Have you ever been to Germany? This is my first visit to the old world, and while most things are quite swell, it seems my enjoyment will be short lived as I am quite likely to die from dehydration.
Let me explain the problem for those unfamiliar. They don’t drink water in Germany. If you have been coddled by a hydrophilic upbringing in the United States, you might be used to plentiful, free, and typically iced water being available (or, indeed, foisted upon you) in restaurant situations. I am lucky to live in a country of means, and I know there are places in the world where acquiring potable water is a daily struggle, but I did not expect the world’s fourth-largest economy to be such a place.
Restaurants are always keen to sell mineral water, which is like regular water that you leave sitting too long in a tub of selenium. To add insult to aftertaste, the tiny bottles of mineral water are always the most expensive beverage on the menu. Unfortunately, those less expensive options all have counter-productive, dehydrating effects: coffee, Coca-Cola, beer, wheat beer, light beer, dark beer, non-alcoholic beer, etc.
I’m generally opposed to paying for gross-tasting, overpriced, environmentally-unsound bottled water, but I cannot drink principles. I once tried ordering “ice water” (as opposed to bottled “still” or “mit gas”) in a restaurant, and the waitress was completely confused by my request (“Eis” turns out to mean “ice cream” more often than it means plain old ice.) Once she realized what I was asking for, she said maybe they could serve water if I ordered a glass of wine, but certainly not just a glass of water by itself. That’d be weird.
The tap water I’ve taken to guzzling out of the sink is probably not going to kill me, but has given me a newfound respect for EPA water quality standards. Dear City of Mountain View municipal water supply: I’m sorry I ever thought mean things about you. You’re delicious! In the meanwhile, when in Berlin: