Although I love living in Germany, I sometimes feel as living here is "glamping," a contraction of glamorous camping. Germany is advanced in many ways but in other areas, it can feel a bit behind the times. For example, stores aren't open on Sundays and during the week, the ones open "late" usually close by 8 p.m. Sometimes one must pay to call customer service lines. Life is perfectly fine here, but sometimes it doesn't feel nearly so convenient as my life did in the US. Hence springs my feeling that one has what one needs here and then some, but it's not metaphorically like staying in a full service hotel; it's more like staying at a fancy campground.
During my visit to Scotland, I reveled in some of the conveniences and social conventions that reminded me of life in the US. Here are some of them:
-Stores were open on Sunday. Yasss!
-There was a 24 hour open corner store. Hecks yes. Other stores, like Sainsbury's, a grocery store, were open from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. Fancy a late-night snack or need some toiletries outside of convenient times? There you go.
-If people even seem close to bumping into you, they say excuse me. If I had a euro for every time someone in Germany barged into me, I'd be rich. If you gave me a euro every time they said excuse me (or entschuldigung, sorry, or es tut mir leid)...I'd be poor.
-People actually know how to queue in Scotland. Germany, proper queuing does not mean: standing in a misshapen clump, barging ahead of other people, cutting, pushing, etc.
-People actually hold the door open for you. In Germany, even if the person entering the building is directly before me and I'm practically on his heels, I have lost any expectation that he'll hold the door for me and I'll most likely have it slammed in my face.
-We could pay with credit cards almost everywhere, even for small amounts. I hardly needed any cash.
-FREE WiFi, all over the place.
-Beautiful, cozy coffee houses (with WiFi!) that are open later. Okay, so I know that in bigger German cities, there are plenty of these, but Kaiserslautern's coffee house scene promptly shuts down at 1800 for the convenience of the owners. How I would love to cozy up at a coffee house, maybe surf the net a bit, and read a book later at night - in a place with NO smoking, as in 0, zilch, nada, nichts. (Technically, most places around here are supposed to be smoke free but because of a legal loophole, a lot of the bars and some restaurants allow it inside. Ick.)
-OMG, the prepackaged food at the grocery store! As a low-budget traveler in Edinburgh, I planned only a few meals out in restaurants. For the rest of the meals, I wanted to buy something quick, easy, and inexpensive from the grocery store. Yes, there are some things like prepackaged salads and others at German grocery stores, but you're more likely to have to build your own snack.
At the grocery stores in Edinburgh, we marveled at the convenience, prepackaged foods, many of which were healthful. Would you like cut up veggies and dip? Help yourself. How about a pack of boiled eggs for protein? Yep. They even had a cup of falafel patties. *Swoon.* It was perfect for a meal on the go.
Am I dissing on Germany? That's definitely not my intent. Some things are just more convenient in other countries. In the next entry, I'll talk about some of the things that I missed from Germany during my trip.