Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

10 Things I Love About Germany

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This has been brewing for sometime, and will be followed shortly by 10 Things I Find Weird About Germany. I have lived here on and off for seven years now, can speak a passable version of German in which I totally ignore the grammatical ramifications of gender. I have many friendships that are conducted only in German, and can go to a dinner-party and have grown-up conversation all night long, only occasionally having to say, “What’s that thing? You know to stop the babies? Abortion? No. Yes, yes, contraception, that’s it.” I think this qualifies me as an expert sociologist.

So here are the things I love:

1. Walking.

Last week, two friends and I took our combined gang of nine children for a walk in the Pfalz. We parked towards the top of a hill and walked at a slowish pace through beautiful trees, now and again glimpsing the blue distance of Alsace Lorraine. The bigger children ran ahead, and the smaller ones lingered, picked up stones and plucked wildflowers. We passed many happy hikers: very sporty ones kitted out in full regalia, some kids in lederhosen and gingham scarves (I kid you not: they looked adorable), and large gangs of pensioners (known as the Renntner Safari). It was safe, beautiful and fun. Our walk led us to a …

2. Huette

When you walk in the forest or up a mountain in Germany, it is seldom necessary to pack a picnic because your walk will automatically end at a Huette (hut), where you can purchase cheap and delicious food. I once went for a long autumn walk with a friend in the Black Forest, where we were surprised by some unseasonable snow. We turned a corner and there was a warm and cosy Huette, selling amongst other things, hot chocolate and large hunks of Black Forest …

3. Cake

The best baked cheesecakes in the world are made all over Germany, including right here in our little dorf. Sometimes I ponder my Nigella cookbooks and conside whether I should get round to learning how to make a cheesecake. Then I think, why bother, I could just stroll to the nearest bakery and buy myself an enormous slice of tender, crumbly, blandly sweet, cheesy-but-not-too-cheesy cheesecake. The best place however to eat cheesecake, or any cake for that matter is in a German …

4. Coffee shop

For the amazing range of cakes, obviously, but also for the coffee – dark, rich, aromatic – and the quaintness. Once you get used to it, you start to find the languid service very relaxing. Languidness extends to the customer too: if you wanted to, you could order a mineral water and sit for four hours reading your book. No-one moves you on, no-one even looks at you, and when you want to pay, you usually have to track the waitperson down to some small dark nook where s/he’s texting/reading/flirting with the chef. Then the onus is on you to give him or her a …

5. Very small tip

Having come from lands where 10 to 15% is standard, even if the service is execrable, it is gratifying to be allowed to hand out very small tips for very small service. It is expected that you round up a bill of €3.70 to €4, or €24 to €25. Having ignored you for four hours, the waitperson will make a …

6. Very friendly farewell

On your arrival in shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants, you have to accept that you will be roundly ignored. Once you learn that this is not personal (and certainly not that they can sniff you are foreign and want to ignore you), but realise that it is a game and short of lying in someone’s path so that they trip over you, you have to make yourself noticed. The opposite is true when you leave any establishment: you will be wished a nice evening, a good night’s sleep, a pleasant weekend, greetings are sent to your spouse and children – for there is nothing Germans love more than …

7. Family

Family and children are very important in German society. The birth-rate is dropping here for reasons I explain elsewhere so kids get a lot of attention. When Ollie was a newborn in a pram I couldn’t get from home to kindergarten without being stopped by an assortment of grannies and neighbours who wanted to admire him, discuss his feeding and sleeping habits in detail and mention that he had a runny nose and perhaps his feet were cold. Children are welcomed and their idiosyncrasies are expected. They are allowed to be children and are not required to be strange little over-polite mini-adults. This means they can sometimes be hard to tolerate, but I like a society that welcomes childishness. There is also enormous kindness to children: when I go into town with my kids, I never have to worry about giving them a snack first because I know we will come out from the grocer’s with a piece of fruit she’s given them, from the bioladen with an organic biscuit and from the butcher’s with a lovely piece of …

