But Let Me Tell You More About Germany!

reverse1And I thought I was doing so well.

One month after coming back to the UK after having lived in Germany and Japan for a total of 6 years, a reverse culture tick hit me.

In the garden of a pub, I was sat with a nice guy, trying to charm him as I tend to do with nice young men. We were trying to find how compatible we are by asking each other ridiculous questions. He asked me what my favourite fizzy drink was.

“Uhm, well I’m not sure of the drinks round here but in Germany there’s this cola…”

To which he mock rolled his eyes, and poked fun at me for starting most sentences with “in Germany…” [Read more…]

Sunday Brunch in Frankfurt

 

** I’ve deleted this post from Sherbet and Sparkles now so I wanted to move it over here so I didn’t lose it. This isn’t a new post! **

My friends and I go for Sunday brunch every week. I would say “without fail” but I myself have been known to be absent from time to time… But I’d like to write a little about the places we have been to and which places were best.

First of all, I should explain a little about who “we” are. There are about 7-8 people in our group, with myself as the wheat intolerant one, and we have one vegetarian in the group too. We like to keep the costs down as much as possible, and ideally we look for decent brunches with bacon, eggs, sausages and so on.  We only go to buffet brunches.

We used to go to The Fox and Hound every week. This was ideal as it is around 10 Euros for the brunch, with big pots of tea for a couple of euros more. They had a good English Breakfast (with baked beans too!!) and home made cakes to boot. Why we stopped going here was because they showed lots of sports, so there would be large groups of British men come in and eat most of the food before we would get there, and also because the general quality seemed to go down and down each week. We’ve not been in over 2 months now, so maybe they have improved. It’s worth a try though.

Similar to The Fox and Hound, is Yours Australian Bar. This is my second favourite place – there is lots for me to choose from that is wheat free, the staff speak English and are so happy and helpful, and the home made lemonade is to die for. The downsides to this place are that it is FULL of kids – not that this is a bad thing, but they are running around and screaming a lot, it is usually full and it’s hard to get a table (they don’t do reservations after 11am), and the drinks are a little pricey ar 5 Euros a glass for the lemonade, which really bumps up the overall price.

My least favourite place so far was Cafe Albatross. The staff were so-so, the place was so small that we had to sit outside in the cold (under cover though) to eat, and the buffet was really small. It was very carb heavy, with lots of bread and pasta and so on. Other people in the group really liked it though, so I guess it wasn’t that bad.

My favourite, favourite place is Cafe Schopenhauer. It’s the most expensive at 18 Euros, but all the drinks (even champagne!!) are included. It is the most “posh” out of all the places, and the best quality for sure. The waitress studied in Scotland for a while and has the cutest Scottish accent. Only down side was that there were no big pots of tea. But with all the juice and all the herb teas available, no one was bothered for long.

Lastly, a non-buffet brunch… well, it says it’s a buffet brunch on their website but maybe we misread the day and it’s only on Saturdays. It’s El Pacifico. We went here last week and ordered from the menu and it was pretty nice. I’d go there for Mexican food in the evening too. The food was slightly on the pricey side, I guess, but they had nice teas and the waiter was very friendly and spoke great English.

If anyone else knows of any good brunch spots, please let me know!

Things You Should Know about Germany

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You’d think that Germany wouldn’t be so different from living in, say, Britain. But actually, there are loads of little things that are quite unique to Germany that take some time getting used to.

A lot of these may be Frankfurt based, but some can be applied to all of Germany, so if you’re planning to come and visit or if you’re moving to Germany in the near future, these may be of use to you!

1. Shops shut on Sundays.

You may not think that this will affect you so much, but as someone who works full time, I’d love to be able to spread my shopping errands over Saturday and Sunday. Some handy info, though – shops that are in train stations and airports are still OK to be open on Sundays!

2. Germans are ok.

“Oh, you live in Germany? I bet those Germans get on your nerves!!”

Sigh. No, German people aren’t all humourless control freaks who throw towels everywhere to mark their territory.

German people have such dry, dark humour they’re hilarious. Anyone who thinks they take themselves too seriously should take a look at the German satire magazine Titanic. As for the towels…if anyone thought Brits they met abroad (especially in places like Mallorca or Ibiza) represented the average British person, I’d cry myself to sleep every night. But I think most people see Brits on holiday as one set of people, and British people in general as another. And so you should do the same with Germans. And perhaps Russians (for they are a pain when they’re on holiday too).

Take this from someone who lives with 4 very different German people – Germans are great.

3. Lots of pork.

Do you like pork? Awesome. You’ll get it with everything, even things which do not usually contain pork will have pork in.

4. Safe, on the whole.

One of the things that surprises me about Germany is how trusting they are of passers-by. When I lived in my old flat, there was some construction going nearby and the building materials were just left out in the open overnight. If that was England, they’d be stolen right away.

At the Christmas markets, goods for sale dangle dangerously close to the end of the stall, so that it would be very easy to just stand out of sight and take something. But no one does. I doubt the thought goes through the German mind that this is a thing that might happen.

Germans always say that Frankfurt is really dangerous, but mostly it’s drug or corporate crime that bumps up the stats. There was a guy who got shot near to my flat but that was just a rare thing.

Saying that, I have known of a few people who fell victim to pick pocketers, so if you do come to Frankfurt, don’t let your guard down. As long as you use common sense, you should be as safe as in any major city.

5. Buying things from outside Europe

You need to buy a certain thing. You look on Amazon, and find a seller selling that thing. Awesome. Only, they are not in Europe.

