There are many great things to know about Germany, and there are lots of things to do there. It has a unique landscape and has over 2 millennia of history. The capital, Berlin, is full of history and art, and is home to the Brandenburg Gate, the city’s iconic monument. There are also WWII sites to see in Berlin. Munich is home to the Oktoberfest, beer halls, and the 16th-century Hofbräuhaus, and Frankfurt is home to the European Central Bank.
Germans are not afraid of Mamma bear
The good news for American kids is that Germans aren’t afraid of Mamma bear, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t listen to your grandmas. German grandmas will correct you if you step out of line, but don’t take it personally! Grandmas generally have good intentions. Germans also give their kids a lot of freedom! Here are a few things to keep in mind when visiting the German countryside:
Germans don’t have a credit card
In Germany, only about 25 percent of people have a real credit card, while nearly 37 million have debit or charge cards. These numbers are based on central bank statistics. However, this number does not necessarily represent actual usage. While most Germans use a Visa or Mastercard for purchases and travel outside Germany, the fees charged by credit card providers eat into the profit margin of many businesses. Because of this, most businesses do not accept credit cards.
The main benefits of credit cards are the consumer protection they offer. If a purchase turns out to be incorrect, the cardholder can reverse the payment and avoid financial problems. Debit cards are a good alternative for small purchases. You can also use them at gas stations, hotels, and car rentals. But you should not rely on them for large purchases. Instead, you should consider using cash when visiting Germany.
In Germany, the payment system is very different from North America’s. Instead of credit, Germans prefer debit cards and cash. In fact, Germans have a special debit card that is only accepted at physical stores. However, some businesses don’t accept credit cards in Germany, and that is largely due to fees. Credit card providers take a percentage of every transaction, making them more expensive for merchants to accept.
The Bundesbank reports that up to 90 percent of Germany’s financial transactions are made using cash rather than credit cards. However, cash is often a problem because people tend to hoard it rather than use it for purchases. A recent survey in Germany showed that a young boy stole EUR2,700 from his parents’ savings and started giving out the money to his friends and neighbors. The boy was eventually caught when EUR50 notes flutter across the grass.
German trains are on time
German trains are known for their punctuality, but this reputation has been tainted by recent delays. Last year, 75 percent of long-distance trains were more than six minutes late. Deutsche Bahn has blamed rail strikes, corona lockdowns, and flooding for the significant drop in punctuality. However, the rail system is in desperate need of modernization. A report by NPR shows that many trains are running late.
Trains in Germany are generally on time, with many of them arriving at their stops within five minutes of their scheduled arrival. The DB network covers all of Germany and transports 4.5 million people daily on its 29,000 trains. ICE trains connect major cities, while EuroCity and InterCity trains cover smaller towns and remote locations. There are no reservations required, and standard fares are flexible and refundable. If a train is running late, passengers can simply board the next train in the schedule.
The German government is under fire for slashing public investment and dragping down growth. The government recently lowered its growth forecasts for 2019 to 0.5 percent, putting Europe’s largest economy on the verge of recession. There is also a potential transatlantic trade war affecting the eurozone, and the U.K. may cut itself off the single market with a hard Brexit. But it’s still a good thing German trains are on time.
Although it’s impossible to guarantee the punctuality of every train, 80-90% of them do. Depending on traffic, trains can arrive on different platforms. When a train arrives more than five minutes late, the conductor will hand out a certificate. When a train is five minutes late, the train will wait for a few minutes before leaving. If the train is five minutes late, the ticket will be partially or fully refunded, but the passengers will need to show this certificate at the ticket office to be reimbursed.
Germans are obsessed with water
Water is a cultural obsession for Germans. The history of mineral water dates back to the time of Caesar and Augustus, who conquered what is now Germany in the early first century. The Romans were already well-known for their spa culture, and they were excited to discover the sick springs of Germania, where they would begin an intense love affair with natural water. Today, there are about 150 commercial mineral springs in Germany, each with its own fan base.
Selters, a town of 8,000 people in the western German state of Hessen, is home to a mineral spring. This spring was first mentioned in 772. In 1581, the city physician of Worms wrote about the water from Niederselters, which was extremely acidic and, essentially, mineral club soda. The mineral springs in Germany have continued to grow in popularity for centuries, and Selters’ water is the most famous in the world.
While the Germans have a cultural obsession with water, they are also very particular about it. While their tap water is among the safest and most delicious in the world, most people in Germany prefer mineral water. You can buy bottled water at the grocery store or in restaurants. You can even get it with gas or no gas. The Germans are so particular about water that it even has a sommelier!
During the nineteenth century, Germans had mastered the science of water engineering and scientific forestry, and the art of landscape management. They also learned how to manage the water resources of their overseas Kaiserreich. The result was a highly productive society that thrived under the threat of environmental catastrophe. While their technological innovations were not without their challenges, they became a culture unto themselves. And they learned to think of water as culture.
Germans don’t ask permission to sit with you
If you’ve ever been to Germany, you probably noticed that Germans don’t ask permission to sit next to you. Germans are not as reserved as Americans are and will happily share a table with you – as long as you ask them kindly. They may seem reserved, but they’re not. A common way to show your appreciation for a German is to give a thumbs up gesture.
Don’t overdo the flattering. Germans are not particularly interested in flattering or flirting. Although they may be receptive to compliments, they won’t necessarily take you seriously or realize your efforts to be flirtatious. Instead, try to focus on deeper discussions and purposeful conversations. Small talk won’t work very well. If you’re not sure how to make conversation with a German, try asking a friend or colleague – they’ll likely be delighted to help you!
If you’re invited to a dinner party, try to get a table in the dining room, and bring your own chairs. Unlike Americans, Germans do not ask permission to sit with you unless you’re the honored guest. You should also be polite. Germans don’t ask permission to sit with you, and they will not wait for you to request a seat. If you’re invited to a dinner party, don’t wear slack clothes, as this can make you look unappealing.