One of the best parts of moving to a new country is noticing the differences between my home country and my new one. This post highlights the cool things I’ve seen in everyday life here that are not a part of our everyday life in the US or at least in any of the states where I have lived.
Number one: Pfand
This is a kind of deposit that you pay when you buy anything in a glass, can, or plastic bottle. If you hold onto the bottle, you can return it to the store for a refund. 1 Liter plastic bottles yield a 25 cent refund!! I call that motivation. You get a receipt for the amount of all the bottles you return and then when you are ready to check out, the cashier takes that amount off your total bill. You can do this at numerous stores and for plastic bottles. It doesn’t matter where you purchased them, you can return them to any store that has the machine available. Here is a photo essay of Thorsten acting it out for you.
7 Euros back, just for returning the plastic water bottles!!
Next cool thing: A machine at Aldi that spits out fresh bread and fresh warm Pretzels when you push the button! Today I got a pretzel while I was doing my shopping. They are only 29 cents and they charge you when you check out.
Another cool thing: Traffic Signals and no stop signs
There you are sitting at a red light. Suddenly the light turns yellow and everyone starts accelerating. The yellow is more a “get ready”light here that appears before the green instead of just a slow down light that appears before the red.
There are no stop signs on small roads in neighborhoods. The rule is that people always give way for whoever is coming from the right. This translates to, “there is no stop sign unless someone is coming from the right, then you have to stop.” I’d say it’s interesting more than cool…
In Germany there are lots of places where cars are allowed to park on the sidewalk…or halfway on the sidewalk. This seems perfectly normal to Thorsten and everyone else, but it makes me crack up every time I see it. There aren’t any signs so it’s unclear to me where you are allowed to do this and when. When I asked Thorsten for details, he said, “Oh no, you aren’t allowed to park on all sidewalks–you have to leave enough room for a person pushing a baby stroller to get past.” Oh, ok, that clears it all up…