Monday, August 24, 2015

Impressions of a Kentuckian living in Deutschland


Hello all!! I know I have been absent a while, but moving overseas is quite a time-consuming venture. I am officially living in Germany now. I made the move in mid-May :) I am often asked about the differences between America and Germany, so after living here for 100 days I am ready for my analysis.

There are castles EVERYWHERE. Large castles, small castles, castles on hills, castles in the woods. They're amazing pieces of history. 

People in Germany love their bicycles! In the city, you see as many bicycles, if not more, than automobiles. In fact, I would venture to guess that there are more bicycles that automobiles in Germany overall. It's rather amazing and impressive.

Speaking of automobiles, the cars are much smaller in Germany. You rarely ever see an SUV.

Rain or shine, hot or cold, Germans love being outdoors. Germans love going on walks and city strolls. And if the destination is less than 2 miles away, they shun their automobiles in favor of a bike ride or a walk.

This also applies to eating. Almost every restaurant and café has as many tables outside as they have inside; and in spring and summer almost everyone is eating outside.

The murder rate in Germany is extraordinarily low. In fact, anytime a murder is committed it becomes huge news because of how rare it is.

If you want to go shopping on a Sunday in Germany, you can forget it. Virtually everything is closed. Out of milk on a Sunday? Well, you better go find a cow ;)

Almost everyone in Germany gets about 6 WEEKS of paid vacation per year!

Also, Germans love their holidays. There are 13 paid holidays per year in Germany.

Spoiler alert: Germans love beer.

In Germany, there is a bakery or a café every 50 feet. They are everywhere. Pastries and cappuccinos galore.

On a related note, coffee is much less expensive in Germany. The average cappuccino is about 2.50 here.

Many more people smoke in Germany than in the states. So although people are in better shape physically here due to the bicycling and the walking, the smoking probably cancels it out.

Germans love their paperwork! If you want to get anything done in Germany, be prepared for a barrage of paperwork and documentation accompanying each and every task.

College tuition is free in German. All public universities in Germany allow students to attend without having to pay tuition. Universities are financed and subsidized by the state, so they are able to do this. The only exception is private universities, but there are only a handful of those anyway.

Water is almost always served at room temperature in Germany. Many other drinks are as well.

The architecture in Germany is amazing. In the states, there are subdivisions everywhere in which each and every house looks virtually identical. You never see that here. No matter how large the city or how small the village, they are full of a variety of colors, styles, and personalities.

The roads are crazy narrow in the cities and towns. It's like they were built for horse and buggy. In fact, I think they were.

Women can take A YEAR of paid maternity leave in Germany, and can even take 3 years (the last two of which would be unpaid) if they wish - and their job is still fully-protected.

Men can also take paternity leave in Germany. The labor laws are incredibly family-friendly.

The people in Germany are little more reserved than in the states. The Kentuckian in me loves to start conversations with strangers. When I do this over here, people are initially a little surprised, but then they immediately become very warm.

As far as friendliness though, there is no difference whatsoever. I find German people to be incredibly friendly and helpful.

Germans love American culture. Almost every radio over here is tuned to English music stations. And you see American flag T-shirts everywhere.

Random observation: David Hasselhoff is a God over here. For the life of me, I cannot understand that. I mean Knight Rider was a good show and all, but c'mon. 


Virtually everyone recycles in Germany. In fact, you get about 25 cents back for every plastic bottle you recycle, so there is a financial incentive!

Germans are much more open with public displays of affection. I like this.

Pastries are an acceptable (and recommended) addition to every single meal over here :)

Stores close much earlier here in Germany. Most grocery stores close at 6 or 7pm.

Most Germans under the age of 35 speak English fairly well.

German chocolate is out of this world. In fact, out of this universe. Anyone who knows me knows that this makes me very happy.

Living in the states, I thought were maybe 10 kinds of bread. However, living in Germany I've come to realize that there are approximately 2 million kinds of bread. It will take a while to sample them all.

Germans love to toast their drinks before a meal.

Germany is an incredibly advanced country in terms of environmental awareness. You see solar panels everywhere on roofs, solar-powered farms, and huge windmills everywhere utilizing wind's energy.

Overall, living over here is fascinating. There are some things I like better about the states, and some things I like better about Germany. Neither is better than the other, they are just different :-) each in their own way.

103 comments:

  1. How lovely to see a post from you - and such an upbeat post too.
    My father was German, but left hurriedly during the war. How I wish I could share this with him. And he badly missed bread when he came to Australia - insisting that most of what is called bread here didn't deserve the name.

