Sometimes after living in a country for a while, the familiarity of everything makes the place more like a second home, rather than a distant exotic land you’ve chosen to reside in. I know when I see friends posting photos or statuses on Facebook about being in places like South Africa, Thailand, New Zealand or Argentina, I always feel a bit of travel envy… even though I myself am already living abroad in Germany.
After more than a year and a half of living in Germany, I have to say, it is starting to feel pretty homey even if I can’t understand a single word of Bavarian and I still don’t understand the big deal about Fasching (doesn’t Halloween seem so much more fun?)
With the never-ending snowstorms that seem to be happening back home in Toronto, German weather is (surprisingly!) one of the things I’m most happy with here at the moment. It’s February and people are sitting outside having ice cream at cafes! I haven’t worn my winter jacket in ages! There are people surfing in the English Gardens in Munich! (ok well kind of cheated on the last one since those crazy surfers are there all year round)
Inspired by my new liking for this suddenly amazing German weather, I’ve decided to create this post, about other things I like in this crazy (but in a rational, orderly way) country.
1. Public transportation
Just in Munich alone, there are subways, trams, buses and regional trains to help you get from one part of the city to another. Coming from Toronto, the city of expensive barely there public transit, the thought of that is mind-blowing. The best part is that they’re all (relatively!) reliable and has got you covered, wherever you want to go. At 53 euros for a monthly pass, you definitely get your money’s worth.
Now that Deutsche Bahn no longer has monopoly over long distance travel within Germany, coach buses have also been popping up like crazy! Even the post office has a bus to take you places across Germany. With so much competition, it’s safe to say that you can pretty much go from one end of Germany to the other for no more than 25 euros.
All my friends know that I hate the bitter taste of beer, so when they found out the first time that I’m moving to Germany, everyone wondered how I’m going to cope in a country that’s beer crazy…especially since back back home, the image of Germany is just a never-ending Oktoberfest (and also that other thing I’ll avoid mentioning on my list of things I like about Germany). So luckily for me, I discovered my love for Radler since I moved to Bavaria last fall. For those of you who haven’t tried it, it’s a drink that’s a mix of beer (normally Helles) and lemonade. You can get it at pretty much any bar in Bavaria, and despite being “watered-down beer,” it’s actually enjoyed by both men and women alike.
Interesting side note – my favourite Radler actually comes from Austria (shhh don’t tell the Bavarians!), by a company called Gösser.
3. German food
When I lived in Mannheim for a year, the only times I ever had “German food” was at Oktoberfest and during the Christmas markets. Now that I live in Bavaria, the home of “German food” aka sausages (every type of “wurst” imaginable), schnitzel and sauerkraut, German food is pretty much unavoidable. Even my university cafeteria pretty much serves only German food, other than the questionable curry rice dish every now and then.
At this point, I think I’ve had more German food than any non-Bavarian German has had. Do I want German food every day? HELL NOO!!!! But I do love a good schnitzel or bratwurst every now and then.
It’s impossible to list things you love about Germany without a mention of German bakeries. Especially right now during Fasching season, despite my inability to really “get” Fasching, I do love all the pastries the carnival brings! My favourite is Krapfen (which is like the best doughnut you could ever have)…heavenly!
5. Phone plans
Coming from Canada, the country with the most expensive phone plans in the world, German phone plan prices all seem like they’re all missing an extra 0 on the end. For example, all data plans in Germany are pretty much unlimited and start from around 7 euros a month. In Canada, you’re likely to get that for $70 + 13 percent taxes. And on top of that, Canadian phone companies love to charge you random amounts of surcharges to your bill depending on how much they like you that month.
In December, I broke my old iPhone, which if I was in Canada, the price of a new one on a contract is enough to give anyone a heart attack (something like an initial payment of $200 + tax, and a 2 year monthly bill of $70 + taxes). In Germany, I pay 30 euros a month for my iPhone 5s. Take that corrupt Canadian telecommunications companies!
Now that Olympic hockey is over (TEAM CANADA ALL THE WAY!!! WE RULED IT AGAIN!!) and Team Canada’s victories have satisfied me for another 4 years, I’ll be turning my sometimes sports crazed self over to the World Cup this summer, where I will no doubt be watching it in Germany. The German national team have always come so close, and this year I expect the big win! C’mon Mannschaft!!
And of course there are things I still hate: impossible to open German doors, big square pillows, carbonated water and the scary precision of German punctuality.