What if you could take the best aspects of every culture and bring them into your everyday life? After dating a German for nearly seven years and paying a visit to his homeland, here are some aspects of German life that would make the world a better place if implemented everywhere.
Beer gardens with playgrounds
When the sun is shining, many German parents flock to beer gardens that have picnic tables set with beer coasters and a playgound alongside it. If the weather is bad, they might head to a beer hall or a brewery that’s also likely to have somewhere for the Kinder to run around. Parents prost over a Pilsner, socializing while the kids take their 100th ride down the slide. If your child is over 16 years old, they can join the adults with a glass of wine or a beer.
Everyone gets their own blanket
Though this is popular in many places in Europe, I did not experience it until I booked a hotel in Germany. German couples often have their own comforter on the bed. Bid goodbye to petty fights of who steals the blanket. It’s impossible to hog a duvet when you have your own.
Glass, mug, and bottle deposits
At many festivals, markets, and bars, the venue will charge a deposit on your glass, bottle, or mug (usually around .50-1€). When you return the container, you’ll get your deposit back. As a broke backpacker, I’d go around festivals and market at the end of the night collecting beer glasses and mugs long forgotten by drunk partiers and return them for their deposit. I’d easily make back the cost of the entrance ticket, sometimes turning a profit.
In everyday life, glass and plastic bottles purchased from the shops usually have a deposit on them. Instead of placing them into a trash can, they’re placed around the trashcan for those looking for quick cash to come and gather. You can also return these bottles to a machine that sorts the bottles and issues a money voucher. With a system like this, no wonder Germany’s recycling rate is so high.
Water with gas
Germans take drinking water seriously. If you walk to a tap with a glass and start chugging, a local will appear out of thin air to inform you that there’s plenty of mineral water available. At just about every meal, someone is sure to order a bottle of mineral water with gas. Virtually indistinguishable to the American palette, there are various mineral waters with different mineral and bubble levels. Some like their water to taste how radio static sounds, while others prefer their water sans fizz, called still water. Selters, a town in Germany, is where the word seltzer originated from–as it was once famous for its natural mineral springs. The famous brand Schweppes came from J.J. Schweppe, a Swiss-German. With so many types of water to choose from, drinking water in Germany feels more like an experience than a necessity for life.
One spillover from this seltzer water obsession is the creation of schorle, where you add sparkling mineral water to juice. Apple juice just tastes better when it’s mixed with a bit of pizzazz. Want to try it? Ask for an Apfelschorle.
You know you’ve entered Germany when the bread rolls you get on your flight are not only edible, but also delicious. Germans have tens (hundreds?) of types of bread. Feeling peckish? Grab a soft, salted pretzel. Their bread ranges from white and fluffy to dark and dense. Even basic hotel included breakfasts will offer a basket of bread that ranges way beyond the realm of sliced white or wheat. Spread a bit of cheese on the it and you have a complete breakfast.
Combine words if you can’t find the perfect one
The German language is notoriously difficult. Six years into learning, my skills are Scheiße. Despite being a vernacular that only the most talented polyglots seem to master, German does have some appeal. If you can’t think of a word–or one simply doesn’t exist–it’s acceptable to smash multiple words together to create a new one. The most famous example is Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän, which translates into “Danube steamship company captain.” Who needs spaces when you can get your point across in one behemoth of a word?
What German ways of life would you like to adopt?
Disclaimer: Yes, I know that not all Germans do all of these things. Yes, many other countries have these things going for them as well. Experiences of Germans and Germany may vary.