seem to have had the same influence in this South German tourist town. Slim, healthy looking Teutons still stroll and cycle around, with lots of middle class professionals still smoking twenty HB a day, years after their British equivalents gave up their Benson and Hedges. There appeared to be a ban on smoking indoors, but even pipe smokers were in evidence when the sun came out and lunchtime beers were being drunk in the cafes.
The newest cars had Swiss number plates. Expensive but old – and well maintained – German plated vehicles seemed to be the standard, still, for German families.
I didn’t expect the 13th century buildings to have been replaced with glass and steel, but compared to the UK high street, things had very much remained the same.
I felt instantly at home, just as I did as an 18 year old on my first visit.