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Posted by Jessica on Dec 15, 2010
Nine Inconsequential Observations about Germany

We had a total of 19 hours in Germany – 12 in Munich and 7 in Frankfurt – during layovers to and from South Africa. Of those 19 hours, we successfully spent 13 hours exploring the sights in both Munich and Frankfurt.

Perhaps it goes without saying, but these 13 hours have made us the utmost experts in German culture. And you, dear reader, are probably eager to delve into some of the more subtle nuances of German culture we have unearthed. Thus, it is without reservation that we present to you nine inconsequential (and completely unscientific) findings as observed from our (obviously extremely extensive and in-depth exploratory) time in Germany:

1. Germans like currywursts

'Behold: currywursts! One of a number of nummy things we ate while in Germany.We observed many Germans in the wild ordering and partaking in currywursts. Made of pork sausage, sliced, and then smothered in a sauce similar to ketchup but spiced with curry, currywursts are popular on-the-go treats. In the interest of full cultural immersion, we may have tried one (or two...) currywursts while sitting amongst the Germans we were observing. Inexplicably, we found ourselves commenting "Das ist gut" to one another.

2. Germans like little wooden utensils

While eating their currywursts or other nourishing favorites (usually five-syllables in length), Germans eschew plastic utensils. Instead they opt for adorably small pieces of wood, almost like a mini-tongue depressor with two tines on one end. (As illustrated in the photo under observation #1.) These tiny utensils enable the Germans to take delicate, bite-size nibbles, allowing them to maintain a stylish and chic appearance while noshing.

3. Germans enjoy beer

'Just two hedgehogs, having a beer on the subwayOne of our most eye-opening observations that very few people in the world are privy to: Germans enjoy beer. From giant receptacles referred to as "steins" (also called mugs or pints) to giant "beerhouses" (also known as beer halls) where you will find hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people enjoying a cold one, Germany is a well-oiled beer-drinking machine. And, unlike much of the United States, they don't bother with pesky open container laws...which may or may not have allowed your two observers the chance to wander around the streets of Frankfurt at 8am with beers in hand.

4. Beerhouses are very warm

'Note: That's the small stein. Yup, there's a bigger version available too.We observed Germans in Germany during October and November, slightly chiller months of the year. Thus it was with great pleasure we discovered that the confluence of hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people all drinking in one large room causes said room's temperature to increase ten-fold. This discovery, along with the requisite beer-tasting we may or may not have had (though photographic evidence clearly indicates the former), was quite welcome on a cold day. Sadly, this rise in temperature is not possible for the beer gardens – outdoor beerhouses – which are still (rather insanely) operating outside during this time of year.

5. Beerhouses are everywhere

'Just behind where this photo was taken, are the tables where the kegs stand. And yes, you're seeing correctly: this beerhouse is inside the church, to the right of the pews.Our observations of Germans in the wild have led us to believe they strive to be prepared for any thirst-inducing situation. As such we discovered beer gardens in public parks, outdoor markets, and down tiny side streets. More tellingly, we discovered beer gardens next to the children's rides at a street fair and inside an early nineteenth century church.

6. Germans like dogs

'Not only does this German lady like her dog, she enjoys color-coordinating with her dog too!More than any other observation (even more than observations #3 and #5), this one created a soft spot in our hearts for Germany and the Germans we so dutifully observed. From the moment we stepped off the plane in Munich, we quickly ascertained that Germans love dogs. Dogs are allowed inside the airport, on public transport, in restaurants, grocery stores, malls, and churches. In fact, there are few places we did not observe Germans with their dogs. (And had we spied a dog with a German at a beer garden in a church, that would have been a very good day indeed.) Also: There are actual German Shepards in Germany.

7. Germans like shaking hands

We have observed the perfunctory ritual known as handshaking in numerous countries, particularly our own. However, the Germans take handshaking to a new level. It seems there are few occasions which do not begin and end with a handshake. And this ritual did not limit itself to new acquaintances or business meetings. (Or humans. We even observed a dog – see observation #6 – shaking hands with a human too.) Even if it appears to be the hundredth time a group of friends has gotten together (to enjoy the currywursts from observation #1, no less) they begin and close their visit with a round of handshakes...which is then quickly followed by a round of beers (see observation #3).

8. Germany is efficient, except the Frankfurt airport*

We believe this is another new and perhaps very surprising point about the Germans which may never have been made previously. From restaurants to trains, everything in Germany appears to run in a timely, seamless manner. Even the Glockenspiel Clock in Munich's New Town Hall ran like, well, clockwork. The Germans are so helpfully efficient that instead of boarding passengers the usual 30-45 minutes prior to flights, they sometimes board passengers 75-90 minutes prior to a flight (which may or may not have caused two observers to nearly miss their flight to Johannesburg).

*The only thing we found inefficient in all of Germany (in all of our extensive, in-depth time there) were the immigration lines at the Frankfurt airport. It should be noted, however, the lines were being overseen, inexplicably, by two Americans.

