They say the best things come in small packages. Deggendorf is certainly no exception. Although you might need a few minutes to pin it down on a map, once you’re in it, you'll feel like you wound up in a secluded little bubble of comfort in the far reaches of vast Bavaria. And although located in what is probably Germany's most famous region, the air is filled with an allure unique to this quiet town.
Here's the thing: I hate big cities. Don’t get me wrong, the countless number of shops spread out as far as the eyes can see is definitely a plus. It also is pretty sweet that there are probably more restaurants in bigger cities than all their neighboring towns combined. However, that’s all the good I have to say about them. The never-ending hustle and bustle, the tremoring trams trembling the ground beneath your feet, and the choking crowds bumping into you as you try to walk past them. Mix all these up, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for mental and physical exhaustion. The gray, soulless jungle leaves much for the spirit to desire.
If you look at the map of Germany, I'm sure Munich won't be too troublesome to find. Once you’ve done that, head east and stop a finger or two shy from the Czech and Austrian borders. A little dot labeled "Deggendorf" should be over there. It's a small, quiet town situated on the great Danube River, or, as the Germans call it, the Donau. On a clear day, you can have a tanning session by the river, and you can catch a view of the neighboring mountains. Its main attraction is a cozy city center which has an old town hall (now a café) and lined on each side with shops, bakeries,cafes and restaurants. No skyscrapers. No ivory towers.
But you see, what Deggendorf lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in heart and soul. Walking around, you are enveloped by a sense of peace that's hard to find anywhere anymore. On the way to the city's center, you can stop and look over a small bridge with a creek running under it. It's almost therapeutic, just standing there and having your senses pacified by the tranquility of the water, the lush greenery on either side of the flowing water, and (my personal favorite) watching the ducks go about doing duck things. Oh, and you definitely can tell how clean the air is, because when you first arrive and take in a deep breath, it just feels so crisp.
Back in Amman, it's almost impossible to leave the house without getting stuck in mind-numbing traffic. The roads and streets are quite hilly, so the country isn't designed for any kind of transport that doesn’t involve cars and buses. So imagine my surprise when the streets here barely had light traffic, a dedicated bike lane and just about anything you wanted to reach was, at the furthest, 10 minutes away by foot. Of course, once you have access to a bicycle, any trip you want to make becomes only a song or two away, if not less!
Deggendorf. City of seniors and students. Soulful. Serene. Surreal.
Ziad Alsurakji - Some random guy from Palestine who loves putting words together and drawing an image in your mind. As I did my exchange semester at DIT, I write about the simple, neglected things in life which just about anyone and everyone can relate to. I also love food, like a lot. So if you can bless my palette with new flavors, let's be friends.