Having recently made a return to Germany, I’ve noticed a bunch of little things that I’d forgotten about which I really don’t appreciate in this country.
I’ll spare you all the attempted eloquency of my introductions and get right into it.
1. The bloody football channels
Sitting down to watch the football in a pub on the weekends is common, and I enjoy doing it, but my god, is it irritating. Whereas in Australia and America, one channel will play one match at a time, the German broadcasters seem to think that constantly switching between games is a good idea. There doesn’t seem to be much of a pattern, and due to the relative infrequency of goals in a football game, you’re lucky to catch many of them. What is the point of sitting there and watching tensions build and momentum swing if the channel gets changed 5 minutes before a goal gets scored just so you can keep up to date with other scores?
I remember sitting in a bar once while Bayern Munich were slaughtering a hapless mid-tier German side. The broadcast would be showing another game, the announcer would shout “München Tor!”, they would switch the channel to show the replay of the Bayern goal and the celebrations of the players, linger on the match for a few minutes, then switch back to another game. This happened four times.
2. The Inspection Shelf
German toilets have a need to show you exactly what has just come out of you. It’s
disconcerting. There’s a large proportion of the toilet bowl which is flat, and accommodates your items of defecation for you to peruse until the toilet is flushed. This apparently comes from the medieval days, allowing people to inspect their removed intestinal debris for signs of parasites. Much like Big Brother and Sam Kekovich, I feel the inspection shelf has no place in the modern world.
For more on German toilets, visit this brilliant blog. This tag search for ‘toilet’ comes up with more results than I thought possible.
3. Sundays in Germany
I wish to make it clear, I expected this. But not to the degree it still frustrates me. The streets are empty. Not quite Ghost Town empty, but enough for it to be a little spooky. If it weren’t for the Christmas markets being in full swing at the moment, I’d feel like Cillian Murphy, looking over my shoulder for the zombies.
And despite prior knowledge, the frustration at absolutely nothing being open on a Sunday still courses through my veins too quickly for the Glühwein which I imbibe to calm myself down to have a hope of catching it up. Thankyou Edeka, for your kind deed in keeping the Freiburg Hauptbahnhof shop open.
4. Busker Quality
The quality of buskers throughout Germany is highly variable, based entirely on their specialisation. On one hand, you can find entire families playing what I guess you could describe as ‘wholesome’ music in enchanting unison. There are students standing around playing the clarinet on the street, and I’ve even come across a husband and wife team dressed in period clothing, singing ballads in what I can only suspect was flawless Italian. Luverly.
On the other hand, those characters who dress up, paint their skin and stand as still as humanely possible need some serious wake-up calls. They are everywhere, and rather than this leading to a hike in quality, it has gone in the opposite direction at an impressive canter. They flit around, whistling at girls, stopping for a smoke with their mates, and winking at anyone whose gaze lingers for more than 2 seconds. And I won’t get me started on the clowns here. Then again, who knows, maybe the lack of effort on their part is due to an unusually high level of Coulrophobia in Germany.
5. Staring Conquests
I’d forgotten the measure to which Germans like to stare at you. Especially if you’re six
foot five and talking in a foreign language on public transport. On Australian public transport, and on the streets in general, catching someone’s eye usually results in both parties’ gaze flitting away fairly rapidly. Here, they hold that gaze. REALLY hold it. I’ve never gotten such gratification out of winning a staring contest as when I’ve decided to forego my ‘Australian manners’ and stare down a German.
I still love Germany though.