Monday, July 11, 2011

German Observations

Here are a few observations I have about Germany:

Things I Like
  • Bakeries - There are tons of them and they're uber delicious. They have this cream monstrosity that is oh-so-yummy it makes me want to go into convulsions and die.
  • Ivy - It's everywhere and is really pretty. (Not the poison variety!)
  • Cobblestones - Quaint and practical (but reportedly difficult to walk on in heels). Because cobblestone streets are just a bunch of little pieces you can put back together, after they tear up a cobblestone street for sewer work it looks like nothing ever happened! Cobblestone streets are also viscous, so they'll move to adapt to changing ground levels.
  • Consonants - It seems like speaking Deutsche is hard work - so many consonants! Their mouth is going crazy. Fun to listen to, watch out for spit.
  • Universal Functional Windows - They're all the same and swing open wide, or pop open at the top. (No screens though.)
  • History - What's old in America is young here. The relationship is approximately: 200 years in America = 1000+ years in Germany. (Our oldest surviving commonly found buildings in America are around 200 years old, while some Indian ruins and Spanish mission ruins are older. The oldest surviving commonly found buildings in Germany are around 1000 years old with some ruins going back 2000 years or so.)
  • Autobahn - Before I came to Germany I thought the Autobahn was one highway, but it turns out the Autobahn is the name of the Germany highway system. Parts of it really don't have a speed limit! Here I am driving 180 kph (110 mph) and some guy in a BMW flies past me like I'm standing still. So cool.
  • End Speed Limit Signs - These nifty signs tell you when a speed limit zone ends. No guessing when that pesky 120 kph zone ends.
  • Kindergartens - "Child garden." We live around half-a-dozen of these and they're really cute. The kiddles play outside a good chunk of the day in what really is best described as a child garden - they play among the bushes and dirt and they all wear little hats. Our favorite child garden apparatus is a giant wicker basket swing that can accommodate 5-8 hat-wearing toddlers at a time. Often another toddler will be pushing the crew - all them silent with little hats on just looking around.
  • Castles - They're everywhere. On our drive to West Germany last week we passed about 10 - and those were just the ones we noticed from the autobahn. (see picture)
  • Civil Engineering works - They love their public works here! In an effort to keep vehicle speeds up on the autobahn (much like high-speed railroads) Germans employ bridges for most valleys across Germany. There are a LOT of road and train bridges. They also love tunnels. There's one tunnel nearby (Lobdeburg Tunnel) they built just because the road was too loud for houses nearby.
German end speed limit sign
Things I Don't Like
  • No Drinking Fountains - Welcome to Europe, the land of people with apparently high water-retention rates. I've seen five drinking fountains since I've been in Germany - two in the Frankfurt International Airport, and three on the American Military Base.
  • No Air Conditioning - All I can say is ugh. The only places with air conditioning are the grocery stores and laser labs (of which there are more-than-the-average here). Even the malls don't have air conditioning.
  • Sorting Trash - Germans sort trash into biowaste (no meat though), recyclables (including a long and confusing list of plastics), paper/cardboard, and everything else. The plastics bin is particularly confusing, I still don't really understand what goes in there...
  • Store Hours - All stores here close early - 8 pm or so for grocery stores, 6 pm for bakeries, etc. Saturday hours are terrible or non-existent.
  • Ugly Dudes - I've noticed a startling proportion of really ugly dudes here in Germany. The women seem normal, but boy are there some ugly guys. Perhaps it's the propensity for really disgusting piercings, lower hygiene standards, or maybe the gene pool is getting a little shallow. Any way, I've seen some real doozies.
  • Smoking - I want to send a memo to every German: smoking is lame. It's much more common here than in the states. They seem to have missed the 90s when smoking went out of style and everyone started dying of lung cancer.
  • No baggers at the grocery store.
  • At McDonalds you have to pay for ketchup and at the grocery stores you have to pay for bags.
  • Gas is super expensive. Last weekend we paid an average of €1.55/liter, that's $8.37/gallon!
  • They like to sneak you a carbonated drink in disguise - watch out for carbonated water, carbonated apple juice, and carbonated orange juice.
And here's a picture of a castle we saw from the highway.
Random castle we saw along the Autobahn


Rachel said...

I think I like the carbonated everything idea.

Anonymous said...

Find out what the name of the cream that you like is. I bet I can make it... also, ask for recipes of anything you like. They probably won't give it to you but you never know...tell them your sister is a baker in the U.S. so won't be competition:)

Jessica Rose said...

I want to visit you. So darn cool!!!