Impressions of Germany

Germany has a lot of similarities to Austria.  After about a week in Germany, here are some of the things we’ve noticed.

  • Germany is a financial powerhouse of Europe, despite spending a fortune to re-integrate East Germany since 1989.  There are still considerable economic differences between the former East and West.
  • Germany is the most populous country in Europe excluding Russia.  It’s much smaller than Canada, but there is still lots of open countryside.  They have many immigrants including a large Turkish (Muslim) minority.
  • It seems that more people smoke in Germany than in Canada.  Smoking is still allowed in restaurants and on trains.  You can sometimes find a non-smoking area, except on patios where the fresh air is ironically limited.
  • Germans are quite open about their troubled history.  There are memorials everywhere.  As time passes and the population ages, fewer Germans have had a personal involvement in World War II.  The younger generation is well educated on Germany’s past, and most Germans will speak openly about their history.
  • Germans are more environmentally aware than Canadians.  They recycle.  There are wind turbines throughout the countryside.  They use more solar energy than in Vancouver, despite the fact that the weather is similarly variable.
  • A lot of people cycle here.  Almost none of them wear helmets, which presumably aren’t mandatory.  There are bicycle lanes beside many country roads and throughout the major cities.
  • People obey the traffic lights and pedestrian signals here (unlike much of the world), but you need to constantly be on the look out for bicycles which move rapidly and silently, even through crowds of people.  Often the only difference between the bike lane and the sidewalk for pedestrians is a different texture on the asphalt, so it’s important to be aware and not stray. A tour guide informed us that when confronted with a bicycle, the best thing to do is freeze and they will (hopefully) go around you.
  • Bavaria, in the south of Germany, is predominantly Catholic.  The church bells ring to call the faithful to prayer and throughout the day to chime the hours, a practice which has for the most part been eliminated in Canada (at least in the West).
  • The German language is full of very long words.  Germans often use one long concatenated word where we might use 3 or 4.  Street and place names are often 5 or 6 syllables, making them hard to pronounce and harder to remember.
  • A common German breakfast includes bread or rolls (not toasted), cheese, and some sort of cured meat.  They seem to eat a lot more pork than we do, particularly in the form of sausages and salami.  We have wholeheartedly adopted the bread, cheese, and pork diet, as part of our focused training plan for Oktoberfest.

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8 thoughts on “Impressions of Germany

  1. As I understand the whole ‘use of crossings in Germany’ thing…. one can get fined and points put on one’s driving licence for (when being a pedestrian) ‘jumping ‘ a red pedetrain light. Overjealous regulation? who knows, most people seem quite happy with it. It’s probably a good thing then considering their approach to the public and habitual consumpstion of the amber nectar. One sees the same behaviour across europe and strangly enough in New Zealand. Cheers!!

    1. People (and by ‘people’ I mean me) used to observe the crosswalk signs in Vancouver, but less and less nowadays. As with bicycle helmet laws, it seems that fewer and fewer Canadians are following these rules. On a personal note, perhaps it is the by-product of 10 months spent in countries where no one obeys these signs. I’ll be a good boy in Europe. An interesting side note, with the fall of the Berlin wall and the subseuqent integration of East and West Berlin, the two groups could not agree on which icons to use for the walk and wait symbols (e.g. the little green walking man). As a result, you can always tell whether you’re in East or West Berlin by looking at the crosswalk lights.

  2. In honor of Diane, yourself and all others doing the Berlin Marathon we will be eating a German dinner of Bratwurst and German Style Potato and Ham Salad and will wash it down with German beer on Saturday night.

    Good luck on the Marathon Pat & Diane

    1. That’s great Annette. Enjoy your German meal!

      Re: the marathon — We’re planning to enjoy the experience and are not expecting to burn up the course. Note that the 2 current world record champions (male and female) are both competing on Sunday. We just need to sober up before then!

        1. After Ironman, I’m not sure that running a marathon sober is enough of a challenge. The Marathon du Medoc in France has a total of 23 wine-tasting stations over the 42 kilometer course. In addition, the last four kilometers of the race include all-you-can-eat oysters, cheese, ham, BBQ and ice cream. Now that sounds like a challenge! Although the organizers of the Berlin Marathon do not provide equivalent beverage or culinary challenges, perhaps I will run with a hangover instead (which is maybe an even tougher test!)

  3. Yes, I am late in readying all our blogs but I am loving them just the same. Keep up the blogging and drinking because the beverages are enhancing the wonderful experience. Remember January will be detox month. Just to get you set for your next adventure.

    Have fun guys.

    1. We’ll try to sober up in time for our return. Interestingly, the Czech Republic (where we are currently enjoying a beer or 3) has a zero tolerance policy for drinking and driving. We complain about the 0.05% roadside suspensions in BC, but here, the limit is 0.00%. So I’m careful to drink, then sleep, then drive.


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