Just few small observations about Germany…
- Pork! Everything has pork! Schnitzel, bratwurst, pork knuckel…enormous hunks of it, one after another. I can’t even imagine how many pigs are killed in Germany every year. Pork, pork, pork! Good thing I don’t eat Kosher 🙂
- Some of the German words are hilariously long. Of course I realize that they’re really “compound words”, representing multiple English concepts strung together…but it’s still pretty funny when you see one single chain of characters occupying nearly an entire line on a page. Unfortunately I didn’t take note of any specifically funny examples, but here are a few just from glancing at the train ticket/schedule I have right next to me: fahrplanauskunft, reservierungspflichtig, beforderungsbedingungen, auftragsbestatingung, etc 🙂
- The smoking is insane here! It’s to the point that in some cases, it’s actually difficult to breathe just while walking around in public. Sometimes it truly seems like there are more people with a burning cigarette in their hand than people without. Since most train stations are non-smoking, I’ve developed a habit of holding my breath completely while walking the 50 meters or so just outside of the entrance and exit. Yuck.
- It’s quite strange being in a “foreign country” where I look indiscernible from everyone else, and where everyone understands English. In many ways it doesn’t even feel like I’ve left the United States – in comparison to places like Asia and South America, of course. There you can only communicate by jumping around and flailing your limbs, and it takes about 0.01sec for someone to glance at you and tell you’re not a local. In Germany, people routinely walk up and start talking to me in German.
- European train station food is awesome. They have everything from mainstream fastfood chains to supermarkets to small carts and stalls selling the local cuisine – anything you could want: Sandwiches, bratwurst, pizza, or pork knuckle. My intuition would’ve been that train stations would be similar to airports, with only one or two overpriced options, but this just isn’t the case – even while staying in the city I often found myself strolling through the station in search of a quick meal. I really don’t remember this from last time I was in Europe, but I love it.
- They aren’t kidding – German beer is effing good! I don’t know if I’ll ever enjoy another Budweiser again 😛
*Did you know that American “Budweiser” is not the original Budweiser? There was actually a Czech beer called Budweiser since long before the American brewery existed; we just stole the name and marketed the hell out of it. Haven’t had a chance to try the original yet – but something tells me it maybe in my near future 🙂