I have recently returned from a week in Germany. I haven’t travelled much in Europe as an adult. It was fascinating to see the culture which is often described as being most similar to the British. So, I will share my thoughts on German culture from a Welshmans perspective.
My first impression was crossing a road in the evening. There was the usual red and green ‘men’ of a British pedestrian crossing. however even with no traffic many Germans wait for green. In Wales we just cross when it’s clear and only use pedestrian crossings in busy places, regarding the crossing as ‘for the tourists’. I learnt that crossing on red in Germany is a prosecutable offense, which explains the behaviour. What this highlights is that Germans are different, but not so different, the British have this in-built desire to accept and follow rules too, but to a lesser extent. Also generally, in some ways the Germans are more conservative than the British, yet in other ways more liberal, it is difficult to see any guiding principles for the differences.
I was very pleased to discover that I am attracted to German women, not that they are inherently more beautiful than women in other countries, I just love their attitude, they are generally more practical. German women wear trousers most of the time and only wear dresses when it is hot and sunny, they are also unafraid to have short hair, both of these traits I find attractive.
Having said that the Germans lack style. It is odd to be in a country where people are less stylish than the British. Germans generally only wear dark colours, patterned clothing is rare, although stripes seem a current trend. I mean, come on, ‘stripes’ as ‘stylish clothing’ ? A guy purposely ran into me in the street, apparently because I was wearing a floral shirt and I might have been gay? Perhaps this is a difference, whilst Germans are generally more sensible, open and liberal, underneath this are possibly currents of homophobia and racism, that as a culture that haven’t had to deal with yet. As opposed to a more multi-cultural Britain.
Germany, as a visitor, isn’t as easy a place to be vegetarian. The cuisine I found odd in lacking sauces and lacking spices. The Indian restaurant i was taken too served very mild dishes, even though my host asked them to increase the heat for the British palate.
I appreciate that Germany doesn’t have the long relationship with India than Britain has, but currywurst was amusing to discover. Basically this is just a sausage with turmeric or other mild spices, but to imply that it has anything to do with what the British regard as curry is amusing.
Germany is a loss less densely populated than the UK. There is much more of a seperation of town and country. People don’t aspire to live in the country in Germany as the country is seen as dull and lifeless. Perhaps because German cities work so much better, the housing is better and the public transportation systems are better, not to mention the bike lanes used everywhere.
To me, Germany is a much more attractive society to live in than most of England. There is less of this divisive ‘class’ thing you often find in Southern England. The systems generally work, rather than the individual having to make them work, getting around the cities is much less of a headache.
The beer is cheaper and generally quite pleasant, much better than the crappy lagers I am occasionally forced to endure in Britian. British beer is sorely missed by my friend living in Germany. The Germans find Britain odd. when told that you can get good beer, good bread and even good sausages in the UK, but you have to know where to get it, rather than it being generally available. This is perhaps the big difference, generally things are better in Germany, good things are shared rather than hidden. What I’m getting at as that as a more cohesive conformist society, politically the Germans refuse to give up things that work well.
I think it all comes down to politics, the fact that Germany has a proportional voting system. unlike in the UK where ideological Thatcherism destroyed British society without any meaningful opposition. Hence Britain lost a lot of the glue that holds a culture together and we have become used to division in a way the Germans have yet to experience.
Basically, I had a lovely week and i feel I should visit Europe more, instead of far flung exotic places.