In public space

Because Germans separate strictly between their work and private spheres, they are very reserved in public. Just as they would never ask their boss about her hobbies or family, Germans very seldom initiate a conversation with a stranger in a public place like a bus, train, store or restaurant. Nor would they talk about aspects of their private life. Both would be inappropriate and make the other person feel uncomfortable.

Germans feel comfortable with periods of silence. They use quiet time to work, read, reflect, listen to music. Deutsche Bahn – German Rail – is modern, fast, affordable, and for the most part on-time. The routes offer beautiful views of the countryside, especially along the Rhine River from Koblenz to Mainz, one castle after the other sitting atop a hill.

Some train cars have rows of seats, two on each side separated by the aisle. Other cars have cabins seating six. It’s not at all unusual to enter the cabin, say “Guten Tag”, sit down, read, reflect, work on a laptop, or sleep and not exchange another word except perhaps “schöne Weiterreise” (literally “have a nice further-trip”), and this over several hours.