express gratitude in Germany

Expressing Gratitude in Germany: Navigating Cultural Norms and Etiquette

When you’re in a new country, understanding the local customs and etiquette can be both exciting and challenging. One such custom that often varies from country to country is the gesture of expressing gratitude. In Germany, there are various ways to say “thank you,” especially when someone has gone out of their way to help. Let’s dive into the nuances of showing appreciation in Germany.

The Art of Saying Thank You

While a simple “Danke” (Thank you) is universally understood in Germany, there are times when you might want to go the extra mile to show your appreciation. This is especially true when someone has offered you a significant favor or assistance.

The Scenario: A Helping Neighbor

Imagine a situation where your car breaks down, and you’re in need of a jumpstart. Your German neighbor comes to your rescue. How do you express your gratitude in a way that aligns with local customs?

Gift Options and Considerations

Based on shared experiences and insights, here are some thoughtful ways to say “thank you” in Germany:

  1. Baked Goods:
    • Homemade Touch: A homemade pie or cake is often a well-received gesture in Germany. It’s personal, shows effort, and is reminiscent of the country’s rich baking tradition.
    • Dietary Considerations: If you’re unsure about dietary restrictions, it’s best to avoid certain ingredients. For instance, gelatin, commonly found in some desserts, might not be suitable for vegetarians or those with specific dietary restrictions.
  2. Invitation for Coffee:
    • Building Bonds: Inviting your neighbor over for coffee and cake can be a wonderful way to express gratitude. It’s an opportunity to build a friendship and get to know each other better.
    • The German “Kaffee und Kuchen” Tradition: The afternoon coffee and cake tradition is deeply rooted in German culture, making it a fitting gesture of thanks.
  3. Chocolates or Sweets:
    • Universal Gesture: A box of chocolates or a pack of sweets is a delightful gift that transcends cultural boundaries.
    • Popular Choices: Brands like Merci are popular in Germany and can be a suitable choice for a thank you gift.
  4. Alcoholic Beverages:
    • A Nod to Tradition: Germany has a rich tradition of beer and wine. Gifting a bottle of local wine or beer can be a suitable way to say thank you.
    • Know Your Neighbor: Ensure your neighbor consumes alcohol before gifting it. It’s always a good idea to be considerate of individual preferences.
  5. Consider the Relationship:
    • Level of Interaction: The appropriateness of the gift often depends on how well you know your neighbor. For regular interactions, a personal gesture might be apt. For acquaintances, a small token like chocolates might be more suitable.


Expressing gratitude is a universal sentiment, but the manner in which it’s conveyed can vary based on cultural norms, personal preferences, and the nature of the relationship. In Germany, while there’s no strict formula for saying thank you, the gestures mentioned above are commonly accepted and appreciated. The key is to be genuine, considerate, and mindful of the recipient’s preferences.

So, the next time you find yourself wanting to express gratitude in Germany, remember that a thoughtful gesture, be it a homemade cake or a simple box of chocolates, can go a long way in making someone feel appreciated.

Further Reading

For those interested in diving deeper into German customs, traditions, and etiquette, consider exploring more articles on German culture, festivals, and social norms. Understanding these nuances can enrich your experience and interactions in this beautiful country.

tap water Germany

Is it Acceptable to Ask for Tap Water in German Restaurants?

When you visit a restaurant in Germany and ask for a glass of tap water, you might encounter some curious looks or even be told that it’s not available. It’s a situation that has left many newcomers scratching their heads, especially if they come from countries where requesting tap water is entirely normal. In this article, we’ll delve into the intricacies of asking for tap water in German restaurants and explore the cultural norms that surround this practice.

The German Dining Experience: What You Need to Know

Before you embark on your culinary journey in Germany, it’s essential to understand some key aspects of dining out in this country:

  • Table Reservations: It’s a common practice to make reservations at restaurants, especially in popular establishments. Walk-ins are accepted, but reservations are often preferred.
  • Service Charges: In many restaurants, the service charge is included in the bill. However, it’s customary to leave a small additional tip for good service.
  • Drinking Culture: Germany is known for its beer and wine culture. It’s typical for people to enjoy a variety of beverages with their meals.

The Tap Water Dilemma

The topic of asking for tap water in German restaurants is where things get interesting. Let’s break it down:

The Experience of Some Diners

Many newcomers to Germany have reported their experiences with asking for tap water in local restaurants. These experiences can be quite diverse:

  • Unusual Reactions: Some diners have noted that when they request tap water, they receive unusual or questioning looks from waitstaff. This can be puzzling, especially for those accustomed to freely available tap water in other countries.
  • Negative Responses: In some instances, diners have been told that tap water is not available. This response can be disconcerting, especially if you’re trying to quench your thirst without purchasing a bottled beverage.

The Cultural Perspective

To understand this phenomenon better, it’s crucial to consider the cultural perspective:

  • Economic Factors: Many restaurants in Germany rely on the sale of beverages as a significant part of their revenue. Offering free tap water can impact their profits, and this might be a reason why it’s not commonly provided.
  • Cultural Norms: In some cultures, asking for tap water is perfectly acceptable and considered a basic courtesy. However, in Germany, cultural norms might discourage such requests, viewing them as being frugal or “cheap.”
  • Regional Variations: It’s important to note that while asking for tap water may not be common in many German restaurants, there can be regional variations. Some areas might be more accommodating, especially in tourist-heavy locations.

Navigating the Tap Water Quandary

If you’re in Germany and find yourself in a situation where you’d like a glass of tap water, here are some tips to navigate this:

  • Be Polite: When making your request, be polite and considerate. A courteous approach can make a significant difference.
  • Regional Awareness: As mentioned earlier, regional differences can play a role. In some areas, you might find that asking for tap water is more accepted.
  • Understand the Culture: While it might not be common, it’s essential to respect the local culture and norms. Being adaptable is key to having a positive dining experience.
  • Consider Alternatives: If you’re concerned about the availability of tap water, consider ordering a small, inexpensive beverage, such as a soft drink or a small mineral water. This can help you stay hydrated without causing any discomfort.


