I thought I would spend some time describing some of the little German/European nuances that I’ve come across that I both love… or not. This will likely be a multi-part post as we continue to settle into our lives here and begin to travel around more. For now, read on!
When we visited last year, we’d heard about the heated floors in many of the German homes. However, experiencing it is amazing! It appears that most of the flooring throughout the homes are either tile or wood. I totally love this because I hate carpet! When I mention this, people always say, “but wood/tile is so cold!”
But in Germany? Nah, your toes are still warm when your feet hit the floor in the morning, or stepping out of the shower… or rolling around on the floor with your kid/doggo. Can this become a thing in the States, please and thank you?!
The Three-Way Window/Door and Rolladens
Now this is something that Tristan loves. Windows, and many doors, have three ways in which they can be: closed, open, tilted. It’s marvelous! I’ve been told that in the morning, the windows are tilted to “air the house.”
Air conditioning is also hard to find in Germany. It has been explained to me that until recently it was unnecessary because it simply did not get hot enough. One would simply tilt, or open their windows, and the home would remain cool. Since arriving, I have left many of the windows tilted during the day to keep the apartment at the perfect temperature.
One of the things I love the most about German windows: rolladens. Seriously, the US needs to get on board. They’re rolling shutters that when rolled down, make the room as dark as night. They’re a nightshifter’s dream (or a hangovers dream)!
It’s hard to call this a “little thing” as recycling in Germany is pretty impressive. I’ll be blunt: it puts to shame what we do in the states. There are multiple different bins for the different recyclables, and pretty much everything gets recycled.
I first experienced this on our visit to Germany last year. My friend’s infamous words were, “that can be recycled!” I’ll do my best to explain.
There is non-recyclable waste, organic waste, waste paper, yellow bag, and recyclable glass. Non-recyclable waste includes items like street waste, animal waste, hygiene products, and diapers. Organic waste includes items like leftover food (including bones), coffee grounds, small amounts of newspaper, etc. Waste paper is pretty self explanatory. It also includes cartons, pizza boxes, and books. Yellow bag is where all of your plastic recyclables go. What I find cool, is that it also includes styrofoam, bottle caps, and plastic bags, which the US recycling does not permit. Then there is recyclable glass, and is just that: glass items. Here’s a handy chart I reference multiple times a day:
Bottles of water, beer, and other beverages also come in crates. After finishing the bottle, you return it to the crate, which is then returned to the store for your deposit. You can also return individual bottles. This is known as the Pfand system. I found a really cute video to demonstrate the machines in the grocery stores:
Pretty impressive, huh? I’ve been having fun trying to figure out what item goes into what container. Many times I’ve swapped containers realizing I’d tossed something into the wrong one. I haven’t yet taken out the “regular trash” in the time we’ve been here. I rarely put anything in there.
Eggs… and other food
I know what you’re thinking; what could possibly be different about an egg? Well, let me tell you. The eggs are not generally stored cold; they’re out on the supermarket shelves. The quality I’ve encountered thus far is comparable to the eggs I get from friends that have chickens in the States. The yokes are so large and rich in color. And the taste is superb.
I have found that much of the fresh vegetables, fruits, eggs, and other things are of the highest standard and quality. Even the meats, milk, and juices. It makes me feel better about what I’m putting into my body.
From what I understand, Germany follows the laws and regulations of the EU (European Union), which tend to be stricter than the States. However, in my research, I also discovered that fruits and vegetables, while more expensive than packaged goods in the US, are cheaper in Germany (Insider). And, as my Grandma Siegel happily reminisced to me, Germans tend to go to the market multiple times a week. The refrigerators/freezers tend to be smaller allowing for less frozen items. It’s been fascinating learning the food culture of this country and how it differs to that of the States.
This concludes Part One of many of the little differences and nuances of Germany! What do you find most intriguing? Have you visited and noticed other things that you either enjoyed, or didn’t? Let me know in the comments!