Sunday, January 6, 2013

My Favorite Ten Odd Things on Germany

Remember....I only write from an American prospective on Germany, and it's not for the benefit of Germans or German society that I make my observations.

1.  Sunday and trucks.  It's an odd feeling to drive around Germany on a typical Sunday, and there's rarely not a single truck to be seen.  German law dictates on Saturday evening....that truckers come to a halt, until late Sunday evening.  So the only trucks you see anywhere.....are usually milk trucks or a special waiver truck.  Occasionally....some idiot from another country will drive into Germany and suddenly find the cops on his case....with a fine....for Sunday truck driving.

If you ever drive around in July or August.....on a would swear that it's just one chaotic traffic problem.  But the next day....suddenly traffic clears up for the most part, and you start to wonder where the trucks went and hid out.

2.  Upon arrival in Germany and sipping a German come to realize that there is a hundred German beers which have a unique taste.  I admit some aren't that great (Bitburger, for example).  An American starts to compare and find that beer can actually be made better (and stronger).  Then you start find Dutch and Danish beers that join the pack.

3.  The lack of food poisoning.  In the twenty-odd years associated with German living....I've only known two or three cases of food poisoning....all with the same German restaurant (I won't mention their name, but it's a Mexican place near Ramstein).  Otherwise, you just never find a place where you might get sick off their food.     You have to remember....Americans eat out alot, and in Germany....I've probably stopped at well over 300 restaurants in my life, and other than some fairly greasy food here and there....most places were pretty decent places that I'd go back too again.

4.  The traffic circles do work.  I might have taken a hundred approaches for me to finally get the hang of the traffic circle....but after a while, they are a fine idea.  I admit, it might take decades to introduce these in some US states and get acceptance.  But generally, they fit right into an American's dream of the "Caifornia-stop".

5.  This dog thing in restaurants.  It does still bother me when I stop into a place of fine food, and there's some German individual with their dog there next to the table.  I probably haven't gotten to a point of accepting that practice yet, and might never overcome my reluctance on standard German practice.

6.  The standard German breakfast.  Yeah, the common hearty breakfast that I became used an American....kinda came to an end.  So you get used to this idea of a brotchen or two....jelly or honey....a small cup of weak orange juice, maybe a piece of cheese and a slice of ham (tiny and thin), and a cup of coffee as your morning breakfast.  And yes, you later have another coffee and a sweet role or such in mid-morning.  It's a long and hard step down for an American to get used to such a start each day.

7.  Cellphone reception.  Yes, it is crisp and clear....unlike most American metropolitan areas. Perhaps there are more antennas and a better network system in place.  After a while, you just accept it.  Then you return to the US and feel like you are talking on walkie-talkies.

8.  Soccer fans go to the same extreme as NFL fans.  It's best not to disturb a German guy on a Saturday or Sunday evening during a critical game.  He's sitting quietly in his living....absorbed with key fielding and kicking, and really doesn't want any distractions from someone who doesn't understand the significant matter of soccer.

9.  The VAT business.  After a while, you begin to understand that every price you with tax already added.  Everything, from soup to laptops....are priced with VAT.  I admit, it's a fairly smart idea, but then you start thinking about this 19-percent tax and getting a bit disgusted over the amount of taxation involved with each purchase.  And you still pay a full income tax on top of that.

10.  Car accidents on the autobahn are pretty drastic.  In a typical year, you will come across around forty accidents (my own humble average during a year).  On regular streets and roads....most are survivable and you see people just complaining over their cellphone to the cops or insurance folks about this "mess".  The accidents on the autobahn?  They always end up pretty severe and folks get taken off to the hospital or morgue.  After a while, you begin to notice that folks in Volvos, Mercedes, and Audi's all tend to be just lightly injured....due to all of the safety mechanisms.  Then you notice that smaller the Smart....usually are totally crushed up and not much left to indicate that it was a Smart to start with.  Then after a couple of years of observing the accidents....for some start to drive at a lesser speed (my own experience) for the most part.  Maybe it helps...maybe not....but you'd like some statistical advantage when in a car accident.    

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