Asking for tap water in German restaurants might not be the most common practice, but it’s essential to understand the cultural norms and economic factors that contribute to this. While some may find it puzzling, respecting the local customs and being polite in your requests can go a long way in ensuring a pleasant dining experience in Germany.

So, the next time you dine out in Germany, remember that while tap water might not always be freely available, you can still enjoy the rich culinary traditions and diverse beverages this country has to offer.


Challenges and Solutions in Finding a Hausarzt

Germany is renowned for its robust healthcare system, offering high-quality medical services to its residents. However, as with any system, there are challenges. One such challenge, especially for newcomers, is finding a Hausarzt (general practitioner) willing to accept them as a patient. This article delves into the intricacies of this issue, drawing insights from real-life experiences shared on a Reddit post.

Understanding the Importance of a Hausarzt

A Hausarzt, or general practitioner, is often the first point of contact for patients seeking medical care in Germany. They play a pivotal role in:

  • Diagnosing illnesses
  • Referring patients to specialists
  • Issuing Krankmeldung (sick notes)

Without a designated Hausarzt, patients might find themselves in a medical limbo, especially when they need routine care or sick notes for their employers.

The Challenge: Finding a Hausarzt in Small Towns

Based on the shared experiences, several factors contribute to the difficulty in securing a Hausarzt:

  • High Demand in University Towns: Small university towns, like Thuringia, often see a surge in population due to students, leading to an increased demand for medical services.
  • Limited Number of Practitioners: There might be fewer doctors available, and those available might already have a full roster of patients.
  • Language Barriers: While many doctors speak English, some might prefer patients who can communicate only in German, especially in smaller towns.

Practical Solutions from Real-life Experiences

Despite the challenges, many have navigated this system successfully. Here are some tried-and-tested solutions:

  1. Akutsprechstunde (Emergency Consultation Hours):
    • Many doctors offer specific hours for emergency consultations.
    • Arriving early during these hours increases the chances of being seen.
  2. Politeness and Persistence:
    • Always be polite when approaching medical staff.
    • If turned away, insist on waiting or ask when it would be best to return.
  3. Expressing the Severity of Symptoms:
    • Mentioning pain or severe discomfort might expedite the process.
    • However, always be truthful about your symptoms.
  4. Telemedicine Services:
    • With the rise of digital health platforms, consider using telemedicine services.
    • These platforms connect patients with doctors online, offering consultations without the need for physical visits.
  5. Visiting Hospital Emergency Departments:
    • If all else fails, consider visiting the emergency department of a hospital.
    • While they might not offer routine care, they can address immediate medical concerns.

Introducing Booka Local: Your Bridge to Effective Communication

For expats in Germany who find themselves struggling with language barriers when visiting a doctor in a small town, there’s a solution: Booka Local. Our platform is designed to provide you with the linguistic support you need to navigate the German healthcare system seamlessly. Here’s how we can help:

  • In-Person Appointments: Booka Local offers in-person interpreter services. When you need to visit a doctor, simply book an appointment with one of our bilingual German-speaking translators. They’ll accompany you to your medical appointment, ensuring effective communication with your doctor.
  • Remote Support: Language barriers don’t have to be an obstacle. Booka Local provides remote support, including phone calls and assistance with paperwork. If you encounter difficulties during your doctor’s visit, you can call our local helpers. Put the call on loudspeaker, and let our experts provide real-time translation between you and your doctor.
  • Trial Phase Guarantee: We understand that some doctors may have reservations about third-party translations. As part of our trial phase, if a doctor refuses our translation service on the spot, we’ll refund your fees. Our commitment is to ensure that you receive the medical care you need, no matter the language barriers.

The Broader Perspective: Healthcare in Germany

While the challenge of finding a Hausarzt can be daunting, it’s essential to view it in the broader context of the German healthcare system:

  • Quality of Care: Germany offers one of the best healthcare services globally, with state-of-the-art facilities and well-trained medical professionals.
  • Insurance Coverage: The majority of the population is covered by public health insurance, ensuring affordable medical care.
  • Cost of Healthcare: Discussions around the cost of healthcare in Germany are ongoing. While some express concerns about high taxes, others emphasize the comprehensive medical coverage these taxes provide.


Navigating the German healthcare system, especially when seeking a Hausarzt, can be challenging. However, with persistence, adaptability, and the right strategies, it’s possible to find the medical care you need. Remember, while there might be hurdles along the way, the quality of care and comprehensive coverage make the journey worthwhile.

If you’re an expat facing language barriers in Germany, Booka Local is your solution. Our bilingual German-speaking translators are here to ensure you receive the medical care you deserve, no matter the language. Don’t let communication hurdles stand in your way – Booka Local is here to bridge the gap.

Further Reading: For those interested in diving deeper into the intricacies of the German healthcare system and how Booka Local can assist, visit our website for more information and to book your interpreter services today.

bird watching berlin

Bird Watching Locations in and Near Berlin: A Feathered Paradise

Berlin, the vibrant and culturally rich German capital, is not just a haven for art and history enthusiasts but also a paradise for bird watchers. With its diverse landscapes and ecosystems, the city and its surroundings offer numerous bird-watching opportunities. If you’re a birding enthusiast, pack your binoculars, and get ready to explore these avian hotspots.

1. Tempelhofer Feld: Urban Birding at Its Best

Tempelhofer Feld, a former airport turned public park, is an urban oasis for bird watchers. The vast open space attracts various bird species, from sparrows and finches to kestrels and falcons. Keep an eye out for migratory birds, which often use this open area as a stopover on their journeys.

2. Müggelsee: A Waterfowl Extravaganza

Müggelsee, Berlin’s largest lake, is a prime location for spotting waterfowl. Take a leisurely stroll along its shores or go boating to catch sight of swans, grebes, and perhaps even a majestic osprey hunting for fish.

3. Moorlinse Buch: Year-Round Birding Delight

The Moorlinse – Lietzengraben – Karower Teiche loop is a treat for bird watchers throughout the year. Whether you visit in spring to witness songbird migrations or in winter to spot waterfowl, this area offers a wealth of avian diversity.

4. Landschaftspark Rudow-Altglienicke: Untamed Beauty

This expansive park, located in the southeastern part of Berlin, offers untamed natural beauty and diverse birdlife. Be sure to explore its meadows, wetlands, and forests to encounter a range of bird species.

