Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Adventures in Germany Part 2

It's been an interesting month here in Hamburg, although we haven't really done that much. When we got here it was COLD and snowy, which being from the East Coast originally wasn't entirely awful, but was a shock to the system after being in SoCal and NoCal for the last 4 years. It's gotten more temperate and Chris started his job today, so now I'm working out my own schedule and getting back on track. The only downside to living here so far is how dark it gets and how early. The sun doesn't rise until well after 8am and starts setting around 3:30. By 4:30 it's midnight dark. Although a lot of people seem to assume I hate sunlight because of my pale skin and gothy fashion choices, it's just summer sun I don't like. I've never liked daylights savings in the US, but this is even more extreme and a little depressing. But since I have no control over when the sun rises and sets, not much I can do.

We have gotten to know our neighborhood a bit, found some great eateries (big shout out to the super friendly Greek restaurant around the corner, they are SO lovely) and went to two Christmas Markets. The enormous one by the Rathaus was like SDCC level crowded, but I got some spices and a beanie squid. Germans do not mess around when it comes to these things, they are huge and splendid and smell like the most amazing baked goods.

Random differences I've noticed between here and the US so far:

1. Germans stare and are not even remotely shy about it. And if they don't approve of you, they will make a face not unlike Grumpy Cat. Mind you, I have blue-ish hair, but odd hair colors aren't that unusual here, I've seen lots, especially on college students. It just seems to be a cultural thing where Germans look at you directly and judge you. Or that's how it feels.

2. People do not get out of each other's way on sidewalks. I'm from NYC so I'm used to offensive/defensive walking, but it's still a little odd. Even if you clearly have nowhere to go and they do, they are not going to move for you. I watched two grown men do this and walk into each other and then get cranky about who should have made space.

3. Biking is a way of life. Although plenty of people drive, biking is extremely common. There are even bikes you can "rent" on the street, though you don't actually pay anything. They usually have fleets of them set up on street corners.

4. Germans really love their fireworks on New Years. People were going kind of banana's with them for at least an hour on NYE. Cats were unthrilled. You can buy them at the grocery stores here. But you can't get aspirin unless you go to the Apotheke.

5. Vitamins are not as common, and they don't come in jars, they come in pack sleeve things.

6. "Light" or "low-fat" options are not real popular here. There are a few, mostly in milk and cheese, but in general stuff has fat in it and they are completely fine with that.

7. Sugar. They really like sugar here. Our landlord left us like 3 different types when we moved in. HFCS is not a thing so soda and sweets taste MUCH better. By a thousand miles.

8. Yogurt. This is like the biggest section in every store that sells food. They have more types of yogurts than I have ever seen before and they will make it in just about any flavor.

9. Cherry or "kirsche". This is a big ingredient here, which makes me VERY happy. Much more common here than in the states.

10. Pre-packaged frozen meals exist but they don't take up several aisles. They might take up half of one. In general there aren't a bajillion brands, so it's a little simpler to shop because you aren't overwhelmed with options. Except if you're buying yogurt.

11. Chocolate here is AMAZING. I'm a dark chocolate girl, but I even like their milk chocolate. Probably because it's real chocolate and not the stuff they try to pass off as chocolate in the US.

12. Germans eat when they are hungry, while walking, in public, and do not give a crap what they look like. I'm not used to this, especially women. But here no one cares about trying to look dainty. They just eat and crumbs be damned.

13. Other people have noted the truly prolific amount of drinks with carbonation here, but it's definitely true. Which is awesome for me.

That's it for now. As we get out more and wander I'm sure I"ll notice more stuff.


  1. It's a bit funny to read this. About 6 months ago I moved from Sweden to the San Francisco Bay Area. And even though there are some differences between Germany and Sweden, I've experienced most of your points in reverse. Most notably being that it is both hard and expensive to get good yoghurt here.

  2. Furthermore Fun in Germany!


  3. Not sure if it’s the same in Germany, but in the UK, the chocolate tastes better due to the dairy pasteurization process. I would just destroy huge Dairy Milk bars when I lived over there. Chocolate was also really cheap too, but then again, I lived over there in ’04 so that might have had something to do with it. Food shopping was tough at first for me, but after a while I found ‘replacement’ brands and products. I ate a lot of fish and drank a lot of tea that year.

    Great observations.