Thursday, June 21, 2018

German Odds and Ends

My trip to Germany is coming to and end. It has been great but I have stumbled upon some differences that made me stop and think.  Yesterday, I took the train to Frankfurt to spend the night because I did not want to be up and at the airport by 7 am for a 2 pm flight. I rented a room at a hotel near the airport so I could sleep in later.

The German hotels I have seen are quite different than the ones in the states.  First off, they tend to be smaller with fewer floors and rooms.  In addition, the floors are not numbered in the same way.  What we call the Lobby is floor zero and the next floor is the first floor, etc.  at the first hotel, which was on the first floor.

 The hotel I stayed at last night had me in room 101 which was on the first floor.  Both hotels had a -1 floor which was the basement. One other thing is that most rooms are not huge but comfortable.  Many have a full restaurant while others have a limited menu with salads or pizza but both offer
breakfast, usually for a bit extra.  None of the ones I stayed at had bellmen or consierges.

To get between cities, I took a regional train to Heidelberg before transferring to one bound for Frankfurt.  You can buy a pass that is good only for the area or you can get one that allows you to go further afield for the day.  I am told the train people only spot check for tickets. If you do not have one or you have the wrong ticket, you are fined.  There is also a first and second class.  My niece says the cost difference is not worth buying first class.

The trip went well to Heidelberg. It was once we changed to the Frankfurt bound train that things

started happening. The train was about 20 minutes late leaving the station.  Then a little while longer, the train stopped for a bit longer while they checked out a technical problem.

Finally,, the train got underway.  Unfortunately, by the time everyone relaxed, the train pulled over again.  This time, everyone awaited the announcement that wasn’t happening.  I watched one of the train employees exit the train for a while before disappearing again.  Finally, they announced we had to change trains in order to finish the trip.

As traveling by train is not commonplace, it was fun to do so in Germany.  The larger stations are filled with eating places.  I had a wonderful sandwich of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil on rye bread.  It was great.  The choices are huge and it is often hard to decide on just one.

While visiting my niece, I got to visit the bakery located next to her house.  They had a lovely selection of different types of rolls and pastries. I fell in love because their pastries are not as sweet as  found in the United States. The rolls seemed to have a lot more character than what I am used to.  I stopped in every morning to get fresh pastries.

For the most part, the price posted on food or clothing already included a 19% tax. So I didn’t have to worry about  having enough for the taxes.  Clothing was not really anymore expensive there than here nor was the food.  I picked up ripe cherries, blueberries, and gooseberries to enjoy from a fruit vendor.

One of the biggest differences is when dining out.  They do not automatically place a glass of water on the table.  You have to order it because they charge for it.  In addition, unless you specify plain water, you will be served a carbonated water similar tasting to club soda.  If several people at a table order water, the wait staff will recommend bottles of water to share.

If you go to the store, you will see whole sections of bottled water.  It seems that most everyone drinks bottled water rather than water from the tap.  As far as I can tell, all bottle water when sold collects a deposit that can be gott back by returning it to a store.

The last difference has to do with bakeries and baked goods.  There is a smaller variety of breads and rolls with more whole grains.  The sweets such as Danish pastry and cheesecake are much less sweet than their American counterpart.  Even the apple cake I had had lots of fruit with much less sugar and absolutely no frosting.  I shall miss my daily stops at the bakery next door to my niece’ place.

There are other differences but these were the main ones I noticed when visiting my niece.  I enjoyed my visit so much that I am trying to figure out how to manage it next summer.  Let me know what you think. I would love to hear.

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