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Living in Germany: Endless rail chaos, gargantuan pillows and almond blossom

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Living in Germany: Endless rail chaos, gargantuan pillows and almond blossom
A jogger runs past cherry blossom trees in Bonn, North-Rhine Westphalia. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Thomas Banneyer

This week we look at the prospect of yet more rail chaos, Germany's strange obsession with big square pillows and a beautiful sign of early spring.


Living in Germany is our weekly look at some of the news and talking points in Germany that you might not have heard about. Members can receive it directly to their inbox on Saturday.

Is Germany set for more unlimited rail strikes?

After a month-long truce, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the endless rounds of rail strikes had come to an end - but last week they resumed again after the GDL train drivers’ union called a 35-hour strike on Deutsche Bahn services across Germany.

In a warning shot to DB bosses, GDL chairman Claus Weselsky threatened to launch a “wave of strikes” that would make rail services unreliable for the foreseeable future. That means that long-distance, regional and S-Bahn trains could be out of action for hours or even days on end if the two parties don’t manage to reach an agreement in their tough negotiations over pay and working hours. 

As well as a salary hike to help train drivers cope with higher living costs, the GDL union is pushing for a reduced working week of 35 hours, down from 38 hours, with no loss in wages.

Deutsche Bahn says it has made concessions amounting to up to 13 percent more pay, as well as the option of cutting the work week by one hour from 2026 - an offer that’s so far been rejected by the GDL.


With both sides digging their heels in, rail passengers should brace themselves for more disruption for weeks to come. 

Tweet of the week

Forget appointments at the immigration office and der, die and das - there are some even bigger things about Germany we’ll never get used to. 

Where is this?

Cherry blossom Germany

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Uwe Anspach

After a long and gruelling winter, it’s exciting to finally see blossom on the trees, marking the arrival of spring. This gorgeous avenue, lined with almond blossom, can be found in the picturesque village of Gimmeldingen in Rhineland-Palatinate. 

Did you know?

On March 8th, lucky residents of two German states had a day off work to celebrate Frauentag, or International Women’s Day. Berlin introduced the date to its calendar back in 2019 to try and make up for its dearth of public holidays, and Mecklenburg Western-Vorpommern followed suit in 2023. But the origins of Frauentag go back way further.


World Women's Day was first celebrated on March 19th, 1911 in Germany - and neighbouring countries - at the suggestion of German Social Democrat Clara Zetkin, a key figure in Germany's women's rights movement.

READ ALSO: Why Friday is a public holiday in only two German states including Berlin

More than one million women took to the streets on this first International Women’s Day demanding active and passive suffrage for women. And, in 1975, the United Nations made March 8th the “United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and World Peace”.

Today the date is celebrated with marches and protests across the country, and you may even see women handing out flowers in the street to mark the special occasion. 


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