So, you're visiting Germany for the first time and your friends ask you to visit their apartment. They mention that they live on the second floor. Should be easy enough to find, right? When you get to the apartment building, the first thing you might notice (after getting past the front door) is that there are no elevators! There are more Canadians who hate ice hockey, than elevators in Germany! Next, you might notice that there are mail boxes usually located somewhere between the front door and seeming endless flights of stairs! But, chances are likely you won't find an apartment number next to the last names of your friends. But, they did mention living on the second floor, so this shouldn't be too hard, right? So, you walk up a floor.... No apartment numbers, Only names on the doorbells but their names are not here. Just as you are pondering why the name on the doorbell is wrong, you hear a friendly voice... "We're up here!" So, you go up one more floor.. But wait, did they already go inside and close the door? "Hello?" you say politely. "Keep going, we're up one more floor!" After one more hike up the stairs you finally find your friends.
"Sorry about that" you might proclaim, "I must have written down the wrong directions. I thought you lived on the second floor?" Your German friends will scratch their heads, and with a puzzled look, announce: "But, this is the second floor!"
This has actually happened to me far too many times! So, here is how you can avoid this situation!
First, never assume there will be an elevator! Your chances of spotting Bigfoot eating a currywurst at the Imbiss Stand around the corner are far more likely.
Second, most apartments use names, not numbers to identify where people live. If the name on the doorbell doesn't match the name you're looking for, it is likely that you are in the wrong place or on the wrong floor. Unless you're interested in making new friends (or enemies, depending...), don't ring the bell unless the name is correct.
And finally, figuring out which floor you're on can be a bit challenging, but this might be helpful. If any part of a floor is underground (even if it's only half of the floor) it's probably considered the basement. The floor above this, is called the ground floor (not the first floor). If only half of the basement is underground, it is possible that you might need to climb some stairs to reach the ground floor. Now, here's where it gets interesting. The floor above the ground floor, is called the first floor (not the second floor) So, it is very likely that you may need to climb one and a half flights of stairs before reaching the first floor. Depending on how tall the basement is, it may even be possible to climb two full flights of stairs before reaching the first floor! From the outside of the building, you might notice six layers of windows. Yet, the very top floor may only be considered the fourth floor.
Confused? No worries, even some Germans get confused too. Just remember to always check the names on the doors because they are probably accurate, bring your cell phone with you just in case you get lost, and always bring mountain climbing gear, extra food, a compus and leave an hour early if they mention living above the third floor...