The most thriving public space on the Saturday when I was looking around was that outside the cathedral. There was a absolutely bustling market that had set up overnight and was full of local produce - vegetables (including plenty of white asparagus), cheeses, meats, fish, as well as souvenirs and gifts. The rest of the time, this square is a very open plain around the cathedral (the one pity I think about Norwich market is that when it is closed, it feels very closed).
But then open spaces are not just for markets! This picture is of Augustinerplatz, a square in what I suppose would be the museum quarter of Freiburg. It's where young people hang out to socialise. There are public toilets nearby, and plenty of bars around. It doesn't look terribly busy at the moment, but in the evenings, even on a fairly ordinary weeknight, you literally cannot see the floor for people, all sitting and chatting, and drinking. It creates a wonderful party atmosphere (there was always at least one guitarist strumming away too!). It makes me feel that those who outlawed drinking in public places in the UK, and who want to keep young people off "street corners" are fools. We need more of it, I say!
One thing that continental Europeans are really good at is outdoor dining. OK, they have better weather than us, so it comes more naturally to them, but the thing which I noticed about their streets is that it is not isolated restaurants with their outdoor dining area, it is entire streets, which are constantly bustling with activity, people young and old. Shops are side attractions for the real reason to come into town, which is to eat and drink and socialise!
All photos by the author in Freiburg, Germany. Feel free to use under creative commons share-alike licence.