Since giving up alcohol in 1994, I have firmly transferred my addiction to Coca Cola. Good for a sugar buzz and staying up all night, but it doesn’t make operating machinery a life-threatening endeavor. In the U.S., this works out nicely since most food places now consider Coca Cola, and other soft drinks, as a loss leader. This is because they are so cheap that food establishments still make money if they give you free refills. Consequently, sit down in most any restaurant or fast food establishment and the Cokes will seem to multiply on your table like a herd of rabbits.
In Europe, it seems, soft drinks need to be precisely measured and rationed out like a valuable commodity. For 2.50 euros, or the equivalent of $4.00 at this moment in time, you get 1/3 of a liter of Coke with no possibility of a refill. Because of the laid back attitude here (which is what we were looking for in Germany) your Coke arrives about 20 minutes before your food does. So you basically have nothing to wash your meal down with at the end of dinner.
Oh, and they don’t give you water either. You can buy 1/3 of a liter of water for about 1.60 euros (or about $2.50). What is interesting is that the beer sells for somewhere in the middle which makes me want to rethink my whole addiction thing. After all, beer was invented in Germany and tastes much better than in the U.S. Trust me!
P.S.: On our last day in Germany, we discovered that the restaurants must give you tap water for free if you request it. It’s the law. We just never thought of asking. Damn.