The new guide teaching Germans about travel etiquette

The new guide teaching Germans about travel etiquette

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Germans are the world champions in travel. But with many German tourists cringing when they run into to their fellow nationals abroad, some have started taking lessons in how to behave. Ernest Gill takes us through a new guide which sets out tips on

Faced with a survey showing most German tourists abroad are embarrassed by their fellow German tourists, a German TV network has issued a guide for appropriate manners and etiquette for German travellers.

Germans abroad are sometimes the bane of other Germans' existence

Three out of five German vacationers cringe when they see loud- mouthed, beer-swilling German tourists giving their compatriots a bad name, says the survey by the German Travel Channel.

Raucous and rowdy Germans who get falling-down drunk at bars or belligerent Germans who make a scene at hotel reception desks along with inconsiderate Germans who hog all the best poolside chairs are the bane of other Germans' existence.

"The worst are mobs of overweight Germans who converge on beaches and bars on the island of Majorca, where drunken patrons make fools of themselves with inappropriate and loutish behaviour," says the Travel Channel.

The new etiquette guide is designed "to prevent boorish Germans from sticking their foot in their mouth - or both feet", according to the Travel Channel.

"Many German tourists are naively oblivious to the most commonplace rules of behaviour in other countries," the guide says.

"For example, few Germans are aware that it is considered in extremely poor taste in many countries to blow your nose at the dinner table or to use toothpicks at the table - two activities which are considered acceptable by the respected Knigge Guide to Etiquette at dinner tables in Germany," it adds.

"In Japan, it is considered rude to count your change after paying your bill at a restaurant," the guide points out. "Germans at home in Germany always count their change and will quibble about the least discrepancy. That's the virtue of thoroughness in Germany. In Japan, it's highly offensive."

In China it is not considered especially rude to smack your lips or burp softly, but it is highly offensive to put your feet up so that people can see the bottoms of your bare feet.

"In China tipping is rare and is sometimes considered rude - except in Hong Kong where you will be expected to tip 15 to 20 percent," the guide says.

"While in New York City it would be considered gauche to show up at a nice restaurant with a bottle of wine you have brought yourself," the guide adds, "in Sydney BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) is common practise at most eating places."

*quote1*Sun-hungry people from soggy Germany like to free themselves of excess clothing when they reach sunny climes - with German women going topless and men wearing the skimpiest of bathing suits on balmy beaches. Often times they wear little more while shopping.

"In Italy, Spain and France it is considered indecorous to reveal too much skin anywhere but in the water. And in Muslim countries bare limbs and shoulders are a sign of wantonness. Your best clue to clothing is to look at the natives: Men in Mediterranean countries generally do not wear shorts on the main street. Nor do women in those countries dress scantily while shopping."

France is just next door to Germany, but it is "a million miles away as far as common manners are concerned", according to the guide.

"We Germans have it drilled into our heads that we must always be fastidiously punctual, even for dinner parties. But in France it is considered uncouth to show up at a home on time. Arrive at least half an hour late with a bouquet," say the manners mavens.

"And if you are invited by a business colleague to lunch, it is permissible to talk about any subject under the sun - except of course the business matter which brought you together in the first place. Discussing business at a business lunch is gauche to the French," the guide warns.

The Teutonic penchant for shaking hands at every encounter, even among close family and old friends, is considered very strange indeed in other countries, according to the guide. Germans rarely hug and the seldom kiss. Instead, they shake hands.

"We Germans must realise that you shake hands once upon being introduced to a person - and then never again. After that you just say "hello" or, if you're in Greece for example, you hug and exchange pecks on the cheek," the guide stipulates. "No matter how much you are tempted, do not shake hands every time you see a person you already know. Grit your teeth and try a hug or a kiss."

The same goes for America, German travellers are told. And when a guy selling newspapers at a corner newsstand says, "Hi, how're ya doing today?" he doesn't expect a discourse on your personal medical history.

"Just say, 'fine thanks, and you?' and pay for your newspaper and be done with it," the guide says.

And don't forget to tip.

"We Germans are notorious around the world for quibbling about prices and being lousy tippers," the guide notes.

"Most places in America, if you fail to give at least a 15 percent tip, you will soon be embarrassingly made aware of the fact that you are a very stingy indeed," the guide advises. "Your hands will tremble as you reach into your wallet for those 10- and 20-dollar bills, but take our advice and just hand them over to the waiter."

And Germans accustomed to limitless speeds on their own autobahns must ease their foot off the gas pedal on America's wide-open interstate highways.

"No matter how tempting it is to press the pedal to the metal of your rental Corvette, there are speed limits in America and many a deputy sheriff is waiting behind a billboard to nab unwary speeders," the guide says.

"In Japan, China, Thailand and several other Asian countries, it is proper to remove your shoes upon entering a private home. And for once our Prussian punctuality pays off. Thais and the Chinese expect you to be on time, or to show up even a bit ahead of a scheduled appointment."

Removing shoes is also mandatory at Buddhist and Shinto temples, as well as at Islamic mosques and prayer houses. "Be sure you are wearing decent clean socks with no holes," the guide admonishes.

Nearly 40 per cent of Germans smoke, but in Singapore it is inadvisable to smoke in public.

"If you carelessly toss away a cigarette butt you could be liable to a stiff fine in Singapore," the guide notes. "In that regard the Singapore people are almost as bad as the Americans, who have prohibited smoking in nearly all public places. Don't be deceived by smiles. When Americans tell you 'would you mind not smoking here' they are not bluffing. Put out your cigarette fast."

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