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Dos and Don’ts on Your Next Flight

Dos and Don’ts on Your Next Flight

Mr. Faultier has already started planning flights for Christmas, which has got me thinking about air travel. Over the past several years, I’ve been flying a lot more, and I think I’ve been able to put together a tidy list of Dos and Don’ts (without apostrophes, don’t use apostrophes for pluralization) for making your trip go a bit smoother.

Do stay hydrated

I’ve given this tip before, it’s that important. Headaches and nosebleeds are not fun when you’re stuck in a pressurized, metal tube hurtling thousands of meters over the ocean. Trust me, I’ve experienced both. Hoarding the tiny water bottles and bringing your own large bottle to refill after security are both solid options. Just remember to empty out any bottles you want to keep if you have to go through security for a connecting flight. You are allowed to bring bottles, just not liquids – at least at all the airports I’ve been through.

Water Hoarding
I drank a lot of water on our KLM flight.

Don’t demand crazy things from your flight attendant

Flight attendants are wonderful. They bring you food and drinks, do what they can to keep you comfortable, and will try to save your life in an emergency. However, they are not somehow simultaneously your servant and all-powerful.

Things flight attendants can do:

  • Provide you with snacks and drinks – sometimes complimentary, sometimes not. That depends on your airline, not the flight attendant.
  • Provide you with headphones on flights with in-flight entertainment.
  • Provide you with paracetamol/acetaminophen when you’re a dummy and don’t follow the first rule. This may depend on the airline.

Things flight attendants cannot do:

  • Make that baby stop crying.
  • Make the plane fly faster.
  • Delay your connecting flight so that you don’t miss it.

Do be polite

Everyone has a better time when people are nice. People are nicer when they’re having a better time. It’s a happy, positive feedback loop. Try to start one.

Don’t leave your trash all over the place

Remember when I said the flight attendants are not your servants. Yes part of their job is keeping the plane clean, but you’re a jerk if you make that more difficult. On all the flights I’ve been on, an attendant has come through after each meal and before landing to collect trash. Give it to them then, when they have their gloves and bag ready! Also, there is a this thing called a trash can helpfully located in the bathroom. If you follow the first rule, which you should, you will likely have to use the bathroom at some point. Why don’t you take your trash with you then?

I get a little ragey whenever I leave a plane and walk past a row of seats that has magazines and tissues and crumbs and food wrappers strewn all over the seats and floor. You had multiple opportunities to clean up after yourself.

Airplane Bathroom Trash Can
You can put your trash here!
Source: Jason Lander, Cropped by me

Do always choose the pasta

You might think that the chicken, beef, or (god forbid) fish option actually sounds quite good on some particular flight. It’s not better than the pasta. It’s never better than pasta. You will regret it. The absolute worst the pasta can be is bland, but it is always, at the very least, more filling than your other options. If you are really concerned about plane food, you can check out a review I wrote about the food I ate during my worst travel experience.

The Pasta
Bonus Tip: If you’re polite and ask for a full can, the flight attendant will likely give you one.

Don’t take up more than your share of overhead space

I’ve figured out how to make the following rant collapsible, for your convenience. If you somehow don’t understand my problem, please open the rant and read. If you are a reasonable person, feel free to continue on to the next point.

Rant Time
For the love of god, stick to your baggage allowance. Mr. Faultier travels quite light, so for our last trip, he could fit all of his things under his seat. We needed just one overhead compartment slot between the two of us for my suitcase, which despite the ever shrinking limits, is appropriately sized for our airline. Like actually appropriately sized, not “appropriately” sized. But was there room for it anywhere near our seat? Nope! Not with all the coats and duty free purchases. Even though we needed one overhead slot – which I wish were divided and numbered to match your seat – I had to go several rows back to find one. This disrupts the flow of leaving the plane! I wasn’t going to fight the crowd back to the compartment (which is rude and counterproductive), so Mr. Faultier and I stood, hunched over in our row until some kind fellow passenger got it down for me on their way out.

Now, I am not without sin. I have tried to bring on a too-big bag before. I was naïve, and the tag called it a cabin bag. Maybe several years ago it was, but not anymore! But Lufthansa doesn’t play, and a gate agent spotted it before I got on the plane and made me gate check it. And because I’m not an [expletive], I paid to check it on the way back rather than trying to sneak it through.

