SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Energy levy, lazy pig-dogs and a big bend in Saarland

In our weekly roundup, The Local Germany team looks at how energy bills are increasing, pig-dog insults, tourist spots in Saarland and cultural etiquette when it comes to birthdays.

Tourists check out the view in Saarland.
Tourists check out the view in Saarland. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Harald Tittel

German households to see gas bill hike in October

Though we’ve all heard the terrifying news about soaring gas prices, most people in Germany haven’t had to bear the full brunt of the rising costs yet. In October, that’s set to change. To help bail out energy firms who have had to buy gas at a hefty premium this year, the government is introducing a new levy that will be added to people’s gas bills. We don’t yet know how much this will be, though it could be as much as five cents per kilowatt hour of energy. That would mean a family of four could pay as much as €1,000 extra per year, and a single-person household could face extra costs of around €300.

Though there are still some issues to iron out with the levy, it seems pretty unavoidable that people will see their bills rise this winter. This week, we looked into whether it could be worth buying an electric heater for the home to save on gas bills, and also delved into the rules around replacing old heating systems. Have you taken any steps to reduce your energy consumption or make your home more efficient this year? Let us know at [email protected]. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Tweet of the week

Just when you think you’ve got to grips with the language, German throws you a curveball like this. (Incidentally, ‘inner pig-dog’ was our Word of the Day a short while ago – be sure to check it out if you’d like to learn more about this wonderful phrase.)

Where is this?

The 'great bend' in Saarland.

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Harald Tittel

The blistering weather clearly didn’t stop tourists flocking to see the Saarschleife – or the ‘Great Bend’ – on their summer holidays last week. This magnificent curve in the river Saar can be reached by a treetop walk, culminating in a lookout point where you can take in these breathtaking views. It’s one of Saarland’s most famous tourist attractions and well worth a visit if you find yourself in Germany’s smallest state – though possibly not in 35C heat!

Did you know?

Is it just us, or does everyone’s birthday seem to fall in either July or August? Either that, or people are much more likely to throw a party during the glorious summer months. (Statisticians – let us know.) In any case, if you do get invited to celebrate a birthday with a German friend of yours, you may need to observe some special birthday etiquette to avoid offending anyone.

Most importantly, if you see your friend ahead of their special day, the words “happy birthday” should be banished from your lips as celebrating early is a massive faux pas. And if it happens to be your birthday, don’t expect your German friends to cough up for a round of drinks or a birthday cake. In fact, as the birthday boy or girl, it’s your responsibility to bring treats to the office and you’ll even be expected to buy the drinks at the pub afterwards.

With traditions like these, we won’t blame you if you happen to get a bout of amnesia next time your birthday rolls around…

Thanks for reading,

The Local Germany team

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.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Keeping track of working hours, rude AfD sweets and Miniatur Wunderland

In our weekly roundup about life in Germany we look at the effect a recent court ruling could have on working life, weird political sweets, the leaning tower of Gau-Weinheim and Hamburg's cool model wonderland.

Living in Germany: Keeping track of working hours, rude AfD sweets and Miniatur Wunderland

Court ruling set to change the way we work in Germany 

One of our most-read stories this week was on the Federal Labour’s Court decision that employers in Germany should be recording the working hours of all their employees. Although it actually dates back to a ruling by the European Court of Justice (2019), no further action had been taken in Germany until now. So what does this mean? Well it appears that bosses, who don’t do this already, will soon have to set up a system to record their employees’ work schedules. The aim is to protect employees from working too much and carrying out unpaid overtime. But it does also raise issues about trust – which the current system is based on – and what happens when an employee works from home. There’s no clear start date for when this will have to start, and Germany is a long way off from being able to implement tracking of employees’ hours across the board. But it signals a cultural shift, and it’s something we can expect to be more integrated into working life in future. Imogen Goodman explored the decision in an explainer published on Friday. You can read more here.

Tweet of the week

There’s been some red faces among Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). The party in Lower Saxony had gummy bears made for their state election campaign in the shape of the red arrow from their logo. But people have spotted a very strong resemblance to something else….

Where is this?

Photo: DPA/ Boris Roessler

Forget the leaning tower of Pisa – today we’re highlighting some other magnificently crooked architecture. This is the leaning tower of Gau-Weinheim. Due to its inclination of 5.4277 degrees, the former fortified tower of the small municipality in Rhineland-Palatinate is considered the “most leaning tower in the world” according to the Record Institute for Germany (RID). 

Did you know?

With its rich history, location by the water and abundance of Fischbrötchen, the northern German city of Hamburg is well worth checking out. But did you know that it’s also home to the world’s largest miniature railway? Twin brothers Fredereki and Gerrit Braun set about creating the masterpiece back in 2000. One year later, Miniatur Wunderland opened its doors. The Wunderland has over 1,040 trains and a layout size of more than 1.490 square metres. You can take a trip around the world in the surroundings – and there’s even a miniature airport which simulates take offs and landings with model aeroplanes. The brothers are always expanding and consistently break their own Guinness World Records. It’s great for kids too. 

Thanks for reading,

The Local Germany team

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

SHOW COMMENTS