Archive | June, 2014

Last night of the Bergkirchweih

18 Jun

So Monday 16th June 2014 was the official last night of the Erlangen Bergkirchweih, it just so happened to coincide with Germanys first World Cup match, would there even be anyone there?

Of course there were people there! After the football finished there were a LOT more very happy and already plastered people there. Last night is something I would recommend to anyone living in Erlangen, it always has a lovely atmosphere and there is just something more authentic about Bergkirchweih during the week (I suppose less tourists for a start). We checked out some rides, had some very unhealthy and delicious food and settled down at the Steinbach biergarten, no dancing on tables but good conversation instead.

524937_10102400524726021_1153711483_n

Overlooking Erich Keller

The real fun starts at the closing ceremony. Every year the last barrel is taken and buried at the keller which will hold the opening ceremony of next years Bergkirchweih.

Eagerly awaiting the last barrel of the Bergkirchweih

Eagerly awaiting the last barrel of the Bergkirchweih

Cue men in costume with pickaxes and spades carrying a beer barrel above their heads through a crowd of roughly 5000 people. And it gets more bizarre I promise….

DSCF8152

Erlangen’s Mayor Florian Janick seemed to enjoy his beer and time on stage, thanks for keeping the speech short

…To wave goodbye to the barrel you have to wave your white handkerchief (or tissue in most people case)….

DSCF8168

Waving goodbye to the last barrel of the Bergkirchweih

…Whilst singing ‘Blutwurst und Sauerkraut’ to the tune of…wait for it….The English National Anthem. Honestly it’s true, check out this video of the 2012 closing (as my camera died).

The barrel made it’s way through the crowds of people, the mayor made a short speech (and seemed to enjoy his spotlight on stage) and then just like that, it was over.

Until next year, Erlangen Bergkirchweih 2015 21/05-01/06.

Advertisements

Happy world gin day!

14 Jun

I couldn’t let this day go unblogged and uncelebrated. Gin is truly one of the loves of my life. From uni days with 60p gin shots to having to order gin and a separate tonic in Germany, there is nothing quite as versatile as a gin and tonic, a celebration, a commiseration or just plain old 5’O’Clock.

20140614-212140-76900401.jpg

20140614-212140-76900904.jpg
Best selection of gin in Erlangen can be found at Rewe (Getränkemarkt) on Karl Zuckerstr, as shown above!

Online Shopping Essentials

8 Jun

The prices in Germany came as a big surprise, to say the least. There is definitely less of a throwaway, disposable culture with pretty much everything. I like that mentality, though it makes it hard to find cheaper alternatives which can be what you want when you are only going to be living in Germany for a limited time or are on a limited budget.

Beer? 60 cents for half a litre in the supermarket and in some restaurants it’s cheaper than cola or mineral water! We really won the lottery moving to Germany. Tights? Did I just pay 22 euro for a pair of tights? holy crap I really should check the prices before I buy essentials, and yes I laddered them whilst I was putting them on! All that money saved on beer just goes on other things, such is life. I have since found the cheaper tights (but the quality is rubbish so I often stock up at M&S) and the expensive beer, ooooo the delicious imported goodness of an IPA for a treat.

In Germany I cannot gauge the price of products simply by looking at them with my British eyes and mentality. Furniture buying was a nightmare, conversations went a lot like this
Me – ‘That looks like a nice TV stand, lots of room for DVDs, plain unfussy, we should get that one’
Him –  Looks it over, hmms and checks the price ‘No, we should keep looking’
Me  – ‘But I like this one, it’s the best one we’ve found’ strokes new shiny TV stand and plans it’s future in our living room
Him – ‘it’s 7 grand, stop touching it’
Me – ‘Wow I could get a car for that, not even a banger, an actual decent car….let’s just go to Ikea’

And we went to Ikea, our flat closely resembles the ones put together in the set up rooms in the shop and you know what? it works, and I discovered I’ve got mad skills in Ikea furniture construction.