5. Great Bustards in Western Berlin

If you’re looking for something truly special, head west of Berlin, where you can find the only populations of Great Bustards in Germany. These remarkable birds are an exciting find for bird enthusiasts.

6. Gülper See: A Day Trip Adventure

Venture outside the city to Gülper See, a serene lake that attracts thousands of geese during migration. Accessible by public transport, it’s an excellent day trip option.

7. Nationalpark Unteres Odertal: A Nature Lover’s Dream

This national park offers a direct train connection to Schwedt, where you can explore the vast wetlands and their diverse avian inhabitants. Walk or use the local bus to delve deeper into this natural wonder.

8. Rietzer See/Streng: Worth the Journey

While transportation to Rietzer See/Streng can be a bit tricky, the rich birdlife makes it worth the effort. Keep an eye out for geese and other migrating birds.

9. Linum: A Must-Visit for Bird Enthusiasts

Linum is famous for its annual crane migration spectacle, where thousands of cranes gather in the surrounding fields. Witness this breathtaking phenomenon up close.

10. Victoria Park: A Hidden Gem in Kreuzberg

Victoria Park in Kreuzberg is a small yet diverse area, perfect for a quick bird-watching session. Despite its size, it boasts a wide variety of bird species.

Remember to check the local bird-watching groups and events, as well as guided walks offered by Volkshochschule, to make the most of your bird-watching experience in Berlin. Whether you’re a seasoned birder or just beginning to explore the avian world, Berlin and its surroundings have something remarkable to offer.

Happy bird watching!

Exploring Berlin's Diverse Neighborhoods

Exploring Berlin’s Diverse Neighborhoods

Berlin, the vibrant and ever-evolving German capital, is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own distinct personality and charm. From the trendy streets of Friedrichshain to the quieter corners of Wedding, Berlin’s diversity is what makes it an exciting place to live. Let’s take a closer look at various neighborhoods and the pros and cons of calling them home, according to the online community.

Friedrichshain: Where the Party Never Ends


  • Central to Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte: Located right in the heart of the city, Friedrichshain offers easy access to the rest of Berlin.
  • Plenty of Bars and Nightlife: You’ll never run out of options for a night out.
  • Cool Alternative Vibe: Friedrichshain’s artistic and alternative atmosphere is perfect for free spirits.


  • Very Loud at Times: The party scene can be a bit much for those seeking peace and quiet.
  • Persistent Fundraising: You might find yourself frequently asked to donate to various causes.
  • Culinary Scene Still Developing: While improving, the food scene is not yet on par with other neighborhoods.

Tegel: A Tranquil Oasis in Berlin


  • Multiple Lakes and Beaches: Enjoy natural beauty in Tegel with its nearby lakes and beaches.
  • Safety: Tegel is known for its safety, making it an ideal place for families.
  • Mix of Village and City: Experience the best of both worlds with a village-like atmosphere near Tegeler See.


  • Connectivity Challenges: The U-Bahn construction until 2025 has affected transit.
  • Fewer Youngsters: Tegel tends to attract an older demographic.

Mariendorf: Quiet Green Spaces in the Heart of the City


  • Quiet and Green: A peaceful neighborhood surrounded by nature.
  • On a First-Name Basis with Local Shopkeepers: Enjoy a sense of community.
  • Safe: Mariendorf is considered a safe place to live.


  • Conservative Vibes: A more conservative atmosphere might not suit everyone.
  • Few Cafés and Bars: Limited options for those who enjoy a thriving nightlife.
  • Limited Public Transportation: Dependency on buses can be inconvenient.

Schöneweide: A Hidden Gem with Great Connectivity


  • Excellent Connectivity: Numerous public transportation options make traveling around the city easy.
  • Green Areas: Enjoy the lush surroundings, including Wuhlheide Park.
  • More International Than It Appears: Schöneweide has a diverse population.


  • Limited Variety in Restaurants: While there are many restaurants, the variety is lacking.
  • Far from the Center: A 40-minute journey to central Berlin may deter some.

Karlshorst: The Quiet Retreat


  • Great Transportation: Enjoy easy access via the S3 line.
  • Wulheide Park: A green oasis offering a forest-like atmosphere.
  • Quiet and Safe: A peaceful neighborhood that’s safe for families.
  • Great for Kids and Pets: The neighborhood is excellent for families and pet owners.


  • Lack of Nightlife: If you’re looking for vibrant nightlife, Karlshorst may not be the place.
  • Limited Services: The neighborhood lacks some amenities you’d find in more central areas.

Wilmersdorf: A Slice of Elegance Amid Berlin


  • Beautiful and Quiet: Wilmersdorf offers a calm and elegant atmosphere.
  • Good Dining Options: Enjoy fine dining and great cafes in the area.
  • Well Connected: Quick connections to Mitte and Charlottenburg.
  • Altbauten: Stunning old buildings add character to the neighborhood.


  • High Rents: Expect to pay a premium for the upscale surroundings.
  • Limited Street Food: The neighborhood lacks a vibrant street food scene.
  • Predominantly Older Population: Fewer young people in the area.

Schöneberg: A Relaxing Corner of Berlin


  • Quiet and Peaceful: Schöneberg offers a serene living environment.
  • Old and Hip Shops: Explore vintage and artist shops.
  • Good Public Transportation: Well-connected via U-Bahn and S-Bahn lines.


  • Late-Opening Cafés: Some places open late, affecting breakfast choices.
  • Limited Nightlife: Schöneberg’s nightlife scene is more subdued compared to other districts.

Marienfelde: Tranquility and Nature in Berlin


  • Green and Quiet: A peaceful neighborhood with abundant green spaces.
  • Good for Biking, Jogging, and Tennis: Ideal for outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Access to Lakes and Forests: Close to beautiful lakes and Grunewald.


  • Far From the Center: Marienfelde is quite a distance from Berlin’s central areas.
  • Few Bars and Restaurants: Limited options for dining out.
  • Relatively Isolated: Some may find it too remote.

