These are my top five favourite things about Germany:
1. High Tolerance. For a number of decades now Germans have been severely criticised by the rest of the world for their past lack of tolerance which led to horrific consequences. As a result, Germans have taken it upon themselves to be very tolerant now. Super tolerant in fact. Take for example, the laws which enshrine personal freedom in Germany. You do not have to vote, you do not have to wear a bicycle helmet. Aged care patients cannot be restrained even if they have Alzheimers (which may lead to problems if they wander). You can smoke and drink from an early age.
These freedoms are all balanced in Germany by a culture which values personal and group responsibility. You are expected to acted in a responsible manner to the rest of the people around you. For example, you are expected to wait at pedestrian lights until they go green, even if there are no cars, as a role model for children.
This is not an unspoken thing. If you do the wrong thing, German people will speak out. Take for example the time I did not appreciate I was trying to park in a spot reserved for the disabled. Responsible German citizens driving past stopped to inform me of my error. They weren’t abusive or nasty, they were just doing their civic duty and informing me. Luckily they spoke enough English for me to understand their message.
2. Low Consumerism. What a blessing this is and it is evident in a number of ways. For example, shops do not open on Sundays. Whilst I found this a real problem at first, I now appreciate it. It almost forces you to get out there and do something like visit an art gallery, go for a ride, eat out with friends, or my favourite, drive really fast on the autobahn.
You do not get masses of advertising brochures in your letter box. There are not huge stores everywhere trying to foist their cheap and short lived stuff on you. People do not have large backyards filled with cheap plastic toys for their children. People do not have large houses filled with things they are trying to pay off on their credit cards. Maybe this is why Germany’s consumer debt is so low. That, and the fact that it is extremely hard to get a credit card issued to you by your bank.
3. Great Roads. There is always road work occurring in Germany. The result is that Germany has roads that are in good condition. Plus, they are really well planned. You know how roads can become clogged because two roads are merging and there is more traffic coming from one way than another or something like that? Well, this just does not seem to occur in Germany. All the roads seem to be really well designed so that these sorts of problems do not occur.
Maybe the people who plan these things have Masters Degrees or something. It is actually common for people in Germany to 1) Have qualifications no matter what it is they do and 2) to go on to Masters after achieving a Bachelors degree.
Don’t get me wrong, traffic jams occur all the time in Germany, when there are road works. And road works occur all the time. At least you know it is temporary.
4. Fabulous Public Transport. Public transport stations in Germany generally have electronic signs announcing when the next train, tram or bus is due. I always look at these signs with amazement as they announce the one or two minute wait. One or two minutes! In Australia it would be common to be waiting 20 to 30 minutes.
5. Cakes and Bread. Seriously, you have not tasted the real McCoy until you have tasted German cakes and bread. These things have real flavour and texture. Cakes are airy but not dry, pastries full of butter and the breads I choose are chewy and full of grain, just how I like it. The variety is astounding and it has taken me a good two years just to work my way through all the different types of cheese cake. I have my work cut out for me, I can tell you.