Six Surprises

My recent travels in Europe with the lovely Robin contained many wonderful sights and experiences. It was almost problem-free, and fairly affordable. But there were a few surprises. Here are the top six:

1. Most Germans speak really good English. Better than some Americans, in fact. German children are required to take six years of English in the normal course of study, so it's fairly easy for someone who speaks only English to function.

2. Germans refer to the first five books of the Bible not as "Genesis, Exodus," etc., but as "First Moses," "Second Moses," and so on.

3. Wiener Schnitzel has no wiener in it. The "wiener" refers to its Viennese origin (and it's not the only kind of schnitzel). It is a breaded pork (or veal) dish:

4. Germans don't wear white tennis shoes...or white socks. At least, white tennis shoes (like the kind I wore) are uncommon....and one of our new friends told me that white socks (e.g., tube socks) went out of fashion long ago.

5. Europeans actually walk. And ride bikes. I can't say this was really a surprise, but it was striking. Whereas Americans will drive their car if they have to go just a few blocks away, there is a lot more walking and bike-riding (and public transportation like cable cars, even buses that go from city-to-city) in the towns we visited. This also kinda explains why we didn't see many overweight people (the bikes below are parked by commuters at Heidelberg's central train station).

6. Churches--both Roman Catholic and Protestant--are state-sponsored in Germany. That is, the state collects taxes and distributes funds to officially-sanctioned Catholic and Protestant churches. Evangelical churches, however, do not receive any of these funds, which seems to be a very, very good thing.

1 comment:

  1. on #6 ... and if you are not a member in the catholic or protestant church, you don't have to pay the resp. taxes for thoses churches. This again is the reason why in our rather secular country many Germans cancel their church membership, so they can save some bugs ;-)