Impressions of Germany
1) Asparagus. Did you know that white asparagus existed? I sure didn’t. Germans eat white asparagus almost exclusively – and a lot of it.
2) Doner Kebab. Doner kebab is to Europe what the burrito is to America. Furthermore, Germany is to the doner kebab what California is to the burrito. Just like burritos taste better in California than they do in Mexico, doner kebabs taste better Germany than they do in Turkey – or so I’ve been told.
3) Breads. Bread is to Germany what cheese is to France. The variety is incredible. In fact, Germany has over 300 types of bread. German breads are tasty and textured and are sold unsliced. Simply world-class.
4) Sparkling water. I’ve been to many countries that drink sparkling water. However, Germany drinks an incredible amount of sparkling water.
5) Beer. I’ve been to many countries that drink beer. However, Germany drinks an incredible amount of beer. So much so that they say, “Munich is to beer drinkers what Las Vegas is to gamblers.”
Germany’s beer culture is tremendous. The beers are frothy. Beers are poured into humongous mugs until they overflow. Each different variety of beer is designated a particular glass or mug. Having its own specific glassware makes a statement that every beer is special. Every beer is an individual.
Most eye-opening is Germany’s right to drink beer in public. Germans carry racks of cold-ones to the park. They drink bottles of beer on street corners. Germans drink beer on a 10 AM train. If you were to ask me, “Would you rather have the right to own an AK-47 or drink a tall-boy in public?” – I’d pick the latter.
6) Beer halls. A German is beer hall is like a merger between an English pub and a banquet hall. Beer halls are huge spaces. They have high ceilings and communal-sized, wooden tables. A proper beer hall has an atmosphere that feels authentic. They are frequented by local members of the community. In fact, some beer halls have attached daycare centers.
A beer garden is different. It’s like a convertible beer hall with its top down. When the weather gets nice, the frothy beer drinking moves outdoors.
1) Berlin. San Francisco meets Detroit. The flavor and flamboyancy of San Fran mixed with Detroit’s grit, cheap rents and the fading glory of a once grand city. Berlin’s openly-gay major describes it as, “poor but sexy”. Berlin is one of Europe’s best cities.
(Here is a great BBC documentary on the history of Berlin)
2) Exactness. I’m positive that a word for mas-o-menos doesn’t exist in the German language. I found Germans to be very exact. My mother and I learned that Berlin has exactly 1084 trees planted in the city center. A tour guide told us that the Neuschwanstein Castle had exactly 33 steps between the first and second floor. A resident of Dresden informed us that the train station is exactly 9.15 meters above the normal river line. She concluded, therefore, that we will safe from the flood waters. At the time, they reached 8.3456315 meters high.
3) David Hasselhoff. The Hoff is a man of influence in Germany. For 8 weeks in 1989, his hit single Looking for Freedom was #1 in Germany. Even today, still, the jacket he wore during his Berlin Wall performance has influenced the design of the federal security jackets. Hoff, if you are reading this, listen up. Return to Germany. You’re a legend in Deutschland.
4) Green. Germany is the world’s environmental role model. Wind turbines and houses outfitted with solar panels are common sights throughout the country. German has over 22,000 wind turbines. 8 out of 10 Germans own a bicycle. Recycling bins are omnipresent. Carrying groceries in reusable bags is second nature. Germany is demonstrating to the world how being Green can be sexy.
1) Bundesliga. Just saying Bundesliga tickles the tongue. Germany’s national football league is regarded as arguably Europe’s best football league. I went to a match in Berlin. The fans were passionate. The tickets were cheap. The beer was cold. I’m a fan for life.
2) Reading long words. German words are incredibly long. Mark Twain called it ridiculous. German words are long because the language combines multiple words thereby creating one really long word. For example:
Freundschaftsbezeugungen – “demonstrations of friendship.”
Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften – “insurance companies providing legal protection.”
Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelaende – “Hello” … That is a joke.
3) Car museums. My mother and I visited three car museums. The BMW museum in Munich was terrible. Too discombobulated. The Porsche museum in Stuttgart was sweet, but a little too short. Ah but, the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart. It was just right. Weaving the car company’s history into historical events was brilliant. Oh yeah, the cars were real snazzy too.
4) Driving a Porsche. A friend of mine made one of my dreams come true. He let me drive his restored 1961 356 Porsche. The 356 is the original Porsche – the model James Dean drove. Starting the car from the left side ignition, I drove that hot red sports car through the northern German countryside. The top down. The pedal down. Wind in my hair. It was a good day.
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