Thursday, 22 March 2012

10 Things I Like About Germany

I will probably have to disappoint those avid Interculturalists amongst you who are just waiting for the words "clean" and "efficient" to crop up  in order to respond with a lofty "oh yes we all know about the ruthless efficiency and the penalities of Germany". It's just a personal little tour of what I like and a bit of why. It's very subjective, in no particular order, and you probably won't agree. But still.

1. The smell in chemist's shops (Apotheken). It's not really medicinal -  more herbal, fresh and aromatic. I've never smelt it anywhere else, and it's intoxicating!

2. The fact that women (of a similar age-group) tend to smile at each other on the streets, or in shops, or trains. Rather than glower.

3. That people at neighbouring tables in a restaurant ackowledge each other with a smile or a nod, and say good-bye when they leave, rather than pretend there's nobody sitting next to them.

4. That there is a market in every town, even the very small ones. Not an artficially created Farmers' Market but a century-long established one, with brilliant fresh produce, seasonal flowers - and that everything is so nicely presented, in baskets, wooden boxes etc.

5. The fact that Germany is so centrally located within Europe. I have this thing about not liking marginal locations. It makes me feel cut-off and side-lined. (I also don't really like islands, sorry.)

6. That (whilst they do exist) there isn't a "mall culture" when it comes to shopping. Shops are strewn about the whole town and are plentiful and varied. I'd hate having to drive to some out-of -town shopping centre and loading up the car with everything in one oh so sensible trip.

7. Its variety. Big modern towns (like Hamburg), strange towns (like Berlin), picturesque towns (like Munich). Wonderful seaside, (North Sea, and Baltic), the Alps, the wonderful lakes, both Alpine and in the North. Heaths, rivers, vinyards. It's so much more beautiful than other countries which constantly blow their own trumpet.

8. Which brings me to my next point: Its modesty. Germany is probably the most affluent, economically successful country in Europe. People are generally wealthy, there's no major strife, integration is voluntary and painless. Its politics is mostly consensual.Yet it doesn't boast of its assets. Probably all due to its history, but right now, in 2012, I find that  a very sympathetc trait.

9. That it's still governed by middle-class values. Many people might not like this, but I do. I'm not keen on seeing people do their shopping in pyjamas, and don't want to get used to it either. Or being asked, threateningly "And what's wrong with that, eh?" I don't like seeing people face down in the gutter on a Friday night. Or ramshackle little houses with huge expensive cars in the driveway.

10. And finally, yes: That is has a functioning infrastructure which -it has to be said - functions because a lot of money is being poured into it. What's so great about trains being late and rubbish not being collected? Or fast-lanes for rich drivers? Sorry, not for me!

My next blog might be about 10 Things I don't like about Germany....


  1. I do appreciate #3, #4, #6 and #9 as well.

    Just yesterday evening, at a Portuguese restaurant in Oberursel, patrons said hello and goodbye as they passed our table. I kind of attributed this to the change in weather ;-)

    About # 5 - I love islands with Japan being my favorite one. The runner-up is the Faroe Islands.

    Looking forward to your post about 10 Things you don't like!

  2. Great blog. So refreshing, and so (in my view) true. I find the comments on the smell of a German chemist particularly fascinating, as intoxication is not a word that readily comes to mind when i think of a chemist. Yes, Germany is so varied isn't it - from the North and East Sea to the Alps...really surprising that more people don't appreciate it. Well - all the better for those in the know!

  3. Great blog, Marit. Your personal and honest observations are a refreshing change from people who seem like they blog only to sell something.

    I miss very much in other countries the respect and courtesy shown especially by numbers 2 & 3 in your list. I'm an American who has lived in the Netherlands for 20 years. I lived also for 4 years in the Rhine-Neckar region of Germany, near Mannheim. When eating in restaurants outside of Germany, I really miss that small courtesy that the Germans show each other when arriving or leaving. I understand why the Dutch don't: it's part of allowing each other respectful space by pretending they aren't there. In the densely populated cities this is also shown by people who have never spoken to their neighbors. But still, even though I understand it, I miss it.