Apr 23, 2013

Pros & Cons of Living in Germany : Part Drei

PRO: The multi-person beer drinking bike machine
via
Remember how I said Germans will put a bar anywhere? This is the perfect example. The first time I ever saw one of these things was the second week we were living in Germany and we took a day trip to explore Frankfurt. We were sitting at a biergarten, enjoying the scenery, when all of a sudden this contraption that looks like a bar surrounded by bicycle chairs and barrels came breezing past us. I almost couldn't believe my eyes! It's a bar, but it's also a 12 person bicycle. You can drink and ride anywhere around the city. Amazing. I realize there are probably similar brew bikes in the states, but Germany wins the award for the first my eyes had seen of such a marvelous invention...and now I see them ALL OVER EUROPE. Amsterdam, Belgium, Prague...European's love beer biking it up! I also recently discovered one of the towns in the Rhine area has started a wine bike tour group. I may never leave Germany now!

CON: Staus
via
Ugh. These are the bane of my existence. Stau is German for "the world's worst traffic jam." Ok, not really...but it is German for traffic jam. I'm the one that thinks they are the worst in the world. Normally, the autobahn is traffic-less. I remember telling D how amazing it felt to drive and not be suck in bumper to bumper traffic every single time we wanted to go to the grocery store like we are in America. You can drive fast, weave in and out lanes, and coast along for miles without a worry on the autobahn. But, when you see those little red triangles pop up on the digital road signs, you better prepare yourself for a long wait. 30 minutes, if you're lucky. Multiple long hours, if you're me. I swear, it's like the universe heard me tell D how much I loved the lack of traffic in Germany, because ever since I spoke those words, we've been stuck in the worst traffic jams I've ever experienced in my life. Once, on our way to Ramstein for a test D had to take, we were at a standstill for 2 hours because, get this, cows were crossing the autobahn. COWS! I mean, really, Germany? Another example...coming back from Cologne one evening, we were stuck in the pouring rain on an autobahn on-ramp because of a massive wreck. When there's a wreck on the autobahn, they're usually pretty awful and very deadly. High speeds and bad drivers don't mix. So, traffic was stopped that day for just shy of 3 hours...barely creeping along at a snails pace. Germans are so used to painfully long traffic jams that they turn off their car engines, pull out a lunchbox, and sit on the hoods of their cars just like they were picnicking in the park. No big deal. All the while, D and I banging our heads against the dashboard, cursing our lives and wishing we'd peed before we left the house. Staus, are indeed, the devil.

PRO: Recycling
via
I wrote a post about this in my German Idiosyncrasies series a while back, so you can go read all about it here. All I'll say about this topic today is that Germans are on point with recycling and are amazing examples of how I think the world should go about recycling. Even though D and I felt like complete idiots trying to figure out the recycling system here (which took us months to get right), it has totally changed my views on green living and taking care of our Earth. We recycle almost every single piece of trash we use each day. Like I said, in the beginning, it was a total headache...that fact I won't lie about. But, now that it's become second nature to us, we will never go back to throwing away our garbage so mindlessly. To Germany I say, "BRAVO!!" 

CON: Giant Pillows & No Top Sheets
{Don't let these pictures fool you...those pillows are tucked under themselves. Sneaky Germans. ;)}
This one just boggles my mind. Every single time we've stayed in a hotel in Germany (and Austria, Switzerland, Prague, Amsterdam, Paris, Italy, & Poland), they've got giant pillows and no top sheets on their beds. When I lived in America, I thought the "Euro sized pillow" was just the name of a different size pillow that you could use as bedding decor. My eyes have been opened to the fact that the Euro pillow actually came from Europe. Duh, right? It's the size of pillow many people sleep on here. D and I, hate them. They're never fluffy enough, so we have to fold them in half, but then end up with gnarly neck aches the next morning.  In addition, I freeze to death because there's just this thin twin sized duvet for bed covering. And each of you have your own. No shared duvet. There's also a fitted sheet on the mattress, but no top sheet. And often no spare blankets in the room. D and I have become hip to the European sleeping simplicity, so we almost always bring our own pillows and blankets if we're driving to our destination. It may seem like we're making a mountain out of a molehill (it is just bedding after all), but sightseeing and enjoying vacation can easily be ruined by a horrible nights sleep. I'm the worst sleeper EVER, so stuff like this can make or break a vacation if I'm not prepared.