If I was shopping for furniture today I might have shopped differently, but it would almost certainly have been almost exclusively online, from brands I now know and trust. Depot and IKEA are lifesavers, for everything from huge wardrobes to cushions and crockery and neither has to break the bank. Laura Ashley also delivers all it’s stock including furniture to Germany, do expect to pay a one off fee of £150 for delivery on made to order furniture (no matter how much you order) if you want to splash out.

Clothes and home wares again is where I struggled finding affordable items that I actually liked, the quality in places like H&M can be so bad it puts me off, I hate to waste money. Maybe Germany is rubbing off on me? but I also can’t afford to pay 80 euro for crappy quality jeans, so when I need something essential I tend to look to my old favourite shops back home. And I’m not saying German shops are awful or anything, I do buy stuff here (Erlangen has a Zara now), support your local economy and all that, but sometimes I want a bargain that will last the summer at least!

Debenhams, GapM&S, Boden, Lakeland, New Look, ASOSTopshop, Dorothy Perkins all have German or EU sites which you can order from and pay in Euros and save on international postage.

Top marks to Topshop, Gap, M&S, ASOS, Dorothy Perkins and New Look, they give you the option to shop as a German customer in Euros but also in English language. Boden, please understand that just because I speak English does not mean I want to pay in Sterling! Debenhams site also only runs in German, in both these cases I find it useful to locate what I want and check the details first on the English website and then find the items on the German site (both of which are identical) and order on there. It’s a little bit of a faff but it works for me.

Tesco Clothing (F&F) offer delivery to Germany for £4.95.

ASDA does not deliver to Germany yet, it does however deliver to the surrounding companies and promises to add Germany soon, feel free to email them and ask, pump up the pressure a little 😉

If there is something that you are totally desperate for that can only be delivered to the UK (I’m assuming your parents/friends will take delivery) you will need an efficient parcel delivery method to get your parcel from A to B (or rather UK to DE). InterparcelMyparceldelivery, Parcel2go and of course Parcelforce are all good places to look for competitive prices.

And for those times when you just need a taste of home there are shops completely willing to take advantage of this. Beware the prices is all I’m going to say! Foodfromhome, if you are ever in Dusseldorf you could always pop in and save yourself the postage, BritishfoodstoreonlineAsia shops are also worth checking out, no postage! There is also the British Empire (it’s a shop) in Nürnberg, which stocks a limited but varied supply of goodies (food not available online), some great British brands like New Balance and Dr Martens and some American ones too.

So whether you love shopping in Germany or loathe it with a passion I hope that you too find your own personal shopping groove, happy shopping!

PS. I know I didn’t mention Amazon, I’m not their biggest fan, but that’s a story for another time 😉

Bergkirchweih Opening Day

6 Jun

This post is going to be intentionally photo heavy and word light, it was a late but wonderful night last night.

Around 4pm I walked from town up to the Bergkirchweih, the sun was shining and the temperature read 22 degrees, perfect weather.

IMGP5039

No need for a map, just follow the lederhosen

IMGP5041

Getting closer, see that ferris wheel top right?

IMGP5043

At the bottom of the Berg, this placard is a map showing where all the Kellers are located, the shop to the right also has maps to take away

IMGP5044

Walking up the Berg, sensible shoes required on these cobbles

IMGP5079

At the top of the T junction, looking down to the cobbles I just walked up

IMGP5076

A beautiful day for celebrating

IMGP5075

All the Kellers were open before the official opening ceremony, woohoo

IMGP5074

No he’s not a doctor, but a waiter, when you hear ‘Vorsicht’ get out of the way!

IMGP5080

My two faves – Steinbach and the ferris wheel

IMGP5090

It was so sunny, hard to capture on camera

IMGP5087

Not sure I’ll be trying out that ride behind the ferris wheel

IMGP5047

Band walking back from the official opening ceremony (which I didn’t go to). The first keg was tapped in two apparently!

