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Old 02-26-2014, 11:12 AM   #41
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Looking at these websites reminds me of something... I got the impression that German people are less apt to speak English than people from France, Belgium and Italy.

My wife is multi lingual and we were almost never stuck for lack of being able to communicate with the locals in these countries, but I seem to recall that it was the most difficult in Germany. Some Germans have very good English. But I found that many don't.

I'm not one to talk as I only speak English, and some people doubt even that !
You got the right impression. The main reason is that in Germany non-German TV content (and even theater movies) are dubbed. The rest of Europe uses subtitles (or supertitles, France). Just by being exposed to a foreign language people pick up more than just a few words. Now the younger guard should have English in school...

The one European country I noticed where people speak fluent English is Great Britain, alas with a weird accent. Quite catchy actually.
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Old 02-26-2014, 04:30 PM   #42
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Originally Posted by brewman ! View Post
Looking at these websites reminds me of something... I got the impression that German people are less apt to speak English than people from France, Belgium and Italy.

My wife is multi lingual and we were almost never stuck for lack of being able to communicate with the locals in these countries, but I seem to recall that it was the most difficult in Germany. Some Germans have very good English. But I found that many don't.

I'm not one to talk as I only speak English, and some people doubt even that !
I had no problems when I was in Germany, as I suggested earlier, I learned how to say hello, good bye, please, thank you, and almost everyone switched to english when we started talking. I only had problems speaking with one person (in former East Germany) and we were still able to communicate the needed information back and forth.

There is a huge number of US military personnel has passed thru Germany in the last 75 years, Germans are familiar enough with Americans you wont have a problem.
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Old 02-26-2014, 05:38 PM   #43
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My wife and I are fluent in American Sign Language. Not that it would be useful there, but we are very good at communicating non-verbally and reading body language, so it helps. I'm also pretty good at picking up language in general so I'll be studying some German until our trip. I learned a bit of Italian before spending a few weeks there and it paid off, especially in the more rural Tuscan area we stayed where some locals didn't speak a word of English.

Again, thanks for all the info guys, this is all very helpful. I'm compiling a list of all the interesting things that've been mentioned and plotting everything on maps. We will do our best to see a lot of what has been suggested, but will no doubt wing a lot of the trip as we usually do when traveling. We're usually content sitting in a small pub or chilling at a park people watching than touring a checklist of ten castles in a day. I've been to Ireland a dozen times, so I've got my fill on castles anyway

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Old 02-26-2014, 08:12 PM   #44
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Just remember "Sprechen sie Englisch?" the older people will go grab a younger person who speaks it.

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Old 02-26-2014, 09:55 PM   #45
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I never bothered to learn how to say "I don't speak German(or Fench, Itlaian, whatever)" I figure it will be pretty obvious.

Here's my language study guide...

Learn the words for foods you hate. I can say "mushrooms" in about seven languages.

Learn the basic foods. Meats, veggies, starches.

As for German, "Ein gross pils, bitte" got me a long ways.

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Old 02-27-2014, 12:41 PM   #46
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I got to thinking about the time I spent in Germany (used to be West Germany), and I remembered how awesome the food was. Not just the restaurants & guesthouse, but the bakeries, butcher shops & grocery stores. Do yourself a favour & stop in at these places; you'll find new & interesting foods that are incredibly tasty!

One of my favs is the bread. I grew up eating the presliced, packaged in plastic bag, whatever was on sale bread here in the US. German bread is round, dense, and not in a package. I love the dark bread (dunkel brot), so full of flavour & with a slightly chewy crust, mmmm.

Try the sulze, not just the head cheese type, they make a little lunch with meat, veggies & hard boiled eggs & cover it with a sort of gelatin, sometimes the gelatin is sort of vinegary; it may look odd to us, but it can be really good.

I used to love eating the fresh liverwurst from the butcher shop near Weisser Turm in Nurnberg. Spread it on the dunkel brot or Vienna rolls, maybe with a slice of cheese; oddly enough it goes well with coffee, but pairs best with beer I think.

BTW, you have to pay for shopping bags, even the plastic ones. This is 1 of the main reasons you'll see lots of people carrying cloth shopping bags or baskets. Get one, go food shopping at the little specialty shops, don't forget the beer and/or wine, and have a nice little picnic in the park, or better yet, get out of the city & into the forest. If you're not sure of a good place. just ask one of the shop keepers. And get yourself a little English/German German/English dictionary or app for your phone. If you make an effort to speak a little German, they will be much more inclined to help you. Hope you have a truly AWESOME trip!
Regards, GF.

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Old 02-27-2014, 06:06 PM   #47
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One of my favs is the bread. I grew up eating the presliced, packaged in plastic bag, whatever was on sale bread here in the US. German bread is round, dense, and not in a package. I love the dark bread (dunkel brot), so full of flavour & with a slightly chewy crust, mmmm.
+1 to this. The little Gasthaus in Giebelstadt, just outside our base, had the most excellent appetizer I've ever had. It was 4 thick slices of Black Bread smothered with butter and topped with raw bacon (Rohen Schinken) and Pickles. Delicious.
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Old 02-27-2014, 06:44 PM   #48
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When will you be arriving? Fest season gets started in August with some wine fests.

Rudesheim has a wine fest from 15-18 August. It's a neat village. They have a lift that goes up over the vinyard
http://www.ruedesheimer-weinfest.de/

The beer distribution system here isn't great so beer is mostly regional. Most of the restaurants near me offer you a weizen or a pils. Occasionally I'll stumble on a dunkelweizen, schwarzbier or kellerbier. Bamberg has a better variety and they have one of the most concentrated areas of brewerys in the world. I haven't been to Dusseldorf yet but I'm heading that way at the end of March. That area is rich in history to include old brewerys. Dusseldorf is also right next to Cologne.

http://www.europeanbeerguide.net/bambpubs.htm
http://www.europeanbeerguide.net/dussbrew.htm

If you care to head west a little, there is an American military cemetery in Luxembourg. General Patton is buried there.

If you go as far as Luxembourg, may as well swing over to Arlon just on the other side Belgium and pick up a couple beers at Mi Orge Mi Houblon.

And once you get to Belgium, I would stay there. Visit as many breweries and enjoy as many beers as you can.

Edit: I forgot to mention, if you want to start off your trip by grabbing a few beers to keep in your hotel, the best bottle store I have found in Germany is about 20 minutes from Frankfurt. It is in Darmstadt and it is called Maruhn
http://www.maruhn.de/

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Old 02-28-2014, 02:01 AM   #49
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Pick up a pocket-sized phrasebook. You'll have something to read on the flight over.

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Old 02-28-2014, 03:17 PM   #50
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And once you get to Belgium, I would stay there. Visit as many breweries and enjoy as many beers as you can.
I did separate trips to Germany and Belgium. I'm fortunate enough to have had friends or family in both. Too much good stuff to try both in one trip unless you're there for a month. Both are definitely bucket list destinations.
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