Posts Tagged With: cologne

How To Walk In Germany

Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany

We all know how to walk, right?  WRONG!  If you travel to Germany, you will be stunned by the impeccably clean streets, gorgeous classic and modern architecture and the politeness and warmth of the people.  As with almost everything in Germany, there are rules!!!  These rules keep the peace and order within and make it the wondrous place that it is to visit.

Before my first trip to Cologne (Köln) a friend of mine warned me about different colored sidewalks and something about him getting a ticket from a police officer for not following signals.  After slowing him down and asking to clarify, I realized he was trying to inform me about the rules walking there.

Sidewalk in Cologne, Germany

Sidewalk in Cologne, Germany

It turns out that Germany, ingeniously, has paved the bike paths a different color to differentiate which space pedestrians and cyclists should utilize.  Normally, pedestrians have the right-of-way, but not in Germany.  A cyclist will run you down if you are sauntering in their lane.  While this is true, most will jingle their bike bell to warn you of their approach.  The oddest thing to see is that people politely get out of the bike lane right away.

That’s the thing . . . Germans understand and follow these rules.  Even more, they expect everyone else to.  This was evidenced when I was in a taxi.  The taxi driver was not from Germany and began to make a turn into a crosswalk that had a “Walk” signal for the pedestrians.  While the pedestrians were not in a group nor knew each other, they, in unison, started screaming at the taxi for daring to violate the crosswalk rules.

German Crossing Signal

German Crossing Signal

On that note, crossing signals should strictly be adhered to.  Both for the regular street ones and the ones for the train track crossing.  This is where my poor friend acquired a ticket from a police officer.  Apparently, seeing that no train or traffic was coming, decided to make his way across the street in the crosswalk.  BAMN!!!  A cop descended on him like a bat out of hell and issued him a summons along with a stern lecture.

German cities are the most amazing walking cities in the world.  The streets are so clean, the people are friendly, and signs clearly mark where destinations are.  But, I cannot stress enough how strict Germans are with their rules.  If you follow them, you will have a wonderful time and truly enjoy your time there.  If you disobey the rules . . . you will feel like everyone around you has turned against you.

The Cheat Sheet:

  • When walking, stay off of the colored paved bike lanes.
  • Stay in the crosswalks when crossing a street.
  • Pay strict attention to the “Walk” and “Do Not Walk” signals.
  • Pay strict attention to the “Walk” and “Do Not Walk” signals when crossing the train tracks as well.
  • Do get out there and explore Germany’s extraordinary walking cities.

Author:                  Robert J. Gorman, Jr.
Date:                      9/30/2013

Categories: Behavin’ | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top Ten German Phrases

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

Whether you are traveling to Germany, Austria, Switzerland or interacting with people, here is a list of extremely useful basic German phrases.  Whenever I travel or my coworkers/friends travel I prepare this very same list for them.  I have found that these are the top phrases that can handle 90% of any native conversation you would need to have.  Even with a travel phrase book, this list printed out can be a quick life saver.

My mother one-upped me when she went to Germany.  She seemed to get by on two words: “schön” (shurn) meaning “nice” and “danke” (Dahn-kah) for thank you.  These and smiling a heck of lot seemed to do it for her.  Please try a little harder than she did.

1)         Hi / Bye
            Hallo (Ah-lo) / Auf Wiedersehen (Owf Vee-dur-zay-en)

 2)         Yes / No
              Ja (Yah) / Nein (Nine [9])

 3)         Please / Thank you
             Bitte (Bit-tah) / Danke (Dahn-kah)

 4)         Excuse me
             Entschuldigen Sie (ent-Shool-dig-gun Zee)

 5)         Where is . . .?  (…the bathroom)
             Wo ist …? (Voh Ist)  (… das Badezimmer) (Dass Bah-duh-zim-er)
             The train station        Der Bahnhof              (Dair bahn-Hohf)
             The bus station          Der Busbahnhof        (Dair Boos-bahn-Hohf)
             The police station      Die Polizeistation       (Dee Poh-lit-Zie-shtat-Zee-ohn)
             The embassy              Die Botschaft             (Dee Boht-Shahft)
             The hospital               Das Krankenhaus     (Dahs Krahn-ken-How-ss)

 6)         Take me to … please.
             Nehmen Sie mich … bitte.  (Nay-men Zee Mihck … bit-Tah)
TIP:  For this one, I have found it most helpful to have a business card card (especially from your hotel), or a written name of the location you wish to go to and point to it as you say “hier” (heer) in between “mich” and “bitte”.  It gives the driver/person a chance to study the location without asking you to repeat anything or to get into a lengthy conversation.

7)         Do you speak English? / I don’t speak German.
             Sprechen Sie Englisch?  (shpreck-Ken Zee Eng-lish) / Ich spreche kein Deutsch.  (Eeck shpreck-Kuh Kine Doytch)

8)         How much is this?
             Wie viel ist das?  (Vee Feel Ist Dass)
TIP:  A nice shortcut for this is to just say “Wie viel?”  Most Germans will understand what you mean and, in fact, use this abbreviated phrase themselves.

9)         My name is… / What is your name?
             Ich heisse … (Eeck hi-Suh) / Wie heissen Sie?  (Vee hi-Sen Zee)
TIP:  How the person answers this one will tell you a LOT in Germany.  If they answer, “Frau …” (Frow) meaning Misses, “Fräulein…” (fraw-Line) meaning Miss, or “Herr …” (Hair) meaning Mister, they want to keep their relationship with you on a formal basis only.  If they answer with just their name, then they are more relaxed and you can be too.

10)       I need a doctor!
             Ich brauche einen Arzt!  (Eeck brow-Kuh eye-Nen Ahrrst)

 Now that you have the basics . . . get out there and meet some people!

Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany

The Cheat Sheet:

  • Hi / Bye                                    Hallo / Auf Wiedersehen
  • Yes / No                                   Ja / Nein
  • Please / Thank you              Bitte / Danke
  • Excuse me                              Entschuldigen Sie
  • Where is…?                            Wo ist…?
  • Take me to…please.           Nehmen Sie mich…bitte.
  • Do you speak English?       Sprechen Sie Englisch?
  • I don’t speak German.        Ich spreche kein Deutsch.
  • How much is this?               Wie viel ist das?
  • My name is…                         Ich heisse …
  • What is your name?            Wie heissen Sie?
  • How much does it cost?    Wie viel kostet es?

Author:                 Robert J. Gorman, Jr.
Date:                      9/12/2013

Categories: Meetin’ | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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