So I spent the better part of the night dancing on a table with a lovely bunch of friends, the camera stayed firmly in my bag.

Highlights included the only song I knew all the words to was Chumbawamba’s Tubthumping, not falling off the bench whilst dancing like a maniac, getting compliments on my Berg plaited hairdo, talking to supremely interesting and friendly strangers in English, German and French, finding some clean and huge ladies loos (it’s the small things! Incidentally they are at Erich Keller if you wanted to know) and prosting roughly every 5 minutes!

Lowlights included getting lost on the way back to the table every.single.time and having a guy literally pushed onto me (whilst I was alone and minding my own business waiting for the Mann to finish work) so just FYI middle aged middle management wankers it’s not cool and I hope enjoyed learning some new sailor worthy English insults.

The local TV was also in attendance and interviewed the local celebrities, the mayor, the king of sausages and the wonderful ladies of the Dirndl garage. http://www.ardmediathek.de/tv/Frankenschau-aktuell/Anstich-in-Erlangen/BR-Fernsehen/Video?documentId=21702204&bcastId=14913732

IMGP5115

Entla’s Keller at about 10.45pm

This guy was enjoying himself!

This guy was have a great time!

No one sits on the bench at Bergkirchweih

No one sits on the bench at Bergkirchweih

Pretty much sums up Berg joy!

Pretty much sums up Berg joy!

And then it’s over and the washing up needs to be done, before it all happens again tomorrow

And then it’s over and the washing up needs to be done, before it all happens again tomorrow

 

Fußball Fever

6 Jun

Near Erlangen is a unassuming town called Herzogenaurach (which I promise when pronounced by a local sounds utterly beautiful, but when pronounced by foreigners like myself….well we mostly save ourselves the time and embarrassment and just call this place  Herzo).

Whilst Erlangen hosts companies like Siemens and Areva as well as a well respected University, Herzo hosts the headquarters of not one, but two of the worlds biggest sportswear brands. Both Adidas and Puma have Herzo as their base of operations. Now I always thought this was a little weird,  maybe it’s to keep an eye on the competition, maybe neither wants to give up Herzo, so I did a little digging and and to an extent both are actually true.

The Dassler brothers, Rudi and Adi, did what good German boys do and joined their father in his shoe factory. When they inevitably took over the company their sports shoes became very famous, in part down to the pair they gave to Jesse Owens in 1936 who went onto win four gold medals (wearing said shoes). Now this is around the time the Nazis rose to power, both brothers were members of the party (as was the vast majority of Bavaria) and words were had, sibling rivalry raised it’s ugly head and the brothers went their separate ways.

Rudi named his brand Ruda (a combination of his name Rudolph Dassler), which soon changed to Puma and Adi imaginatively named his brand Adidas (a combination of his name Adolf Dassler). Considering their lack of imagination creating their names, the fact that their brands are still up there in the top 5 sports brands now is pretty impressive. The fact that they were brothers, competing hard in the same market, might just explain why they are still such remarkable and recognisable brands today and why the offices are still within walking distance of each other, got to keep an eye on family!

At this point it’s worth mentioning the benefits to having Puma and Adidas in the vicinity, the jobs for a start, lots of English speaking jobs, at good companies who take care of their employees, practically every third person in Herzo works for Adidas. There are also outlets for all you bargain hunters out there, Adidas, Puma, Nike and other various sporty brands, be aware that whilst they close at 7 or 8pm in the week on a Saturday they close at 6pm!  If you want to see what it’s like living around here, Adidas careers have a few super glossy super positive videos out to convince you, and I’m not saying that it’s not great here, but everywhere has it’s negatives right?

Well after that history of Herzo I can get back to the original point of this blog, with the World Cup around the corner Germany is reaching almost fever pitch excitement. Now Germans, like the English, aren’t usually very openly nationalistic (I guess history is to blame for that) but when the football is on all that internalized love for the country explodes into every aspect of life. I don’t know what it’s like over there in England at the moment but Germany looks a little like this…

Tri coloured everything!

