I read an interesting stereotype about the Germans a few weeks ago, and since then I’d been trying to see how it applies to the German people who I know, and how they act.
That stereotype was/is: The Germans need a month to plan a party.
I found this majorly ridiculous, being a young American, since all I need to do to plan a party is post something on Facebook or send out an email, go to the store and buy some stuff, and make a playlist in iTunes if I’m feeling up to it. That takes me a half-day, and I’ve never planned a party more than two weeks in advance. Even when we planned René’s surprise party, that only took a week of getting in touch with people.
Suffice it to say, I was a little confused. What could possibly be so time-consuming that they need a month to plan a party?
So I was walking around, doing my day-to-day things, and trying to fit it to the people I know here. Most of my students are business people who travel and have meetings, so OF COURSE their lives are planned out months in advance, sometimes even a year or two (based on trade shows, conferences, etc). But that’s the same in the US. So that was like an exception to the rule.
That’s when I got my own dose of it. It started while René was still working in Spain. He suggested that we go to Kissalis (the spa/thermal baths) on the weekend that he came back, since he’d only be home for one week. I thought that was a great idea. He asked me to look at the price list and try to find ‘things we could do’.
I went to the website, downloaded the PDF of the price list, and had a look. This was two weeks before he came home. It was the same as the last time I’d seen it. There were only two specials for couples, but we’d already done the one, and the other wasn’t that amazing. So I sent him the PDF and said that, and told him to have a look at it and see what he wanted to do.
When we talked a week later, he said that we should just go there and find out if there were any specials. This seemed odd to me, since the specials were already printed in the pamphlet. I don’t imagine they’re like a restaurant and have something different each day that’s NOT on the menu.
The day came after he came back, and we headed out to Kissalis. We left our house kind of late and got there around noon. The parking lot wasn’t full, but there were definitely people there. And there were two parents bringing their gd baby into the place as we walked towards the door.
We went in and sat down at the booking desk. René asked what was available, and the woman half-laughed, half- gave us this face of ‘omg are you serious??’. All that was available, for the ENTIRE day, was a back massage and a wellness massage. Everything else was already booked.
As a side note, after I’d looked at the price list the first time, all I really wanted to do was go to Kissalis, lay around at the pool, and get a back massage. So for me, that was really ok. But I think René had wanted more than just a wellness massage.
We booked the massages and then had 3 hours to kill. So we laid around at the pool and tried all of the separate pools out, and then went up to the steam rooms and hung out in there for a while. I was ok with this, but it wasn’t what we’d expected or planned to do.
But before I discuss the stereotype, it’s important to note that a trip to the spa in Germany is not the same as a trip to the spa in the US, for a few reasons:
1- it’s not just for women or a ladies day out, or metrosexual guys.
2- people go to the spas here with amazing regularity, because
3- spas aren’t seen as a luxury (as they often are in the US) because they’re affordable. Our massages were pretty normally priced.
4- ew, spas are kid-friendly. People bring their kids to the spas. I really don’t get it. But they do.
5- the Germans take their gesundheit (health) VERY seriously, and with that comes a much better life-work balance than most Americans could ever dream of. When you couple that with social healthcare, it leaves more money for recreational relaxation, like hitting the spa for the weekend.
So, with all of that cleared up, to the thing that made me realize that the people around us had planned their trips further in advance than we had:
That parking lot was NOT full. People had not just come earlier than us and booked all of the fun/cool things. No, people had planned that shit, weeks or months in advance, and hadn’t even arrived yet for their appointments.
When we got to the pool, the place wasn’t anywhere near full. It didn’t fill up at all while we were there. People came and went; no one stayed for that long. In fact, I think we were the ones in our area who were there the longest, and that’s just because we had time to kill.
My friend Greg is coming for a visit next month, and we plan to take him to the spa. In the meantime, I need to translate the entire price list for him and send it to him, to see what he’d like to do while there. I will be damned if I don’t get a mud bath the next time we go!!!
Again what learned!