You get one small suitcase-sized spot per person. That is it. If you coat and laptop bag don’t fit on top of your suitcase, they don’t go in the overhead compartment! At least, not until everyone has had a chance to claim their spot. If everyone has boarded, and there is still space – go crazy! Just sit down when the flight attendants tell you to.

If you are one of those people who put your luggage in the first compartment you see, regardless of where you sit because you think you’ll somehow get off of the plane faster, I have some choice words for you. I will not write them here, however, because my mom reads this.

Overhead Bin
Source: Michael Coté, Cropped by me

Do choose an exit row if leg space is important to you

Disclaimer: There are requirements for sitting in the exit row, and you must be willing to perform exit row duties in the case of an emergency. Mr. Faultier and I are relatively healthy, English-speaking adults, which qualifies us for most exit seats. These seats are glorious, because Mr. Faultier can spread out his legs (he’s a giant), and I can easily get in and out of my window seat without disturbing him. Then I can drink even more water and go to the bathroom as much as I want.

Leg Space in JAL Exit Row
We sat in the exit row on our flight back from Japan. It was glorious.

Finally, do what you can to relax or, alternatively, don’t stress out!

Once you are in the air, everything is out of your control. It’s better to channel your energy into keeping yourself occupied and comfortable. See my other post for some entertainment suggestions. Any issues from the ground are now beyond your reach. Flight was delayed and you might not make your connection? Literally nothing you can do about it in the air. Nothing. Save your energy and patience for when you are on the ground, so that you can run to the next gate or schedule a new flight.

And by “on the ground”, I mean out of the plane. Don’t fight to get off. Several other people are also stressed about their next flight, and trying to cut past people is not only incredibly rude, but is just slowing down the whole process for everyone. So just chill, you’ll get there eventually.

 

If you like reading about travel, check out all my travel posts here.

Halloween Look – Easy Vampire

Halloween Look – Easy Vampire

Originally Posted: October 5th, 2015

I’ve sadly got no Halloween plans this year, because Fastnacht is really the big costume holiday in Germany. And working full-time is sticking sucking away all of my energy. But, in celebration of the upcoming holidays, I’m reposting my Halloween makeup tutorials!

I get really excited when Halloween is coming up because I love playing with costumes, especially costume makeup. I minored in Theatre for my Bachelor degree and one of my favorite classes was the stage makeup class. I feel that my crazy makeup creativity is waning a bit, but I think I will try to get it going again with my take on a Halloween staple – the vampire.

I didn’t use any specialty makeup for this, so if you’re looking for something that you don’t have to buy anything for, this may work well for you. I didn’t have any plastic fangs on hand, but if I choose to do this as a full Halloween costume, I will go out and buy some cheap ones.

But now on to how I did it.

Vampire Eyeshadow

I like to do my eyeshadow first in case it gets messy, which can happen quite easily with dark or shimmery colors. For my eyeshadow here, I started with a primer all over the lid area. I used the e.l.f. Essential Shadow Lock Eyelid Primer in Sheer. Then I started adding color by patting my Maybelline Color Tattoo in 70 Metallic Pomegranate all over the lid (found a use for it!). I brought it up into the crease a bit, making sure to blend it out before it set. Once it sets, it’s not moving, which is great if you’re going out.  I then took a black shadow into the crease and the outer corner. I used Blackheart from the Urban Decay Naked 3 palette, because that’s actually the only black shadow I own. Black shadow looks great on vampires, but not so much on your everyday pale girl.

Vampire Eyeliner

For eyeliner, I did a very dramatic wing with the Kiko Lasting Gel Eyeliner. It’s super black and does not move easily. I’m actually really terrible at getting my wings even, but with q-tips, makeup remover, and patience, I got it done. I rimmed the waterline and lower lash line with the essence long lasting eye pencil in 01 Black Fever. If you wear contacts, you’ll want to be cautious with this eyeliner, as it can stick to your lenses. I then took an angled eyeliner brush and applied some of the Maybelline Color Tattoo underneath the lower lash line to make it a bit more smoky and bring in a little color. I topped off my lashes with Maybelline Volum’ Express The Rocket Waterproof Mascara in Very Black which has been working very well for me.