PRO: White Asparagus

Ahhhh we are just entering the white Asparagus season here in Germany and the farmer's markets are all abuzz with the coming of Germany's most coveted spring vegetable! When we were downtown this past Saturday, there was a line 10 people deep at one of the market stands just waiting to purchase their bundles of Spargle, as it's called here. White asparagus is not as common in America as green asparagus is, but here in Germany, white asparagus reins supreme. Before moving here, I'd never tasted a single white asparagus. They just looked abnormal to me (they're grown underground, completely deprived of all sun...vampire vegetable, anyone?). Almost 2 years later, I'm here to tell you that white asparagus is delicious. It might be the way that Germans cook them (you can usually find white asparagus dishes with sides of creamy hollandaise sauce...my favorite way to eat them), but I'm totally on board with spargle. The second that white asparagus begins making its appearance in the markets, almost every German restaurant in town creates special spring menus centered around the vegetable. You can find it as a topping on pizza, served alongside your plate of Jägerschnitzel, or pureed into a seriously delicious soup. Germans have dozens of ways to enjoy spargle. Lucky for D and I, there's a farmers market stand right at the end of our street. Spargle for everyone!

CON: Jaywalking
via
If you want to look like a total American while out and about in Germany...just jaywalk. You'll get strange looks and stares if you do. Germans don't cross the street unless that little green walking man tells them to. The photo above is the perfect example. They stand and wait patiently no matter how dead the street may be. From my experience, it's because jaywalking looks bad and, of course, is dangerous. Germans don't want their children learning to cross the street without following the signs, so they don't do it themselves. I mean, it makes total sense. Children learn by example and Germans want their children to be safe and follow the rules, just like their parents do. BUT, where this practice becomes annoying to me is when we, as Americans, don't realize that's why no one else is walking behind you after you step off the curb and you get yelled at for it. Having a German person yell at you, IN GERMAN, with stern looks and wagging fingers is the most terrifying thing I have ever witnessed. Locals will yell at you for jaywalking in Germany. Some will call you baby killers. No joke. I was on the receiving end of this interaction once. Thankfully (or not?) a friend who spoke German (not a German) was there to translate for me. So, if you ever find yourself vacationing here, heed my warning. Just don't jaywalk. No matter how late you'll be for your train, wait for the green man! You do not want to be the neighborhood baby killer. Trust me.

*Please keep in mind that all of these pros & cons are formed simply from my experiences and perspective as an American living abroad*

Until next time, Freunde! 

34 comments:

  1. I absolutely HATE the pillows here. they are either long and skinny or huge and square. Either way they are always flat and horrible. The worst!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Recycle, top sheet, no jaywalking. Got it!
    Amazing experiences you have here! Except for the baby killer part... =D More please!

    eljovenlector.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. I LOATHE the pillows in Europe! And what's up with only giving 1 pillow per person? Seriously, who sleeps with only 1 pillow? We always bring our own pillows when we drive places. Oh, and white asparagus is amazing! It's in season here in Italy, too. Yay!

    ReplyDelete
  4. i love the jaywalking one! it's the same here, you'll get weird looks and one time a man started yelling at me..from across the street! now mind you, this doesn't stop me one bit but i understand where they're coming from. it's hilarious to go to a highly foreign populated area of seoul, itaewon, and watch the street lights. you will see dozens of foreigners crossing while having the red light while all of the koreans patiently wait at the light! love this series!

    ReplyDelete
  5. just gonna say that the white asparagus looks questionable and funny (and borderline sexual haha) but I would totally try it!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love asparagus! I would be down for trying it...however it does look slightly questionable.

    The beer bike is amazing. I'm not much of a beer fan, but I recently had legit german beer last year at the Word Expo held in Korea, and I'm hooked! Absolutely delicious. I would definitely be sitting at this.

    Amanda | Living in Another Language

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love these posts! I have never heard of white asparagus and that moving drinking contraption is hysterical/awesome. i want to visit you so bad. wait, i'm serious.

    ReplyDelete
  8. It's crazy how different little customs can be in different European countries. Jaywalking is totally the norm all over France. Especially in the suburbs/small towns. You just start walking into the street, and the cars stop so you can cross.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wow! I never jay walk because it just kinda freaks me out, but that's extreme.
    These pros and cons are awesome! Even if I never get the chance to live abroad, they'll give me a little help to travel like a local.

    ReplyDelete
  10. hahaah I always jaywalk unless there is a child around. I actually find it kinda funny when I get yelled at, but definitely don't want to set a bad example for the kiddos. And somehow still haven't had Spargel despite the fact that they are EVERYWHERE holy crap. Love these lists of yours!

    ReplyDelete
  11. What a fun post! Although, living in L.A., I can relate to the whole no jay walking thing. People in L.A. don't do it. You will surely be smashed by a car if you do, and cops sometimes give tickets to those who do!

