Posted by on Apr 2, 2012 in Adventures in Germany, Europe, Personal, Travel | 11 comments

Between keeping busy, traveling or taking daytrips, and general tech issues with my computer or the internet, I haven't blogged nearly as much as I'd like to. To share a lot of our experience in a few words and pictures, I decided to do so topically.  If you're following along, please tell me what you think!!

 

Adelhozener sparkling water, Passau, BavariaThree things I haven't done since arriving.

  1. Had ice in my drinks.*  Tis true, no one ices their drinks here. Because it's been COLD for the first two months of our stay, I haven't minded.  I wonder how I'll feel come July…….
  2. Used hairspray.  I packed my precious Vavoom, but I'll be danged if "Contents Under Pressure" means something!  My entire can depressed during the flight over……and two very stiff, hairspray-smelly sweaters later, I learned to respect the warning label.  (OF COURSE they have hairspray in Germany but I decided to go au natural.  Speaking of which…#3…)
  3. Shaved my legs.**  I have not gone this long without shaving since I was 11!!  Oh my.  And it wasn't because of "When in Rome…" either.  Our shower is very small, and it was SINGLE DIGITS when we arrived! ANYTHING I could do to keep warmer was The Right Answer. Plus, a) when it gets to a certain point, leg hair is much softer than freshly shaven prickles, b) I've worn only LONG pants, and c) my husband hasn't complained (I'm sure because he hasn't SEEN it).  If you enjoy the burn of scorched retinas, I might've taken a picture or two (but only because my daughter asked me).

Three things I cannot find:

  1. Measuring spoons.  German bakers and cooks must be smarter than American cooks because they KNOW how much to use, OR maybe eyeballing and "close" is good enough.  Thankfully, a colleague of my husband's who arrived here a few weeks after us brought me a set (in addition to a large plastic pitcher and #2 below). 
  2. Packed brown sugar.  There's a version of brown sugar but it's granulated like refined white sugar.
  3. Crisco shortening.  Can you tell I've been wanting to do some baking?  Plus, I've wanted to try a few new German recipes but my kitchen isn't stocked with any baking supplies and I haven't yet splurged on what I need.

 

Three things I really like about our apartment:

  1. The windows

      Window shades in Germany

    • Handle in the "down" position, closed & locked.
    • Handle turned to the side, windows open like a door into the room.
    • Handle turned in the "up" position, windows crack about 3" at the top (GREAT for cross ventilation, especially important since there's NO SUCH THING AS CENTRAL AIR IN GERMANY!  Residentially speaking, anyway.).
  2. The shades.
     Image
    Maybe these exist in the US, but I've never seen 'em.  Through an indoor strap/pulley system, the shades can be shimmied all the way open; lowered at any interval between top and bottom; lowered all the way but cracked to allow light; and COMPLETELY blacked out!  J'adore!  J'adore!  You could nap anytime with these suckers!
  3. German light switchThe light switches.  It's a silly thing to like, but they're all depressed by buttons, not traditional switches.  It feels fancy but doesn't look it.

Three things I don't like about our apartment:

  1. Photo-11The tiny refrigerator (standard in German homes; I've yet to see one in anyone's home that comes close to a small standard in the US) and shallow sink.  I get a shower and the back tile is splashed every time I forget and turn on the water at full pressure.  Which is every time I turn on the water.
  2. Lack of privacy/quiet.  With tile floors everywhere and an open floor plan and smallish square footage, sound echos like canyons; there's no such thing as privacy anywhere when two or more people are here.
  3. The toilet.  Oh, my.  Germans are fantastic conservationists, which means their low flow toilets are even low-flowier than anything I've seen in the U.S.  They don't have a knob for flushing, they have two buttons–the "small" one for boys only, and the "large" one for any business involving paper.  And I think there's about four tablespoons of water in the bowl.  In other words, there's a learning curve to using the bathroom "well," and if you can't follow what I'm sayin' come over for a visit and you'll understand in no time…..

Buttons on a German toilette

Three surprises:

  1. Pets are welcome in restaurants and retail venues.  It's one thing to see a puppy at an open air market, and an entirely NOTHER thing to see a dog walking up and down grocery store aisles or sitting at the feet of its owner while you eat!!  They're always leashed and well behaved but I can't imagine this happening in the US (other than service animals).
  2. The beds/bedding.  We were told not to bring bed linens because they wouldn't fit.  Here's why:  Below is a King-sized bed; note the Lucy/Ricky Ricardo effect–TWO SINGLE BEDS essentially pushed together!  Also, there is no such thing as a King comforter–I have seen ONLY single covers for King beds in stores like below!  Rarely are they an exact match but they always coordinate in color and pattern. 
     German king-sized bed
  3. Experiencing a real sense of community here.  We've met people in groups–the employees who traveled over together, the women (and Gordon) who meet twice monthly for breakfast, English speakers who may/may not be German and may/may not be associated with my husband's employer; everyone without exception has welcomed us with open arms, intentional about gathering on a regular basis.  Their kindness and generosity has impacted and changed me. 

Three favorite things to do:

  1. Stammtisch.  <— This deserves an entire blog post.  Stay tuned.
  2. Ride my bike instead of taking the car.  While I admit I'm fair weather about riding, there's a wonderful sense of g o o d n e s s associated with riding when I'd normally drive.  It's hard to express in only a few words, so maybe I'll elaborate later.  (My husband is a rock star with this one riding to work when it was single digits with 8" of snow on the ground….)
  3. Wander small villages and towns within driving distance and learn a little about their history and what makes them special.  Oh, my.  EVERY town is special; every village has a story to tell.  I only wish we'd have translaters everywhere we go….

DSC_0775

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What a FUN way to share some of my impressions of Germany!  The next list is already underway and I promise I won't make you recoil in disgust next time :).

* On my birthday Friday – after I had almost finished this post – I got together with some girlieQs for Art Day.  Deede surprised me with "You need ice?  I GOT ice!"  What a nice little surprise.

** Let's blame it on the birthday again–the day before I was scheduled for a pedicure; there's only four reasons I'm willing to shave:  1)  annual doctor's appointment (ahem); 2) I'm planning on wearing a dress, capri's, shorts or bathing suit; 3) Tad hints around…; 4)  I'm getting a pedicure.  I didn't have it in me to go without shaving :).