Vampire Eye Products
Products Used: Kiko Lasting Gel Eyeliner, Maybelline Color Tattoo in 70 Midnight Pomegranate, Urban Decay Naked 3 Palette (Blackheart), e.l.f. Essential Shadow Lock Eyelid Primer in Sheer, essence long lasting eye pencil in 01 Black Fever, Maybelline Volum’ Express The Rocket Waterproof Mascara in Very Black

Moving on to the rest of the face, you want to grab your palest foundation (which for me is the one I use every day). I put on a bit more than I normally would to get rid of much of the color I have in my face. Conceal any blemishes as needed.

I took my highlighting and contouring “routine” into overdrive to get a more dramatic look. The order you go in may very depending on your personal preference and the products you use. I used a liquid highlight and a powder contour, so I did the highlight first, powdered my face, and then went in with the contouring powder.

Vampire Highlight

For the highlight, I used the e.l.f. Studio HD Lifting Concealer in Brightening. I went quite high on my cheekbones and along my jaw to attempt to get a more angular look. I need to replace this concealer, but I haven’t been able to find any this pale. If anyone knows of any super brightening liquid concealers available in Germany, I’d love recommendations!

After I blended in my concealer, I then put a heavy layer of the essence all about matt! fixing compact powder all over my face. It’s meant to be colorless, but if you pack it on, it gives a bit of a white cast to the skin, which we actually want here! Vampires are not known for their glowing complexion.

Vampire Contour

Usually when I contour, I try to keep it subtle, but not today! I like using the essence I love nude eyeshadow in 05 my favorite tauping – yes it is an eyeshadow, but it’s matte and a nice cool brown shade that works really well for me. I concentrated particularly under my cheekbones and under my jaw and a little at my temples and the side of my nose, again trying to create a more angular look than I have naturally. People tend to identify vampires with really angular, skull-like faces, so that’s the look I was going for. I didn’t use any blush or shimmering highlight because I decided matte skin conveyed that undead look much better. This isn’t a Twilight movie; real vampires don’t sparkle.

Vampire Face Products
Products Used: e.l.f. Studio HD Lifting Concealer in Brightening, Manhattan Endless Perfection Make Up in 56 Light Porcelain, essence I love nude eyeshadow in 05 my favorite tauping, essence all about matt! fixing compact powder

Eyebrows came after the face. I have no reason for this, it’s just how I like to do it.

Vampire Eyebrows

For the eyebrows, I initially was just going for a sharper arch than I normally do, using the essence designer pencil in 02 Brown (not pictured because I forgot it…). Then I overdid it a bit and ended up with the little flick on the arch, which I quite liked, so I added it to the other side as well.

Lips I saved for last, and I wanted to make them more clearly vampiric because I didn’t have any teeth. I went for a bloodstained effect around the mouth, but if you want something more glam and less messy, you can replace it with something more “vampy” like a solid dark lip or and ombre look (as demonstrated in this post).

Vampire Lipstick

I used two lipsticks to get this effect. First I dabbed all over my lips and outside the lipline with my Manhattan X-treme Last & Shine in 54V and then blotted further with a tissue. This isn’t sold anymore, unfortunately. However, any brick red with orange undertones will give you a “realistic” bloodstained look.

Then I applied a darker shade, the Misslyn Lipstick in 119 Love Temper, all over the lips, but within the lipline. Then I used my tissue to blot just around the outside of the lips so that the lipstick blended more evenly into the other color. I did this a few times and added a few more dabs of the Manhattan lipstick to get the desired look and then added an extra layer of Love Temper right in the center of the lips.

And that finished off the look! Add some black clothing and fangs and you’re ready to go!

Vampire Full Face
And remember to scowl. Vampires don’t smile. They only brood.

 

Commuting on the Autobahn

Commuting on the Autobahn

I have already written a post about driving in Germany, and in it, I mentioned that I could probably dedicate a whole post to the Autobahn. Well, here is that post! Though, I’m not debunking myths as much as telling you how to drive without getting run over by an angry driver in a BMW (it’s always the BMWs).  Now I commute on the Autobahn daily, so I feel like I actually have some of the experience necessary to talk about driving.

