I spent three years trying to learn German when I was at high school, and I have to tell you, I found it pretty tough. I kept getting the feeling that I must have missed some classes, despite the fact that I hadn’t. Everyone else seemed to understand what was going on, whilst I sat there feeling overwhelmed and terrified the teacher was going to ask me a question. Apart from this I quite enjoyed the classes, as hearing the sounds of another language was fun, and so was the cultural education we picked up along the way.
High school is a long time ago now, and I have retained very little of the bugger all I learnt at German classes. Arriving here in Germany, I had a handful of words and two phrases at my disposal. One phrase was ‘Der Mann raucht eine Pfeiffe‘ (the man smokes a pipe), and the other ‘Wie schade Karl es regnet‘ (what a shame Karl, it’s raining). Although arguably fairly specific, I was hoping whilst in Germany to see some bloke smoking a pipe, or meet someone called Karl on a rainy day, as I would have totally had the situation covered.
One word that I recognised when I arrived, although couldn’t remember what it meant, was Frühstück. I reckon I remembered it because I like how it sounds. I liked it even more when I rediscovered what it means: breakfast. I wake up every morning hungry, so I really enjoy Frühstück. When staying in German hotels I discovered what a German Frühstück is all about, plus I also got a lesson about how friendly German folks are, too.
A German breakfast buffet is a little like what Aussies might have for lunch on a summer’s day: cold meats, cheese, eggs, sausages, salad, and bread. You generally don’t find much in the way of cereal; perhaps just muesli, or a container of a commercial cereal product that looks like it’s been there for about two years. I’ve never been one to limit myself to the Australian traditional breaksfast foods of cereal and toast, and will happily rip into any type of meal first thing in the morning. Therefore I willingly went in hard on the German Frühstück buffet at every opportunity.
The first time I sat at a German hotel breakfast setting, with about 14 different types of cheese and several bread varieties on my plate, I noticed that each guest who entered greeted each person in the room with a cheery ‘Morgen!’ (‘morning!). I assumed they were all in the same tour group, and were greeting their mates for the first time that day.
Next time I was settling in to a Frühstück smorgasbord (apparently that word is Swedish) I experienced the same thing. Each fresh faced or bleary eyed guest arriving in the restaurant acknowledged the seated Frühstückers (that’s the German collective noun for people eating breakfast. Ok it’s not really) with a ‘Morgen‘. This happened each time I went to breakfast wherever I stayed in Germany, and eventually I figured out that German people just wish you a good morning at breakfast time whether they know you or not.
I thought it was great; a friendly and courteous way to start the day over a plate of cured meats and fermented dairy. The best you are likely to out of an Australian at a hotel breakfast is ‘Are you using the toaster mate?’
Anyway, til Frühstück time tomorrow, tschüss! (‘see ya’; no one has said ‘auf wiedersehn‘ in Germany since I was in high school German class).
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