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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

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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