Tri coloured everything!

DSCF8116

lighters, flags, fake moustaches….

Yes ladies fear not you can get football themed fake eyelashes ;)

Yes ladies fear not you can get football themed fake eyelashes 😉

It seems that you can get just about anything in Schwarz, Rot und Gelb, sorry Gold. Yes Gold NOT Gelb or yellow! Germans get a little uppity about their national colours, but only as uppity as I get about people saying Union Jack when they should be saying Union Flag (FYI it’s only a Union Jack when the Navy are using it) fairs fair.

Noise makers, that kind of look like grenades!

Noise makers, that kind of look like grenades!

My favourites Marzipan and peanut M&Ms

My favourites Marzipan and peanut M&Ms

One of the most random bits of tat of the selection of nationalistic country supporting pieces I found were these, how have I ever lived without tri-striped plastic hands to attach to my windscreen wipers? That wouldn’t be distracting at all.

It’s true! who wants some?

It’s true! who wants some?

There is also a vast selection of kit and WAY more expensive ‘proper’ goodies to buy if that’s your thing. So far I’ve only seen an England shirt in Intersport and at 80 plus euros that’s where it will be staying! (I was looking for him not me)

Proper kit for proper fans

Proper kit for proper fans

So whilst the food and randomness made me hungry and entertained me I actually stumbled across some useful products. Hidden away on a low shelf in Mueller I found these little hand creams.

“My heart beats for ‘insert you team or country here (as long as it’s one of these selected 7)'

“My heart beats for ‘insert you team or country here (as long as it’s one of these selected 7)’

Obviously I went for the England one first, Oooo smells like tea (proper black tea not that fruity rubbish ;). I was hoping that this meant each country would have it’s own specific smell (ok so it doesn’t take a lot to excite me, it’s the small things in life, don’t judge me), Italy was next, no cheating and looking at the back, what would it smell like? Pizza? Bolognese? Tiramisu? No, Cappuccino was the scent they went for, and not a nice one, who wants their moisturiser to make you smell like you work in a cheap coffee shop? yuck

I didn’t hold out much hope for the rest of the line but I did what a good blogger does and took one for the team, I suffered so you don’t have to. Ha, ok so it wasn’t that bad but I was very suspicious about the scents for the other countries.

  • Netherlands – Cheese? Tulips? No, ‘neutral scented’, just smells like moisturiser, disappointing
  • Brasil – Sea water? exotic flowers? Half right, ‘Acaii berries & blossoms’, lovely fresh fragrance
  • France – Baguette? Stinky cheese? Wine? No, ‘Apple lemon Tart’, nice fragrance but why not the classic French Tart Tatin?
  • Spain – Paella? Sangria? Closeish, ‘Pomegranate and Buckthorn’, which actually smells good but I’m not sure of a Spanish connection with the fragrance
  • Deutschland – Sausage? beer? No, total cop out of ‘flowers and Herbs’, bland

At 6.95 a pop these little hand creams aren’t cheap but the England one has done great things for my dry (from bike riding and washing up) hands, and I really love the scent. It’s really as close to buying anything world cup related (that isn’t food anyway) and it’s actually useful.

:)

They got me at Easter, now at football time, what next Dickmann’s?

I’ll be mostly avoiding the World Cup altogether and probably just waiting until the inevitable happens and I have to cheer up a miserable husband with beer tea and sympathy. At least I’ll be full and have beautifully soft hands anyways.

Who will you be supporting?

 

Fußball V Bergkirchweih

4 Jun

Sp the whole world is going a little bit football crazy at the moment, Germany certainly is anyway, but in Erlangen, there is a competitor for the limelight. This little get together called the Bergkirchweih starts tomorrow and Erlangen is conflicted.