 

The left lane is for passing

I touched on this in the general driving post, but it’s one of the most important things to keep in mind when driving on the Autobahn. It’s essential for maintaining a good flow of traffic. You can’t just hang out in the left lane. By keeping slower traffic to the right, and having a dedicated lane for passing, Autobahn traffic is able to move more smoothly, and with fewer in-and-out weaving that causes jams and accidents.

A corollary to this is, only pass in the left lane. Drivers are not accustomed to regular passing on the right, so they are less likely to watch out for it. This can cause problems on highways with three lanes. For example, if a truck is driving in the middle lane, and a car is passing them on the left, they are not going to expect a car to also be passing on the right – which could cause an accident if they both try to merge into the middle lane in front of the truck.

Passing
This doesn’t look very safe.
Source: xenostral

The exception to this is at on-ramps and off-ramps, but in places where passing on the right is allowed, the lane markers are thicker, so drivers are reminded to expect passers on the right.

 

There are speed limits

This was also mentioned, but it’s the greatest misconception that the Autobahn is a complete free-for-all. C’mon, people, it’s in Germany – the land of Ordnung. Of course there are limits. There are sections with marked speed limits, primarily in heavier trafficked areas and major interchanges. And in the sections with no marked limit, there is an advised limit of 130 km/h (81 mph). You are allowed to drive faster, but if you get in an accident while going above this advised speed, it will count against you with insurance and determining liability. You are also expected to drive slower in the case of adverse road conditions, such as rain or snow, but again, the penalties will only come if there is an accident (unless speed limit signs had been posted for the weather).

Source: Michael Pereckas, Cropped by me
Source: Michael Pereckas, Cropped by me

 

There are speed cameras

I mentioned this in my previous driving post, but it does bear repeating. There are speed cameras on the Autobahn. These are much more common than American-style speed traps where cops hang out on the side of the road in conspicuous police cars. No, here they hid cameras under bridges all sneaky-like. The radio station I listen to when I forget to download podcasts actually announces where speed cameras (or Blitzer) have been spotted every half hour or so. I have no idea if this is a normal thing, or if I listen to a shady station.

 

You are never the fastest

So you understand the rules about passing on the left, but you figure that in your fancy-pants BMW (sorry, BMW owners, but you’re usually the worst offenders 😉 ) that you’ll be faster than everyone else, so you never need to leave the left lane. Hold on, buddy, is that a Porsche you see in your rearview mirror? You better get over, because you’re cramping their style.

Seriously, though. You are never the fastest person driving. There is always someone who will pop up behind you and jostle you to get over. The best thing to do is to just always get into the right if there is enough space for you to drive there for a bit, if only to give the speediest of speed racers a chance to pass. The German driving test I took has an actually time recommendation for this, but I can’t remember it now.

Fast Cars to the Left
This driver wants you to go faster or get out of the left lane!
Source: jo.sau, Cropped by me

 

It’s illegal to run out of gas

The Germans are really big on keeping things running efficiently – that means absolutely no stopping on the Autobahn unless necessary. You know what’s not necessary? Running out of gas. This is not a joke. You are expected to have sufficient amount of gas in your car at all times, and it’s considered your fault if you did not plan properly.

You really shouldn’t run out of gas though. If you are on the proper Autobahn, there is a maximum distance allowed between gas stations, and each stop with a gas station has a sign that tells you how far away the next one is. No excuses, keep your tank full!

Fun fact, I complained to Mr. Faultier about my “idiot light” turning on, and asking him about how far the car could go with that much gas – and he told me that he doesn’t think he’s ever let it get that low!

 

Source: Sauerlaender
Hopefully they didn’t run out of gas!
Source: Sauerlaender

Not all highways are the Autobahn

While Autobahn may be used colloquially to mean any German highway, the Autobahn system does not cover all highways in Germany. It’s similar to how, in the US, there is an Interstate highway system, as well as smaller state highways. From Wikipedia:

Various other controlled-access highways exist on the federal (Bundesstraße), state(Landesstraße), district, and municipal level but are not part of the Autobahn network and are officially referred to as Kraftfahrstraße

You can tell what type of highway you’re on by how it’s named. A # is an official Autobahn, B # is a Bundesstraße, L # is a Landesstraße – very logical, very German. Bundesstraßen in particular are very similar to Autobahnen, but they generally smaller,  more likely to have speed limits, and may not have a hard shoulder. Landesstraßen are generally even smaller, and remind me of itty-bitty country highways.