    ReplyDelete
  12. The jaywalking comment made me laugh because I remember how regimented the rules are in Germany. I lived. in Getmany in between two separate tours in Italy where there are no rules about jaywalking or driving in general. It's a lot of cultural differences just between those two countries alone.
    Bonnie Rose | A Compass Rose


    ReplyDelete
  13. Spargle!!! Still my favorite german word. :) Miss you cuz.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I love this series so much!! I love how I can relate to some of them now. Especially the bedding situation. I HATE those large pillows. We traveled with a sleeping bag liner (which is pretty much just a sheet in the form of a sleeping bag), so the no top sheet wasn't that bad, except that I couldn't snuggle with my hubs at night. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love your Pro/Con posts. And as a newer follower, I have loved reading about your life (wow, that sounds creepy but I promise it's not!)

    ReplyDelete
  16. This series is great! It is really neat to see how you experience Germany! For me, as a German, I mostly don't realize these things.
    I totally agree with you about the pillows here- I have always used two pillows since I was a small kid, but on the other hand, the duvet sheets/ blankets are the best :) I never got along with these thin sheets in the US.
    Hope to read more of your series!
    -Jasmin

    ReplyDelete
  17. Savannah, GA has the beer bike thing. That was the first place I saw it and was shocked.

    ReplyDelete
  18. We have white asparagus down here in Alabama! I'm sure they shipped it in from somewhere. It's delicious.

    ReplyDelete
  19. How in the world have I been in Germany for 3 years and never heard of Spargle?! I love asparagus so I am sure I will love spargle! I will have to try to find some this spring!!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Love that you made white asparagus a pro!!
    We have some here in the Dhabi, but it's shipped in from Holland.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Bahahaha! The pillows! I remember when I first arrived in Germany and saw the pillows. I was SO CONFUSED. But, i'll admit, since returning home i've bought one and now sleep with it every night (they're all from Ikea). The top sheet thing is kinda confusing, too. Less work for them? Also, Europeans are way crazier about non-wrinkled sheets, so less to bother with? Who knows. I miss the white asparagus. so yummy! And it's in season RIGHT NOW! And seriously, The US should be ashamed of our recycling system. As annoying as the recycling is in Germany, so much better for the Earth! Love these posts! Always brings me back :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. I've never heard of white asparagus before? Sounds yummy! That traffic looks HORRIBLE!!!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I have never wanted to visit Germany but have to say that reading this makes me have second thoughts about that.............

    ReplyDelete
  24. Ahh pillows here are the bane of my existence, the ones that everyone uses in Sweden are like baby sized so we have 8 on our bed!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I haven't stayed in a hotel in Germany or Austria yet...I'll have to remember to bring a blanket and pillow! And I agree. Staus are awful! I'm dying to hop on a beer bike. Hopefully we find one next time we're up there.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Ha ha I never heard that the European pillows are strange and that the Swedish one are tiny ! As a Swede living in Asia, trust me - don't get me talking about all the weird things over here. Etc 1. Beds - length suitable for 1/2 person? ....

    Great post. I think I will follow your topic and do my-asia-version in my next post.
    In fact, I just found your beautiful blog today. Visit mine to read about my adventures in Asia www.shoebox-living.com and we can follow each others adventures.

    Ciao / Bella from Hong Kong
    www.shoebox-living.com

    ReplyDelete
  27. European beds are crazy! I've learned to buy a pillow from M&S or Primark that's rolled tight to pack in my suitcase if I'm over there for more than a week.

    And ooh, I've been on a bier bike, it's hilariously fun.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Spargel...LOVE IT!! And the season is starting!!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Haha, I really loath sleeping in a bed with more than one pillow and I hate it, if it is too big. :D Funny those little differences.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Well, I am totally enamored with the white asparagus . . . can't imagine where I'll find it, but must track it down!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Haha, it's so funny to read that post as a German :D
    You're a great writer btw!
    Jaywalking is actually smth we do quite a lot (at least I do) :D But if the police would see you doing it, you'd have to pay like 20 Euros (if I remember that right). I also try not to Jaywalk when little kids are arround... so they don't run on the streets...

    Ps: I love reading your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  32. OK, I'm late to the party, but the beer bike thing? We have one of those in Columbus, Ohio. It's called the Cycle Tavern, except that you can't actually drink while ON the thing because of open container laws. You just go from bar to bar. The downside is that it's housed in my neighborhood and when people are coming back late from the bars they're pretty loud and often rude (the worst is on weeknights). This year we're seeing a second one around town but it doesn't "live" near us.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I literally cracked up for a minute straight at the first picture of the "Bier Bike" haha. Only in Germany.

    But I actually love those big pillow comforters! I don't like top sheets :)

    ReplyDelete

I appreciate your feedback, friends! I read every comment and try my hardest to respond to each one, but if your email address isn't attached to your blogger profile, you might find my response in the comment thread instead. As always, thanks for reading!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...