1. Over here, the main car makes you see are Mercedes, BMWs, Citreons, Peugots, Opals and VWs. You rarely see pickup trucks (I think I’ve only seen one!). If you see an SUV, it’s usually like a Jeep or Hyundai Sante Fe type. They pay a lot more in gas prices over here so gas guzzlers are even less practical here as they are in the States.
Even the taxis are Mercedes:
Speaking of vehicles, here are some interesting vehicles we’ve come across…
A little Vespa ice cream truck:
A little three-wheeled, covered thing that had apparently just been in a little fender bender (there were scrapes on the side and sideview mirror was siting on the seat)… there’s a website listed under the name at palmo.info:
2. Their standard pillow is big and square. I find it really, really uncomfortable and still prefer our American King size standards, but I can’t find any over here.
3. They make this wonderful rosehip jam over here that is so delicious. Rob says he’s never seen it in the States. His mom doesn’t think it’s over there either. It would be a brilliant import. They make it out of the little bulbs or pods, if you will, that grow on rose bushes after the blooms have died.
When we went hiking up in wine country, we found some rosehip bushes. You pull one off, break off an end and squeeze the big seed out from the middle. You can then squeeze out the sweet/tart rosehip “paste” from both ends, which is a lovely orangey-red color. It’s a bit messy eating from the bush like that, but such a treat!
I want to see if I can have some shipped back to the States or maybe, someone is already importing it. Oh wait, I just did a search and here’s a great page that explains more about rosehips and making your own jam: http://www.springvalleyroses.com/inthegarden/roserecipes.html
Here are what rosehips look like on the bush:
4. They absolutely adore their dogs over here and take them everywhere. Dogs are welcome in most restaurats and stores, where they stroll and shop right along with their owners, LOL. It’s such a crack-up. They treat them like their own kids. There was one image in particular I can’t get out of my head and I wish to God I had taken the photo, but there was a woman in one of the open-door bookshops and I’m not kidding, she had her little dog in a stroller wearing baby clothes! Why-o-why did I not take that photo?! I’m kicking myself now, LOL. Anyway, Rob says the only place they’re really not allowed is the grocery store. Here are some cute shots:
5. All the homes and apartments and building windows have rolltop shutters that they put down at night. It’s such a trip. It reminds me of Omega Man where the guy has to blockade himself in at night so the zombie/vampire creatures don’t get him, LOL. But it’s just a commonplace way of life over here. Rob says it’s to help keep out the colder nighttime temps and privacy. It’s a bit eerie to me to walk around at night and see all the homes and apartments all shuttered up.
Here’s a house that has shows some of the shutters all the way down and some left half way:
6. I hate to say it because I absolutely LOVE the U.S. (being over here makes me even more grateful for all that we have at home and country) and I am actually really homesick, but being in Germany really spotlights how wasteful and consumptive we are in the States as a society. For example, you don’t see lots of disposable stuff like paper cups. At the Xmas markets, when you order a drink, it comes in an actual cup or mug. You can either save it as a souvenir (like when it’s painted with that year’s special holiday tidings) or you can turn it back in to the vendor when you’re done and you’ll get $2 euros back. When you do see paper cups, it’s usually from some commercial place like Starbucks. They pay attention to ceremony–they don’t skimp on details because it’s cheaper. It’s very soul-nourishing. For example, here’s what you get when you order coffee in most places:
7. I needed a quick caffeine pickmeup the other day (I don’t do coffee) when we went shopping downtown and I’m kinda getting tired of having to make special requests for ice and a straw (I know I’m in another country and I’m not trying to be the Ugly American; just sayin’ is all) so we ducked into McDonald’s where I knew THEY’D do me up a Diet Coke the American way, no prob (they call it Cola Light over here). So as I stood in line, I was looking at the menu: Over here, they call a quarter pounder w/cheese a Hamburger Royal. They also serve fried shrimp (McShrimp, anyone?) and curly fries; I’ve never heard of a McDonald’s in the States offering those (do they?), but then again, I’m not a patron of McDonald’s much. Thought that was kinda funny. Oh, and they had cute little McDonald’s outfits: the pants sorta looked like Lee jeans, but instead of the usual stitching, they had a big McDonald’s “M” on the right back pocket. I wanted to take a pic, but I’m sure it would have looked odd taking a pic of someone’s rear-end, LOL.
8. T-Mobile (which we in the States are familiar with as a cell phone service provider) is a German company and seems to be the dominant player here as far as telephone service goes. They have phone booths all over the place. What I thought was cute was their pink receivers:
9. My other new favorite phrase is “schmiki miki.” It means something like “hoity toity” (I have no idea how to spell that; I’ll have to go look it up now). I don’t know how often it would come up in common conversation, but it’s just fun to say, LOL.
10. This was just too funny not to take a pic:
11. Oh, and not that Woolworth’s is the most high-quality store, but it was a bit nostalgic to see one. The last one in our area closed over 20 years ago. When I was litle, we’d go there for ice-cream sundaes. I don’t even know if they have any left in the U.S. (do they?). I have heard they’re still in the U.K. and now I know they are here in Germany, too.
12. They have a much more relaxed, human, if you will, approach to life and commerce over here which I think is very healthy. For example, most businesses including grocery stores are closed on Sunday. Other than restaurants, you won’t find much open. Also, they take a lot of time off during the holidays. They get two days off for Christmas, but what I thought was interesting was that they don’t seem to have any kind of Boxing Day (the big sale day the day after Christmas. Wow! Retailers not killing themselves to get those last bit of year’s revenues in? In fact, many businesses actually closed for the entire week of New Year’s and left signs saying they wouldn’t be open until after the 2nd. I can’t think of any business in the US that would or could afford to do that. Rob says they can’t really afford it here either, but they do it anyway. Because that’s just their lifestyle and values over here.
13. You can buy beer to go from just about every restaurant and pub. You can even get it delivered from the local equivalent to Dominos Pizza called Joeys! I don’t know why, but I find that hysterical.
14. The mounted politzei have the most HUMONGOUS horses! They gotta be at least 18 hands. Gigantic, draft horse height horses, but as sleek and graceful as Thoroughbreds and not big-boned like the draft breeds. They look like they might be Hanoverians or something similar. I plan to ask next time I see them.
15. Their electrical outlets over here are round with two round prongs.
16. Their keyboards over here are different, too. They have extra keys for the special letters and punctuation they use, and they have some letters and keys moved around. It drives you crazy trying to type on one!
17. My other breakfast food over here… Dinkel Pops. How fun is that?!
18. Their postal services are privatized over here, meaning they aren’t government-run. I don’t think it’s such a good idea to have such an integral part of a nation’s infrastructure left in the hands of private industry. I would not want to have that in the States… but I do have to admit their postal employees don’t look like some of the sloppy, crazies we have working for us in the States, LOL.
Their postal service colors/logo are black and yellow: