One of the first things I noticed while trekking through Germany is the umbrella filled spaces in front of cafes. Hailing from the U.S., it’s not that we don’t have outdoor eating areas, it’s that they’re not the standard here. Usually reserved for nice weather and sunny days, the outdoor space of a café or restaurant isn’t as utilized as it is in Germany. A little drizzle? Indoors we go. Too hot or too cold? Indoors to the lovely air conditioning or heating. Not in Germany! Whether hot or cold or a little rainy not much stops people from sitting outside to enjoy their meal. Mostly, I think because of necessity.
From what I saw in Germany, many of the restaurants just aren’t that big. In order to get more customers, outdoor spaces are a must! If it’s too cold, they’ll be these pillars with a contained flame strategically placed throughout to offer the best spread of heat. If it’s a little rainy, up go the giant umbrellas. If it’s too hot……just deal with it. Yeah, A/C isn’t something widely used in German establishments. They might have fans going or a little air conditioning, but relative to the U.S., it’s not that apparent. Whereas in the U.S., the blast of cold air hits you right in the face as those doors open. Sweet, sweet chilly relief…
I was not in Germany during the summer, so I didn’t face the “too hot” problem very much. What surprised me most were all the people sitting outside when it was frigid out. I’m talking 32° F (0° C) cold. It’s just the way it is though. If you want a place to sit, many times outside is the only option. It could be good or bad. There were times when I was close to the heater and I didn’t mind being outside at all. Other times, I wasn’t as close and I’d be huddled up in my jacket and scarf impatiently waiting for the food so I had something to distract myself from the cold.
When the temperature was at a Goldilocks level, what I loved the most, was being able to sit on the cobblestone central plaza drinking a cup of coffee watching as people passed. Meanwhile being surround by the general splendor of the baroque, gothic, and modern buildings of the Altstadt (old town). That’s something you can’t get here in the states.