There are many, many traditions close to the German heart, I'm going to introduce you to one of them.
Today was our last pilates session of term (school term ends next Wednesday & so naturally, as in England, everything else stops too) and our teacher suggested weeks ago that we all go out after the lesson for coffee (and cake, they go hand in hand, like strawberries and cream, salt and pepper, dark chocolate and red wine (or is that just me?)).
This was no real surprise to me as last year the same thing happened with our step class, except that was Prosecco & coffee (my kind of after exercise drinkies, but at 10am? Just a fraction too early). So a venue was agreed on and tables reserved (1 member works at that particular cafe).
The first problem was that the tables reserved for us were all in the sun (it's hot enough to melt the tarmac out there today, blistering) We could easily have sat indoors in the open windows thereby benefitting from the cool interior and the 'fresh' air, but no, outside seating was demanded, the staff managed to find another sun shade and we'd all got seated when tables in the full shade became vacant so we moved again.
All this demand for shade led to the first topic of conversation - how dangerous the sun* is, 1 woman remarked that a friend of theirs had died early this year from skin cancer which started the interrogation, no sensitivity shown but straight on in with - how long had they been ill? what had been the treatments? and so on. A cheerful subject that was exhaustively covered before being cast aside.
The learning of languages was also discussed (I wonder why that was?) and how easy it is for children to become bi/trilingual, how they can flick between languages within a sentence (lucky beggars - I only do that because I don't know the word in the language).
And then because they felt they'd softened us up they wanted to know whereabouts in the UK we're** both from, how that compares to here, what we like about Germany that the UK could do with (an eis cafe on every corner and decent bakeries) why we're here (husbands). I bet they were so glad that we were the first to leave (having commitments like providing lunch for starving children) because then they were free to gossip about us, I could literally feel my ears burning as we walked away, or maybe that was the sun?
Our last step class is next Wednesday and so far no-one has mentioned going for post class drinkies, although that's not to say it wont be sprung on us at the last moment, bah humbug!
* It's funny though, that despite everyone of us wanting to sit in the shade everyone had a tan, 1 woman is scarily brown right to the tips of her tippy toes - sunbed is my opinion, they're not into the healthier spray fake tans here.
** This would be me and Rebecca, my fellow expat.