When I say strange, I mean it in the most intriguing and educational ways possible to an American. Having had the chance to experience local living, wander through small towns and be a passenger on the autobahn, here’s what I’ve learned about the Germans…
On food and grocery
- Beer = water. It is something you drink for breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between. They buy beer in carts at about the same ratio as water.
- Beer comes in glass bottles and water in plastic, both types have fees tagged on for the containers when purchased which you get back when you recycle the containers in store.
- The recycling machine scans the bar code on plastic bottles. Make sure the bottle you buy have a well tapered bar code. We didn’t get our money back when one of the bottles had a messed up bar code and the machine just couldn’t scan it.
On dining etiquette
- Pick you own seat/table as long as it’s open, no need to check in with a hostess. This seems to be the case even when a restaurant is at capacity.
- It’s common to order drinks only and sit for hours. In fact, I almost feel it’s encouraged. You can choose to pay right after getting your drinks or when you’re finished. The servers are also cashiers.
- Tipping is not required and most of the time people just round up the total. But they will also be very appreciative if you do tip for exceptional service, usually no more than 5-10%.
- You pay for water and I rarely see patrons without some sort of a drink at a sit down place. Good news is that water costs the same as beer.
- Slow cars stay on the right, period. It’s socially expected to let cars go fast and not occupy the left lane, unless you’re going fast.
- Turn signals are used when passing, flash the headlights when you’re pissed at the car in front of you instead of honking.
- They have signs for all things speed related; speed limit, speed limited lifted, speed limit when wet, no speeding, etc. Must pay careful attention to avoid getting a speeding ticket.
- When there’s a ramp merge, the nice thing to do is to clear the lane by changing to the left lane briefly. In general, their mergers are much shorter than in the US.
- Road constructions are common during the summer, you will usually see a huge red “x” crossed over the name or direction of the road that has been blocked.