Lichtenberg: A Hidden Jewel in the East


  • Affordable Housing: Lichtenberg is more budget-friendly than many other neighborhoods.
  • Cultural Diversity: A melting pot of different cultures.
  • Beautiful Parks: Enjoy pleasant walks in the local parks.


  • Limited Nightlife: Night owls may find options limited.
  • Less Central: Lichtenberg is somewhat distant from the city’s center.

Charlottenburg: Where Elegance Meets Convenience


  • Beautiful Architecture: Marvel at the stunning buildings and historic charm.
  • Cultural Attractions: Home to theaters, museums, and Charlottenburg Palace.
  • Great Dining Scene: Discover a diverse culinary landscape.


  • Zoo Station Challenge: Some may find the area around Zoo Station less appealing.
  • Distant Nightlife: The heart of nightlife is on the other side of the city.

Potsdam: A Quick Jaunt to Berlin’s Countryside


  • Scenic Beauty: Potsdam’s beauty is captivating, with UNESCO world heritage parks.
  • Nature and Lakes: Enjoy serene lakes and picturesque countryside.
  • Fast Connection to Berlin: A 25-minute train ride to Berlin Hauptbahnhof.


  • Limited Activities: Fewer options for entertainment compared to Berlin.
  • Weekend Tourism: Weekends in Potsdam can feel deserted, with many residents heading to Berlin.

Neukölln: Where Diversity Thrives


  • Cultural Diversity: A variety of restaurants and grocery stores.
  • Great Public Transportation: Excellent access to the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, and Ringbahn.
  • Parks and Open Spaces: Enjoy Tempelhofer Feld, Hasenheide, and Körnerpark.
  • Historical Gems: Explore the unique Rixdorf area.


  • Traffic and Noise: Traffic and emergency vehicle noise can be frustrating.
  • Overflowing Trash Bins: A common issue that could use more frequent collection.
  • Safety Concerns: Though not universally unsafe, some areas may raise safety concerns.

Gesundbrunnen: A Vibrant Corner of Berlin


  • Lively Atmosphere: Enjoy the bustling streets and vibrant community.
  • Diversity: A diverse demographic with an international flair.
  • Transport Hub: Convenient connections through S-Bahn, U-Bahn, and regional trains.
  • Local Amenities: Lots of grocery stores, shops, and options for food and drinks.


  • Occasional Safety Concerns: While some may feel uneasy at times, it’s not universally unsafe.
  • Nighttime Noise: Keeping windows open can lead to a constant hum of noise, but it’s part of the neighborhood’s charm.

Friedrichshain, Wedding: A Triumvirate of Experiences


  • Excellent Transportation: Easy access to multiple parts of the city.
  • Diverse Neighborhoods: Each with its own character and attractions.
  • Lively Nightlife: Abundant bars, restaurants, and entertainment options.
  • Safety: While some areas may have occasional safety concerns, overall, it’s a safe region.


  • Higher Rents: The appeal of these neighborhoods has led to rising rental prices.
  • Traffic and Noise: Busier stations may experience some noise and crowded streets.

Pankow, Weißensee, Prenzlauer Berg: A Blend of Charm


  • Beautiful and Historical: These areas feature stunning architecture and historic appeal.
  • Excellent Transport Links: Proximity to various public transportation options.
  • Diverse Dining Options: Numerous restaurants and bars to explore.
  • Cultural Offerings: Access to theaters, museums, and arts venues.


  • Gentrification: Some find the neighborhoods becoming less affordable and more exclusive.
  • Variability in Prices: While some residents have locked in good rental deals, prices can fluctuate.
  • Mixed Neighborhood Vibes: Different sections offer varying degrees of urban excitement and diversity.

As we’ve seen, Berlin’s neighborhoods offer a wealth of diverse experiences, from the hustle and bustle of Friedrichshain to the tranquility of Potsdam. The key to a happy life in Berlin is understanding what you value most and choosing a neighborhood that aligns with your priorities. With its multifaceted neighborhoods, Berlin ensures there’s something for everyone. No matter where you decide to live in this remarkable city, the adventure and discovery never cease.

Cheapest Stores to Buy Winter Clothing in Berlin

The Cheapest Stores to Buy Winter Clothing in Berlin

When winter descends upon Berlin, the city transforms into a snowy wonderland. But as the temperature drops, it’s essential to stay warm and cozy without emptying your wallet. Fortunately, Berlin offers a multitude of options for budget-conscious shoppers to find affordable winter clothing. We’ve gathered valuable insights from Reddit users to guide you through the best places to snag a winter bargain.

Decathlon: Affordable Functional Clothing

Decathlon emerges as a top choice for those who don’t mind functional, budget-friendly clothing. The store’s reputation for quality and affordability makes it a go-to option for many Berliners. Here, you’ll discover everything you need to gear up for the chilly Berlin winters – from layering options to windbreakers, all at prices that won’t freeze your bank account.

Second-Hand Stores and Flea Markets

If you have a penchant for sustainable and budget-conscious shopping, Berlin won’t disappoint. Vinted, Humana, and the countless Sunday Flohmarktes (flea markets) are treasure troves of pre-loved winter clothing. When you buy second-hand, not only do you save money, but you also reduce your carbon footprint. It’s a win-win situation.

Recommended Flea Markets: While some flea markets may leave you empty-handed, there are specific ones to watch out for. Nowkoelln Flowmarkt, NK Kranoldplatz Flohmarkt, and Flohmarkt am Boxhagener Platz consistently attract young sellers with a wide selection of stylish second-hand items.

Charitable Organizations and Second-Hand Stores

For hidden gems and incredible bargains, explore second-hand stores run by charitable organizations such as DRK (Deutsches Rotes Kreuz). These stores, found in various parts of Berlin, offer high-quality clothing at remarkably affordable prices. Dive into the less hip and more normal to upper-middle-class areas like Charlottenburg, Wilmersdorf, and Schöneberg to uncover hidden fashion treasures.

Online Shopping for Bargains

Online platforms have revolutionized the way we shop, and Berlin is no exception. Websites like eBay, Vinted, momox, and sellpy are actively used in Germany. They provide an array of options for buying winter clothing at competitive prices. The convenience of shopping from your own home is a bonus.

