Wednesday, 12 October 2011

It's Life Jim, Almost But Not Quite As We Know It!

I admit to being somewhat naive when I first visited Germany, I suppose I thought that we were such close neighbours and relations that most things would be the same as there are back on the Island.  I can put this down to my not being well travelled at all, in fact I had only ever been to France three times, the last of which was when I was 12 and to Amsterdam for a few long weekends. I was 23 when I flew for the first time and with my trips to Germany I have more than doubled my lifetime flying in less than two years.

Things aren't massively different, even the words sound quite similar, but different nonetheless. Over the past three weeks there hasn't been a day when when one of us has enquired along the lines of "You do it that way in Germany?" or "You don't do it that way in England?"

Some of it may be seen as old fashioned by some, but myself I am quite pleased that Germany holds onto some values which have been long forgotten back home.  Here - as I know other bloggers have noted - Sundays are still rest days, the shops except for bakers are closed which means time to do other much funner things instead. 

Supermarkets are smaller and fresh produce is much more seasonal.  In my local Sainsbury's most of the fridges were taken up with ready meals but here I haven't spotted even one that compares, in fact I remember joking with a colleague a few years ago about potatoes not being muddy any more like when I was a child, I am pleased to report the veg here not only has evidence of coming from fields but is also in naturally occurring un-regimented sizes.

The food itself is of course quite different and Junk Food is not quite as widely available, for example back home I could log onto and order anything to be delivered to my door within 45 minutes, or to Sainsbury's for delivery the next day which just isn't possible to do here.  Which is good for me as I did far too much of that through my depressed non leaving house days and as a result have had to join WeightWatchers to work it off.  Now I have rediscovered the joy of cooking along with discovering for the first time the familiarly alien art of German cuisine, if you're interested in any of that you can check out my other blog Slimming in a Foreign Land.

On Monday I opened a Bank Account here, which I was surprised to hear would cost me a monthly fee on top of the cash machine fees which we don't pay in the UK unless it is one of those privately owned extortion machines.  However the most astonishing thing for me was when Uwe informed me he had made an appointment with his "guy at the bank" which I know used to exist in England before everything got centralised and shifted to massive call centres in Newcastle or New Delhi.

I have to say that a lot of things aren't necessarily better or worse over here or there just different, and I generally like how things are done here. I find the only really annoying thing is that most content on Youtube is blocked because of GEMA, but I can reliably tell you that pisses off the Germans just as much.


  1. Brilliant post!

    I find it amazing that if B has a banking problem he speaks directly to His Person at the bank - although this did mean we had a bit of a problem when we were away and he needed to speak to someone out of hours and there WASN'T a massive call centre in New Delhi for him to sort it out with... because it meant there was literally no-one to help him. It was ridiculous.

    Anyway, I'm going to check out your other blog just as soon as I've caught up with this one! :)

  2. So many adjustments to living in Germany, hm? =) I will say our banking experience here is F.A.B. and it's because we switched to an online bank, .ComDirect . They are SO on the ball and we actually get money from them every month to bank there, no lie. Granted, we can only use the ATMS for free at certain places, but we don't live in a tiny village, so it's cool.

    Customer service is also awesome. You call toll free and don't have to wait to get a live human who is both friendly and knowledgeable.

    My husband was with Sparkasse and Deutsche Bank his whole life, so it was a leap for him, but 4yrs later he's still recommends it to everybody, lol! I know I sound like an advertisement, but check them out! =)

  3. They give you money? Sounds like my kind of bank! I shall certainly check it out, thanks for the tip :)