Saturday, March 31, 2012

Stuff that Germans Love...shelf toilets, 'Genau' and more

Greetings world.

In a brief follow up to my last post about some of the typical German customs, I thought I would put together a summary of some of the things that Germans get really excited about, things they love and stuff that is really 'typisch deutsch' or typically German. So what kind of stuff is part of the true Germany?

Apart from the things I've laid out below...this gentleman has a few thoughts which I thought were also quite true :-) Check out his video.

1. The shelf toilet. 
Now this pic is not my toilet (I stole it from Google images...look out copyright peeps!). But it is a traditional German shelf toilet. The first time I came across one of these was on my second day in Germany. My first thought was...REALLY?? I have asked many a German and foreigner about the rationale for the shelf toilet. What I am told (and have also read on this website for bathroom manners) is that it is supposed to be so you can go about your business, have a bit of a look and make sure that everything with your downstairs plumbing is working as it should.

All in all, it is a really German experience and if you come to Germany and don't get to experience the shelf toilet, then you've not really been to Germany.

2. Walking sticks.
No not the kind your nanna might have, but the hiking kind. And not always for hiking, why not give them a go when you're walking through the streets of downtown Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich or some other city (where there is not a hiking track anywhere nearby). I absolutely have no idea what the fascination is with these sticks. They might be good for helping you along your way, but seriously it looks a tad ridiculous.

3. Processed meats. 
Like many countries in Europe, Germans have a love for all things in cured and processed meats. Smoked, cured, whatever. Lots of salami, wurst etc but it is all seriously, seriously good to eat and seriously bad for you in large quantities. But I still eat it because it's YUMMY.

4. Open windows. Imagine this. It is the dead of winter, it might have been snowing outside earlier in the day. It's probably about -15°C outside and inside it's a lovely 23°C. What do Germans just love to do? OPEN THE DAMN WINDOW. Oh my god, yes it gets stuffy sometimes but they all love their fresh air.

5. Silence. 

I'm not a particularly loud person, but Germans appreciate quiet time. I have only been told to be quite once since I've been here...not too bad I guess. Quiet time on Sunday, quiet time during the middle of the day. But hang on a 8am every Sunday your local church will blast the whole suburb with church bells with a sound not unlike living under the flight path of a near by airport. Sunday of all days. Everyone knows Sunday is the day of rest because it is when everyone has a shocking hang over from the night before.


Listen to one side of any German telephone conversation and you are likely to hear these three words (well four if you count Na Ja as two) over and over again. Germans seem to love to say "Exactly" (Genau) all the time...just to acknowledge to the other person that they are in agreement. Or perhaps it has to do with the German obsession with precision. "Na-Ja" (oh well) and my personal favourite "Achso!" (Oh right!) are also heard a lot. "Achso" is such a perfectly German sounding way of saying "ah! OK!". If you want to sound like you can speak fluent German to try and blend in a little, just go around saying these few phrases.

7. SUNDAY. Sunday has already been mentioned above under 'Silence'. On Sunday, as I mentioned before, is a day in Germany that holds special importance. All the shops are closed. That's right...ALL the shops (not even Supermarkets are open). The only place you can get stuff on a sunday is your local convenience store or there are supermarkets open at the main train stations, airports etc where all the touristy people are. But nothing else. Laundromats and hairdressers, florists, department stores...all closed. This basically ensures about 80% of the city will force their way into shops on a Saturday making for one hell of a hectic shopping experience. Once per quarter the shops will open on a Sunday for a 'special' trading day. The whole place goes freaking nuts for it. Like shopping on Sunday is somehow different to on these weekends everyone goes on Saturday (because that is the routine and Germans love their structure)...and a whole load of them will go again on Sunday. Why? BECAUSE IT'S SUNDAY.

Another Sunday tradition, but something I seriously love, is Kaffee und Kuchen (Coffee and Cake). It's quite traditional on a Sunday afternoon to go down to your local bakery or cake store (Which are open on Sunday by the way) and purchase yourself an enormous-cream-laden-chocolate-infused-wonder-of-nature (simply known as cake) and invite a couple of your nearest and dearest over to enjoy some cake, coffee (or tea if you're so inclined) and catch up and chat. Seriously the cake in this country is something to be believed. It may even warrant an article on it's own!

So what do you think? What do think is typically German? Did anything here surprise you? Add your comments people! This is a blog forum people, not a one way communication medium so let me know what you think!