Off-Season Sales and Promotions

The savvy shopper’s secret? Timing is everything. Plan your winter wardrobe purchases during the spring when stores are eager to clear out their previous winter stock. You’ll find heavily discounted items that will keep you warm next winter.

Additionally, keep an eye out for store-wide promotions, especially during events like 10% off for students, Halloween, or other seasonal holidays. These special offers can significantly reduce the cost of your winter wardrobe.

Uniqlo and Other Retailers

Uniqlo, a well-known brand for basics, has gained a reputation for its Heattech clothing line, designed to keep you warm during the coldest of winters. Whether you opt for Heattech Extra or Heattech Ultra, Uniqlo provides exceptional options for staying cozy without wearing bulky layers.

Furthermore, for those who prefer to purchase new clothing, visit C&A or other major retailers to find your perfect coat size. Once you’ve identified your ideal fit, search for discounted winter coats on platforms like eBay, Vinted, momox, or sellpy. You can discover hardly-worn €200 wool coats for as little as €40-€80.

Additional Affordable Options

Beyond the well-known options, there are other gems to explore in Berlin:

  • Army Surplus Stores: Trendy Army Store on Skalitzerstr offers a diverse range of budget-friendly winter clothing.
  • Facebook Marketplace: Check out the Facebook Marketplace for local deals on gently used winter clothing.
  • Discount Retailers: Kik is a budget-friendly option that offers a variety of winter wear.


As winter approaches in Berlin, you now have a multitude of budget-friendly options for keeping warm without draining your wallet. Whether you prefer the charm of second-hand shopping, the thrill of off-season deals, or the convenience of online platforms, Berlin has something for every budget-savvy shopper. So, gear up and stay cozy without the hefty price tag.


Long-term Ausländer in Germany: Navigating Life Beyond Being a Guest

Living as an Ausländer (foreigner) in Germany offers a unique perspective on culture, society, and daily life. For many, the journey begins with excitement and curiosity, but as time passes, it’s common to encounter challenges that make you feel like an outsider. In this article, we’ll explore the emotions, questions, and strategies associated with becoming more than just a guest in Germany. And remember, if you ever need assistance in navigating the intricacies of German culture, Booka Local is here to help.

Feeling Like an Outsider

The experience of feeling like an outsider in a foreign land is an emotional rollercoaster. You arrive with dreams, but reality often presents hurdles. Cultural dissonance can create moments of frustration or confusion, leaving you questioning your place in this new world. The language barrier compounds this, as effective communication becomes a challenge. Moreover, navigating bureaucratic processes and paperwork can be daunting, making you feel like you’re on the outskirts of a system that isn’t built for you.

The Normalcy of Feeling Like an Outsider

Is it normal to feel like an outsider in a foreign country? Absolutely. This sentiment is part and parcel of the expat experience. Regardless of your destination, expats worldwide often share this feeling. The adjustment period is a natural part of the journey, and it’s normal to go through it as you acclimate to the new environment. While it can be challenging, it’s essential to remember that it signifies growth and adaptation.

Becoming an Insider: Is It Possible?

The dream for many Ausländer is to transition from feeling like an outsider to becoming an “insider” within the German community. Building relationships with locals and fellow expats is crucial. Genuine connections are key to feeling like part of the community. Engaging in local activities, participating in events, and contributing positively to your community can help accelerate your journey to insider status. However, it’s essential to remember that it’s not about erasing your unique identity but enriching it with the culture of your new home.

Navigating Friendships in Germany

One of the most rewarding aspects of long-term expat life is building friendships. However, it can be challenging. Seek out groups or clubs related to your interests; these often provide excellent opportunities to meet like-minded individuals. Language exchange partners are another fantastic way to make friends while improving your language skills. Also, consider attending local events and networking opportunities to expand your social circle. Friendships often form naturally when you actively engage with the community.

Things you can do to make friends in Germany:

  1. Join Local Clubs and Groups: Germany offers a wide range of clubs and interest groups, from sports and hobbies to cultural and community organizations. Joining one that aligns with your interests is an excellent way to meet like-minded individuals.
  2. Language Exchange Partners: Language exchange is a fantastic way to make friends while improving your language skills. Many Germans are open to language exchange partnerships, where you can practice German while helping them with your native language.
  3. Attend Local Events: Keep an eye out for local events, festivals, and gatherings happening in your city or neighborhood. These events provide opportunities to meet both locals and fellow expats.
  4. Participate in Sports and Fitness Activities: Enroll in sports or fitness classes, or join a local sports team. This not only helps you stay active but also introduces you to potential friends who share your interest in physical activities.
  5. Volunteer: Volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about is a great way to meet people who share your values. Germany has a strong tradition of volunteer work, so there are plenty of opportunities.
  6. Attend Cultural Workshops and Classes: Explore local culture by taking part in cooking classes, art workshops, or dance classes. These activities allow you to connect with people who appreciate arts and culture.
  7. Use Social Media and Apps: There are various social media groups and apps specifically designed for expats and newcomers in Germany. These platforms can help you connect with others in a similar situation.
  8. Cafes and Restaurants: Frequent your local cafes and restaurants, especially those with communal seating or cozy atmospheres. You might strike up conversations with regulars or staff. In some “young” and “hip” cafes, it’s not uncommon to meet some staff who speak fluent English.
  9. Networking Events: Attend professional or industry-specific networking events. Besides potential career opportunities, you can meet individuals who share your career interests.
  10. Visit Local Markets and Shops: Explore your neighborhood’s markets and shops regularly. Shop owners and vendors often become familiar faces and potential friends.
  11. Host or Attend Dinner Parties: Hosting or attending dinner parties or potluck gatherings is a great way to bond over food and conversation. Who doesn’t love a nice home-cooked meal?
  12. Use Language Learning Apps: Platforms like Meetup or Tandem are excellent for finding language exchange partners and social events tailored to language learners.
  13. Participate in Outdoor Activities: Germany offers beautiful outdoor landscapes. Join hiking, cycling, or nature enthusiasts’ groups to explore the outdoors with potential friends.
  14. Online Expat Communities: Join online forums, social media groups, or expat forums where you can connect with fellow expats and ask for advice or meetup suggestions.
  15. Attend University or Language School Events: If you’re a student or attending language courses, universities and language schools often organize social events to help students connect.
  16. Host Game Nights: Invite friends, acquaintances, and coworkers for a game night. Games can be a great icebreaker and lead to fun and laughter.

