Here are some of the observations I have made, and some other little miscellaneous items.
In the U.S., most housing requires residents to purchase blinds or curtains. In Germany, shutters are very common. Not American shutters, though. These shutters are almost like blinds (or garage doors), except they are on the outside of the window and are controlled with either a lever or canvas rope on the inside. Ours are made of wood, which last longer than the metal/plastic alternatives. You can roll them down and leave the slats separated (so space still exists between each) or for total darkness you can continue unrolling to push all the slats together. Kind of like boarding up the windows.
I mentioned the bells a few times. Church bells begin at 6 a.m. and ring every quarter hour. Typically they can be heard from anywhere in the city (I’m not sure about the bases though). At :15 it rings once, :30 twice, and :45 three times, with lots of bell happiness on the hours. This lasts until 10 or so in the evening, and actually isn’t annoying.
The water here is very hard. So hard that if you don’t take precautionary measures on sinks, toilets, and showers/baths, they’ll stop working after a few months. shower heads here have a rubber spray mask rather than metal like is typical in the States. This is to allow the person to break off the carbon left behind by the water. Dropping denture solutions in toilets was recommended at our housing briefing.
Despite most perceptions, the autobahn has speed restrictions. If no signs are posted, the minimum speed is 60 kph and maximum speed is 100 kph. Sound fast? Let’s do some math. A rough estimate of kph to mph is to multiply the kph by six and drop the last number. So: 60*6=360. Drop the zero, and the min speed limit is about 36 mph. The unposted speed limit is 100*6=600, drop the zero, and it is 60 mph. So, average speed with good weather is betwen 36 and 60 mph. However, once out of city areas, you find several “unrestricted” areas. Once you see this sign, you can drive however fast you want as long as it is within reason of weather and visibility. You only pass on the left (it’s a federal offense to pass on the right).
We are still learning how to deal with the power difference here. Herr was setting up a transformer to pump up our temporary bed, and it began humming. At this, he had an “ah ha!” moment. Apparently the hum was an A flat pitch, where in the States a hum is a B flat. The A flat means it runs at a lower frequency, hence in Germany it is 50 Hz, and in the States it is 60 Hz.
Not so yummy food
I mentioned foods I like, but did not mention foods we tried that I did not agree with. This list includes schnitzel (thin breaded meat), sauerkraut, buttered pretzels (Germans actually enjoy cutting pretzels in half and slathering butter on them), mineral water (this is carbonated water without any flavor), and boiled wurst (I don’t mind it grilled or cooked, bratwurst or any other kind so far). We’re still learning. 🙂