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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Cheap transport, Elon’s ‘Berghain reaction’ and May traditions

In our weekend roundup for Germany we look at a story our readers have been enjoying this week, the most extreme reaction to (allegedly) not getting into Berghain and May Day traditions.

Cherry blossom trees line a street in Braunschweig, Lower Saxony.
Cherry blossom trees line a street in Braunschweig, Lower Saxony. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Stefan Jaitner

Will you opt for Germany’s cheaper transport ticket?

One of the biggest stories our readers have been interested in this week is the introduction of the €9 monthly transport ticket and how it will work. Yes, that’s right – Germany is reducing the cost of public transport massively for three months over summer. From June, people will be able to use the special ticket which costs €9 per calendar month – €27 in total. Given that monthly tickets for travel can cost anywhere between €70 and €100 depending on where you live in Germany, it’s a massive reduction. The measure is part of the energy relief package which should ease the pain of inflation made worse by Russia’s war on Ukraine, as well as lure people away from their cars. But there are some worries about overcrowding, and it won’t benefit people who live in rural or less well connected areas. Will you be using the ticket? And do you think it should stick around after three months? Or is it a waste of money?

Tweet of the week

After billionaire Elon Musk struck a deal to buy Twitter, lots of social media users joked that this was a reaction to being turned away from Berlin’s legendary Berghain nightclub. On a recent visit to Berlin, Musk seemed to suggest that he refused to enter the club… but many speculated that he failed to get past the bouncers or couldn’t deal with the notoriously long queue. There is no special treatment when it comes to Berghain!

Where is this?

Photo: DPA/Daniel Löb

Many Germans, including in Bavaria, Lower Saxony and Baden-Württemberg, like to celebrate May Day with a Maibaum (May tree) which is similar to the maypole of European folk fest traditions. It’s no wonder then that Nuremberg has a fun-themed Maibaum for their spring festival. Pictured here on April 16th, the Bayern Tower, a 90-metre high chain carousel, is known as the “highest maypole in the world”. One for the brave people who are not scared of heights!

Did you know?

May 1st is a significant day on the German calendar. Tag der Arbeit (International Workers’ Day) sees marches and demos calling for improved workers’ rights. There are also often riots against the police that take place in some areas, such as Berlin’s Kreuzberg and Neukölln districts. Banks and shops still board up their windows to avoid damage during the riots. 

There’s also the Maibaum tradition that we mentioned above. In some communities across Germany, a tree (or pole) is decorated with colourful streamers and flowers. Apparently towns try to steal each other’s May trees. It’s all part of the fun. 

Dancing in the new month (Tanz in den Mai) is also a favourite of Germans, particularly young people. You’ll find the odd Maifest (May festival) taking place with music and entertainment.  If you’re into witchcraft and fantasy then there is Walpurgisnacht or Hexennacht (Witches’ Night), which runs overnight from April 30th to May 1st. Germanic folklore says witches would meet on the peak of Brocken in the Harz mountains to revel with the Devil. Women in the Harz area (and beyond) still dress up, get their dancing shoes on and pull some moves to this day. 

Thanks for reading,

Rachel and Imogen @ The Local Germany 

This article is also sent out as a weekly newsletter just to members every Saturday. To sign up and get it straight into your inbox just go to your newsletter preferences.

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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Exploring locally, Bargeld and the NRW state election

In our weekend roundup for Germany we look at exploring the country this summer, the country's obsession with cash and some facts about North Rhine-Westphalia, which goes to the polls on Sunday.

Living in Germany: Exploring locally, Bargeld and the NRW state election

A chance to explore Germany 

Although we’re still in the pandemic, it feels like life in Germany is beginning to feel a bit more like it did before Covid hit us. With many restrictions easing, people have been really enjoying spring and looking forward to summer.  So it’s no surprise that many of you have been reading our stories about travel. Our articles on the €9 monthly ticket as well as train travel in Germany and beyond have been particularly popular. The public transport offer will also give many people the chance to explore closer to home. I know I am really looking forward to seeing more of Germany, whether it’s around the Brandenburg area near where I live, or going further afield (Heidelberg, I’m looking at you). I’d love to know if you want to use the €9 ticket or if you have any plans to explore Germany this summer. Please fill in this survey on the €9 ticket (it’s open until Monday) and get in touch with your opinions or other travel plans by emailing [email protected]. Thanks so much to those of you who’ve already been in touch.

Tweet of the week

The German love of cash or Bargeld in 2022 while the rest of the world goes contactless is indeed one of life’s greatest mysteries, as this tweet highlights. We’ll definitely be using our ‘ask a German’ series to try and find out more about this habit… 

Where is this? 

Pankstrasse U-Bahn
Photo: John MACDOUGALL / AFP

Berliners or those who’ve visited the capital may recognise this U-Bahn station which is situated in the north. The station is actually part of the Pankstrasse nuclear fallout shelter. Built in 1977 during the Cold War, this “multi-purpose” facility was intended to protect the citizens of West Berlin in case of a nuclear conflict. The bunker serves not only as an U-Bahn stop for commuters but also, in an emergency, could have sheltered 3,339 people for up to two weeks. For those interested, we’d recommend checking out a tour like those run by Berliner Untervelten E.V. Due to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which has led to massive tension between Europe and Russia, the tours have become even more topical.

Did you know?

Since people in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) or Nordrhein Westfalen are going to the polls this Sunday, we thought we’d look at some facts about this western state. This is Germany’s most populated state with about 17.9 million people. It’s also home to the most foreigners – around 2.5 million non-Germans live in NRW. With cities such as Cologne, Düsseldorf, Dortmund and Essen, the state is a culturally rich and diverse part of Germany. Many people don’t know that Bonn was the capital of the former West Germany all the way up to reunification, before Berlin took the title. Many federal buildings and institutions still have their base there. 

The state is led by Christian Democrat Hendrik Wüst who took over last year after Armin Laschet resigned as state premier following his unsuccessful federal election bid. The CDU is currently in a coalition with the Free Democrats. But it looks like change is on the horizon. The CDU and the Social Democrats are both polling at around 30 percent, with the CDU having a slight lead of two to four percentage points. Meanwhile, the FDP appears to have lost support. It’s going to be a tight race – and the Greens party – polling at around 17 percent – will likely be the kingmakers. Important topics for voters include the future of German industry, and how to secure jobs in the move to renewable energy. Many people see this election as a test for the federal government which is led by the SPD’s Olaf Scholz. 

Thanks for reading,

Rachel and Imogen @ The Local Germany 

This article is also sent out as a weekly newsletter just to members every Saturday. To sign up and get it straight into your inbox just go to your newsletter preferences.

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