For a road to be classified as an Autobahn, it has to meet some very particular construction standards regarding central barriers, shoulders, curves, and so on. If you want an overview, the Wikipedia article is pretty solid. It has 96 references, if you also desire deeper reading.

 

Trucks have different speed limits

Larger vehicles, as well as cars pulling trailers, have different speed limits, indicated by stickers on the back of the vehicles. This is the most noticeable with semi-trucks, which have a speed limit of 80 km/h (50 mph). This usually keeps them in the right lane and easy to pass.  Until one going 81 km/h tries to pass another going 79 km/h and you have elephant racing (Elefantenrennen). If there are more than two lanes, everyone angrily gets over to the far left, which slows down the speedsters. If there are only two lanes, break lights flash and everyone starts swearing.

Elephant Race
Source: Tino Rossini, Cropped by me

 

There will be construction somewhere along your route

Always.

Construction
Source: WikimediaImages

 

Source for header: Sauerlaender

Book Review: German Men Sit Down To Pee

Book Review: German Men Sit Down To Pee

Disclaimer: I was sent a free review copy by one of the authors, however, I was not compensated in any other way for this review. Opinions are completely my own.

What’s it about?

German Men Sit Down To Pee & Other Insights Into German Culture is a humorous take on German culture by a German (Niklas Frank) and an Irishman living in Germany (James Cave).  I feel that Cave must have had many experiences like mine, because I felt this book covered all the aspects of German culture that I find baffling.

The title provides a clue that this is not a serious dissertation on German cultural practices, but a lighthearted and fond look at the country’s eccentricities. While I’m sure many stereotypes formed a basis for these observations, I think Frank and Cave were careful to provide a little more depth where needed. They broke down stereotypes where they didn’t match with real life, and brought some insightful cultural context to other sections. I learned a few historical tidbits that I hadn’t known about in my two years living here.

There are also a few spot-on illustrations throughout the book, and I laughed several times while reading.  As I read through the table of contents, I would stop at certain chapters and laugh a bit to myself because I could relate so well already. Mr. Faultier and I are in the middle of stocking up on insurance policies. This might be the most German thing I have ever done, according to the rules of this book. The humor is spot-on.I think pokes a bit of fun without being mean or rude. A true German might be able to give a better view on this than me, but I feel the jokes are more of the laughing-with variety than laughing-at. This can be a hard balance to maintain, but I think it was done quite well.

Who is this book for?

I think this would make a wonderful gift for a friend or family member who is planning on moving to Germany or has even lived there for a little while already. Or for a German friend who doesn’t quite realize how strange their culture is – assuming they have an appreciation for self-deprecating humor (most Germans I know do).

Or just buy it for yourself if you’re a fan of German culture, even though it doesn’t always make sense to you.

Just be aware that there are a few “adult” chapters. It’s nothing to really blush about, but it might be worth skipping if you’re sharing the book with young or sensitive readers. Perhaps this is just a very American opinion, though.

You can buy it here!

Ten Tips for Surviving in Germany

Ten Tips for Surviving in Germany

My parents and younger sister are landing in Germany tomorrow, and in honor of their visit, and a bit too late to be of any real use to them, I have compiled a list of my top tips for surviving a trip to Germany – presented in no particular order.

1. Prepare for Grocery Shopping

Getting to the cashier in a German grocery store is a high-stress situation. They are speedy and everyone in line with you has high expectations for efficiency – they are German, of course. I prefer shopping with Mr. Faultier so we can team up and bag the groceries together. It also helps to place your items on the belt in the order you want to bag them. Then you don’t have to worry about organization while a grandma with two dozen liters of discount milk is staring you down.

If you truly are not ready for this, just get a cart, toss your stuff in after it’s rung up, and sort it at your leisure once you’re out of the line.

2. Review the Driving Rules

I’ve already written about driving in Germany, which will go into some more detail about some of the difference between driving in America and driving in Germany.

