1. Germans are serious about their coffee, and chocolate, and dairy products. (And sausages and beer, but we all already knew that.) I stood in the supermarket, jet-lagged and consequently a little stupid, in front of a staggering display of coffee—ground, whole bean, dark roast, light roast, espresso, from everywhere in the world that grows coffee beans, in glossy posh packaging. The shelves full of this beautiful stuff were about 15 feet long, and then I realized there was a whole other side to the display. In my dazzled, semi-impaired state, it took me quite awhile to choose.
Ditto with so many kinds and brands of chocolate, including my personal favorite, which is anything that involves dark chocolate and marzipan.
The dairy case went on for days. It’s my unscientific hunch that, like the Dutch, German people have gotten really tall on average because of their affinity for good dairy—all that calcium and protein.
2. It’s hard to figure out how to do a load of laundry when you’re not so good at reading the words on the dial. I took a few wild guesses, and got the washing machine going, but apparently on a cycle that took two hours. Google Translate: Help!
I had a similar problem in the kitchen. Not one to be bothered with boring details, I grabbed a canister of what looked like dishwasher detergent powder and poured a bunch of it into the little dispenser…then actually looked at what I was holding and realized it was the German version of Drano. Scooped it out in a panic and hoped that German Drano is less toxic than American Drano—it’s just got to be, right? Finally found the little detergent tablets and all was well.
3. The wind rustling in the birch trees along the little lane where we live sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard before. Or maybe I’ve heard it somewhere but just didn’t pay much attention. It sounds like a gentle shushing, as if the trees were saying: Be quiet, and listen.