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  2. Hi Keith
    Great summing up after your first 100 days in office in Germany ha ha!!!
    It sounds like a great country.
    The Germans I have met have been well educated - they are so fortunate to have free University education - not the case in New Zealand.
    We have a lot of young German tourists visit NZ and most of them come to enjoy our great outdoors.
    New Zealanders care about the environment too and we're very proud of our clean/green image.
    I'm sure you will settle in to your new way of life in no time Keith, so good to hear from you again.
    I'm off to visit Beate now!
    Take care
    Shane


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  3. I'm delighted to know that you're safe and settled. I was admittedly worried after such a long absence. I love these observations of Germany. The positives definitely outweigh the negatives and it sounds fascinating (especially being surrounded by old castles).

    I moved from Texas to Tennessee last autumn and I'm still not settled. I can only imagine how much more difficult it is to move to another country.

    Take care, Keith - - I'll look forward to your updates.

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  4. I just knew you weren't dead! Much of what you say agrees with my brief impressions of a week's visit last year. I will say non chilled drinks is wrong. We found service in shops etc to be perfunctory and unlike at home and in the US. Maybe public displays of affection and beer are connected. I think bread is good everywhere in Europe, which is a serious failing in the US. Why does Germany have so many solar panels, far more than in Australia and warmer states of the US? Government policy and subsidies, I think. Nevertheless, Germany is a very sophisticated country and there is much to be admired about present Germany, without ever forgetting the past. You post was really interesting and hope to hear more soon.

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  5. Keith! Good to here from you.
    With the paid vacations and free colleges, I imagine you'll find higher taxes as well.
    No idea why Hasselhoff is so popular. It's like France and Jerry Lee Lewis.
    Enjoy exploring the breads and the area. And ride your bike but don't smoke!

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  6. I've missed you, good to see you posting again!

    I think you will find friends wherever you go, it's just the sort of person you are. It's fascinating, see Germany through your eyes, as well as Beate's. Hugs to you both!

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  7. Glad to hear you are doing well and appreciate this post. My daughter who is a high school senior has decided she wants to go to college in Germany.

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  8. lmao Hasselhoff has to have fans somewhere I suppose. Not sure I'd like riding a bike everywhere, rather walk then ride a bike. Advanced is good too and free university, yippeee, no std loans haha

    And the cat has to say it, about time lol

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  9. So glad to hear from you Keith! Thanks for sharing your very interesting observations, and that you like Germany.

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  10. I really enjoyed your post, Keith. So much great information. Glad you are settling well. Makes me really want to come visit!!!

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  11. Missed you so much on here, so I am happy you are back! :) Happy that you are enjoying the life over there!! And the US could learn a thing or two from the Germans!! This all sounds like the life I'd love to lead! :)

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  12. Yeh, Keith's back! So enjoyed this post - thanks for sharing all the neat info. I especially like the part about the castles. And the bakeries/pastries. :)

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  13. It's nice to have you back. You've certainly been gone a while but you've definitely got a good excuse. Germany sounds like a great place and I'd love to visit it one day.

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  14. I love this post, honey :) Welcome back to the blogging world. We've all missed you like crazy here. It's so much fun to see these differences through your eyes. Since your heart can be won with amazing chocolate and awesome coffee - we are lucky that we have some strong arguments for you to like it here ;) I love you! <3

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  15. As someone who has been to Germany a number of times for vacation and now lives in the US, I can totally relate to your post. There are a lot of things to enjoy there. Wishing you the best of times!

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  16. I love the variety of GOOD breads in Germany. I am especially fond of the "selen" in Baden-Wurttemberg. I love the emphasis on walking there, and I too noticed the number of people who smoke. As for the chocolates, oh yes! Welcome back to blogging! You were missed.

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  17. So happy you are finally settled.

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  18. Fascinating. Does this apply to all of Germany or just the parts you've visited?

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  19. Welcome back. Germany is a great place. Different isn't always bad.

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  20. Wonderful to have you back! So nice to read about the first 100 days of your new life...and can't wait for more... ;D

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  21. Sounds like a great fit for you for a country! Wishing you all well!

    betty

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  22. It's been a looooong time since I've heard from you. I'm glad you're back! I hope to see more from you. :)

    I'm part German and have been told that I should take a trip to Germany because it's a beautiful country. It definitely does sound like an experience.

