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Apr 12, 2013

Pros & Cons of Living in Germany: Part Zwei

PRO: Döner Kebaps

If you've never had the opportunity to travel in Germany and taste the amazingness that is the Döner Kebap, then I feel sad for you. Döners rank pretty high up there as one of my favorite treats here...and they're not even native to Germany. The Döner Kebap is a Turkish dish consisting of shaved meat (usually veal, beef, or chicken) from a vertical rotating spit stuffed inside of a lavash flatbread or pita pocket and topped with chopped lettuce, cabbage, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, chili spices, and either garlic or yogurt sauce. It's basically Gyros to the Greeks or Shawarma to those in Arabic cultures. No matter what you call it, they're tasty. There are Döner Kebap stands ALL OVER GERMANY. We introduced my family to them just before our Rhine River cruise last May and they are still talking about them! I don't blame them. They're insanely delicious. I'm also convinced they're the perfect cure for a Hefeweizen hangover. D and I have said a million times (usually while scarfing down a Döner) that we're going to open up a Döner stand in every college town in America. Drunk college kids would FLOCK by the dozens to those things. I'd love to take a bite out of that billion dollar Döner industry. BILLION DOLLAR, y'all. After all, it is Germany's most popular fast food option. Shocking, huh? And you thought Germany was all bratwurst & schnitzel. 

CON: Disappearing waitresses

When you go out to eat at a restaurant for dinner in Germany, be prepared to be there for hours. 
No joke. Germans view dining out as something relaxing and that should be enjoyed without rush. 
Precisely why, as an American, you're confused when you never ever see your waitress while dining. You'll come into the restaurant, be seated, and then wait. For a while. Then a nice waiter or waitress will come and take your order...most likely taking your drink and your dinner order at the same time, so be prepared...and then you'll see them again when your food arrives. After that, it's like they've vanished into the abyss, never to be see again. In order to get another glass of wine, have your plates cleared, or get the check, you basically have to wave them down (or fall out of your chair) to get their attention. At first, I thought the waitress disappearing act was just for us Americans. We're often hard customers to deal with, especially being new to the country and not speaking the language very well...but, come to find out, it's just how Germany is. They don't feel the need to dote on you or bug you to death like we're used to seeing in the states. Some days this concept is nice, but it becomes an inconvenience on those nights when we just want to drop into a restaurant for a hearty, quick meal. We could end up being stuck there for hours unless one of us chases down the waiter for service. I get why it happens...your dinner and your company at dinner should be enjoyed...but with Americans being the "go-go-go" type of people, it takes a lot more effort for us to unwind and wait. Especially this American. Patience is a virtue for which I've found myself lacking.

PRO: Transportation

Without a doubt, Germany has one of the best transportation systems I've ever experienced. Compared to America, they are light-years ahead of the public transportation game. Granted, in the states we have larger parking lots and less paid parking spaces, but we fail miserably at connecting towns by trains and subways. I know not every city in America needs a subway or train system, but certain cities sure could benefit from having them in place. As far as the rest of Europe goes, most countries we've visited also have great transportation systems, but Germany still tops our list. You really could live here without a car and be perfectly happy (not that we would, the Autobahn is too fun to miss). Trains & buses are clean and easy to use and we've never been on a late one of either in Germany. Never. I'm aware it happens (no system is perfect), but after dealing with numerous late (and sketchy) trains in Italy, a few in France, and one weird experience in Prague, Germany blows them all out of the water, in my opinion. Trains in Austria & Switzerland are also pretty fabulous. It's been really great to be able to hop on the bus at the stop right outside of our flat and be downtown in mere seconds for FREE. Just riding down two stops...your trip is free. LOVE that. I also love how safe I feel taking public transportation here. A feeling you'd be hard pressed to find in America. I'm really going to miss this aspect of Germany when it's time to leave next summer.

CON: The Poop Shelf

I wrote a post allllll about our German poop shelf just after moving into our flat in the summer of 2011. You can find it here. I should note, not every toilet in Germany is like this, but since we live in an older home, we are lucky enough to have one. And when I say lucky, I mean unlucky. {{shudder}}

PRO: Rolladens
via 1 & 2
These rolladens are not to be confused with the edible meat Rouladen that you can find in almost any German restaurant. The rolladens I love are the ones that could prevent a nuclear fallout. Kidding. But that's seriously what I thought they were used for before someone enlightened me. Rolladens are window shades, but they're the most genius home invention I've seen here yet. They roll down from the inside of masonry walls and cover the entire window from top to bottom, kind of like those grates that roll down from the ceiling and protect the front of retail stores, except less holey. These shades, in technical terms, are pretty friggin' nifty. Some of the best sleep of my life came from sleeping in a room that had rolladens over the windows. Total blackout conditions. And they're super energy efficient, keeping the heat inside in the winter and the hot sun outside in the summer. They're also pretty good at cancelling some of the noise from outside, protecting against the elements, and warding off any security breaches. Homes turn into veritable war bunkers with these things. Sadly, we don't have them for our windows. Our landlords have them on their level of the house, but decided to make us admire them from afar. America, I'm going to need you to get more on board with rolladens ASAP!

