Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Part 2: the Good, the Bad, and the... I don't get it.

Yesterday I described to you some of what we love about Germany, the good side. Today, I'm going to share what we've not enjoyed about it. Again, these are just our opinions, but I think it's important to realise that the grass isn't always greener and that every country has it's different sides. So, here goes! 

1. Public transport
Yes, I mentioned this yesterday too. You see, we've already developed a love-hate relationship with the transport here. So why do we not like it? 
Firstly, bus drivers are grumpy. I can understand why, but still. Also, I miss the ability to store stuff in my car, here I have to schlep it with me. Okay, more seriously, it's pretty expensive. We have month-ticket and together they cost a considerable amount more than our petrol was in SA. Then there's also the way one needs to work around it; there's no just hopping into a car and going where and when you want, it's all according to the schedule. The stops between trains or buses can be frustrating too - one doesn't want it too short a gap that one misses the next connection, but a longer wait feels like such a waste of time. Poor Malcolm feels this the most - to be at the CDC in time, he leaves 55 minutes before he needs to be there, and we live only 10.5km away. 

Germany public transport
this is Malcolm's tired-of-waiting and somebody-send-me-an-E-reader Face. We both have it perfected. 

2. Pigeons
I'm not really sure what is so terrible about pigeons here, but judging by the spikes on just about every horizontal surface in the Messe-Deutz and Hbf, we're guessing they're diabolical. Seriously, the lengths they go to to prevent pigeons landing anywhere makes me wonder. 

3. Graffiti
Graffiti is ubiquitous here. Some of it is really impressive, brightens the grey concrete up, and is, in a sense, pretty. (I doubt that's the adjective they want it described by. How about it's geil? Or super geil? Or Hammer?)
But there's also a lot of pointless scrawls all over the place. We were surprised that the cathedral isn't graffiti'd. Oh wait, it is. 

Graffiti Dom Germany Turm

4. Kids' haircuts 
Okay, so this is totally subjective, and a clear comparison to SA. You know how in SA we have uniforms, and I'm sure the guys remember hair-inspections and the annoying rules about hair-touching ears and collars? Well, I think it's for the best. I know that this is just personal taste, but rat-tails and mullets are still BIG here. And it gets tricky to tell if kids are boys or girls. Call me a conformist, but I'm just used to boys this age with hair cuts and uniforms. ;)
german kids boys
german kids boys hairstyle

5. Smoking
While on the topic of looking after kids' health and not scarring them with bad haircuts, and while still comparing to SA, smoking here is really unregulated. Sure, some might consider SA laws about smoking a bit ridiculous and there is quite a stigma about smoking in schools, but I'm still getting used to the fact that people can smoke really freely here. Which means standing in clouds of smoke while waiting at stations, while walking along streets, and outside just about every doorway. I'm surprised at how many people smoke with kids beside them, and how many young kids smoke. 
Graffiti Germany Dom Turm Koln
one of the few no-smoking signs I've seen. And, it's graffiti'd.

6. Drinking
Again, a comparison to SA. Public drinking isn't allowed in SA and if somebodies drinking from a brown bag in a park, one tends to give them some space. So we're still getting used to people sitting in parks, walking the streets, and getting onto trains with a beer in hand. It does seem to be less of a drink-to-get-drunk culture, which I appreciate, and it's not such a big issue here (I guess it also helps that fewer people are driving). But it does concern me when a 16 year old was arrested for assault and found to have a blood alcohol level of 1.72 percent. 

7. Sunday shopping
We'd been warned about this before coming, and Ellen and Wolfgang were really organised and gave us a list of shops in the areas and their opening hours. But we're still getting used to shops being geschlossen on Sundays. Realising on Saturday night that actually some staples are needed for Sunday and Monday, is not fun. Neither are the queues on Saturday nights.

I sound grouchy, don't I? I promise I'm not! Just wanting to show that Germany does have it's share of irritations and issues - and these are just from observation, google German issues and you're sure to find a more serious, comprehensive list. 

So tomorrow I'm excited to share with you some of the things I just don't get about this place... it varies from bedding to milk. 


  1. Hello! Checking out your blog after I saw your comment on mine :) nice to meet a fellow newlywed expat! I'm seriously laughing out loud reading this-I've probably said the same things about German culture too! And what is UP with kids haircuts here?? I never thought the rat tail would make a comeback...

  2. There are so many things that leave my head spinning... but slowly seeing them as more normal. Except the hairstyles...