3 Reasons Why We Didn’t Thoroughly LOVE Germany
Please remember that this list is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek look at a few situations in which we found ourselves in Germany. At the time, they stressed us out, now not so much… Please don’t write and say nasty things. We know these are generalisations, and that is why this post sat in our drafts box for a good few months. And as I will write at the end of the post – we WILL go to Germany again, and we are determined to learn from the past and (hopefully) make the next trip MUCH better!
We are generally not a negative bunch. In fact, generally, when things are not awesome, we try to make the best of the situation. We try to always look on the bright side of life.
Now, Germany is a beautiful country, with a rich and fascinating history. It’s history is more than just Hitler, WWII and the division between east and west. There is so much more to this country which we have found so interesting.
But, there are some things that have made the stunning country of Germany less than great for us. I know many of our friends have been here before and found it brilliant. I even know people that live here and love it. Maybe it’s just the time of the year or the places we have been. Maybe it’s us, and we are just going through a stage of being Negative Nellies. Or maybe not. You decide.
There’s no doubt that Berlin had to rebuild itself after WWII. We all know that. And East Berlin was not taken care of very well during the Cold War. A lot of modern buildings had to be built.
“It is ugly, obviously, because it is modern.” – Tour guide in Berlin
Our tour guide was obviously not a fan. I think there were probably fifteen or so comments on the ugly of Berlin: the government were “stupid for building so many sky scrapers”, the new Alexanderplatz Shopping Centre (construction began in 2004 and the centre opened in 2007) with its art deco theme was, again, ugly, but “at least it is somewhere to shop, which is good”, and the city was smart for getting rid of all the gardens in the city which “just take up room”. The only things that were beautiful to our guide were buildings that were built before 1900. After that everything was ugly… which I guess kinda makes sense.
I wondered what he would have thought of Tea Tree Plaza… Oh Dear Lord, what would he have thought???
WOULD SOMEONE JUST SMILE ALREADY!
I don’t know why, but Germany, in particular Berlin, is full of people who either stare at you or avoid eye contact like the plague. People are definitely on a mission here. I don’t think people stare because I am looking particularly odd, (I don’t look anywhere near as strange as the woman with her face tattooed with astrological symbols and selling mystic books on the streets near our hotel). I think it is done because they are thinking about whatever is going on in their lives and they stare while they think. It is odd and a tad off-putting.
Along with the staring are perpetually morbid faces. In Australia, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and Belgium, we have encountered people that will look up from what they are doing and with a big smile, greet us. In Germany the facial expression is more like “I know I am working the hotel reception, but did you have to interrupt me? Can’t you find your own room??”
Lächeln! Even if you don’t mean it! Just lächlen!
AND WHILE WE ARE TALKING ABOUT BEING AN INCONVENIENCE…
The service industry in Germany is really not awesome. I think it is because we don’t speak German. In fact, after talking to a few people who have lived and travelled extensively in Germany and some who have grown up in the culture, I would say it is DEFINITELY because we don’t speak German. Well, we can say hello, goodbye, thank you and sorry, but we definitely can’t say “can we please order the spaghetti without mushrooms and can we have two bowls so that it can be shared?”. But then I couldn’t say that in French either, although my french is quite a degree better than my German. People in the service industry treat as like a hassle as soon as I utter the words “Do you speak English?”. I have read before that Germans don’t really love the American people (similar to how the French feel about the English people). And we have been mistaken for American a couple of times, so maybe that is it?
My German extends to this:
I realise I am a frustration to the German waiter taking my order. I get it. I get it because that is how I feel trying to communicate with him too. Like when I am trying to order something without onion so that my daughter won’t get hangry with me! I know it is annoying and irritating, but it is something that I have accepted as part of international travel. But please don’t sigh at me, or grunt, or roll your eyes. It doesn’t help.
It is the kind of service we have received at most restaurants/supermarkets that meant we resorted to eating at Maccas and KFC (chicken nuggets are part of the universal language) way more than we should, and if possible, we have opted for ordering on the digital ordering system instead of going up to the counter. It’s a shame because we have wilfully and gleefully resorted to not talking to anyone.
STOP PUSHING IN FRONT OF MY KIDS DARN IT!
I think that one is self explanatory.
GERMANY (in particular Berlin) WE REALLY WANTED TO LOVE YOU…
I mean, who couldn’t love this country?
We will definitely try again…