Shop windows vie for your attention and the attention of your wallet

On the left

On the left

On the right

On the right

Some windows just mix the two events, see the ferris wheel and goals posts!

Some windows just mix the two events, see the ferris wheel and goals posts!

I’m biased, I’m not a really a fan of football but I am a fan of Bergkirchweih. Why? Maybe because it’s just unlike anything I’ve ever been to in the UK, and there is probably an amazingly long German word to describe how I feel about it but I’ll stop with it’s Berg.

The influx of tourists at Bergkirchweih time means shops are working harder to take some of that hard earned beer money from your pockets and it all starts with the displays.

Touristy goodies

Touristy goodies

This selection includes such classy and collectable items such as a booby mug, for all you tea drinking needs, yodelling teddy bears, Erlangen bear key rings, a singing bottle opener and much much more!

Tomorrow every other man in Erlangen will look a little something like this, only probably less pale and with a face ;)

Tomorrow every other man in Erlangen will look a little something like this, only probably a little less pale 😉

Bavarian goodies, well thats clearly for the tourists, it’ll annoy the Franconians, quick put him in a red and white checked shirt to confirm our status as confirmed Franconians.

Just FYI Erlangen is located in the state of Bavaria, see the blue and white flag in the above photo, it is also located in Franconia, confused yet? Franconia is a historic division of Southern Bavaria (mainly) and whilst it is not technically it’s own state it’s inhabitants are fiercely proud of their Franconian roots. It’s kind of like being Cornish! The flag you will see a lot here is red and white, it also tends to be a popular colour for mens shirts with their lederhosen.

DSCF8113

Plenty of red and white to go around

DSCF8131

Mens wear, come on guys, leather trousers to last a lifetime

DSCF8133

Ladies, give it a go you might surprise yourself! And don’t forget to accessorise!

Incidentally it’s (one of) the best time of the year to buy ‘German’ presents (yes I’m talking Christmas in June) for family and friends. I swear they absolutely love this stuff, the weirder and the tackier the better (or maybe thats just my family and friends).

In the battle of Fußball V Berg I’m afraid Berg wins every time for me, it really was a foregone conclusion and I’m sure I’ll be forced end up watching some matches and I might even enjoy it, just not as much as Berg 😉

Well I’m in the mood and absolutely can’t wait, are you coming to Bergkirchweih this year? Does your village have it’s own?

 

FAQ

3 Jun

My inbox has been getting ever fuller with questions, I will answer each and every one of them personally but as lot have the same themes running through them, I thought I’d write a quick FAQ to cover the basics

Where should I live? Should I live here or here?
I understand, I really do, it’s hard to decide to live somewhere that perhaps you’ve never even visited before, BUT choosing a home in Germany isn’t that different to choosing a home anywhere. Look out for commuting times to work, check the city’s website (google translate is a wonderful thing), local amenities (google maps is very useful), what are your essentials in a place to live? Google, google, google. And if you end up somewhere that really doesn’t suit you and you can’t possibly stand it you can always move.

Good sites to check out are Stadt Erlangen, Erlangen Tourism, Stadt Nürnberg, Nürnberg Tourism, Stadt Herzogenaurach.

How do I find a house/flat?
To start with check your vocab
Mieten – To rent
Kaufen – To buy
Wohnung – Apartment/flat
Haus – House
Möbliert – Furnished
EBK – Einbauküche – Fitted kitchen – Just a warning here that not all German properties come with a kitchen, it’s one of those amusing little Germanisms! If there is a kitchen in the property you might be expected to buy it from the tenant who is moving out, check this with your estate agent.
Kaltmiete – Cold rent – This is the monthly rent, it excludes any other bills such as electricity and gas etc.
Nebenkosten – Additional costs including water, gas, electric etc. These will be estimated on the advert for the property, depending on how many more or less people you have living there and how you use the services these can vary vastly.
Warmmiete – Warm rent – Cold rent plus additional costs, this is usually a better indication of the price you will actually end up paying including bills.
FYI Internet, phone, satellite etc are not usually included in the Nebenkosten.
Zimmer – Room/s – German properties are advertised by how many rooms they have NOT by how many bedrooms they have. The bathroom, toilet and kitchen (or balcony) are not counted in this room count but the living, dining, bedrooms and study are.
Stellplatz – Parking space – This is usually an extra fee on top of your rent, if you don’t need the space (and it’s ‘included’ with the flat) you can rent it out.
Kaution – Deposit – This will go into a special bank account in your name, the savings book is handed over to the landlord for the duration of the tenancy.
Provision – Agents fee, here in Germany the renter generally pays the agents fees on the plus side of you see Provisionsfrei – No agents fees at all!