When that thing is sent to you, the chances are, it’ll be sent through the zollamt – customs office – and that will be nothing but a huge headache.

Anecdote 1 – I move from Japan to Germany, send two suitcases with heavy books and winter clothes to my new home by boat. I have to go to the zollamt to open the cases myself so they can check what’s inside them, then pay about 10 euros per case in taxes/fees before I can have my belongings.

Anecdote 2 – I can’t find anyone in Europe selling the game Apples to Apples so I bought one from America through ebay. It was sent to the zollamt and, when asked if this was something I’d bought or whether it was a gift, I gave the wrong answer and said that it was something I’d bought and so had to pay 20 euros in taxes. ALWAYS SAY IT WAS A GIFT.

It’s even worse because the zollamt in Frankfurt is really out of the way and not easy to get to. If the thing you’re picking up is heavy or difficult to carry, you’re going to struggle.

6. Rules in the contract

Whether it’s a job contract of a contract for your home, be sure to read – or have someone help you read – it all the way through. Germans take their contracts very seriously, and I almost got into trouble for not knowing my rental contract all the way through when I wanted to move.

7. Insurance

Germans love insurance – and you’ll need it! Home insurance as well as rental insurance are a must for expats!

8. Journeymen

You’re sat in a German restaurant, full from your mountain of pork and making your way through your 7th bucket of beer. When all of a sudden some young men dressed in a weird way enter and start Germaning really fast – maybe as a poem or a song? Then they come round to each table with their hand out, asking for money. What’s going on?!

They are most likely to be carpenters on their “waltz” – men wanting to go into these professions have to spend 2 or 3 years on the road traveling from town to town relying on the kindness of others. Some may be looking for a place to stay in exchange for them fixing broken things in the home, but most seem to be looking for extra euros.

In my 2.5 years in Frankfurt I’d say I’ve seen journeymen about 3 times now – and that’s from a person who rarely goes out eating in German places!

9. Religion

Are you Christian? If you say so when you register as living in Germany, then you will have to give a certain % of your salary to the church each month. It’s not a lot, but is something to think about just in case you put christianity down as your default reply.

10. Germany is awesome for expats

German people are awesome, it’s illegal for you to work more than 10 hours, workers’ rights are great…there are so many reasons why you can easily make a comfy life here in Germany. Plus, they’re the strongest economy in Europe – so that’s also reassuring!

Is there anything I’ve forgotten on my list? What do you think people should know about Germany? Let me know in the comments!

Reader Brittany has written a post about things you should know about living in Bavaria – it’s a really great post so check it out!

Transport in Frankfurt

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Last night on my way home from having some drinks with some friends, I planned out this blog post about transport. I feel I have to go through with it now or the tipsy me from last night would be sad. Besides, I rarely know what do write on the weekends since I always get a massive dip in the amount of people who come to read this blog. The numbers game doesn’t affect me much (ok, I lied) but I’d rather not put my heart and soul into a post to only have a fraction of the people I usually get reading it.

Here’s a list of other things that you may like to know about traveling in Frankfurt.

  1. There are weird people on trains.

I think that Frankfurt is just an open air funny farm because there are so many strange people around. Most of the time it just makes for interesting stories but occasionally it’s pretty annoying and/or scary. The other day I caught the S Bahn train from Niederrad to go back to the main station and I was stood by the door listening to some music. I noticed a man sat nearby who was waving his arms around…I took an earphone out to listen to see if he was in trouble or something but he was shouting at me! It was in German but I understood that he was explaining how much money he would pay to have me, and saying that I probably have lots of young men around me. It was pretty intimidating and the train ride seemed to go on for ever. There were people – including a train company worker and one of my colleagues – around but no one really did anything. It would have been nice for someone to at least come and stand by me or block the man’s view of me.

  1. Beware of escalators.

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This escalator is special, because it goes both up and down! (You can tell by the triangle on the right.) You are basically in a race with the people at the other end because if they get on first you have to use the stairs. It happened to tipsy me last night only I was the winner and shouted an apology to the lads who had to take the stairs. HA. 

  1. Sometimes trams don’t go where you thought they’d go.

Probably the most annoying thing about Frankfurt is when you get on a tram and think you’re going somewhere but then they take a different turn and you end up in a completely different part of town. 80% of the time the driver will “GERMAN GERMAN GERMAN” and you’ll see all the people groan and get off and so you’ll work it out. But the other day I didn’t hear the GERMAN GERMAN GERMAN over my earphones and no one grumbled and got out so I was stuck on there until I could get to a place with a train station.

  1. If the tram is cancelled, taxis around you become free.

It’s only happened to me once. The trams were frozen to the tracks (don’t EVER let a German person tell you that in Germany they are sorted with the seasons and the public transport network never breaks down in the snow!!) and I was trying to get home from work. Suddenly loads of taxis turned up and they said they they’d take me to the nearest working tram stop for free. Awesome!

  1. There is no logic to ticket checking.

There are machines upstairs in train stations and you’re expected to buy a ticket (or a monthly ticket) before you go down to the platform. There are random checks to see if people bought tickets or not but there is no easy way to cheat the system as the timing and placement of these people is completely random. On the way home last night a woman on the train told me she had no ticket and asked whether she could ride with me (you can take one person with you if you have a monthly ticket) but as I was getting off at the next stop, she asked whether I knew if the people would come check. I replied in better than normal German (thanks, beers) and told her that I don’t think they’d come around so late at night but it’s probably not worth risking it.

So that’s my funny little post about travel in Frankfurt. Are there funny quirks about traveling about where you are?

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