Last week a suitcase of a German acquaintance of mine was stolen on an ICE train. In the past, as I traveled by long-distance trains in Germany I had doubts about leaving my suitcase on a special luggage rack either by an entrance or in the middle of a coach. I constantly looked back and checked how my belongings were doing. In the end, I always felt silly. “It is Germany!” I thought. Nobody wants to steal my luggage. I can trust strangers here. Well, things changed.
I was naïve enough to ask my husband if I could leave a bag full of groceries outside a supermarket. More than often, there is no place in a supermarket where you can store your bags with products from another shop. Some years ago, I saw a man in Vienna leaving his backpack full of stuff by an entrance of a supermarket while he went shopping. Nobody around was interested in his backpack and that gave me quite a cultural shock. Sadly, I cannot do the same thing in Germany anymore. One week later there is still no news from the police about the stolen suitcase.
German trains are not designed for bringing your suitcases to your seat. At the same time, it is not safe to leave your belongings on a luggage rack. One must be careful and watch out. Do not be under the impression that it is 100% safe in Germany. A bicycle of a friend of mine was stolen from a garage. A friend of mine was inexperienced and did not lock the bike, not to mention the garage.
Also, you do not want to be around certain areas of a city late at night or early in the morning. On my way to a language school I encountered a group of young men enjoying their beer at 8 o’clock in the morning. I walked by pretty fast, nevertheless one of them did not miss a chance to come closer and say ‘hallo’ in a very disagreeable manner. That was enough to catalyze a crazy laughter among others. In comparison with those guys, a taxi driver that whistled at me as I passed by was a gentleman.
The Chinese consular service recently warned Chinese tourists to be careful on the south of Germany due to the increasing robbery cases.
To my surprise, car drivers seldom stop to let a pedestrian pass in the area I live. In Lausanne, Switzerland I felt so much better. As I arrived, I was looking at a map at a crosswalk trying to see which way should I go when a car stopped to let me pass. I hurried up as I was overwhelmed by politeness of local drivers. The city I live in Germany is considered to be bicycle-friendly. Nonetheless, you can often see car drivers honking at poor bikers as the latter climb up a hill doing their best. According to the traffic rules, a cyclist has the same rights and responsibilities when sharing the road with drivers. What is the point of honking at cyclists when they climb up a hill and there is no way you can pass them on a narrow road? Obviously, a cyclist cannot go faster than a car. A bit of patience will not hurt in such a situation. Many of my friends who bike in Germany say it can be quite dangerous.
In Japan, one can still leave a wallet on a table in a restaurant when going to a bathroom. In Germany these good times seems to be in the past. Seien Sie vorsichtig!