My favourite sites for property searching
Immowelt, Immoscout24, ImmonetNull-Provision (no agents fees)
Wohnref, I haven’t personally used them but in addition to the regular rental apartments they do also offer short term furnished accomodation, this can be hard to find around here.
WG-Gesucht, (WG – Wohngemeinschaft – flatshare) since Erlangen is a student city there are plenty of rooms for rent out there, the prices are competitive and shorter rental periods are acceptable.

Most estate agents will speak at least a little English, this is a very international area after all but do try to at least have your ‘must haves’ translated, just to save time.

If you are already in Germany, make use of your friends and neighbours, get it out there that you are looking, put a notice on your work bulletin board, in the paper or go old school and put a notice up at the supermarket.

Can I stay with you until I find somewhere to live? No

Do I need a car in Germany?
Well yes and no, I’ve known some people who just couldn’t live without a car for 8 months (but luckily the resale prices here are pretty good so they didn’t lose any money) and others who have lived here quite happily for 10 years plus without a car. Cars are incredibly useful for big shopping, holidays and hauling furniture. If you don’t mind breaking up your big shopping and buying panniers and a trailer, maybe you don’t need a car. If you take only exotic vacations in far flung countries which you can’t drive to, maybe you don’t need a car. And if you don’t mind renting/borrowing a van/car occasionally to shift furniture, maybe you don’t need a car. BUT if you want to explore without being tied to a train schedule, if you have kids, love road trips and hate getting caught in the rain on your bike, maybe you’ll want a car. My advice? go with your gut and like I said resale values are pretty good.

Are you fluent yet? You might just want to read this.

Is the Bergkirchweih suitable for children?
There are kids at the Bergkirchweih, it is a family friendly event during the daytime hours and Thursday 12th June is even ‘family day’ so you will get reduced prices for games and amusements. If I was a kid I’d love it, Pony rides, Ferris wheel, BB guns and sugar! What kid doesn’t like that? But just be aware that Germany is not as….Hmm how shall I put this?…not as into health and safety as say the UK or the states. Not that it’s unsafe at all it’s just more like the old days, the good old days. Maybe this will help.

How do I meet new people?
You are lucky to be living in this area which just happens to be full of other awesome expats (as well as locals) just like you.
– Join a language course, it’s not just about learning the language it’s also about friendship and building a new supportive circle of friends who know what you are going through.
– Join a German-English discussion group, for learners of both languages, the VHS Erlangen has a range of these in their Club International (and they are free)
– Join a Stammtisch, it’s a regular table with likeminded people, in Erlangen there is an English Stammtisch (English is the language spoken) it’s quite a small group but it can be fun and Deutscher Stammtisch (for foreigners who are learning German) a really fun group, no one will make fun at you as a learner! and in Nürnberg there is another English Stammtisch, this one has lots of events and is always packed.
– Join a gym, a football team, go swimming and say yes to every invitation, not matter how weird, I’m also not beyond just talking to random people I hear speaking English out and about, needs must!
– Whilst google is always your friend I also wrote this last year about making connections.

If you have any other burning questions or just want to get in touch, please do at theerlangenexpat@yahoo.com

And last but not least thanks to all the people that said thank you, you are most welcome.

%d bloggers like this: