50 things about germany cover photo

My life has very quickly and rather drastically changed once I stepped onto German soil in July 2015. As most people, I had certain ideas about Germany and Germans that I’ve heard through people, gossip, text books, friends of friends, etc. However, I’m glad to say that some things are true, others not so, but I also learned twice as many new things. Thus compiling this list as it became increasingly difficulty to keep track of the many Post-It notes I had tossed into my handbag.

  1. Some important words for non-Germans to know in Northern Germany are:
    1. Moin Moin (hello/good morning/good afternoon/hey)
    2. Entschuldigung (excuse me)
    3. Tchüss (goodbye)
  2. Germans love ice cream. Sundays are usually highlighted with a trip to the Eis-cafe to enjoy a fish bowl size of deliciousness drenched with an alcoholic liquor.
  3. Licorice is everywhere. In Hamburg, it’s difficult to evade the ‘hot tar topped with warm sugar’ smell penetrating various U-Bahn stops.
  4. Most doors open in the opposite direction. It only took three dozen times to walk into the glass door too.
  5. Germans don’t know how (read: pretend) to form a line at the grocery store. Though its the “social etiquette” to draw up in a queue, here in Northern Germany people stand at a distance protecting their “spot in line”.
  6. As a fellow blogger wrote: “Germans lose their s*** when the sun comes out”; I can wholeheartedly agree.
  7. I’m thoroughly convinced that Germans are professional bike-riders. You’re more likely to be hit by a hoard of cycling teenagers on their way to school than a moving car.
  8. Punctuality is not optional, it is a way of life. Everything runs on time and so should you.
  9. A hearty plate of meat with the accompaniment of potatoes makes most Germans’ eyes water with delight.
  10. The fast food in Germany beats the fast food in the U.S. Hello ‘currywurst mit pommes’ and ‘Döner Kebab’!
  11. The most popular spice used in nearly most dishes is curry, with a close second tie of pfeffer or paprika.
  12. Ketchup doesn’t come plain…see point 11.
  13. French fries are eaten with mayonnaise (no thanks)
  14. Beer is considered a food in Bavaria. Cheers to that!
  15. Most Germans are impressed with good drinkers.
  16. It is incredibly rude and sometimes offensive if you do not look into the eyes of each person while toasting your drinks. I was told it was seven years of bad sex or bad luck..whatever. I’m sure a German friend would correct me on this (see point 23).
  17. Germans stare…a lot. And they will continue to stare even if they know you see them staring at you even though it’s rude.
  18. If you’re lucky enough to locate a public toilet, you might be glad to find that it’s clean. You might even consider squatting closer to the sparkling clean toilet seat.
  19. Should you find said public toilet, be ready to fork over anywhere from 0,50 cents to 1,00 Euro per pee.
  20. Being topless on a beach is completely normal.
  21. Nothing warms a German’s heart more than the phrase alles in Ordnung” all is as it’s meant to be. Meaning, order is king here. Life and everything in it has to be organized, sorted, compartmentalized and organized again.
  22. Don’t even think about doing your laundry after 10pm. Causing disturbances between 12-3pm in some areas on Saturday’s is a good reason for your neighbors to remind you of the rules to keep everything in Ordnung.
  23. Germans enjoy pointing out what you’re doing wrong or what you’re not doing right and explain to you the rules on how to do it the right way such as crossing the street.
  24. Germans recycle nearly everything. You get fined if you don’t.
  25. Trash collection days are something that you should memorize because each rubbish bin has a different pickup date and some are only once a month. Good luck!
  26. In Northern Germany, people are always prepared for the rain but rarely wear Wellingtons and eyeball them with a glint of disbelief and curiosity of anyone else wearing them.
  27. North Germans’ foot coverings are a varied assortment of boots and how they take care of them is no laughing matter. There are websites devoted to the cleaning and polishing of your boots. Which is usually done on Sunday’s.
  28. Toilets have two flush options. Unless you’re laying a brick at your boyfriends, push the small button.
  29. German flats and homes have bathrooms solely dedicated for guests. All other toilet usage is restricted to the inhabitants.
  30. Grocery stores have several aisles dedicated to dairy products. For your convenience and easy finding, they are usually 1/4 of the store.
  31. Slippers, or “house shoes” is an absolute must. If you walk into a Germans house and walk around in your shoes, they will promptly push a pair of slippers your way because they spent all day polishing the hardwoods the night before. Which also wouldn’t be surprising.
  32. Don’t even think about honking your car horn or expect a glare and a stiff finger of a police officer. Unfortunately, smooth talking doesn’t work it’s magic here.
  33. In Hamburg, the Hochbahn likes to employ the “honor system” when taking the metro. If you decided not to purchase a fare, expect to be ambushed by officials and they’ll slap a nice €40 ticket. If only you just bought the €1.50 fare to begin with….
  34. Hamburger’s know how to party. It’s city tradition to party ALL night (yes, literally) so you can eat the classic breakfast of Fisch Brötchen at the FischMarkt and hope you can shake your hangover before work on Monday.
  35. You are expected to shake hands when meeting, greeting, parting, arriving, on agreeing, and on agreeing to disagree. And some hands you don’t even want to shake.
  36. Sex is more like an invigorating workout. If you want a more romantic, sultry connection, go to France.
  37. It’s safe to assume that everything is forbidden and that which is not mentioned as forbidden is allowed.
  38. If you think there is a rule or law for or about something, revert back to point 37.
  39. Germans love to document everything. When you open a bank account, be prepared to sign in five different places and the bank will only communicate with you through the mail.
  40. When a German says “My English isn’t that good”, expect them to speak better English than you.
  41. If you speak French, best keep that to yourself.
  42.  Every German will tote with them several empty 1-liter plastic bottles, for Recycling because you paid a deposit on those bottles to begin with.
  43. Ice cubes? What ice cubes?
  44. Water typically costs the same, if not more, than a glass of beer.
  45. Spinach. You won’t find it here. At least the fresh variety if it’s not in season.
  46. Herbs are bought in little pots and looked after and taken care of like a small animal on your windowsill.
  47. The internet sucks.
  48. Germans love their windows ‘auf kip’ (in English that means ’tilt mode’) for fear of suffocating in your post-war brick apartment building. Expect windows to be kipped at all times.
  49. Luft is a very important element in apartments; the air in rooms need to be well circulated every day of the year. Rain or shine, Winter or summer. In other words, most rooms are cold enough to freeze meat.
  50. Germans also lose their s**t when it’s Spargel (<–asparagus) season, but only with the white variety. Traditionally served with hollandaise sauce topped with optional boiled ham slice. Anything else would be sacrilege.

