Scrolling through Pinterest, or reading a travel magazine, no one would think that traveling to these beautiful places has its down sides.
Most people don’t even realize the disadvantages until they are faced and forced to deal with them. I hope by sharing my experiences, that you will be able to avoid them.
Public restrooms: Use the nice toilet at your hotel or wherever you are staying before going out! It happened that while I was in Rome I had to use the bathroom really bad, only to find out that there was a huge line for the toilet and you were supposed to pay a tip for the washroom attendants. Some bathrooms are glisteningly clean and pleasant to use. Others are not worth the pocket change. Beware of free bathrooms at train and gas stations! Some of them are downright disgusting and I was dry heaving after opening the door to a public toilet at the Nurnberg train station! My tip: duck into a fast food restaurant like McDonalds since it usually doesn’t cost anything and there are no lines.
Paying at the grocery store: Cashiers ring up customers at lightning speed! It is expected that you have your money ready. If not, you have a line of impatient customers waiting behind you, an armful of groceries, and a cashier who is losing patience with you. To avoid this hassle, do have your money ready, and pack it all up (in a bag you brought yourself) while the cashier is ringing it all up. Or bring a buddy!
Strikes– During my short two years, striking sometimes affected my life in surprising ways. For instance, Deutsche Bahn (the German train system) organized strikes that lasted several weeks (I almost didn’t make it to an important exam). There was also a “Kita” strike last year where many kindergartens and daycares closed down in order to protest low wages. Of course Lufthansa is always striking. In short strikes were hit or miss, but when they affect you, it can be pretty inconvenient. Pay attention to the news, because some companies and organizations give advanced warning. Even if it is unavoidable (like with the train), it is not impossible to get where you need to go. Just really, really, really annoying.
No public drinking fountains-The first few months I was there, I was always walking around thirsty, hoping to catch sight of a drinking fountain in a public building. In Germany at least, I have never found a public drinking fountain and took my own reusable water bottle with me.
Sorting the trash– Tourists won’t really run into this problem, but for those of you finding a home in Germany, trash sorting varies from state to state and is somewhat complex. For example, there is a difference between plastic and hard plastic, and some paper goes with the cardboard trash. It was annoying at first, but with some practice, it was easier to sort.
Hard shell, soft center– This is my personal opinion, but I’ve heard some other expats share my frustration, that Germans do not greet new-comers like they would in America. In America, neighbors ring your door bell and maybe spend a few minutes getting to know and welcome you to the neighborhood. In Germany, you are quietly smiled at and maybe said hello to, but it takes a few months to even make good acquaintance. But once you do, the German friends I have made will most likely be friends for life.
Smaller portions– Maybe it’s just me being a picky American, but the portions were smaller. I searched in vain for a steak bigger than the small expensive cuts they would serve at restaurants. Luckily at some restaurants this is not the case. I enjoyed the bigger portions at Bavarian restaurants 😉
No ice– Drinks come chilled in good restaurants, but you practically have to beg in Europe and Germany to get a few cubes of ice. Therefore I savor the glacier layer in my drinks here in the US!
Difficult dialects– I could listen to Bavarian all day long it is such a comfortable and quaint dialect. However for people new to Bavaria, it can be disorientating and sometimes sounds like a completely different language all together!
To “Sietzen” or not to “Sietzen”. That is the question!-For those of you who speak the language,”Sie” is the formal way to address an older person, a boss, a stranger, or generally someone you’d like to show respect to. But sometimes you are standing next to someone your own age and equal position at a job and you’re not sure if they would like you to address them informally. I always address them per “Sie” until they ask me to do otherwise.
Overall, I love Germany (Bavaria especially)! It was hard sometimes to think of items for this list, but these are things that were inconvenient for me. However, it was worth the price of living in a beautiful country.
What annoying things do you agree with? Disagree with? What would you add? Share in the conversation!