Gutentag! We are in Deutschland and are enjoying the adventure thus far. We have now been in Germany for a little over a week, and boy did it fly by. Thanks to Google and conversations with people who have lived in Europe beforehand, we had a general idea of what to expect here. However, we find ourselves admiring, chuckling, and adjusting to the unique things living in Europe has to offer thus far. Of course I wanted to share them with you… 🙂 So here you have it : 16 things we have learned and experienced in the past week –
#16. The German woman presenting our cultural orientation made it clear: Germans do not generally smile when passing or interacting with you unless something is funny. They will not often converse with people they do not know unless it is necessary. They do not understand why Americans smile when passing by or starting a conversation because, to them, we are smiling for no reason…which means we are untrustworthy. As Americans, we want people to like us. Germans do not care if you like them. They speak straight to the point and can seem rude or abrasive to us, but this is just a cultural difference in mannerisms. I have to really get used to this…at least I might delay the continued development of my laugh lines – haha! 😉
#15. Everyone told me we would have no problems because most Germans speak fluent English. I have not found this to be true, and have humiliated myself performing gestures to purchase items in stores. I hope to attend some German Language classes to help in these situations.
#14. The streets and buildings are all kept spick-and-span in Germany. You won’t see trash lying around. The German citizens seem to take pride in everything they do… and cleanliness and being environmentally conscientious is a norm for them.
#13. Spring and Summer are going to be beautiful here. There are already tiny flowers starting to bloom everywhere in the grass, and I cannot wait to see what the manicured areas look like!
#12. Though I was a little intimidated by driving with different laws and signs in other languages, driving is much easier here than I thought and I actually appreciate the efficiency of the signs, rules and common courtesies. Even with lanes in tiny tunnels. 😉
#11. Again this is in my very plain and basic hotel room…but there are some features in here that just make since so much more than the standard design in the US. For example, Windows are made to circulate air efficiently with the upper and lower window. Also, the upper window is designed to be opened by short people – easily. See that handle? Thank you German engineering!
#10. Also, if you know all of the inconvenient issues that water splashing behind the sink can cause in the US. Leaks under the sink or where silicone is not sealed properly, etc. Here there is a drain all the way around the sink…so if water splashes behind the faucet it runs in that little gutter either to the bowl of the sink or into the drain holes in the gutter behind the faucet. Simple. Smart. Why is this not more common in the US?
#9. Germans are very enthusiastic about health and outdoor activities. We see dozens of people walking in fields for leisure as well as all over town doing their errands. Biking is a major and very common form of transportation. Even these little elderly people are always in town with their bicycles.
#8. Outdoor markets are a big deal, and full of fresh everything! Instead of grocery bags many locals carry wicker baskets to bring home just enough fresh food for a day or two. So now I need a basket, obviously 😉 .
#7. E U R O P E I S V E R Y V E R Y D O G F R I E N D L Y . 😀
#6. Our last name will be on almost everything. Weiss is pronounced “Vice” here, and what was considered pretty unique in the US literally translates as “White” here…so now we might as well be the Smiths. 😉
#5. At restaurants, you have to buy water. The plus side is that it is typically sparkling water. I have enjoyed it, but if you ask Bryan it tastes like the soda syrup just ran out. 😉
#4. Cake and Coffee is a thing that is welcomed daily here and usually in the afternoons around 3:30. We have no objections. 😉 However, the sense of urgency has come upon me to get back to a gym routine ASAP.
#3. We knew that public restrooms would be something you paid to use, or that you can often have access to a restroom at a store when purchasing a coffee or a meal. We could not find a public restroom so we tried a bakery and bought a pretzel (that was delicious btw!) but after our purchase she told us there was no bathroom. So we tried a bigger sit-down bakery…and after another snack (Did I mention we need to get a workout routine going?) we discovered that the restroom he pointed to was actually not available. So we turned to the only place we could find nearby – a flower shop – which resulted in the obligation to buy myself flowers in exchange for use of their restroom. But hey, this girl’s not complaining. 😉
#2. We have discovered that the buildings in these towns are so rich with history, but we need to read as much as possible about where we visit beforehand, as we currently do not have data on our phones and the informational signs are all in other languages. Seems like we should have realized this before now, but there is a lot of new things to our new normal. 😉
#1. The German lady presenting the cultural orientation the other day mentioned that in Bavaria there is no separation between church and state. She explained it this way – “In Bavaria we highly regard our religion. In our towns and cities, you will never see a building that is taller than our church because nobody is above God. We say ‘Merry Christmas,’ and it is just the way it is. Never correct a German with ‘Happy Holidays’. Because in Germany it is Merry Christmas, and if you don’t like it a German will tell you to go back to where you came from. There is no separation between church and state. There is no separation between church and beer either.” 😉
If you know Bryan and I you know how we just don’t sit still too often. We travel almost as much as we can cram it in. So why would the first weekend in a foreign country be any different? After enjoying Saturday afternoon in Erlangen (most photos above) – a town dating back to the year 1002, we decided to spend Sunday visiting the town of Cheb in the Czech Republic. I chucked when we passed this and jokingly told Bryan “This must be where Germany puts its trash.” I’m kidding I am kidding! But you would NOT see this (below) in Germany. 😉
But in all seriousness, the Czech Republic’s city of Cheb was beautiful almost everywhere. Walking on these cobblestone
streets and enjoying the unique and beautiful architecture was so much fun. 🙂
We had a nice weekend and getting out is helping us feel not as stuck in the hotel which is wonderful. This weekend should have more fun new adventures in store, and as always I am sure to realize how much there is to see and learn along the way.