9. Germans like hedgehogs

'See the two hedgehogs sitting amongst the salads and cheese? Random much?! Not for Germans!
Perhaps our most personal and surprising discovery is the downright obsession Germans have with hedgehogs. If there exists an item for sale that a hedgehog can be displayed on, glued on, or portrayed on, it will be. We observed several stores with entire displays dedicated to hedgehogs. We also observed several stores with displays having nothing to do with hedgehogs (like chocolate bars, for example) but amongst which we could find several hedgehogs displayed. Germany and Germans are fans of hedgehogs. It goes without saying that we felt right at home.

In conclusion...

And thus concludes our observations of Germans and German culture within Germany. No doubt some readers will be amazed at the more obscure observations we have detailed, particularly that Germans enjoy beer and run things with spectacular efficiency. (Who knew?!) We do hope most readers will walk away from their computers with a deeper and more contextualized understanding of German culture as we undoubtedly have ourselves.

One thing is for certain, we will return to Germany again one day. Except next time, we do hope it will be longer than simply one day (or, in our case, 19 hours).

If you enjoyed this story, you might also like these ones:

An Epic Year of Travel

An Epic Year of Travel

Ten Photos from Munich, Germany

Ten Photos from Munich, Germany

Maggie (Tim's sister)
December 15, 2010 at 7:14pm
Emily might have to debunk some of what you wrote, but you have to remember she grew up on a military base so her experience may be a tad different.

Have you tried gelbwrust yet? It's to die for! It's basically German bologna but tastes MUCH better. Emily got me hooked on the stuff, but sadly you can only get it on base or at a really good German deli.

I'm so happy you two had fun in Germany. I'm hoping to go there someday as there is so much history and I want to see where Emily grew up. Plus I want some proper gelbwrust (or however ya spell it). You two can drink my beer for me! 8 o )

December 15, 2010 at 8:56pm

…Emily might have to debunk some of what you wrote…

LOL! No worries, Maggie. I imagine many folks could debunk what we wrote: this was mostly written tongue-in-cheek. :) It's simply some of the quirky and inconsequential observations we made during our very brief time there. But that doesn't make them true or even representative of anyone else's time there. :)

I don't think we've tried Gelbwurst yet, but it does sound tasty! When we go to visit Klaus next year, we'll have to ask him to hook us up with some. :)

December 16, 2010 at 8:01am
Love this, especially the fact that Germans are enjoying hedgehogs so much. Currywurst sounds goooood. B well, Phil
December 16, 2010 at 11:02am
It is really gooood! Maybe not as good as some of the Moroccan food you've been having lately (nom!), but pretty darn nice nevertheless. :)
December 17, 2010 at 8:10am
yep, this post proves Germans invented Wisconsin!
December 17, 2010 at 10:11am
LOL! And now we know how to save on airfare when we want another German experience! ;)
December 29, 2010 at 9:38am
Who knew? Beers and efficiency? The Germans? NO! Lol… love your writing style. Glad I found this blog.
December 29, 2010 at 12:18pm

…Who knew? Beers and efficiency? The Germans? NO!…

LOL! I know, right? It was a surprise to us too! ;)

(Thank you so much for the sweet compliment. Yay!)

December 30, 2010 at 6:17pm
I love this post! Thanks to your keen observations, I will know just what to expect when I go for Oktoberfest next year. Happy travels in 2011!
January 2, 2011 at 12:21pm
We're happy to be of service, Daryle! And how awesome that you'll be heading to Germany for Oktoberfest. Have a wonderful time! Prost!
January 3, 2011 at 12:53am
You had me at "Perhaps it goes without saying, but these 13 hours have made us the utmost experts in German culture." Every time I read one of your posts, I think to myself, "What fun people!"
January 7, 2011 at 12:23pm
Awwwww! Thank you, Odysseus! :)

*happy dance*

January 13, 2011 at 10:12am
Vee are very efficient indeed… vee showed them precisely what vee want them to see… ze beer und ze sausages… hahah… next time you wil see ze real secrets of Germany, like Döner und ze Autobahn :D
January 13, 2011 at 3:39pm
LOL! Indeed, Klaus, indeed! We're looking forward to it. (Well, maybe not so much to the Autobahn!) :)
January 13, 2011 at 3:40pm
Ahhhhhh! Mr. Mouse! What an *awesome* photo of him! :)
Jeremy bisson
June 28, 2011 at 4:48am
Lol…i just moved here in march and all of what you say is pretty much true. And hedgehogs are wild here too! Saw one last night in my yard!
June 28, 2011 at 6:50pm
Congratulations on your recent move, Jeremy! I bet now you're getting to experience the fine art of handshaking with Germans every day. ;)

You're so lucky to have seen a wild hedgehog! In all our travels, we have yet to see one. Fingers crossed we do one day!

Thanks so much for stopping by! :)

March 4, 2012 at 1:06pm
Oh dear! I really enjoyed reading this. You do have a talent to write, and you captured us germans pretty well! It made me laugh various times, and I'll keep on reading your blog (which is awesome by the way, LOVE the design!).
Have a wonderful day, for you already made mine!

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