Germans are as impatient on the road as they are in the grocery store. Make sure you know the rules and keep in the right lane on the Autobahn, otherwise you’ll see an angry BMW in your rearview mirror.

3. Avoid Jaywalking

Crossing Signal
Photo: pixcarraldo

Germans are pretty big on order (Ordnung) and that applies to crossing the street properly. Crossing a street with no crosswalk is sometimes permissible depending on traffic and how close the nearest crossing is, but crossing at an intersection when the signal is red is highly frowned upon. You can maybe, possibly cross if the street is completely empty, but only if there are no children around. Setting a good example for the children is key. We must maintain the illusion of peace and order, for the sake of the kids.

4. Learn a Few Pleasantries

A little German goes a long way. Most Germans don’t have much of a problem using English if they know it, though they will be overly self-conscious about their skill level. But when you know how to ask for help and say thank you in German, others are much happier to help. And, hey, you’re in their country!

Helpful Phrases

EnglishGerman
PleaseBitte
Thank YouDanke (schön)
You're WelcomeBitte (schön)
Do you speak English?Sprechen Sie Englisch?
Can you help me?Können Sie mir helfen?

“Schön” in these phrases can be used to mean “very much”, so break it out for extra politeness if needed.

A phrasebook or booklet is going to be a lot more helpful than a full dictionary, especially if you’re only visiting. I have a dream of creating my own, but that hasn’t happened yet.

5. Ask for the Check at Restaurants

In America, waiters rush you out the door in order to turn over your table more quickly, however, eating out is one area where the Germans are less efficient. Europeans like their leisurely meals. A check will not show up at your table right after the dishes are cleared. If you are ready to leave, you have to tell the waiter that you would like to pay (“Ich möchte bezahlen.”) But if you want to linger a bit and chat with your dinner companions, go ahead! Unless you are the last ones in the restaurant, then you may want to consider leaving.

Added note: No need to get crazy with your math for the tip. Round up a euro or two, and you’re probably fine. Tips are called “Trinkgeld” – drinking money, they’re for the waiter to buy themselves a drink or two, not a main part of their income.

6. Request Still Water

Photo: Snufkin
Photo: Snufkin

If you don’t like sparkling water, the phrase “Stilles Wasser” is your best friend. Sparkling water is the default, so you have to specifically ask for still. If you order with an American accent or in English, the waiter may ask – using a variety of translations, my favorite being “without gas” – but no need to take any chances.

This method will still get you possibly pricey bottled water. If you really want tap water, you have to ask for “Leitungswasser”.

7. Remember that Eis is Not Ice

If a German asks you, “Do you want an ice (spelled “Eis” in German)?” they are not asking you if you want an ice cube. They’re offering you ice cream. Putting ice in drinks is not common, which is very odd to Americans who are used to more ice than beverage. If you want ice for a drink, you may want to ask for “Eiswürfeln” (ice cubes) instead of simply “ice” to avoid confusion.

8. Check Public Transportation Options

Photo: afrndz
Photo: afrndz

Public transportation is often better than driving. Gas is expensive, roads are often narrow and not originally designed for cars, and parking is scarce. Thankfully, buses, trains, and trams can get you almost everywhere. If you are planning a trip, check out the public transportation options. If you’re traveling around a city, especially, it may be much more practical than dealing with a car. If you choose that route, I’ve also written a few times about public transportation in Germany.

9. Get Ready for No Air Conditioning

If you are traveling in the summer, be prepared for scarcity of air conditioning. Most people don’t have it in their homes, and many businesses don’t bother. Major culture shock if you’re a wimpy American like me. Last summer, I compiled a list of tips for dealing with the German heat, which I will be reading over again as the temperature starts to climb.

Definitely pack layers for summer trips, because it doesn’t take long for the weather to go from pleasant and cool in the mornings and evenings to horrifically hot.

10. Forget Stereotypes

Germans are not mean. Most of the ones I’ve met are quite nice, even if they are a bit reserved and masters of the bitchy resting face. Here, “niceness” is more about actions than appearance. People don’t walk around smiling, but they’re usually happy to help, especially if you try asking for it in German.

 

Let me know in the comments if you have other tips to add! Or if you are visiting Germany soon and have any questions, feel free to ask!

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