8. Ham

I don’t go for over-processed meat much, but if it’s your thing, you can get scarily white or uniformly pink sausages that probably taste delicious. What I love is thin slices of air-dried Black Forest ham, similar to the proscuitto or serrano that you can get on the rest of the …

9. Continent

So one of the reasons I love is Germany is that it is close to great places like France, Italy, Austria and Switzerland. Alsace Lorraine is about an hour’s drive away and I regularly have a shopping day to Strasbourg with my girlfriends. On the way home we stop at an enormous French supermarket, and stock up on French essentials: mussels, yogurt, the beautiful Alsatian sparkling wine called cremant, saucisse, gherkins, mustard and mayo. All delicious, and redolent of wonderful …

10. Holidays

One of the best things about living in Germany is this: 30 working days’ leave. Shall I repeat that for my American friends? 30 DAYS! A few years ago, Thomas had the choice between a great job in Germany and a great job in the US. His criteria were different, but it was the German holidays that swung it for me. This means we can have a decent holiday back in South Africa once a year and if we’re lucky a European vacance too. It also means parents can take time off just to spend at home, or attend a critical kindergarten function without getting funny looks at work. Germans believe holidays are essential, that without them, workers cannot do their jobs properly. And if you don’t take your yearly leave, you are regarded as slightly odd. So we do our best to comply.

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Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

66 thoughts on “10 Things I Love About Germany

  1. I had an image in my mind of Germany being a grey industrial place. I have never been there and must have subconsciously built up this picture through negative hearsay. But the Germany you describe sounds lovely, especially people’s attitudes towards children – and the cake!! Germany sounds like Switzerland, I loved Switzerland so much.

    • Lol, gray and industrial. There is nothing farther from the truth. Germany is greener than California. People from the US would think that Germans are radical environmentalists if they knew half the things Germans do for their land. To them it just comes natural. I have been there for a few years. My heart ACHES as if I miss my mother when I think of Germany. I WILL go back one day.

      (Technically, as if I miss my Father. Germany is, after all, a male country by their own definition: the Fatherland.)

      • Robin,
        Though the country is by definition male (das Vaterland), the language is certainly female (die Muttersprache). Perhaps that is due to the fact that it is just a teensy bit more complicated than many other languages.

        I would also venture to say that Germany on the whole is greener than most of the western United States, with the possible exception… POSSIBLE… of the Pacific Northwest.

  2. Aw man, now you are REALLY making me want to move back to Germany!

  3. Helen, that’s just what I thought about Germany before I moved here. I guess it’s a construct that suits everyone’s negative image of Germany. Actually, it’s really beautiful.
    Funkmeister – how we would love to tempt you back!

  4. Let’s see.. It’s been 35 years since I lived in Germany. But the things I remember the most are:

    1. Brotchen.
    2. Gummi bears and snakes
    3. Klose (potato dumplings)
    4. Bus system. We live in Kansas City, and there really is nothing like that here.
    5. Wurst. Sold on the street corners.

    Most are food things.. :)

    6. My German weekend and summer boyfriend. I went to high school about 100k from where my dad was stationed. So the boyfriend was just for the weekend and during the summer. My dad insisted we speak only German when we were out. Reinhard wanted to learn better English, so I spoke German to him, and he answered in English.

  5. Don’t forget the Weihnachtsmarkts! One thing I will miss more than anything about Germany is going to the HD Weihnachtsmarkt and eating one, maybe two, Schweinesteak mit Zwiebeln und Senf on Brotchen. yum yum.

  6. Oh God, yes, Gummis. How we adore them, not to mention Christmas markets and the smell of Gluhwein …

  7. stop, stop. I’m having major food envy! You’ve already hit me hard with that mediterranean feast, but gummis and wurst on street corners? That’s just not fair!