Adapting to Life in Germany

The journey to becoming more than a guest involves embracing both the positives and challenges. Focus on the aspects of German culture and life that you appreciate and enjoy. Embrace the opportunity to grow through overcoming challenges. While there will be moments of uncertainty, facing challenges with a problem-solving mindset can help you adapt to life in Germany. Each day brings opportunities for growth, and long-term life in Germany is a continuous learning process.

Embracing the Culture

To feel less like an outsider, consider adopting certain cultural practices and behaviors. Learn about German customs, traditions, and etiquette, and make an effort to incorporate them into your daily life. Language is a significant aspect of culture, so invest time in improving your language skills to connect with locals. Embracing the culture enriches your experience and enhances your sense of belonging.

The Language Barrier

One of the most significant challenges for Ausländer is the German language. Learning a new language takes time and patience, so be gentle with yourself. Enroll in language courses or hire a tutor if needed. Incorporate German into your daily life by reading, watching TV, or conversing with locals. Language is the key to understanding and engaging with the culture on a deeper level.

Mutual Respect and Understanding

Building positive relationships in Germany hinges on mutual respect. Observe how Germans show respect in their interactions, and practice polite behavior and consideration in your daily interactions. Developing an understanding of cultural norms and practices is vital. Respect is a cornerstone of building meaningful connections and feeling like a valued member of the community.

Overcoming Challenges

Challenges are inevitable, but they’re also opportunities for growth. Approach challenges as puzzles to solve, not roadblocks. Seek support from expat communities, local friends, or professionals when needed. Recognize your resilience and adaptability in navigating challenges. Overcoming difficulties strengthens your sense of belonging and accomplishment.

How Friendly Are Germans to Foreigners?

One common concern is how welcoming and friendly Germans are to foreigners. Germany has a generally welcoming atmosphere for expats and tourists, with many Germans appreciating cultural diversity and often extending their hospitality. While attitudes may vary, your openness and willingness to engage can make a significant difference in your interactions.


Being a long-term Ausländer in Germany is a transformative journey. While the feeling of being an outsider may persist, it’s not a barrier to forming meaningful connections and embracing the culture. Your unique perspective as an expat enriches both your life and the community around you. And if you ever need assistance or guidance, Booka Local is here to support your cultural journey. Embrace your role as an Ausländer, for it is a valuable and enriching chapter in your life story.


Unwritten Rules in Germany: Navigating Cultural Norms

As we venture into a new culture, the official rules and regulations are just part of the puzzle. The unwritten rules—the subtle norms that guide daily life—are equally important for understanding and integrating into a society. Germany, a land of rich history, diverse communities, and unique customs, has a wealth of these unwritten rules waiting to be discovered. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most intriguing and valuable insights into German culture.

Before we dive in, allow me to introduce you to a valuable resource for expats in Germany: Booka Local. Our startup connects expats with bilingual German-speaking translators, making the process of adapting to life in Germany more seamless and enjoyable.

Rule #1. Mind Your Own Business in Germany

In Germany, the principle of “mind your own business” is paramount. It’s a reminder that appearances can be deceiving, and people in Germany tend to respect each other’s privacy. This philosophy applies to a wide range of scenarios:

– Individual Expression: You might encounter a 1.90-meter-tall bearded individual confidently striding the streets in a mini skirt and heels. The unwritten rule? Mind your own business. Personal choices are just that—personal. You also enjoy the freedom to express yourself without being judged.

– Unique Moves: Someone transporting a sofa, kitchen table, and six wood-carved chairs inherited from great-grandma on the U-Bahn? Mind your own business. It’s not uncommon to see Berliners utilizing public transportation for unconventional purposes.

– Spontaneity: A daring individual changing into a swimsuit in Tiergarten and taking a plunge into a shallow, muddy pond at Luiseninsel? Mind your own business. It’s a moment of spontaneity in a city that embraces individuality.

– Symbolic Gestures: An intriguing sight of a (hopefully toy) gun placed on a velvet cushion, accompanied by a teddy bear and a rose in front of the Landesvertretung of Baden-Württemberg? The unwritten rule here is clear: mind your own business (and perhaps walk a little faster this time).

The overarching message is not to pass judgment on any of these scenarios but to respect the individual choices and expressions that make Germany a diverse and accepting society.

Rule #2: Respectful Silence and Quiet Hours in Germany

Germans take their “Ruhezeiten” (quiet hours) seriously. These designated times for tranquility are woven into the fabric of daily life, and adhering to them is a cultural norm that fosters harmony:

– Peaceful Neighborhoods: Residential areas adhere to quiet hours. During the week and on Saturdays, the quiet hours in Germany are usually between 10 pm and 6 am. During these times, noise should be minimized to ensure neighbors can enjoy their peace.

– Public Spaces: Public transportation, including trams, buses, and subways, also observes the principle of quietness. Passengers maintain a respectful silence during these periods to allow everyone to travel in peace.

– Workplace Culture: The concept of “Silent Work Zones” in offices is another testament to the importance of tranquility. Employees respect these zones, which are designated for focused, noise-free work.

The unwritten rule here is clear: respecting quiet hours is a fundamental part of German culture, emphasizing the importance of peaceful coexistence.

Rule #3: Acceptance of Individuality and Diversity

Germany’s welcoming attitude toward diversity and individuality is one of its most defining features. Whether you’re a high-powered attorney, an avant-garde artist, or something entirely different, you’ll find acceptance here:

– Embracing Differences: Germans celebrate individuality and are known for their openness to different lifestyles and choices. Whether it’s unconventional attire, unconventional professions, or unique hobbies, diversity is embraced.

– Tolerance and Respect: The unwritten rule is clear: respect and tolerance are paramount. By accepting differences without judgment, Germans foster an environment where everyone can be themselves. (refer back to Rule #1)

– Unity in Diversity: Germany’s diverse communities contribute to its rich cultural tapestry. It’s a place where you’ll encounter a spectrum of perspectives, all valued and appreciated.

