Sunday, 7 August 2016

3 Things about Germany That No One Tells You

Prior to most, if not all, of my trips abroad, I do my homework about the countries' places of interest, food and culture (the list goes on). Germany was no exception and I reminded myself not to wander on the bicycle lane among other things. There is only so much I can prepare each time and no matter what, there is bound to be surprises that I did not manage to hear or read about before going overseas. So here are three things I learnt about Germany and her people.

  1. Germans love their salt so much so that the salt and pepper shakers on dining tables may not be what they seem. Salt is usually in the shaker with a smaller opening, less holes or simply, just one hole. Was in for a rude shock the first time I happily sprinkled what I thought to be pepper onto my dish only to realise, to my dismay, that it was salt! Did the staff accidentally fill the shakers with the wrong condiments? Apparently not, as it happened again (and again) at other dining places. Food in this country is generally, salty.
  2. The lack of restrooms that do not require "entrance fee". While I had difficulty finding restrooms during my first visit to Hong Kong more than a decade ago, and my trip to Switzerland last year, could make use of restrooms in eateries without paying if we ate there. Was stunned that diners at some restaurants in Germany also have to pay to use their restrooms. No wonder drinks are usually sold in such small sizes that we were mostly thirsty (exacerbated by the salty food), or is it that Germans do not drink a lot of water/fluid unless it is beer?
  3. Service is not included in the bill, inclusive of 19% tax. Both our research and previous experience a few years back suggest there is no need to tip in Germany. And the tax amount alone was more than the sum of GST (7%), service charge (10%) and government tax (1% where applicable) in Singapore. Was aghast when staff at Kaffeehaus Einstein, along Unter den Linden in Berlin, did not return me my change without asking how much I wanted to tip. That was more than 10% for curt service! Tip (pun intended) of the day: Pay the exact amount if you do not wish to tip, and tipping is not meant for you to offload your coins.

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