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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Summer flights, regional beers and not-so-friendly neighbours

In our weekly roundup for Germany we look at the intricate laws regulating good neighbourly behaviour as well as fears of chaos at German airports.

Living in Germany: Summer flights, regional beers and not-so-friendly neighbours
Boats take part in the Corpus Christi lake procession on the Staffelsee. Photo: dpa | Angelika Warmuth

Germany braces for a summer of flight chaos 

As the first German states prepare to break up for the summer holidays, we know that many of you are looking forward to packing your bags and jetting off somewhere nice for a week or two. But after the scenes at major European airports in the last few weeks, some people might be feeling just a little bit of trepidation about their dream summer getaway.

After reports of hour-long queues at security (which one of our readers aptly described as “like Disneyland – but with no elation”), there are fears that flight chaos could get even worse in the summer months. As we reported this week, this is largely due to the fact that airlines and airports sacked thousands of employees during Covid – without anticipating just how much people would want to travel once restrictions were scrapped.

In any case, if you’re flying somewhere this summer, don’t despair: with the help of our readers, we’ve put together some top tips to bear in mind when catching a flight in Germany

Tweet of the week

Regional differences in Germany are fascinating, and what better way to understand the different tribes than by mapping their favourite brand of beer? While many of these were predictable, we were slightly surprised to see that the well-heeled folk of Hamburg have a particular fondness for Becks. 

Where is this? 

A young woman holds her feet in the Staffelsee lake during the lake procession. Photo: dpa | Angelika Warmuth

This idyllic photo was snapped during the Fronleichnam public holiday at the breathtaking Staffelsee in Upper Bavaria. Each year during the religious festival, people  dress up in their finery to join a procession from St. Michael’s church in Murnau to St. Simpert’s chapel on the island of Wörth. Priests, altar boys, choristers and fishermen traditionally take part in the ceremony, rowing across the lake for blessings and fruit and before returning to the mainland once more. 

Did you know?

A story this week about a man “flipping the bird” at a speed camera and getting fined €5,000 for the rude gesture got us thinking about some of the slightly unusual laws in Germany. One thing that foreigners may accidentally fall afoul of when they move to Bundesrupublik is the strict regulation on neighbourly behaviour that is set out in the Nachbarrechtsgesetz – or Neighbourhood Law.

To make things especially confusing, each state has its own version of these neighbourhood rules. Broadly speaking, though, you can expect to have strict guidelines on how close your bushes and trees should be to your neighbours’ garden, when (and if) you’re allowed to wash your car and what type of noise you’re allowed to make.

We’ve heard that the German small courts spend a lot of time ironing out disputes between neighbours – including one family that apparently took their neighbours to court over the loud croaking of their frogs. (In case you’re wondering, the frogs won.) Have you ever found yourself on the wrong side of the Nachbarrechtsgesetz in Germany? Let us know by emailing [email protected]

Rachel and Imogen @ The Local Germany 

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LIVING IN GERMANY

5 signs you’ve settled into life in Germany

From stripping off to keeping your paperwork in order, here are five indications that you're becoming a true German.

5 signs you've settled into life in Germany

Germany can be a difficult country to settle into and there are a lot of strange traditions and cultural quirks that take some getting used to. But if you find that at least three of the following apply to you, it’s a sure sign that you’ve adapted to life in the country. 

You’re comfortable getting naked

One of the biggest shocks ex-pats often experience when first arriving in Germany is the ease with which Germans take off their clothes.

In saunas, spas and the changing rooms of sports facilities, it’s perfectly normal to walk around with everything on display in Germany. In the summer, the fondness for nudity becomes even more visible, as lovers of Frei-körper-kultur (FKK) bare all while basking in the sun on beaches and in parks.

So, if you find yourself happily shedding your clothes without a care in the world, it’s a sure sign you’ve become accustomed to life in the Bundesrepublik.

READ ALSO: Why do Germans love getting naked?

You don’t do anything on a Sunday

A young woman wears sweatpants in front of the TV in Offenbach am Main, Germany. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Christoph Schmidt

Nowhere is the saying “Sunday is a day of rest” truer than in Germany, and it’s a principle that can be baffling and frustrating to ex-pats who first move to the country.

The Sonntagsruhe (Sunday rest) principle is so important in Germany, that it’s even written into the constitution.

Article 140 of the law says: “Sundays and state-recognised public holidays remain protected by law as days of rest from work and spiritual upliftment.” 

This is why shops are closed on Sundays and why some home DIY could end up with a visit from the police – as making excessive noise is, in some cases, a criminal offence.

So if you find yourself shushing your neighbours for hoovering on the sabbath, you’re very well on the way to being a German.

READ ALSO: Why are shops in Germany closed on Sundays – and will it ever change?

You’re always on time

It’s no secret that punctuality is a big deal in Germany, and it’s a cultural trait that foreigners have to get on board with quickly.

Turning up just a minute late can result in missed appointments and a black mark against your name with your employer. 

It’s wise, therefore, to adopt the German practice of planning ahead, and aiming to arrive early.

So if you now consider arriving on time as already late and a meeting with friends organized with less than two weeks’ notice to be spontan (spontaneous) you’re 99 percent of the way to becoming German.

You have a filing cabinet

Getting to grips with German bureaucracy is one of the biggest hurdles newcomers to the country have to grapple with.

Tabs with the names of the different types of taxes such as “wage tax”, and “dog tax”, in a file folder. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Tobias Hase

There are countless Bescheinigungen (certificates) to keep hold of, you’re obliged to keep wage slips for at least a year, and health insurers and state authorities still love to send out paperwork. 

READ ALSO: Germany ranked as ‘worst country in world’ for essential expat needs

Once you’ve carelessly thrown away an important document or two, you quickly learn that the only way to survive in Germany is to keep track of your paperwork – and the best way to do that is to get yourself a filing system.

You go prepared to the supermarket

In Germany, grocery shopping is a serious business. 

Expats are often shocked by the lighting-fast check-out workers who expect you to bag your own items in an equally speedy manner to keep the queue moving. 

Supermarket trips for Germans also entail the return of bottles to the machine to reclaim their deposits. 

So, if your trips to the supermarket are accompanied by a bag full of Pfandflaschen and some sturdy, reusable bags, you can consider yourself well acclimatised to life in Germany.

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