Friday, February 6, 2009

5 Cool Things about Germany

I was fortunate to live in Germany twice for a total of around 5 years. Once when I was actually in the Air Force and the other time as a contractor for the Department of Defense.

When I first arrived in Germany I absolutely loved it because of its novelty of it. It was completely different in almost every way that you could imagine to America. Then as I travelled to neighboring countries I kind of forgot about what Germany had to offer even though I lived there.

Upon returning to live in Germany after being away for about a year and a half I quickly remembered what I had been missing.

My list of 5 cool things about living in Germany...

1) The cars and the driving -- What came first? The touring car or the or the impeccable highway system? I don't know but either way the Germans have mastered both a long time ago. Okay dude, your Mustang is fast off the line but how do you feel when a BMW 520D (yes, diesel!) station wagon full of kids passes you on the Autobahn at 160 MPH around bends to boot? Where else do you pass police cars on the highway going over a 100MPH and not think twice about them.. Nor do they think twice of you?

The thing that is awesome to me about driving a German car in Germany is that people do not look at you so pretentiously like they do in other countries. Whether it is a BMW, Mercedes, Audi, VW or Porsche they are driven by everybody and anybody. These brands are seen in Germany the same way Chevrolet or Ford is seen in America. To me that is cool.

2) Turkish food-- Where to begin?! I guess the classic Döner kebab that tastes best in Germany (and I have tried it in Turkey...) Think of it as European fast food. Typically the place you order it from has a window on the front of the shop and you stand on the sidewalk and tell the guy what you want. About 60 to 90 seconds later he hands you your sandwich. Depending on where you are it will cost you anywhere from €3.50 to €5.00 for one. They have been in the news lately, as some 'news agencies' like to report the obvious as news.

3) Location, location, location -- Where I lived was 4 hours to Paris; 3 hours to Munich; 5 hours to Zurich; 3 hours to Brussels; and 6 hours to London... Enough said.

4) German mentality -- The Rule of law. Germans live by it and seem to love it. I have been yelled at by a German (who was actually obstructing traffic to yell at me) for riding a bike on the sidewalk and then an hour later for not having a headlight on the front of my bike and a flashing tail light on the back by another German. I once got pulled over on an access road between two highways by an unmarked German police car. He didn't stop me for driving 140 MPH in a 50MPH zone. No, that is understandable as it was a only a half-mile stretch of straightaway connecting two separate highways. He pulled me over for passing on a solid lined road...

There is no litter. People think nothing of keeping their trash in their pockets until they come across a trashcan. It seems to be a religion here in the UK to dump your trash wherever you please.

When you live in a place where people have little or no respect for the law it makes you appreciate a nation where the people comprehend the reasons and benefits for the whole of society in following them.

5) The American bases -- It is perhaps the most remarkable thing to me that I lived in a foreign country where you are surrounded by a new culture and language but have any 'touch of home' that you desire at your fingertips. I lived on base and off base in Germany and saw the positives and negatives of both but crossing back and forth between the two was truly something that made my stay in Germany much more enjoyable.

Want some Lucky Charms, Snapple Iced Tea and Hostess Donuts? Go on base and get it at the Shoppette or Commissary!

Want some Punica multi-vitamin juice, fresh Brotchen and Milka chocolate? Go off base and get it at Real or Toon!

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