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

Happy Friday, friends!


  1. oh that sandwich look delicious! Germany is such a beautiful place..when I visited I was too young to really appreciate it.

    Have a great Weekend!

  2. I miss Döner Kebaps and rolladens. We didn't have rolladens when we were in Germany but we did in Italy and I loved them. The only thing I didn't like is that they would rattle some when it was windy. That could be a little annoying.

    Dining in Europe is definitely different from the US. It took us a while to get used to eating in Germany and including extra dining time in our plans.

  3. hahahahaha oh that toilet. and i really feel like in europe going out to eat is SO different than america. sometimes I am just starving and want my food (or anything really) quick. never happens. agreed with you about transportation. i want to try a doner!

  4. This pros & cons series is so great! Maybe Americans love and are annoyed by the same things, because I agree with you on everything.

    Haha! The "poop shelf." So funny that you went there, because I feel the same way. The toilets seriously confused me in the beginning with the weird shapes and the two buttons for flushing.

    Also, do you know the Döner song? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPkBfbuJaF4

  5. I looooove Döner Kebaps !!! There's only one place outside of DC that has the best ones. I'm pretty sure my mind was blown on my first taste of one :)

  6. Döner ROCKS! :oD

    "Poop Shelf" made me burst out in tears, laughing of course!
    "Rolläden" rocks as well! Our current home is a 150 year old house though, so no Rolladens for us. Sucks.

    I love your blog sooooo much!


  7. Omg, I love kebabs! I ate them in France quite a bit. So addictive! When I taught English in Niort, there was this small kebab place that had mini kebabs for 2,50 E. It was perfect for a small person with a small appetite.

    France also has servers who disappear, but I didn't go out to eat too often because it was trop cher!

    I actually think most French toilets are better than American ones. No poop shelf (EWWWWW!), but the choice between a "little flush" and a "big flush." Very water-efficient!

    European transportation is soooo good. I did most of my traveling within France because it was so much cheaper (and faster) than leaving the country. Especially when I traveled by myself (and thus planned far in advance without having to confer with several people), I was able to get amazing deals on train fare. Also, because I had the Carte Jeune Ans 18-25, I saved even more money.

    Ughhhh, your posts make me miss France and all of Europe!!!!

  8. I miss so much food in Germany. I know where we were in Stuttgart we would get those yummy soft pretzels that look like they have big lips. (any chance you had photos of those on your blog so i can drool?) I miss rolladens and you made me laugh about your con mention with the toilet. I love this series you do, it is great. I'm almost tempted to do a similiar one for living in England.

    Bonnie Rose | a Compass Rose

  9. I once slept 17 hours straight with those rolladens down. Ugh, hate the toilets!!

  10. the rolladens are amazing! I had them at the house I live in, in France and they were amazing!

  11. I read the poop shelf while eating lunch.........................ugh. But the rolladens-um yes please!

  12. Oh girl, you've got my mouth watering for one of those gyro-ish sammies. Gah!

  13. My first experience with rolladens was last May in Spain. I am totally in love, and think that America needs to hop on board. Seriously good sleep!

    p.s. Hate the "poop shelf". haha!

  14. Oh kebabs! The food of drunken gods as it's known in the UK! In fact, now you've posted about them, I feel like ditching my home made curry and going up the road for a chicken shish!

    What on earth is that poop shelf? That's crazy!

  15. When you talked about "rolladens" (we call them persianas in Spain) I thought: "we've always had those over here." I didn't know you didn't have blinds in the USA!
    Also, I'm glad we don't have poop shelves over here haha :)


  16. I love this! Those sandwiches look beyond amazing!

  17. I love the transportation in these countries. Heck, we went to Australia and it was great! Now we're on our way to Korea (well... in like a year when all this training is over) and I'm soooo excited about the transportation system there!

  18. Oh my goodness, so many things that I did not know - thanks for sharing!

    Sparkles and Shoes

  19. we have kebaps all over korea too! i thought it was so strange and then i tasted one and never commented on it being weird again : ) oh and can i just say that korea has the BEST invention for restaurants. you never see your waitress but if you need something there's a bell button on your table! amazing i tell you, absolutely amazing. LOVE this series!

  20. I would be so happy with all of the german cakes and pastries that I wouldn't care about anything else haha!

  21. Rolla den are also awesome for helping toddlers sleep longer :)

  22. Bahaha!! I laughed like crazy when I read the part about the poop shelf!! Now that I've finally been to Germany, I've experienced a couple of them. No fun!

  23. We have kebab places here in Sweden but Fredrik and I are always talking about how much better the ones in Germany are!

  24. Here's two things France has in common with Germany: disappearing waitresses and poop shelves!

  25. Nice selection ;) I can agree with those! (oh yeah and the Döner was actually invented in Berlin, not Turkey ;) )

  26. OMG hahahahahshha dying about the poop shelf - they are the worst and lucky me has one in her apt.

  27. That is so funny. I have never seen a toilette like that before in Europe! We have a normal toilette in our apartment in Zurich.


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