5 things Germany does best
5 things Germany does best
As expats, we can’t help but compare Germany to where we lived before and, unfortunately, there are some areas where our adopted country falls short (the internet, to name just one example). But all of that mild fun-poking doesn’t mean we’re unable to recognise where Germany shines. So, in the spirit of giving credit where it’s due, here’s a selection of five things we think Germany does better than anywhere else.
It’s a well-known fact that the star of traditional German cuisine is the humble potato. Germans are passionate about their potatoes - and with good reason - categorising the hundreds of local varieties not only by their cooking characteristics (waxy, firm, fluffy, dry) but also by when they were harvested. There really is a potato for every occasion.
By selecting the correct variety of potato for each dish, Germany elevates it to a thing of pure beauty. Never before have potatoes tasted so good. No wonder the average German chomps their way through roughly 70 kilograms a year.
2. Auf Kipp
Before coming to Germany, you probably lived in a crazy black-and-white world where windows were either open or shut. Then along came the wonder of the slightly-open window to make sure your rooms were well-aired forevermore. For those of you yet to have the pleasure: most German windows have an ingenious mechanism that allows you to set the window in three different positions: closed, fully open and “tilted” (auf Kipp).
It’s no secret that Germans are big fans of fresh air - no matter whether it’s summer, winter or blowing a hailstorm outside. It’s not clear whether this is down to a deep-seated aversion to stuffiness (or perhaps a fear of mould), but it’s undeniably a national obsession.
But you don’t want your window fully open - that’s far too much air, and moreover a potential security risk - so the German three-way window is the perfect solution. Now Kipp your windows and feel the refreshing breeze!
Germany is slowly gaining recognition as the touristic gem of a country it is. Its thousands of kilometres of stunning countryside are packed with a plethora of glorious sights and attractions but best of all has got to be the world-class collection of nearly 2.500 castles, which come in every shape, size and design imaginable, from Hogwarts-style fortresses to majestic fairytale palaces.
Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria (supposedly the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle) may be the most famous, but Germany has more magical castles than you could hope to visit in a lifetime, some of them dating back thousands of years. Whether you want to stomp in the footsteps of a medieval knight, boat through Versailles-style gardens or sigh for a prince from a lofty tower top, Germany really does have a castle to suit every mood.
4. Getting naked
Germany’s lax attitude towards nudity is refreshing (no pun intended). Nudism (known as Freikörperkultur - “free body culture” - or FKK) is deeply embedded in German culture. Visit a German beach and witness people of all shapes, sizes and ages happily stripping off to bathe in the buff, and you’ll see what we’re talking about.
In Germany - like nowhere else in the world - a body is just a body. There is nothing funny, surprising, embarrassing or even sexy about nakedness. Which is very appealing when you hail from a nation where public nudity is perceived at best as embarrassing and at worst as a sign of perversion. Not to mention, the lack of tan lines is an absolute dream.
Image credit: unterbacher - FKK-Gelände Südstrand Strandimpressionen, CC BY 2.0
Sure, they can be stressful when you wake up at midday and realise you forgot to buy milk, but once you get into the routine of it, Sundays in Germany are a dream. No deadlines, no chores, no noise; just pure unwinding. Germany’s “quiet time” (Ruhezeit) has made Sunday relaxation a matter of law.
For those of us working full-time, who are used to using the weekend to catch up on housework and other tasks, a regulated day of rest - when shops keep their doors firmly closed, and even mowing the lawn is seen as a naughty transgression - can seem like a bit of a pain. But the best approach is just to embrace it. Before too long, you’ll find yourself propping your feet up with the rest, firmly enjoying the opportunity to finally get a bit of peace and quiet!
The best of Germany
Of course, this is only scratching the surface of all the wonderful quirks life in Germany has to offer. What else would you add? Let us know in the comments below!