Germany is a strange country (see first two photos), but a fascinating one. Some stereotypes are spot on, and some are definitely not. Regardless, there are some things which melted my heart in this country, and here are the top 8. Some photos are courtesy of HNA.de, the newspaper from the region where I lived.
- The People: Germans have a reputation of being stiff, harsh, formal, and cold. But. . . then where did all these adorable cheery friendly people come from? Germans, particularly when they have a beer in hand, are extremely curious and inviting – always interested in your life and your story. Halting and hesitant English-German conversations between us were always charming.
- Bread: NOWHERE else in the world have I seen such cheap and plentiful high-quality bread. Anywhere, even in the dirtiest little train station, you can find a delicious fresh high quality bun, loaf, or pretzel which will blow your mind. And no German bakery is complete without a million different types of breads- anything from seedy, dark, and wholesome, to pillowy soft bread sticks doused in cheese and bacon bits and baked until crispy.
- Chocolate: oh the chocolate. Brands like Lindt and Ritter Sport are bottom-of-the-barrel grocery store fodder and cheap to boot. Never have I seen so many combinations of strange and wonderful flavors.
- “Making sport”: It took me about a year to realize that making sports is simply any form of exercise. But at first glance it is wildly confusing to an English speaker, as “sports” always means something like soccer, football, or basketball, and you can’t make any of those.
- Christmas Markets: Really, the most festive and cheery thing ever, check it here.
- Legal Public Drinking: Heck, it´s super great to be able to take a bottle of prosecco or beers to the park on a sunny day. Plus, despite the availability of alcohol in this country, Germans know their limits far better than many cultures I know.
- Ultra-efficient grocery packing and paying: If you don’t manage to pack all your groceries into your reusable bag in 5 seconds flat, you are in serious trouble with the customer behind you. And you better have exact change ready as well. At first this is terrifying, but becomes nice when you realize lines are rare (this might be why Germans don´t know how to form a line, for anything).
- Trains: You can get SO MANY places so quickly. Deutsche Bahn trains still have the good old dining car, and the conductor still punches your ticket. I love it.