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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Pretzels, wine season and back to ‘home office’?

In our weekly roundup for Germany we look at plans to introduce working from home again over autumn/winter, wine growing regions and the cultural significance and history of the pretzel.

Living in Germany: Pretzels, wine season and back to 'home office'?
Agricultural Minister Cem Özdemir shows a pretzel. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

To work from home or not work from home?

The Covid-19 pandemic may have become a bit less urgent in recent months (thankfully). But Germany is still preparing for the colder months with a set of new Covid measures, including mandatory masks on long-distance transport and planes, and the possibility for states to impose further restrictions. Last week it also emerged that Labour Minister Hubertus Heil wants to reintroduce the ‘working from home’ rule from October. He said employers should allow staff to do ‘home office’ when possible to protect people from Covid. This summer, many people have been returning to their workplace full time after the disruption caused by the pandemic. But others haven’t been quite so excited to go back into the office. Another dimension to consider is that energy bills rising may actually make working from home a lot more expensive than usual. It will be interesting to see how workers and bosses react to this planned rule returning, and what it means amid the energy crisis. As always, if you have any thoughts then let us know.  

Tweet of the week

Right now it’s a tasty snack or on-the-go breakfast. But soon the pretzel could have UNESCO heritage status. Agricultural Minister Cem Özdemir said he was getting behind an application by the baker’s guild of Baden-Wurttemberg for pretzel-baking to be recognised. His tweet says: “Here I am campaigning for the traditional Swabian pretzel to become a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage, so that it can survive the current times of crisis – produced sustainably & regionally.”

Where is this?

Wine growers in Germany

Photo: DPA/ Boris Roessler

While Germany is well known for its beer culture, the state of Rhineland-Palatinate is renowned for wine. Its extensive winegrowing region makes it the leading producer of wine in the country. In total, the state has over 250,000 acres of vineyards. In this photo, a harvest worker picks red grapes at a vineyard above Heimersheim in the Ahr Valley after the harvest kicked off this week. The area is known for the pinot noir that grows on its steep slopes. 

READ ALSO: Meet the man introducing internationals to German wine

Did you know?

We’re sticking to the delightful topic of German bread this week, namely pretzels. Now we realise that the history of pretzels warrants a whole article on its own (we’ll add that to our to-do list). But did you know that the humble knotted snack (die Brezel in German) dates back centuries? There are lots of theories on how the bread originally came about and whether it was originally baked in Germany, or in fact Italy or France. But it’s fair to say that it’s completely embedded in German culture and cuisine. 

And whatever the background, the pretzel has early roots in Southern Germany. It is said that German pretzel bakers used the knotted shape in the emblem for their guild as early as the 12th century. Nowadays there are several types of pretzel, such as with salt or butter. In Bavaria it’s often eaten for breakfast alongside Weißwürst (white sausage) and sweet mustard. Swabian pretzels have a slightly different texture and typically have thinner ‘arms’ and a fatter ‘belly’ area. Don’t mind us, we’re just rushing off to the baker to grab one of these delights. 

Thanks for reading,

The Local Germany team

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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Long-distance train boost, confusing kitchens and Hanover highlights

In our weekly roundup about life in Germany we look at plans to invest in the train network, the perplexing lack of kitchens in German flats, the arrival of Herbst and some cool things about Hanover.

Living in Germany: Long-distance train boost, confusing kitchens and Hanover highlights

German long-distance travel set for modernisation programme

There are some really positive things about train travel in Germany, but there is definitely lots of room for improvement. So we were glad to report this week that Deutsche Bahn is planning a €19 billion modernisation programme. The operator says that an extra 450 high speed – or ICE – trains will be added to the country’s network in the coming years. CEO Richard Lutz said the aim is to invest in “the trains of the future”, and even unveiled new double-decker models that will include special office cabins and family areas. The aim is to encourage people to leave their car at home and take the train. Let’s hope that punctuality gets better along with the style of trains. And there is good news when it comes to local public transport: German transport ministers plan to thrash out a plan next month for a €9 ticket successor. Although details are thin on the ground at the moment, it is likely to cost €49 and will be valid on buses, trains and trams throughout local transport networks. 

READ ALSO: How did train travel in Germany get so bad?

Tweet of the week

We relate to English footballer Georgia Stanway, who plays for Bayern Munich, and her confusion about German flats being rented out without a kitchen.

Where is this?

Pumpkins being taken by boat.

Photo: DPA/ Patrick Pleul

You know it’s Herbst (autumn) in Germany when the pumpkins are out in force. This photo shows Harald Wenske steering a Spreewald barge fully loaded with pumpkins across the water. The 72-year-old also grows potatoes, horseradish and beets in addition to pumpkins on his farmland, which is surrounded by waterways. Now is the time when you’ll start to see Kürbis (pumpkin) on the menu everywhere. 

READ ALSO: 10 ways to enjoy autumn like a true German

Did you know?

Situated on the River Leine, Hanover is the capital of Lower Saxony, which has a state election coming up on October 9th. But did you know it is also home to the World of Kitchens museum (or das Küchen-Museum), the first of its kind in Europe? The museum houses a cafe and cooking school, and features dozens of real kitchen exhibits from different cultures and eras starting from the Middle Ages. Visits to the museum are only possible with pre-booked guided tours, but are well worth it for food and history lovers.  Either at the end of your tour or before, make sure to indulge in traditional German cake and coffee at the Museum’s Schloss Cafe. While in Hanover, you should also check out the Royal Gardens of Herrenhausen, the New Town Hall and Eilenriede Forest. 

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.

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