  8. You are just ahead of me, as I have been brewing on a 10 things – I like/don’t like/find weird – about London list for a few weeks now. Your list is very recognizable, as I know Germany quite well.

  9. Slow down girls! Gummis are.. ahaem.. condoms.. ;-)

  10. How about very neat stacks of firewood?

  11. I live in Canada and I have German friends who just had their first baby. I really want to buy them something special. Something that might cost too much in Germany or that you can’t get in Germany. Any suggestions?

  12. I am Canadian. I have German friends who just had their first baby. I want to buy them a special gift. Somehting that you might not be able to buy in Germany or that is too expensive in Germany and cheap in North America. Any suggestions?

  13. Rachel: Good question, most things that they dont have in Germany they dont like so not an easy thing to find. Did you manage to find something? if so, what? (not that I’m being nosey you understand)

  14. So nice to read positive thoughts about Germany. My children are half german – and my ‘in-laws’ have been my family for 1/2 my life now… I can’t imagine not being able to connect to that society. I loved your ’10 things’ list – the only thing I would add is the tradition – it is heaven for children – my children have all enjoyed German traditions no matter where we were living at the time, easter – Nikolaus… all fantastic, exciting times for the kidlets. Great blog – pleasure to read. Thanks!

  15. Your “10 things” article was really wonderful. Living in Eindhoven, Netherlands right now I find that a lot of the things that you love about Germany are very similar here in the Netherlands. Thanks!

  16. Loved the list. I lived in Germany for almost 5yrs. I’ve been missing it since I arrived back in the states. As a single person I can tell you Germany is just as great for people of all ages with or without children. Germany is a wonderful place and will forever be home to me no matter where I am in the world. One day I’ll go home again.

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  20. I’m an expat in Austria and just laughed until tears came reading this post. The opening paragraph is spot on. My German is good enough to have friends that don’t speak English and we communicate well, but I have gotten myself into awkward situations like the above. Luckily I have sympathetic, understanding friends who make a real effort to help me out.

    I have to agree with most of this list being top favorites. Coffee houses. walks, family-centric. Thanks for great writing that is so true.

  21. Im a student here in Germany. Am from South East Asia. I have to say that Germany is a place to be. Iv’e been to UK as well but the peace and puncutality in life you find here is no where else to be found.

    I can not speak Deutsch for which initially i had lots of problems (though my program here is in English) but once u get used to the social life, i’d say then you realize what a wonderful place it is…

    I remeber the Christmas Markets, and boy oh boy, i love those.

    Germany, Thumbs up for you!!

    • salam rezwan
      manam ta chan mahe dige karam jor she miam alman ama az hala kheili steress daram . oonghad ke daram pashimoon misham mitarsam alman oonjoory ke fekr mokonam nabashe. to vaghean az zendegi too alman razi hasti?

  22. I LOVE GERMANY SO MUCH!!! <3

    Great Food,Great people!!! =)

  23. Hi,
    Ich habe die Liste gesehen und finde sie echt schön! Alles was darin steht trifft vollkommen zu… Wo hast du denn gelebt als du in Deutschland warst?
    Ich komme aus Berlin.

    Liebe Grüße, Jessica

  24. I`m a german and i think it`s funny that you can not write ä, ö, ü and ß ;D
    It`s cool that you americans don`t have only Hitler in your mind at first when you think about Germany.
    When I reveal myself as german in the world wide web, it takes no long, until somebody dissed me as nazi or hitler *rolleyes*
    But i missed the german cars and punctuality in your list ;)

    With best regards,
    Kai M. from Leer, Ostfriesland

    • Hahaha.. really very funny. Everyone in the world is able to use ASCII codes. Also US Americans. ;)
      If Americans mention Hitler and the Nazis, I mention their not less cruel mass murders of the innocent German population done by USAF bombers.
      There are lots of people in the www who think they got balls, but in real life they’re the biggest cowards who got no skills.
      Better shut up now and do not write too much crap, my foolish German compatriot.

