Travel

You Know You’re in Germany When . . .

street-scene

Photo from www.businessinsider.de

After six months in beautiful France, we crossed that invisible line in the mountains earlier this week, finding ourselves in Germany. And as the landscape evolved, Fiats and Peugots were replaced by the sleek lines of Mercedes and BMWs. A-framed alpine huts took the place of shuttered farm houses and even the coffee tasted German. Although my language skills took time to evolve through an embarrassing French/German hybrid before ‘oui’ disappeared from my vocab entirely, there was no mistaking we were in Germany.

140k/hr feels like you’re standing still . . .

. . . as BMWs and Audis blur past at the speed of light on the Autobahn.

Photo from www.peremontala.com

The roads don’t have tolls but the toilets do

Unlike neighbouring France, driving from one side of Germany to the other incurs not one toll, yet the toilet stops have you digging in your wallet from the moment you cross the border. That said, the fresh smelling bathrooms, complete with automated toilet seat cleaners are a refreshing change from the seat-less French cess pits. And the 50c-off-your-next-piss voucher on departure makes paying for the toilet oh so worthwhile.

Cars stop at pedestrian crossings

In stark contrast to the monochrome bitumen of France, pedestrian crossings are used sparingly in German streets. The system works. Pedestrians wait for the green signal, and motorists actually stop. And if you dare to walk on a red signal? Be prepared to hear about it from your fellow pedestrians; because,

Photo from www.dw.com

Everyone follows the rules . . .

. . . and I feel right at home. There’s no need for turnstiles at train stations, yet tickets on public transport are rarely checked and reserved parking bays are always available for their rightful owners, regardless of what time of day or night it is.

Efficiency is everywhere.

Goodbye twenty-minute grocery store queues, customers writing cheques in perfect script then loading their groceries as if they were delicate crystal . . . all while the ever-growing queue looks on in a patient trance. Queues in Germany shrink faster than they form and there’s barely time for a polite “Guten tag,” before you’re back in the carpark and getting on with your day.

Nutrition is simplified into four food groups:

Pigs, potatoes, coffee and cake . . .

Photo from www.cookingthebooks.typepad.com

. . . And coffee AND cake could be bought at the same establishment . . .

In fact coffee and cake is a daily necessity. Even self-catering apartments come complete with coffee pots and cake forks. And after months sneaking a nibble of croissant from a paper bag in the corner of a local bar, coffee and cake is a novelty.