Talia

  • Loved your list! Especially #36 – that might explain why I’ve never read a romance novel set in Germany! And the Curry wurst sounds curious- does it taste good?

  • Brigitte

    Yes!!! It’s funny that even though I come from a neighbouring country, I am as surprised as you are about half of the list, if not more.. 😀

  • Hi Sally. Things in Germany run as quickly and efficiently as possible and the same goes for the Curry Wurst. It’s a long hot-dog looking sausage. Sometimes the meat is mixed with curry and other times not. Regardless, it’s drizzled with “Gewurtz Ketchup” (point 11 on the list), a combination of ketchup and curry spices. If that wasn’t enough curry, it’s also dusted with it and served with a bread roll or french fries. A lot of people love it and it’s a unique German experience to have and I encourage it. However, there are more tastier sausage varieties in Poland. Let me know what you think when you do try one!

  • Brigitte, I think you and I can have a lovely conversation about many more observations. Although some of my German readers agree and are open to these, there are a few grumpy ones that aren’t too keen on my mentioning their habits. Which should be on the list too.

  • I go to Germany every year for work, fantastic list! One thing I didn’t see on it that I love is the red seasoning they put on the fries. LOVE that stuff!

  • This was a fun read!! I’ve been living in Munich, and can relate to a lot of these, but I was also surprised by how there were a lot of differences too!! Like moin and licorice? whaaa? none of that in Bayern, I assure you 😉 haha