  25. Spot on with the list! My father’s German so after many years I decided to bite the bullet and come over for a few months to do a language course (it’s been a long time coming!). I totally agree with everything you said…It’s such a wonderful place. The people are very friendly, the food is great and the cities/villages are gorgoeus. Although I would also like to add that it is so refreshing to find a country that is desperate to retain the ‘Traditional Sunday’. By which I mean that there are no shops open on Sundays! Althouh it bugged me at first (since I had to be super organised during the week) I now really enjoy the calmness of the day. Most people relax at home with their families, go to restaurants, cafes, parks or the zoo- which is such a nice way to bring in the new week. I hope that this tradition lasts!

  26. I only visited Germany once (Berlin) to visit my wife’s family and stay with some friends. I completely fell in love with it. I would assume that visiting there isn’t the same as living there, but I’d love to find out for myself. I found everything on these lists to be true — even in Berlin which is (supposedly) rude by German standards. We traveled north to the Baltic Sea and had some of the most incredible smoked salmon I’ll ever eat in my entire life. I only spent 12 days in Germany, but I’ve felt a longing to go back ever since we left. Goodness, I even teared up when we rolled off the runway at Tegel!

  27. Hey ihr Amis,

    was geht?

    Wegen Sachen wie Brötchen, Weihnachtsmärkten, Cafès, Wurst, Gummibärchen usw. würdet ihr das Land der unbegrenzten Möglichkeiten verlassen? Das kann ich nicht glauben!

    Ihr habt so geile Sachen wie:

    Service. (Da habt ihr Recht, das geht bei uns gar nicht…..)

    Autokino, für alles gibt es Drive-In, Wieviele Fernsehprogramme habt ihr ? gefühlte 500.000?
    Atemberaubende Landschaften, die Nationalparks, die Strände, ihr habt Las Vegas…………gib mir 10.000 $ und ich gewinn die WSOP……jedenfalls viele, viele Dinge……..

    Leider gibt es in Amerika auch viele nicht so schöne Dinge, wie: Naturkatastrophen, ein ebenso katastrophales Waffengesetz, viel Armut,

    Aber eine ganz wichtige Sache habt ihr vergessen tempounbegrenzte Autobahnen………yeah……
    Naja, die besten Autos der Welt müssen eben ausgefahren werden.

    Gut, Gesundheitsversicherung habt ihr jetzt ja auch.

    Ich habe mich jedenfalls in den letzten 20 Minuten herrlich über eure Beiträge amüsiert!

    Vielen Dank

    Tobi

  28. Hi, i am german :)
    and i am so HAPPY you americans like my country XD

    i never really liked germany but ive been living in egypt for four years now and i have become quite patriotic :)
    :)

    fabio

  29. oh God, i really wantto go to germany.
    i have a plan to collage there in 2012.
    i’m still learning the language. it’s pretty hard, but i won’t stop.
    Ich liebe Deutschland so sehr!!!!

  30. You guys are all making me miss my village in germany!!! there are only about 900 people who live there and every morning i get up and just walk to the little grocery store in our village(the only store in our village) and get fresh brodchen! and all the food in germany is so amazing!!!

  31. Hello

    thank you very much for your list.
    its so nice to hear that not all Amerikans hate us.

    greetings from heidelberg

  32. I really love Germany, it has best motorways in the world, builds best cars,people are very friendly and respectful to the Low and other people. God bless Germany!

