VISITING GERMANY

 

The German mentality can be summed up in one phrase:

‘They never cross the road against the lights.’

They like rules and to have others follow the same rules, even if they don’t know what they are exactly.

If you do cross when the red man is flashing, you will get ‘tsk tsked’ and even verbally reprimanded. I mean, what kind of example are you sending out to the children?

 

The Germans are the more similar us than any other European nationality.

We share the same values of family, friendship, fun and tolerance.  Like us, they love to walk through nature and enjoy the great outdoors, albeit they may be naked.

 

Their sense of humour is more slapstick, and the reason they are falsely accused of being humourless, it is due to taking things a bit more literally.  But they do share conversation with loud belly laughs when having a beer at the local pub.

 

They can be tattle-tales if you don’t conform.  Even neighbours, who accidentally hang their washing out wonky, can be subject to scrutiny.  If your kid is running riot in your flat on a Sunday (which is legally deigned a day of peace and quiet), your downstairs neighbour will quickly knock on your door and remind you of your obligation.  No cutting the lawn or playing piano on a Sunday mind!

 

Some flats lock the washing room at 10pm and it may be frowned upon to flush the loo at night.  You will have time to make sure you do your average 4 hours of cleaning and housekeeping per day, as long as you do it quietly.

Flats will often have rosters in the lobby, where you can see when it is your turn to sweep out the entry or tidy the garden.  Half of all Germans live in flats, so it is important to keep them tidy and presentable.

 

Furniture is unfussy and made with form and function in mind.  Solid wood with chunky legs and an uncluttered side table; clean surfaces and recycled bits are the norm.  Many visitors are surprised at the austere appearance of some hotel rooms.  One thing they do excel in, is bedding. Nothing beats a clean, crisp German duvet and fluffy pillow.

Hotel bathrooms can either be equipped with heated flooring and light up make up mirrors, or be so clinical, you may think that you slipped into the facilities at the local factory by accident.

They are very friendly.  Like anywhere, you will find some crotchety old buggers who refuse to smile and who shout at you for touching the vegetable display, but generally they are wonderfully hospitable people.  The more bones they break when they shake your hand, the more they like you.

 

Always address new acquaintances as Herr or Frau, until they invite you to use their first name. The best way to get on their good side is to acknowledge how difficult whatever they are doing is.  As eternal pessimists, a simple ‘My goodness, you work hard.  I don’t know how you do it,’ will get you several brownie points.

 

They also give the most money to famine relief and third world aid, but will charge for every pat of butter and sachet of ketchup.  People are thrifty, as you would be after so many economic collapses.  This makes Germany a great place to shop.  Also quality is paramount.  Don’t expect anything fussy or overdone.  A German’s idea of dressing up, is wearing a suit jacket with their jeans.

 

They do not relax easily, and must accomplish something.  Reading and outings are quite often educational.  Everyone belongs to clubs.  It is a social obligation.  If you don’t then there is something wrong with you.  Learn to sing, bowl or garden, but get out there, Never be late for anything.  Punctuality is sincerity, reliability and loyalty.  Just be aware that when they say half six, they mean five thirty.

 

Food is an important part of life in the German household.  Because they are very hardworking and industrious, food is hearty and healthy. Breakfast can be meat, cheese, bread and several types of grains, dried fruit and yoghurt. Lunch, a hearty soup with liver sausage and heavy bread. Dinner a massive chunk of roasted pork product, with sauerkraut and bread.

Salads can be extensive with lettuce, cucumber slices, grated carrot, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, sliced cabbage, tomato and a lavish dollop of salad cream, among other things.

If you visit a restaurant, you normally seat yourself and it is okay to sit with strangers.  Just acknowledge them and sit yourself down.

The main fast food and a large part of the staple diet in general is bread and sausage. There are 200 types of bread and 1,500 types of sausage.

 

Toilets.

You will quite often need to pay to use the toilet, even if you are dining in a restaurant.  It is normally 50 cents and there will be an attendant or a basket with money in it.  Germans obediently pay whether anyone is there or not.

You might encounter an unusual toilet where the pan  is flat and there is no pool of water.  These allow you to….errr…inspect what you made, to check your health. If you need to make a special delivery, it is wise to put paper down on the pan so the flush will wash everything away cleanly.

 

So eat, drink and enjoy the immense diversity and hospitality of Germany.