Nothing is for free in Europe… except maybe the ambiance!

Americans are often shocked when they come to Germany or other European countries and discover that if you want to park your car, you have to pay.  If you want to pee, you have to pay.  If you want to have water with your dinner, you have to pay… and you don’t get free refills, either.

I pretty much got used to all these things last time we lived here.  I mean, before we came here last time, we lived in northern Virginia, where there are lots of parking garages and pay parking lots.  I was used to paying to park most places.  Every once in awhile, you’ll find a place where parking is free– say the mall or at a restaurant.  But if you want to park and tend to business or walk around, you’re gonna pay.  Sometimes you won’t pay much at all, though.  And it’s likely your car will be in a secure garage, rather than an open lot.

And given that a restaurant owner is in the business of selling food and drinks, why should they give out free water so people can be cheap?  They have to pay for the water, after all.  Granted, I can see why some people are shocked because it can be cheaper to buy beer here than water, but hell, you’re in Germany!  Enjoy!  You can make up for paying for water by realizing that you aren’t expected to tip as much or at all here.  I like fizzy water over tap, so I don’t care that tap water isn’t free.  I’d be paying for it anyway if I were in the States.

Paying to use the bathroom can sometimes be a pain in the butt if you have to go and don’t have any change.  But it’s easy to get change and as long as the toilets are clean and have plenty of toilet paper, I don’t mind paying.  In fact, I’d rather do that than slink into McDonald’s or a gas station just to use the bathroom.  Sometimes I do wonder, though, how one gets into the Klofrau profession and if it pays well.  It must get tiresome listening to people go to the bathroom all day and the hours really stink, too.

It just makes sense to realize that when you come to Europe, you’re not going to get freebies.  You don’t have to like it, but you probably won’t change it.  So get with the program and save up for that big water splurge when you go out to dinner.

I will admit this post was inspired by complaints from a new arrival… I’m sure that by the time she and her family leave, she’ll be used to paying for all the things Americans take for granted.  A lot of people seem to think that’s a good reason to praise America.  Not me.  I’d rather have cool old buildings, excellent food, four seasons, and different cultures any day over Wal-Mart, the Tea Party, free parking, free peeing in public restrooms, and free tap water.

Yeah… not missing this so much right now…


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