1. A total stranger will kindly, yet very insistently point out your shoe laces are untied. Refusing to suppress this risk to your and other people’s safety may result in swift deportation to a KZ. I can’t say for sure though, but it’s what I got from the look on the attentive woman’s face. There was a hint of black leather in the air and even though she was wearing comfortable shoes I could hear the callous thuds of marching boots.
  2. The women look like they have been genetically remastered to be extremely well-kempt, serious, stern even, yet somehow cheerful and all this without any possibility of arousing sexual desire in their male counterparts, as this could be detrimental to the work ethic.
  3. Everybody looks like they have got more money than you’ve got. Even the waiter. Especially the waiter.
  4. Everyone naturally assumes you speak German and talks to you like you have a PHD. The person talking to you probably has two.
  5. They really do eat sausages, whenever possible.
  6. There is no real, visible agression in the air (something that’s much more abundantly available in Slavic countries). Ja, die Besten sind gefallen. All the male genes that had this agressive courage were wiped out somewhere in the East. What’s left is the offspring of the cunning shirkers, the ones who were in the rear with the gear. If there is agression left in this country is, it’s been sublimated to the sneaky, stealth kind.
  7. You can use the toilet on trains without a revisit from your breakfast the moment you stare down into the John, with instant constipation as a result.
  8. It’s possbile to locate bookshops bigger than clothes. With customers in them. Not in the dvd department. In the book department. Not in the cook book department (if they even have one, I mean, how many cook books can you write about Sauerkraut and sausages?). No, they’re in the fiction department. They buy it. They take it home. They read it. It doesn’t kill them. Latest reports say it may even culture them. It may even explain why everyone is so nice. We have the stomach food, they have the brain food. Let’s go and open some Belgian restaurants next to some of their book shops.