"When in Germany, Do as the Germans Do"
Hyde Flippo has written another interesting book about German ways, for Americans planning to go to Germany. It is a good follow-up to "The German Way". Sometimes writers of travel books try to provide insights that turn out to be misleading. Mr. Flippo, however, is neither travel writer nor dilettante and seems to know Germany well.
The book begins with a series of questions to test one's knowledge of things German. Despite having once lived in Germany, having traveled there several times recently, and being particularly interested in the German language and culture, out of the first ten questions, I could answer only three correctly.
The German washing machine is a case in point. Any American who has ever tried to do laundry at a German laundromat has discovered differences in the process. For starters, there hardly are any German laundromats. Next, a German washing machine may have a two-hour wash cycle, it uses hotter water, since it heats its own, and it spins the laundry to a near dry state.
Regarding the German language, Mr. Flippo cites a number of English sounding words commonly in use that Germans think are English words, which are not. A couple of examples are "die Basecap" which means "baseball cap", and "der Talkmaster", which refers to a "talk show host".
Flippo touches on other "Germanisms" which I have encountered. One is the idea that drinking tap water is unhealthy and should be avoided. A waitress I encountered in Austria explained that although it was okay for Americans to drink tap water that it was not good for Germans and Austrians. Germans tend to drink bottled mineral water, and asking for tap water, "das Leitungswasser", will not uncommonly be regarded as fairly strange behavior.
Another useful thing to know is that credit cards are not as universally accepted as they are in the U.S. Flippo warns that is best to never assume that a restaurant will accept your credit card. The same is true for smaller hotels and accommodations. As evidence, Flippo points out that although France has a population of about 58 million and Germany 82 million, 250,000 less locations in Germany accept credit cards.
One of the most entertaining chapters in the book is about household garbage in Germany. One is not allowed to simply put anything in one's garbage can. There are strict local rules for the separation of the various types of waste. Glass waste is not to be mixed with biodegradable waste, for example. Break the rules, and your garbage does not get picked up. By the way, the garbage disposal is not to be found in Germany, and it is in fact illegal, due to pollution considerations.
Despite previous familiarity with Germany, I acquired new information from this book and very much enjoyed reading it. Hopefully, in the future, Hyde Flippo will tell me some more that I do not know about the German-speaking world.