I recently spent a week in Berlin at the invitation of an old friend. ”Come for Thanksgiving,” she said, so I did. Even tough Thanksgiving isn’t really celebrated in Germany. I haven’t been here in about four years, so it’s interesting to see the little things that seem to be changing:
- It used to be the case that you didn’t tip at all unless the service was really good. You know, “service compris.” Now one tips at between 5% and 10%. I liked it better the old way.
- Portions seem to be more American sized now as well. One doesn’t get “doggie bags” in Europe, so whatever you don’t eat goes into the garbage bin. I could finish neither lunch nor dinner with the new, American sized portions.
- Of course, there are more foreigners in Germany now, and in Berlin it feels like there are almost as many people of color as in Boston. That was not the case previously, even after the “Gastarbeiter” movement brought hundreds of thousands of Turks to the country.
- There aren’t nearly as many bicycles in the streets as their used to be. I remember that in 1976 in Geneva, there were as many mopeds and bicycles in the streets as there were cars. That no longer seems to be the case.
The public transportation system in Berlin, on the other hand, is still infinitely better than anything you could find in the States. But German trains no longer leave exactly on the hour. Sometimes they’re just plain late.
And that, my friends, is the first sign of the apocalypse.