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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: €9 ticket impact, digital woes and Leipzig festivals

In our weekend roundup for Germany we look at how reducing the cost of public transport is impacting services as well as some interesting festivals in Leipzig.

People don costumes to attend Leipzig's famous goth festival in Clara Zetkin Park.
People don costumes to attend Leipzig's famous goth festival in Clara Zetkin Park. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Hendrik Schmidt

Is the €9 ticket really affecting public transport?

One of our most-read topics this week was our news stories and analysis on the €9 monthly ticket. Yes, Germany’s very cheap transport offer is all set up and running until the end of August. But what impact is it having on everyday journeys? The ticket got its first big test last weekend during Whitsun, where staff representatives said many services were packed to the brim. It resulted in some trains and platforms being cleared, and people being refused entry. Meanwhile, Berlin and Brandenburg’s public transport operator VBB has urged people to avoid travelling to the Baltic Sea this weekend with the €9 ticket because regional services are disrupted due to construction work. It does raise questions about how prepared (or not) authorities are to deal with the enthusiastic response to travel. If the appetite is there then Germany will have to kick into gear to expand and invest in services. We’ll be watching how the €9 ticket is having an impact in the coming weeks, and what it means for the future.

READ ALSO: €9 ticket: Hundreds of German trains ‘overcrowded’ on long weekend

Tweet of the week

If you think that Germany’s slow move to the digital side only affects us normal people, think again. Even Chancellor Olaf Scholz has to deal with it. Let’s hope he does something about it!

Where is this? 

Photo: DPA/Sebastian Gollnow

For a stunning view of the Rhine valley, head to the Niederwald Temple in the Niederwald Park above Rüdesheim am Rhein. You can hike up to the temple, but it’s also fun to take the Rüdesheim cable car up to the Niederwald Monument and take a break at the Niederwald Temple during the downhill hike. The temple was built in 1790 by Count von Ostein. During the romantic era of the 19th century, the temple was apparently visited by the poet Clemens Brentano, as well as Beethoven and Goethe. 

Did you know?

Leipzig is a cool German city to visit, and not just for the Lerchen – the little cakes made with a mixture of almonds, nuts and a cherry. Did you know it is also home to a variety of international cultural festivals? The Bach Festival, celebrating German composer Johann Sebastian Bach takes place until June 19th, and the Goth Festival (Wave-Gotik-Treffen) happened last weekend on June 3rd-6th. Bach was born in Eisenach in 1685 and died in Leipzig in 1750. He was famous in the city for serving as musical director at the St Thomas Church for almost 30 years. The festival promises to explore his musical works, with Bach societies and ensembles meeting from all over the world in the eastern German city.

Meanwhile, Leipzig’s alternative feel comes alive during the goth festival which sees people dress up in punk and gothic styles. The high point is a Victorian picnic in Clara-Zetkin Park.

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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For members

LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Looking abroad for airport workers, greeting cards and chimney sweeps

In our weekly roundup for Germany we look at what the government is doing to ease the air travel staffing crisis, very German greeting cards, lightning storms and the Schornsteinfeger - chimney sweep - lucky tradition.

Living in Germany: Looking abroad for airport workers, greeting cards and chimney sweeps

Germany looks for help abroad to ease aviation staffing crisis

Last week the German government made the exceptional move of stepping in to help private firms in the aviation sector restore their staffing levels. Ministers announced they will cut red tape to allow private companies to employ workers from abroad on a temporary basis, due to the chaos that we’re seeing in German airports and airlines. From long queues at security or when claiming baggage, to flights being cancelled, it can be a real nightmare to travel in Europe at the moment. One reader even contacted us to say he had to wait two and half hours on a plane in Düsseldorf because there apparently wasn’t enough baggage staff to load cases onto the flight. That’s why the German government says it will allow companies to employ staff from abroad at short notice. However, at the same time, ministers came down hard on the private sector for not preparing for the rising demand for travel. German’s Labour Minister Hubertus Heil Heil criticised many companies in the aviation industry for laying off staff in the pandemic – or not topping up reduced hours (Kurzarbeit) pay despite government support. 

Even if the sector manages to fill many positions, it will still take time to clear hurdles so it looks like we’re in for at least a few more weeks of stress if travelling by plane. And with more states about to go on their school holidays, it’s just going to get busier. Keep us posted on how it’s going in German airports if you’re on the move this summer – we’re always eager to hear your experiences. 

Tweet of the week

The dedication to cars and driving in Germany is quite something, as the tweet below shows. 

Where is this? 

Lightning over Frankfurt
Photo: DPA/Jan Eifert

There’s been a lot of mixed weather in Germany this week, with extreme heat, thunderstorms and hailstones depending on which part of the country you live in. This picture shows a spectacular storm on Thursday in the Frankfurt area. It was taken from the Großer Feldberg in the Taunus mountains.

Did you know?

I (Rachel) received my first visit in Germany from a chimney sweep (der Schornsteinfeger) on Friday. Although I don’t have an open fire in my flat, chimney sweeps in Germany are still needed once a year to check your heating system, check for gas leaks and carry out any other maintenance in that area. Did you know Germans also believe seeing a Schornsteinfeger brings good luck? Some say it comes from the olden days when sweeps cleared your chimney meaning you’d be able to cook again and reduced the risk of fires. It’s also meant to be especially lucky to see a chimney sweep on your wedding day or New Year’s Day. This is thought to be partly because traditionally chimney sweeps would collect the fee for their services on the first day of each new year, meaning they were often among the first to wish families a happy new year. Along with miniature pigs (which Germans also find lucky), horseshoes, ladybirds and four-leaf clovers, little chimney sweeps made out of marzipan or plastic are also given as a New Year’s gift to loved ones.

READ ALSO: Eight things German believe bring good luck 

A chimney sweeper in Wernigerode, Saxony-Anhalt.

A chimney sweeper in Wernigerode, Saxony-Anhalt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Matthias Bein

Some chimney sweeps (although not all!) wear a traditional uniform complete with top hat and silver buttons. Giving one of the buttons a twirl is said to bring good luck, but you’d have to politely ask them before doing it!  

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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