A couple of weeks ago (at least), I started off with a list of 5 things you need to know about Germany – that you might not otherwise expect. After writing such an epic piece, I was then so excited about continuing that I promptly forgot, and would never have remembered again in fact, only that a friend wrote me on Twitter the other day asking what was up with the rest of the article. Indeed.
So here we go, this episode I’m going to hit you with my final 5, here we go:
A Doner Kebab isn’t what it is in other countries.
I’m not sure how it is in countries all around the world, but what I do know is that in Ireland at least, the juicy doner kebab is almost exclusively the cuisine of a night out. You simply don’t announce to your family that you’re back home for a few days and that nothing would be more appropriate than you meeting up for a family meal in a doner kebab shop. It just doesn’t happen, and to be honest, it just isn’t right.
I’d actually go so far as to say that on a small number of nights out that I’ve been on in Dublin, I’ve woken up not with the taste of alcohol in my mouth, but with the unmistakable and significantly inferior taste of kebab meat. In Ireland, the meat in many cases is of such questionable quality, the vegetables so old and soggy, that no amount of tooth brushing can rid your mouth of the awful flavours for at least 48 hours. It’s seriously that terrorising. But in Germany, a doner kebab is something that can and should actually be enjoyed. It’s ok to suggest going for a kebab for lunch for example, without coming across as a total football hooligan. Then again, it may just be that the meat actually looks like meat.
Cyclists are rude. Deal with it.
In Ireland, motorists get angry because cyclists jump red lights and they can’t, because they’re sitting in a car. In Germany, motorists get angry because cyclists do precisely whatever they want, whenever they want, regardless of what road they happen to be on. Main road? No problem. Let’s all cycling in a pack of 5-across. And strangely, even pedestrians harbour a strong loathing for cyclists, as they constantly jump off the road, skip the beautifully paved cycle path, and jump onto the footpath, which is obviously a footpath, because there’s a little white bit of tar shaped like a mum and a child walking hand-in-hand.
Maybe it’s because they’ve had a serious head-start on a lot of other countries, but cyclists, especially in Frankfurt are bordering on the extremely rude. They’re not just angry; they’re like a bunch of honey bees after you’ve just nicked the honey. Nowhere is safe – certainly not the roads, paths, buildings or kerbs – maybe the river?
Public Toilets should not be counted on.
When I leave my house in Germany, I often use the toilet twice just to be sure. Because I know that in Frankfurt, there’s only one shopping centre that has easily accessible toilets – there’s actually another shopping centre right next door to that one, but they charge 70 cent to use the facilities. And there are absolutely no toilets in the rest of the city really, unless you happen to have your office there.
I find this very unusual, since German motorways have to be some of the most well-toileted in the world. Literally – every 20km’s at most, there’s something one can use to relieve oneself, even if just a corrugated metal shed. Let me put it this way – this may be more of a rant, because yes, I’ve fallen victim a number of times now to this lack of conveniences.
The fancier the train, the better the balance.
Something I always find slightly comical about travelling on German intercity trains, is that apparently the fancier the train happens to be, the better the person selling the snacks and drinks is at balancing – no, seriously. If you’re on an old Intercity train for example, then they come ploughing through the aisle with a big trolley and the coffee ready-made. But for some reason, when you travel on the slightly superior ICE trains, the woman just rocks through the aisles holding a tray with a bunch of coffee cups already made in one hand, like the snacks on the other trains are only for mere mortals who need something to help wash down the intense coffee on offer (just to note, it isn’t in the slightest, it’s more like coloured hot water). I know it sounds strange, but it sort of has to be seen to be believed.
German wine is fine.
Before coming here, I didn’t really know much about German wine, and it seems to have a reputation abroad for being not great, but actually, it seems that the Germans are just keeping it to themselves. While I’ve been here, I’ve rarely come across one person who doesn’t drink German wine. Who knew? It’s obviously a situation where they just don’t want to share and there’s only so much German wine to go around so it’s best kept in the country – and since I’m in the country for now, I agree.