  33. Hey
    I’m from Germany, too.
    And all I can say about Germany is that Germany is a very green and beautiful country. I haven’t been in many other countries yet, but I really enjoy living here and i don’t regret it.
    And as the others just said it’s nice to hear from Americans that they like Germany. Not only because of Porsche, Mercedes, BMW or German beer but because of the German culture and landscape. Everything i heard from Americans before were things like: Germany is that small island near to China, isn’t it? or: Do you have trees in germany? (very funny lmfao) All Germans are rude, unfriendly and love Hitler…
    But nothing could be further from the truth. If any Americans, who are learning German, want to practise and try out their scills… I’m there and also ready to advance my English :)
    Greetings from Cologne (North-Rhine Westphaila)

    • Paula~
      I would like my family to relocate to Germany. We currently live in the US. My husband’s job could transfer there if we reaquested and I think it would be close to your area. When we search his company your region comes up. He works for Exxon Mobil. What do you know about drilling in your area?

      Your country sounds so interesting and pleasant. I lived in a community here that has many German descendants. Many traditions celebrated in the community came from their German heritage. I was always so fascinated and enjoyed the celebrations.

      We enjoy rural life and having never been to Germany it is hard to imagine what to expect. Also, I speak no German. I would like my children and I to begin learning. I saw mention of language schools, so that could be a possibility for us.

      I hope to hear back from you.

    • paula, are you still in cologne? i will be traveling there may 8, 2012. i was hoping to find someone to hang out w/ while my husband is in dusseldorf for the drupa show. hope to hear from you. mary

    • Hi from the USA. I enjoyed your comments about your country and although I have not been to your beautiful country I love Germany. I would love to chat, as i am currently learning your language. You can reach me at
      Dianakolan7@aol.com
      All the best from the US
      Diana

  34. Marsha-

    So first of all thanks for your reply.
    I don’t know anything about Exxon Mobil only that it’s located in Hannover. But indeed I know pretty much about language schools. Very close to my school we have a school called “St. George’s School” It’s and English School where native speakers teach their students to learn to use their English skills in a proper way and their lessons are completely in English as well.

    I’m really happy, that you are convinced about moving to Germany or at least that you are thinking about it, but I ahve to say, that German is a very difficult language. It all starts with the articles. We’ve got three of them and there is no rule where to use what. It’s totally random and you just have to learn it. And lots of other things. I’m 14 years old and for my age quite smart and I don’t get the right articles sometimes as well. I hope I could make myself understood without making so many mistakes :) If yes please improve =)
    I hope we’re gonna stay in contact-

  35. I’m so happy!
    All these nice comments :)
    I’m 11 years old and I’m born in Germany (sorry for my bad english, but I’ve had only three years until now).
    I’m so lucky to read this cause I always thought other cultures don’t like Germany. :(
    I really love UK and the British, but I always thought they don’t like us.
    That’s why I was cyring a lot (I’m a little sensible).

    But now I’m very glad about being German.

    • You must some kind of Wunderkind to write that at 11… Anyway, I am happy to inform you that I think that you are kind of wrong about other people’s conceptions about Deutschland. I know a lot of people who love Germany, for various and reasons! There are many great places on earth, and Germany is one of them.

      • Thank you ;) I don’t think I’m kind of Wunderkind! Only interested in English. And French, okay. But thank you, I’m flattered! :D

  36. I stumbled upon this blog, googling for “I love Germany”. I am a Swede living in Malmö, on the south tip of Sweden, very close to Germany. Sweden and Germany are of course quite similar, but a little different nonetheless. To me though, Germany is just like a better version of Sweden. Sure, (I think that) some things are better up here (nature, food), but in the end Germany wins. :-) I keep returning to Weinachtsmarkt in Lübeck every year! Next week we’re driving to München, then after a detour to Kroatien und Schweiz we’re staying in the Rhenland-Pfalz area for a few days. I am soooo looking forward to it!

  37. With almost everything that appears to be developing throughout this particular subject matter, many of your viewpoints tend to be rather refreshing. On the other hand, I beg your pardon, because I do not subscribe to your entire theory, all be it refreshing none the less. It would seem to everyone that your comments are generally not totally validated and in simple fact you are generally your self not fully certain of the argument. In any case I did enjoy reading it.

