Complaining.

Having lived in the UK for many years, I now realise how much the Germans love complaining. I'm not sure if it's down to confidence or whether it's just a cultural difference that makes the British much less vocal when it comes to complaining. In Britain, I have learned to keep stum or if I do complain, to do it properly.

Read more

In Germany, people like to complain about everything and anything! As a mainly positive person, most of the time I tend to just go with the flow. For me, I have a much more laid back approach and complaining about trivial matters or things that can't be changed anyway is a waste of precious energy.

I get the impression that it's became trendy to complain where positive or tolerant people are labelled as weak. I personally don't find this label fair, they just pick their battles wisely, saving energy for the more important stuff in life. Let’s be honest, do we really need to complain about delayed trains, bad roads, the weather etc.? Try looking at other places in the world. Think before you aim to complain!

Credit cards.

Since living in the UK, I find it rather frustrating that in Germany, it's not always easy to pay with plastic, despite being a world leader in many other areas of technology.

Read more

It comes down to the fact that many Germans simply prefer paying with hard cash, EC cards (electronic cash) or debit cards. The most common credit cards used in Germany are Eurocard/Mastercard and Visa. However, it's worth pointing out that credit cards are not accepted everywhere. So do check before eating in a restaurant or shopping, otherwise you may be expected to pay with cash. Personal cheques are no longer used in Germany, having been replaced by EC cards, and traveller's cheques often carry a substantial service charge for cashing them.

Emergency numbers.

Motorway (Autobahn)

After China, the USA and Spain, Germany has the most dense and longest motorway system in the world. There isn't any legal speed limit, but there is an advisory speed limit of 130km/h and sometimes there will be road signs indicating a max speed.

Read more

Good to know

Motorways all start with the capital letter A (e.g. A 3). Primary motorways will carry a single digit and more regional ones will have two digits. There are a good distribution of rest areas and service stations, which include restaurants just off the motorway. Just remember, we drive on the right hand side in Germany!

Tipping.

Tipping in Germany and tipping in some other countries, such as the United States, are completely different. In Germany, waiting staff are paid more and so the tips are smaller compared to the USA. In bars, restaurants and cafés, service and VAT are included in the price of food and drink.

Read more

Not happy, no tip

However, it is typical to "round up" the amount to some sort of round figure if you were happy with the service. A rule of thumb is to add 5-10%, generally ending with a full Euro amount. Germans are actually not shy not to add any tip if they weren’t happy with the service. Waiter/waitresses understand this as a sign that they haven’t done a good job.

Non-smoking sections.

In Germany, smoking is not permitted in public buildings and inside restaurants/cafes. However, in some regions you may come across some small bars/pubs called "Raucherclubs" where smoking is still allowed but you have to become a member when entering.

Paying in restaurants etc.

Usually the waiting staff will come to the table with the bill. You need to say how much you’d like to pay, i.e. the amount you owe plus any rounding up for a tip. It’s not usual to leave tips on the table like it is in some other countries.

Queuing.

OMG! How I miss the patience of the British when it comes to queuing when I'm in Germany! In the UK you'll find a snake of people at the Butcher's or Baker's with a clear leader - who will rightly get served first. In Germany it's utter chaos!

Read more

I have absolutely no idea why Germans don’t understand the concept of queuing. They just randomly gather around without any order whatsoever and the cheekiest will push forward and get served first. If you are lucky you’ll get a sorry (entschuldigung)! Isn’t the very nature of queueing about fairness and respect for others? You wait, take your turn, the service is fairly and evenly distributed leaving an air of order and civility.