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March 24, 2007

20 things to keep in mind when visiting Germany

Posted in: Germany

1. We know beer - you don’t.
I don’t know who labeled your dishwater “beer”, but it’s misleading. When you order a beer in Germany - don’t expect it to be ice cold. And yes, the foam is intended to be there.

2. The Autobahn
This much is true: On the autobahn no speed limit sign actually means no speed limit.

3. Soccer is not for chicks. Well, not only.
In Germany most women don’t care about soccer. Men do. Combine the American fondness for football, basketball and baseball, and you have an idea what soccer means to us.

4. When you want to see people wearing “Lederhosen” - go to Bavaria.
Bavaria is the German Texas. People speak in a funny way, wear strange things and the rest of the country makes fun of them. The Bavarian “Lederhosen” are like the Texan cowboy hats.

5. Sundays are for relaxation, not for shopping. The same goes for holidays - and we’ve got lots of them.
Yes, Germans like rules and this is one most foreigners don’t understand. Shopping of all kind is done weekdays from 8 am to 9 pm (every shop has different times, but most open in this timeframe). The only exception: Gas stations. That’s why some of them look like small grocery stores.

6. Don’t expect us to smile. We’re not at Wal-Mart.
In the 90s Wal-Mart spent billions to become a big shot in Germany’s retail market. Greeting customers, smiling, being friendly,suppressing unions - the whole package. In 2006 they sold their stores and left. We’re not big at smiling for no reason.

7. Don’t speak German? Try English.
Most Germans, age 40 and below, speak English. Maybe their English is not perfect, but you should get by. Oh, and should you feel the urge to laugh about their accent - Try to speak German. We like a good laugh now and then, too.

8. When you hear “Volksmusik” - RUN!
It’s like an endless polka of hell. Although I don’t have scientific proof, I am sure that Volksmusik can melt your brain.

9. Yes, we have a public transportation system.
With the exception of tiny villages you can go nearly everywhere without a car. If you don’t understand why this is important to us, fill up your gas tank at a German gas station and look at your bill. And we tend to be environmentalists.

10. You don’t like to see two men kissing? Look the other way (And don’t go to Cologne).
Like I said in another post - unless we want to be involved, we don’t care about other people’s sexuality. Oh, and Cologne is like the gay capital of Germany.

11. I don’t care what you have heard about European liberality when it comes to sex and drugs - This is not Holland!
No coffee shops, no legal drug supply. When it comes to drugs, Germany is not much different from the US.

12. If you don’t want to see nipples, don’t turn on the tv.
I’m serious. Especially the program of the private stations at night can be a series of phone sex commercials.

13. It’s not pessimism when you know that everything is bad.
One day god told the people: “The world is going to end.” The Germans were pissed and went home. Then he continued: “It will take a couple of billion years.” The Americans were happy. Okay, I can’t proof it, but I guess that’s how it happened.

14. Should you travel with kids age 16 or older: Watch them.
They are legally allowed to drink beer and wine. No hard liquor, though.

15. No math needed. Our stated prices include taxes.
I never understood why you put price tags on products, that don’t state what you have to pay.

16. Don’t wait to be seated.
Look, there is an empty nice table. Have a seat. Easy concept.

17. Tips are nice, but not mandatory.
In Germany a waiter’s salary is enough to get by. It’s not much, but makes a tip not mandatory. In Germany it is a pure sign of gratitude for a good service.

18. We use 220/230 V instead of 110 V. Buy an adapter.
Seriously, you wouldn’t believe how many tourists come here unprepared.

19. The nazi-times are long gone.
But that doesn’t mean that there are not some leftovers. If someone looks like a Skinhead, shouts like a skinhead and smells like a skinhead - trust your judgement and try to avoid him. Especially in Eastern Germany.

20. Don’t believe everything you read on the web. Not even this list.
It’s a generalization. Most people you meet in a German city are not that much different than the ones at home. We can be friendly and funny and very hospitably.

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