10 Things that are Still Kickin’ It in Germany

Long before smart phones and modern trends, humans used “historic” tools for daily needs. Leather jackets kept us warm on a cold winter’s night. Samsonite suitcases carried our goods across the world. And, flip phones called and texted loved ones outside of our home. In America, what seems like an “ancient” 90’s trend is still kickin’ in modern day Germany. And to be honest, I think its cool and I admire the old fashion notions of life. Discover what’s still hanging around the Deutschland quicker than you can think of your next “paleo” meal.

Travel Agents
Travel agent offices are the “Starbucks” of Germany. Every other block contains a “Reise” bureau or travel agent office. Specialized travel offices such as agents selling only travel to Turkey, Russia or Eastern Europe exist. In America over the last decade, in-person travel agencies have been a dying market, except for AAA. In Germany, online travel websites have not over-powered in-person offices. Global competition exists, but has not shut down the many small business agencies.

During my youth, outdoor exercise was a major component of my life. I still remember rollerblading with my mom on a hot 1995 summer’s day. Wearing a tank top and skin-tight, knee-length jeans shorts, we strapped on our wrist guards and three-buckled rollerblades. We cruised the park’s bike path on eight wheels while circling around to rollerblade backwards. I loved (and still love) rollerblading.

Today, in Germany, cruising the footpaths on eight wheels is still popular. It’s not as popular as biking, but avid bladers glide the cement as an intensive form of exercise.

Leather Jackets
Leather jackets are another childhood memory. I remember shopping with my mom while she searched for the perfect leather jacket. In the American 90’s, leather jackets were a hot trend. Stuffed with shoulder pads these coats were as cool as MC Hammer pants. Leather jackets are not obsolete in America, but label certain groups such as “cowboys” and Harley Davidson fans.

In Germany, and in Europe, leather jackets are not a part of the “wild west.” They are a functional and fashionable piece of clothing. Leather coats are chic, popular and an essential piece of a European wardrobe. These coats are form fitting and contain a non-linear zipper, providing an abstract style. You can choose offbeat colors such as darker yellow, red, blue or green. Unfortunately, when I think of leather jackets in Germany, I think of David Hasslehoff singing “Looking for freedom” at the destruction of the Berlin Wall. God bless lighted leather coats.

Nordic Walking Poles
In the early millennium, Nordic walking poles came to America. In college, I taught a Nordic class; but, yet this trend did not take off like other popular fitness programs. In America, walking poles are translated to hiking poles and only seen on the trail. They exist, but in Germany, everyday I see people walking with Nordic poles. Group classes and solo trekkers walk the flat concrete while working out the upper body.

Flip Phones
In America, I feel flip phones exist with the elder or non-technological baby boomer generation. Few flip phones remain in the US. In Germany, young, old and wise people use flip phones. They are functional, practical and save people money. You cannot assume that a person will receive an SMS, email or Facebook message instantly. Everyday I see Germans (and other cultures) using flip phones. It’s common and not “weird.”

Samsonite Suitcases
Hand-carried luggage is part of my childhood memory. I remember packing blue Samsonite suitcases with beach or hiking gear. Like flip phones, young and old people use hand-carry luggage. Most people use modern day suitcases, but old-fashioned handled suitcases are still used.

One day I saw an Italian family board the Deutsch Bahn train. Snickering to each other in Italian, each family member carried his or her Samsonite suitcase onto to the train.

Reading a newspaper is part of a German’s morning ritual. Newspapers are for sale in stores and kiosk stands. Many coffee shops keep newspapers fresh with long wooden newspaper holders hung on walls. Newspapers are not (yet) a dying trend in Germany. Several European newspaper photographers claim newspaper photography jobs are difficult to find because anyone can submit smart phone images.

Sunday Rest Day
As a 90’s child, I remember shops closing for the “day of rest.” Once I entered high school, most shops opened but with shorter hours. Today, most places open on Sunday, except Central Business District shops, because everyone spends time in shopping districts or neighborhoods.

In Germany, Sunday is the day of rest. Some cafes and restaurants open with shorter operating hours. In Hannover, the only grocery store I know that opens is the Lidl located in the central train station. Each city makes a schedule for “Sunday shopping days.” Between three to six times per year, shops open on Sundays. Other than that Sunday is a quiet day.

Holidays are a Holiday
In Germany, there is no work on holidays. Cities are a ghost town and loved ones spend time with each other. Germans (and other European cultures) celebrate holidays that are no longer “traditional” in the United States. For example, Easter is a long, four-day weekend. Teachers have up to 2.5 weeks off during this spring break time.

I remember this being true growing up in America. However, within the last several years (and living in big city, Seattle) I’ve noticed more places stay open on holidays. “Black Friday” shopping is now “Thanksgiving Evening” shopping. Retail employees no longer have the entire holiday free from work. Many private companies do not celebrate (or take time off) for Martin Luther King Day or President’s Day. In Germany, a holiday is a holiday and time for a break or mini-vacation.

Paying with Cash
Before credit card points and incentives, I remember the days of using cash. In America, I never used cash because “everyone” took credit cards. Cards became mainstream and I wanted my points for travel reimbursement. At times, I charged 75-cent water bottles because I never carried cash.

In Germany, everyone uses cash. Many companies (unless it’s a corporation) do not accept international Visa or MasterCard’s, but only Deutsch bank cards. Most places are cash-only venues. Cash is a must and essential to buy goods.

  1. Monica Latosky April 22, 2015

    Great Article!!