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Munich, Germany
I am married to the love of my life and am finally able to shower him with all of the attention he deserves. I am now retired and living the life here in Europe. I am an American, he is an Australian, and this is our second overseas address. The first was Shanghai, China and now Munich, Germany. Come along and live the life with us as we continue our adventure of discovering all Europe has to offer.

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

German Ingenuity

Germans are fanatical about recycling. I'm not complaining, in fact, I wish we were as proud of our efforts to recycle. However, just one month in and I'm realizing how far the U.S. has to go with respect to how much it recycles or composts. Germany leads the EU in the number of household waste it recycles (65% versus 46% in the U.S. in 2007). Germans live to recycle. Every household in Germany has a waste drawer with three bins. One for paper, one for glass and plastic, and one for food waste. You may take your paper, plastic, and food waste to the bins provided outside your home. However, glass and metal have to be taken to the neighborhood bins pictured below. In case you want to discard of paper and plastics there also, you may do so. All bins are color coded for the type of waste material. German schoolchildren learn this color system in school at the earliest of ages; thereby, reinforcing the necessity of protecting the environment.

Heaven forbid, if you're new to Germany, as we are, and don't know the recycling rules. You don't have to worry though, your neighbors, who share your outside trash bins will be leaving you kind, but stern, notes on your door about how to properly dispose of all things trash. I hear the waste management system is strict and failure to comply will mean that they just won't pick up your trash the next time. EEKS!

Another thing Germans are fanatical about is their "quiet time" in the afternoon (between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm). Residents cannot run lawn mowers, play loud music, play instruments, or set off fireworks in their homes during these hours. It's verboten!

Speaking of running their lawnmowers....Viewing the many yards we've come across in our neighborhood-- there hardly seems to be a need for them. Lawns are not tended in the way Americans tend their yards. Grass is slightly overgrown and dandelions grow rampant. We haven't seen a "Weed Man" or a "Black Diamond" in sight. It appears that very few Germans spray their lawn with commercial weed killer--they just let them grow wild. No one seems to find them unsightly or the least bit embarrassing. It's nature "Gone Wild!" Now, how cool is that?

My German word for the day is , "Kippenfenster."This word describes the multi-mode tip widows that are used throughout Germany. They are awesome! You turn the handle in one position and the widow will open like a door. Turn the handle in the opposite direction and it will tilt downwards, towards you, from the top. Simply brilliant and so easy to clean! The cat can just lick it from the outside ! (And, no, we did NOT get a cat!)

Nonetheless, when it comes to windows, I have to ask, "Where are the darn screens for the windows?" That is a mystery that no one here seems to be able to answer. At first I thought it was because there were no bugs. That was at the beginning of spring, but I'm here to tell you that there are just as many flies, bees, ants, and moths here as there were back in the U.S. But where are the screens?

There are no grocery store bag boys or girls in German cities. It's bring your own bag (usually a cloth one, plastic is verboten! -- Not really, I just like using that word) and bag your own groceries. I have nothing against this practice and, in reality, I prefer taking my own bag. It makes me feel like I'm saving trees or at the very least, saving beaches from those horrible plastic bags floating about our waterways willy nilly. But the problem is that I'm way too slow of a packer and invariably I have an impatient German behind me. (I've been told "impatient" and "German" are synonymous). Knowing how to pack fast is a fine art. I now have new respect for the Kroger baggers.

Credit cards. Here in Munich they are largely denied as a form of payment. You can use your debit card or cash, first-born child, or blood donation of your choice, but no Visa, MasterCard, or American Express. Especially American Express. This country wants cash! After what we have been through in the states, can you blame them?

Watching Homer Simpson. Listening to Homer speak German on TV is a real hoot! Hearing Bart speak German is just plain crazy. There is no way to explain it. It just doesn't translate, believe me. Interesting fact: One of the American TV shows Germans seem to like the best is "Married with Children" with Al Bundy--Yeah! Our old re-runs. Who woulda thunk?

Dogs in restaurants. This would always give me a jolt when we travelled in Europe. I recall two women at a lovely table in a chic restaurant in Austria. Both women, dressed to the nines --furs and all-- were taking turns feeding a poodle (a fancy, "Fa Fa" poodle) spoonfuls of whatever it was they were eating. The dang dog sat between them on a window seat in front of a bay window on one of the chairs just smacking it's lips and turning from left to right while each lady taunted it with tiny spoon fulls of food. It still surprises me to see a dog sitting in a restaurant. Some things are just too ingrained I'm inclined to believe.

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