  38. I am a germany man from in algeria
    i like germany and Hitler
    and womens germany i love………… germany

  39. I’m a rabid Germanophile. I simply LOVE anything German!:-)

  40. ouhh i love this. Im currenly studying in germany and after living here for the past three years, I dont think I can live anywhere else because I feel so secure here! and the fresh air I breathe every morning, not forgetting the punctual public transports!

  41. The closest I’ve ever been to Germany was France. I love the culture and the land. I’ll probably go there in a few years:)

  42. I know every nation has its own unique culture, but I just feel Germany’s is just a cut above the rest!:-)

  43. i´m from germany, and reading your 10-thing-list made me smile. you´re right, germany is a country where people care for nature, children and good food. the “Weihnachtsmarkt” is only a few weeks each year, the Oktoberfest too, so it´s not only special for foreigners, it´s also very special to the germans. all kids love the time of Nikolaus (6th of december), christmas, easter. in the late 1990´s Halloween set foot in germany, it´s not original german, but people love it, on Halloween there are partys for kids and adults as well ^^ but these holidays are holidays, so what is much more important is the daily-life. and daily-life in germany is mostly very civilised and organised, peacful and if you have a plan for your life, germany is a place where your seeds can grow.

    in one of the comments it was said the Sonntag (Sunday) is a day where no shops are open and there is a peaceful atmosphere. that´s true! and don´t worry, this tradition won´t stop ^^ (except big cities like Berlin, they never sleep^^) most people use this day to spend a day with their family or simply relax. i didn´t know it´s a bit different in the US.

    germans love barbacue as much as the americans. here we call it “Grillen”. i always thought germans are the best “Griller” in the world, but a visit in the US opened my eyes that we can learn a lot from you ^^

    one more thing i´d like to tell you. i´ve been to the US (Montana, i have family there) and i loved it, ecspecially the countryside and i met a lot of very friendly people. (You Americans got a great Country!). During my visit, my cousin and me came to talk about cars. in germany most cars have “Gangschaltung” (hand gear shift), but i noticed that in the US most cars got “Automatik” (automatic gear-shift), which i like a lot more. the “Autobahnen” in Germany may have no speed-limit (on many places, usually it´s about 120 km/h speed-limit) but the highways in the US have way bigger streets and are much more in contact with nature, it´s awsome to drive these endless straight streets. (only seen Montana).

    well there are so much more things to say about germany, but i make it short, hehe. germany maybe had a bad image in the world, but if you have ever been here, you will find a lot you love and can not find somewhere else. germans are very nice, if you get a chance to knew them. greetings, micha :)

  44. Germany Loves All Of You :)

  45. Forget the images of the past of germany – we Germans are people made of blood, bones and skin like any other human beeing on this planet – All we want is to live in peace and respect with all other humans on this planet. A planet which is in balnce with it’s selfe. So try to see Germans as what they are – simply humans as you are. Ok. our language might sound a bit strange, but it’s a very rich language and we are able to express our selfes very clear into every detail. That makes us so difficult to understand. We are deep thinking people, which migh make us look a bit negative, but if you try to understand, you will see that we are very much into sustainability. There is a reason why we produce the best quality products on this planet everyone wants to have. It’s the belive in quality, not quantity. I welcome everyone of you out there to visit this great and beautifull country and do not forget – we are just humans with good and bad things like anyone else on this planet. Nobody is perfect, but we work on that issueu every day and try to do our best to please our guests from the rest of the world. Welcome to Germany and have a good time – All of you !

  46. Yeah, there are nice things to say about germany, but one thing is, that we Germans just overdo everything. There have to be laws for everything. That sucks (similar in Switzerland).

    Wish we were a little more laid back :)

  47. hey guys
    i´m from rheinland-pfalz and it was so amazing to read this.. that not everybody hates my country :) germany is such a beautyful place <3

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