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It’s All Foreign to Me: Water

Learn some new vocabulary. In Germany and the UK, you can ask for “still water.” Although when in the Vaterland, you should probably pronounce it just a little different: “stilles Wasser,” or “schtill-ess vah-sir,” “sir” as in “Sir Paul McCartney.” At the supermarket in Germany, avoid bottled water with “Sprudel” or “Kohlensäure.”

Bring a water bottle with you. Yes, I know the airlines limit the amount of liquids that you can bring on a plane, but there is no law against an empty bottle. On our recent trip to England, I brought my 500 mL water bottle on the plane. Filled it up from the tap when we left the hotel in the morning, topped it off throughout the day, then made sure to empty it before we boarded the plane again. This not only saves money by avoiding paying out the watootsie for bottled water in a touristy destination, plus it reduces your carbon imprint (I know, I know, I’m not a crazy Green—I promise—but every little bit helps, and those six-pack water bottles are the worst!).

Order something new. “When in Rome…” That’s what Rob would say before digging in to yet another plate of fish and chips. And the same goes with regional beverages. We live in Bierland: Before you come visit us *cough, cough*, read up on some beers you’d like to try along with the other research you’re doing about your destination. They cost about the same as still water in a restaurant (crazy, I know). Not a drinker? Try a new juice–I guarantee that you will encounter a juice you’ve never heard of or that you are not accustomed to drinking. And if all else fails—or if you are just curious—try the juice and the sparkling water. You might be refreshingly surprised.

Oh yeah. Don’t ask for ice here.

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17 thoughts on “It’s All Foreign to Me: Water

  1. Pingback: Random Alert! German Facts and How Do You Use the Internet? | Linden's Pensieve

  2. Linden

    03 Oct on 2008 at 18:29

    @the cap’m: You can ask for it that way here in DE, too. I was recently traveling with American family, and they ordered “natural” water. Guess what they got? Sparkling water. Guess they see things differently around here. :)

  3. The Cap'm

    22 Sep on 2008 at 10:53

    When I lived in Austria, I asked for water “mit Gas”, but I’ve also heard it requested in other ways as well. Very good tip on the filling up a water bottle, it’s so much cheaper.


  4. Linden

    29 Jul on 2008 at 11:19

    @beth: And beer you shall have! :)

    And believe me, after hearing all your stories, I am very glad I can drink the tap water!

    @jackie: Wow, that’s very interesting. I wonder how that rumor started.

    We always try to refill bottles at the in-laws, but the mother-in-law insists on our using a fresh bottle.

  5. jkenny

    17 Jun on 2008 at 21:05

    While living in my dorm in Erlangen, one of the German girls saw us drinking tap water and looked disgusted. When we asked why the Germans didn’t, she said that it had fleas (as if we wouldn’t notice that!)

  6. Beth

    29 Mar on 2008 at 16:06

    I would only drink ‘sparkling’ water if I could douse it in gin and lime juice. Be happy you can drink tap water!!!

    Up for a Beer,

  7. Дж. Хьюз

    28 Mar on 2008 at 11:56

    “Shock” is indeed the perfect word.

    Over my years of swilling ice cold club soda – my favorites are Canada Dry for its strong taste and Schweppes for its powerful carbonation – I have time and again provided the curious with a “taste.” To a man and woman, their curiosity has been eradicated – instantly and permanently.

    The “first sip” faces I see are usually unremarkable, but the “first gulp” faces can be pretty gruesome.

  8. Linden

    27 Mar on 2008 at 18:12

    @betsy: I KNOW!!! It’s seriously the best alternative. Especially here.

    @lifestudent: Ah, yes, another one I forgot to mention (along with “gently carbonated,” which ww reminded me of. And “shock” is the perfect word for it.

  9. lifestudent

    27 Mar on 2008 at 14:57

    In poland they would always ask us if we wanted our water “with gas” or “without gas” … in their best attempt to speak English. But the shock of that carbonated water is quite extreme when you really just need a nice sip of plain old “American tap water” :)

  10. Anonymous

    27 Mar on 2008 at 14:27

    You had me at bier.


  11. Linden

    26 Mar on 2008 at 18:07

    @ww: You’re right! There are three types here, too. I actually like the carbonated water, especially since I’ve given up soda. I think there’s something about the carbonation that I like.

    @charlie blockhead: Sweet! :D

    @lorraine: I LOVE Apfelschorle! In fact, Rob and I buy Sprudelwasser and mix it with all sorts of juices for a peppy little drink. I found a delish green apple juice at Toom and it was great with the Sprudelwasser. I don’t really like Fanta, but I’ll definitely try Izze! And I’ll make a toast to Lorrainchen the next time I drink Apfelschorle! (Don’t worry about the grammar. :))

    @charity: I should have mentioned wine, too. Germany has some pretty great wines. I’m just not a wine drinker, so I forget it in my post. And that local artist! How funny!

    @Дж. Хьюз: Ah, Roma! We’re starting to plan our trip! I need to try club soda…

    And I recommend using the blue “Preview” button to catch the typos. I don’t know what it is about seeing it as it will appear on the web page, but I always catch more typos when I preview a post or blog than when reading over it in the text box. Weird.

  12. Дж. Хьюз

    26 Mar on 2008 at 12:06

    Mmmmmm… acqua minerale gassata! Mineralnaya voda gazirovannaya!

    I had my first dose back in summer 1986, when I was studying in Rome. Being one of the world’s most finicky eaters, I expected to hate it. But it was either drink the damn San Pellegrino or dehydrate. It took me a few years to pick up the habit in the States. But club soda has been my beverage of choice for more than fifteen years now.

    And WHY OH WHY can’t I just EDIT my BLEEPING TYPOS?

  13. Charity

    26 Mar on 2008 at 10:05

    I was forewarned about the water and lack of ice before I visited Germany a few years back, but it was still an adjustment. Most often I took it for a reason to order a glass of red wine (which was usually really good). I’m not usually a beer drinker, but I did make a point to try several of the local brews. Thanks for the tip on the water bottles, though with the Army accomdations at the time, I would not have trusted the tap water…

    I did still find it funny when a local artist (blown glass artist, standing before his roaring fire) excused himself from his lecture to “rehydrate” – and came back with a tall, frothy beer and a cigarette.

  14. Lorraine

    25 Mar on 2008 at 23:32

    PS: please forgive the bad grammar above…I just reread that. eugh. Oh, well: have an Äpfelschorle for me!

  15. Lorraine

    25 Mar on 2008 at 23:30

    Mmm…what I wouldn’t give for an Äpfelschorle right now. (carbonated water and apple juice) Which actually brings me to a recommendation for you the next time you’re home. Try Izze if you haven’t already. A girl at work turned me onto them: it’s juice carbonated with carbonated water. I swear the tangerine flavor taste’s like German orange Fanta. Aaand, it’s more healthy than pop. ;)

  16. Charlie Blockhead

    25 Mar on 2008 at 21:03

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  17. ww

    25 Mar on 2008 at 18:22

    In the Czech Republic there are three kinds of water: carbonated, still, and “gently” carbonated. It’s bubbly but not as much. Actually it’s quite good. They also have flavored carbonated waters… not so different from slightly flat soda pop if you ask me, but they have some good flavors like lime and mango. The only brand of water I didn’t like was Korunní, which, ironically, was the most expensive kind.