Rule #4: Table Manners and Dining Etiquette

Like many cultures, Germans have their own dining etiquette, encompassing both written and unwritten rules:

– Finish Your Plate: One unwritten rule is to finish your plate. Germans value the concept of “wenig verschwenden” (waste as little as possible). Wasting food is seen as disrespectful, so it’s customary to eat what’s on your plate.

– Taking Leftovers Home: If you can’t finish your meal, don’t fret. It’s acceptable to request a “doggy bag” and take leftovers home. Reducing food waste is a shared responsibility.

– Table Manners: When dining, keep your hands on the table (but not your elbows). It’s a sign of attentiveness and engagement in the meal. Saying “Guten Appetit” (enjoy your meal) before you start eating is also a polite practice.

– Sharing with Others: In Germany, it’s not uncommon to share dishes, especially in casual settings. Passing a plate of food to your fellow diners is a sign of camaraderie. But of course, you have to ask the other person before sticking your fork into their food.

Understanding and respecting these customs enhances your dining experience and showcases your appreciation for German culture.

Rule #5: Language and Respect in Germany

Language plays a pivotal role in cultural integration and building relationships in Germany:

– Speaking German: While many Germans speak English, making an effort to speak German is highly appreciated. It shows respect for the local culture and demonstrates your willingness to connect with the community. But if you struggle to express yourself in important appointments, you can always book a local helper here.

– Informal Address: Among younger generations, it’s customary to use “du” (the informal “you”) rather than the more formal “Sie” when addressing each other. This informality signifies friendliness and openness. However, police officers may be an exception, warranting the use of “Sie”. What about older neighbours or the lady at the Bürgeramt? The advice from the founder of Booka Local, Mei Chi Lo, “when unsure, try “Sie” first. If they think it’s too formal, they will let you know.”

Germany’s Friendliness to Foreigners

Is Germany friendly to foreigners? The answer is a resounding yes. Germans are known for their warm welcome and hospitality:

– Welcoming Atmosphere: Whether you’re an expat, a traveler, or a newcomer, Germany has a welcoming atmosphere. People are generally friendly and eager to engage with visitors.

– Embracing Diversity: Germany’s diverse and multicultural society means that people from all backgrounds are part of the community. This diversity enriches the country and makes it an inclusive place for everyone.

– Integration Support: Startups like Booka Local play a crucial role in supporting the integration of expats by connecting them with bilingual German-speaking translators. These services make it easier to navigate the intricacies of daily life in Germany, including communication and bureaucracy.


Unwritten rules in Germany guide the way of life and provide valuable insights into the culture. From respecting personal choices to embracing diversity, these norms shape the country’s welcoming and inclusive atmosphere. By understanding and following these unwritten rules, you can enhance your experience as an expat or traveler in Germany. Remember that your journey in Germany can be further enriched by utilizing services like Booka Local, which facilitate communication and cultural integration.

Germany’s unwritten rules may differ from what you’re accustomed to, but they open the door to a deeper understanding of this remarkable country and its people. As you embark on your journey in Germany, may these insights guide you toward meaningful connections and a more fulfilling experience.


Tipping in Germany: A Guide for Expats and Travellers

Tipping, an often underestimated social practice, can be a complex dance to navigate when traveling to a new country. In Germany, known for its rich culture and meticulous attention to detail, understanding the nuances of tipping is essential for both expats and travelers. Whether you’re dining at a local restaurant, catching a taxi, or enjoying a coffee at a café, knowing when, how much, and whether to tip can make your experience smoother and more enjoyable.

At the same time, it’s worth highlighting a valuable resource for expats in Germany: Booka Local. Our startup connects expats with bilingual German-speaking translators, making your transition to life in Germany more seamless. Now, let’s delve into the world of tipping in Germany and uncover the answers to some common questions.

Is Tipping Expected in Germany?

When you sit down at a restaurant or receive a service in Germany, the question often arises: Is tipping expected? The answer is generally yes. Tipping is customary and appreciated in Germany, though the culture surrounding it differs from what you might find in other countries.

Germans value the idea of service quality and fair wages, which has influenced their tipping practices. While tipping is expected, it’s not necessarily extravagant. Locals typically tip to show appreciation for good service, but it’s not seen as obligatory. You won’t find waitstaff glaring at you if you forget to leave a tip, but they will certainly appreciate your gesture of gratitude.

How Much Do You Tip in Germany?

The next question that often arises is, “How much do you tip in Germany?” Tipping percentages in Germany are generally lower compared to countries like the United States, where tipping 15-20% is customary. Here’s a breakdown of typical tipping practices in various scenarios:

  • Restaurants: In restaurants, it’s common to round up the bill or leave a tip of about 5-10% of the total. For exceptional service, you might consider leaving a bit more, but there’s no need to feel pressured into a larger tip.
  • Cafés: When you grab a coffee or snack at a café, rounding up to the nearest Euro is appreciated. For instance, if your coffee costs €2.50, you can leave €3.
  • Taxis: For taxi rides, rounding up to the nearest convenient amount is customary. If your fare is €8.50, rounding up to €10 is a polite way to tip.

Keep in mind that Germans are quite precise when it comes to tipping. If your bill is €22.50, leaving €25 shows thoughtfulness. It’s worth noting that tipping in Germany isn’t limited to food and transportation. You might also tip hairdressers, tour guides, and hotel staff for exceptional service, using similar principles.

Is it Rude to Not Tip in Germany?

One question that often concerns travelers and expats is whether it’s considered rude not to tip in Germany. While tipping is customary, it’s not considered rude to abstain from tipping in cases where you’re dissatisfied with the service. However, it’s essential to differentiate between withholding a tip due to poor service and simply forgetting to tip. In the latter case, it’s more about being polite and showing appreciation rather than an obligation.

Germans appreciate polite gestures, so even if the service was adequate and you’re unsure about whether to tip, erring on the side of leaving a small tip is usually appreciated. It’s a way to say thank you, and it rarely goes unnoticed.

