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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Chocolate kebabs, travel restrictions and will we have Christmas markets this year?

From chocolate kebabs to Christmas markets and travel restrictions, here's the latest Living in Germany members newsletter from the team at The Local Germany.

Living in Germany: Chocolate kebabs, travel restrictions and will we have Christmas markets this year?
Photo: Rachel Stern

Each week the team at The Local Germany sends out a weekly members' newsletter looking at some of the quirks, perks and big issues for people living in the country. Here's the latest round-up and remember to get in touch if you spot anything that we should write about.

Tweet of the week

Some cities might be renowned for their fine cuisine. And while Berlin also counts a number of fancy restaurants where guests can wine and dine amid repetitive jazz music, it’s arguably best known for its street food, as this tweet from Slow Berlin points out.

The culinary collection includes Currywurst, Döner Kebab and let’s not forget Choco Kebab. 

 

Will Germany’s Christmas markets still take place?

Every year we look forward to Germany’s many Weihnachtsmärkte, where cosy stalls sell Glühwein, sweets and a variety of nicknacks. They’re the classic highlight of the holidays, but this year it’s up in the air if they will take place due to coronavirus worries.


The famous Cologne market, normally set at the foot of the city’s stunning Dom (cathedral) was already cancelled due to worries over how to enforce social distancing rules. In Berlin, where outdoor events of up to 5,000 people are allowed, the markets are still planned, but could be cancelled at any time, the city has warned.

Some other big cities are still planning some markets, but cancelling ones known to be particularly crowded. In Dresden, the Striezelmarkt, the country’s oldest Christmas market, will take place, yet its famous market at the foot of the Frauenkirche has been cancelled.

Did you know that?

The first printed book was written in German – thanks to the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1440. In fact, to this day, Germany remains one of the largest publishers of books in the world.

In September I (Rachel Stern) paid a visit to the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, which displayed two rare editions of the Gutenberg Bible, and included other one-of-a-kind first printed works from all around the globe. The very first German newspapers – and their intriguing history – were also part of the permanent collection.

After seeing a demonstration of how each printed character was meticulously stamped on one page, we can especially appreciate the ease of the written word today.  

Where is this?

Speaking of the state of Saxony, I spent the last weekend (perhaps the last in a while free of domestic travel restrictions) hiking in the beautiful Saxon Switzerland. At the start of October, vivid autumn colours illuminated the rocky (but luckily still dry!) paths.

Saxony’s only national park, the region is known for its spectacular Elbe Sandstone Mountains. The Malerweg (Painters’ Way) leads hikers through sweeping vistas which have not surprisingly inspired artists from all over the world. 

They were the backdrop of Germany’s most famous painting, Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog (1818) by German Romantic artist Casper David Friedrich.

Have your say

One of our readers from Berlin wrote to us to explain how he’s already been affected by the Germany-wide hospitality ban on overnight guests from the capital. He found out, unfortunately, when he’d already made it to the check-in desk, as he told us in this story.

Have any of your travel plans also changed due to travel restrictions – both within Germany or outside of it? Or are you feeling determined to find a way to take a trip as safely as possible?

Thanks for reading,

The team at The Local Germany

Rachel Loxton & Rachel Stern

[email protected]

 

 

 

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LIVING IN GERMANY

REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Oktoberfest
Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. Germany is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with being strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, come with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.

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