I have also found that some countries don't seem to take kindly to their own language being mangled by a tourist, while others give you full marks for at least trying.
Can anyone tell me how widely English is spoken in Germany? I would also appreciate thoughts on whether in a busy tourist area it is best to assume that English is spoken and start with that or to launch straight into German.
From my point of view, half the fun in travelling is to try to speak the language. However, if the person I am talking to is flat out trying to take orders in a busy cafe, you don't want to make things more difficult for them if they can in fact speak English.
The other thing I want to ask is whether I can assume that all the phrases in Rocket German are OK to use in general polite conversation anywhere in Germany? For example, in Premium Level 1 we learned the phrase "so ein Mist". Where I live we would not normally say the equivalent when talking to people we don't know very well. I once got into trouble with a Dutch family from the north of Holland by using a phrase which I had been told was perfectly acceptable in the south but was regarded quite differently in the north.