Tipping Practices in Germany

Understanding how to leave a tip correctly is crucial. In restaurants, if you’re paying with cash, simply leave the extra amount on the table when you settle the bill. You can also signal the waiter that no changes are needed (meaning, the charges are the tips), when the cash is handed over to the waiter directly. If you’re paying by card, you can tell the waiter the total amount you’d like to pay, including the tip, and they will charge your card accordingly.

It’s essential to note that in Germany, tips are typically shared among the staff, so your tip goes beyond just the person who served you. This practice helps ensure that everyone working in the establishment benefits from good service.

What Happens if You Don’t Tip the Waiter?

While it’s not considered rude to skip a tip for subpar service, it’s crucial to understand that tipping can be a part of waitstaff’s income in Germany. If you consistently don’t tip when the service is decent, it may affect your relationship with the staff. The staff may remember you as a customer who doesn’t tip, which could influence your future experiences at the same establishment (unless the food and service are really unimaginably bad and you do not plan to visit this restaurant again).

However, this doesn’t mean you should feel obligated to tip when the service is genuinely poor. In such cases, it’s more important to provide feedback politely and explain why you’re dissatisfied. You can be direct with them. Trust us, they can take it.

Is 10 Percent a Good Tip?

While a 10 percent tip is considered standard in many countries, including Germany, the notion of a “good tip” can vary depending on your perspective and the context. Germans often view a 10 percent tip as reasonable and polite. However, feel free to adjust the percentage based on your satisfaction with the service and your budget.

For excellent service, you might consider leaving more than 10 percent as a sign of appreciation. Likewise, if you’re dining with a large group, it’s common to leave a slightly larger tip.

Who Gets the Money When You Tip?

When you leave a tip in a restaurant or any service establishment, it doesn’t typically go directly to your waiter or service provider. Instead, tips are often pooled and distributed among the staff. This practice ensures that everyone, from cooks to servers, benefits from the tips.

In some places, tips may be divided according to a specific formula that considers each employee’s role and responsibilities. This collaborative approach emphasizes teamwork and encourages all staff members to provide a high level of service.

When Should You Not Tip?

While tipping is a common practice in Germany, there are situations where it’s not expected or necessary. Knowing when not to tip can be just as important as knowing when to tip:

  • Fast Food and Self-Service: In fast-food restaurants (like, the one with the big “M” sign) or establishments where you order at the counter and clear your table yourself, tipping is not expected.
  • Public Transportation: When using public transportation like buses, trams, or subways, tipping is not customary. However, you may find some travelers rounding up their fare for convenience.
  • Retail Stores: Tipping is not expected when shopping in retail stores.
  • Government Services: There’s no need to tip government employees, such as postal workers or government office clerks. (It also looks super awkward if you try)

By being aware of these situations, you can navigate tipping in Germany with ease and ensure that you’re showing appreciation appropriately.


Tipping in Germany is a thoughtful gesture that reflects your appreciation for good service. While it’s expected in many situations, it’s not an onerous obligation. Germans value quality service and fair wages, so tips are often seen as a way to acknowledge a job well done. Understanding the nuances of tipping in Germany can enhance your travel or expat experience and help you engage with the local culture more effectively.

Remember that your experience in Germany can be further improved by utilizing services like Booka Local. Our startup connects expats with bilingual German-speaking translators, making it easier to navigate the intricacies of daily life in Germany, including communication and cultural nuances. As you explore the diverse landscapes and cultural experiences that Germany has to offer, may your understanding of tipping practices enhance your enjoyment of this remarkable country.

Booka Local

Cultural Etiquette in Germany: Do’s and Don’ts for Foreigners

Germany is a country renowned for its rich culture, precision, and traditions. As an international visitor or expatriate, understanding and respecting the cultural etiquette in Germany is essential for a smooth and pleasant stay. In this guide, we’ll explore the do’s and don’ts to help you navigate social situations in Germany with ease.

The Do’s:

1. Greetings Matter:

  • Do offer a firm handshake with direct eye contact when meeting someone. This shows respect and confidence.

2. Punctuality is Key:

  • Do arrive on time for appointments, meetings, and social gatherings. Germans value punctuality and consider it a sign of respect.
Credits: 9GAG

3. Mind Your Titles:

  • Do use formal titles like “Herr” (Mr.) and “Frau” (Mrs.) followed by the person’s last name when addressing individuals, especially in professional settings.

4. Recycling is a Must:

  • Do participate in Germany’s strict recycling system. Separating waste into different bins is not only eco-friendly but also expected.

5. Respect Quiet Hours:

  • Do observe “quiet hours” in residential areas, which are typically from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm and after 10:00 pm. Loud activities during these times are considered impolite.

6. Bring Cash:

  • Do carry cash, as many smaller businesses may not accept credit or debit cards. Cash is still widely used in everyday transactions.

Are you new in Germany and don’t speak German yet but need face the bureaucracy here? Do not worry, we’ve got you! Book a bilingual helper to assist you with in-person appointments, phone calls, paperwork and other tasks requiring German!

The Don’ts:

1. Don’t Be Late:

  • Don’t be tardy, as being late is seen as disrespectful and inconsiderate in German culture.

2. Skip the Small Talk:

  • Don’t initiate small talk with strangers, especially in public places like public transportation. Germans tend to keep to themselves in such situations.

3. Avoid Loud Conversations:

  • Don’t engage in loud or animated conversations in public spaces like restaurants. Germans appreciate a quiet and calm atmosphere.

4. Don’t Joke About History:

  • Avoid making jokes about sensitive historical topics like World War II and the Holocaust. These subjects are treated with the utmost seriousness in Germany.

5. Don’t Assume Familiarity:

  • Don’t use first names unless invited to do so. Germans value a certain level of formality, especially in initial interactions.

6. No Open-Ended Invitations:

  • Don’t extend open-ended invitations. Germans prefer specific plans, so be clear about dates, times, and locations when making arrangements.

By adhering to these do’s and don’ts of cultural etiquette in Germany, you’ll not only show your respect for local customs but also enhance your experience while living or visiting this fascinating country. Remember, understanding and embracing the culture is key to building positive relationships and enjoying your time in Germany to the fullest. Gute Reise! (Safe travels!)