This is my first trip to Germany in the motorhome and it is taking me a while to understand how things work here.
First there are the roads. There seems to be a lot more traffic on the roads in Germany, especially large HGVs and trying to navigate the large towns and cities with their confusing road junctions and traffic lights is very stressful. The signs for motorways are blue, in common with the UK and France, but the signs for the main roads are yellow which makes me feel as though I am constantly following a diversion, and gets even more confusing when I actually am being diverted which is quite frequently. On the plus side, fuel prices are similar and LPG seems plentiful.
Then there is the language. While I am a proficient French speaker, my German is non-existent. However, I do have a phrase book and I do make an effort to speak German, even if it is only to ask if they speak English! It seems that the polite ‘guten tag’ is not required as most people greet me with an informal ‘hallo’. However, ‘danke’ always goes down well. Deciphering the menu is the hardest part. In Heidelberg I ordered (well actually pointed to) ‘Ofenfrischer Schweinebraten in Dunkelbiersoße mit Apfelrotkohl und Semmelknodël’ which was luckily translated as roast pork in dark beer sauce, red cabbage with apple and bread dumpling.
Whilst we are on the subject of food, the Germans like their meat, especially pork and not a single part of the pig is wasted. There are also so many different types of sausages that it is impossible to list them all and there is an art to pairing your sausage with a particular type of mustard, e.g. Weisswurst should be served with süsser, a sweet, wholegrain mustard. You won’t find much in the way of desserts but head for a coffeehouse to sample some calorie-laden cakes, such as the infamous Black Forest gateau or apple strudel, which actually originated in Austria! The portions are very large which probably explains why most Germans are oversized too.
Launderettes and recycle bins are hard to locate. I had to stay at a campsite in order to do my laundry and I carried my recycling around for a week before I gave up and dumped it in a normal bin. Glass bottles can be recycled, though the circular input holes don’t always fit the odd shaped Franconian wine bottles. German plastic beer and water bottles carry an extra deposit charge of 25c which can be reclaimed by putting the empties into a clever machine found in most supermarkets. Also, clothing recycle bins seem to be very popular.
So Germany is proving to be a learning experience but I think I’m getting to grips with the way they do things here. Must be time for coffee and cake!