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  23. Keith, it is great to read this post from you! I've been away from blogging for awhile due to Internet connectivity problems. Perhaps we've had luck solving that now.

    You give a great review to encourage anyone to visit Germany. I do have a bit of German heritage, so it would be good to visit at some point.

    Sending my very best to you and Beate!

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  24. I knew you'd fit right in because it's the way you approach life. Awesome.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  25. Coffee, great chocolate, and yummy bread. Wow! So glad to hear from you. I can't even begin to imagine all the new things you are experiencing and all the wonderful memories you are living right now. Hugs and love to both you and Beate.

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  26. Loved reading this. May you continue to settle and enjoy... I was born and raised in Germany (Neu-Ulm) (my mom is German and father was American). You make me homesick for my other home with all these beautiful and familiar ways. What I wouldn't give for Salami on awesome German bread or a pretzel. I look forward to many more happy posts of your life there. Thanks!!

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  27. You did a great job with the comparisons. If it wasn't for the smoking, I might move there. It really seems like a delightful place and it is heartwarming that they are so "green". So happy that you are happy in your new home with your adorable bride. Don't be such a stranger Keith, you have been missed.
    Bet you are glad you are missing the elections here however.

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  28. Congrats on you transAtlantic move and welcome back to blogging!

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  29. I was right with you till the David Hasselhoff part. But you got me back! Sounds like you are maximizing life and that's the best thing we all can do. To discover a new country by living there, not just visiting, is such a great gift. I can see the smile, I think. I suspect your Kentuckian self is making friends everywhere! And I think you probably have quite the best guide to life in Germany with Beate. No wonder you're smiling!

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  30. You've given a great comparison of Germany and the U.S.A. It does us good to mix in another culture. We get a different look at our own culture.

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  31. An interesting post. Great to see you're enjoying your life there.

    I guess the Germans like and always remember David Hasselhoff kindly because of his being there and performing his Freedom Tour when the Berlin Wall came down.

    http://time.com/3557436/david-hasselhoff-berlin-wall/

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  32. What interesting observations! And I can say that a good many of them also apply to England and America for me (having lived in England once, years ago.)
    You should tell the Germans you are related to David Hasseloff! Hey, how would they know? :

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  33. I enjoyed reading this piece. Thank you!

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  34. I knew you had to take your time but I was unsure if you were coming back. I am so glad to read this. I always dream of living in Germany or Austria. My mom was born in Wittenberg so I wonder if I can get dual citizenship. There are castles everywhere since every Baron had one. I love the tiny roads except when travelling on the side of a mountain:) I love the great tortes and I think the Germans make the best desserts. I love rye bread and grew up with rye bread and Aufschnitt. I think every country should have 6 weeks vacation to start with, 1 year maternity leave(we have it here) and free education. In North America, the kids can't spell, speak correctly or know how to read cursive and they have to pay thousands to go to University. There, they can speak beautifully in English-a 2nd language and the tuition is free-what does that say? How are the utilities there? My Aunt, in Northern Italy (Brixen) uses the washer and dryer after 9pm or else she will be charged more. As for Hasselhoff-I don't get it:)

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  35. How lovely to read you again Keith ~ I am envious that their universities are free but like Canada, the maternity leave here is also one year ~

    It must be exciting to learn and live there ~ Take your time and enjoy the marital bliss ~ All the best ~

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  36. It's nice to have you back! David Hasselhoff ah? well gotta admit he was cute! But a God? Enjoy your new life adventures Germany sounds like a very interesting country I like the bike deal. Oh and the closest I have been to a castle is the one at Disneyland!!

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  37. Are you there for work position or schooling or ?? I hope you will visit all of the castles and post photos and info!!

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  38. An interesting and informative post. Enjoyed reading it!

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  39. Hello, good to see you after a long time. Germany sounds like an amazing place , enjoy your life.Good luck :)

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  40. Hello Keith. Welcome back. You have been missed. Sounds like you have settled in well and are loving the life there.

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  41. My husband has been to Germany a number of times on business. We went as a family a few years ago and absolutely loved it. The small town we were in was so quiet and on the outdoor cafe menu, it clearly state that cell phone use was banned. Now that's a rule I can get behind. Walking is my favorite way to get around any country or city. Enjoy!

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  42. Great to hear from you, Keith. More please. All my best wishes to Beate and you.

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  43. Hi Keith - love Beate's comment and all the others too. Interesting to see your 100 days story line - but am so glad you're settled and to read the differences and similarities ... so I can note some relative to the UK. Germany has certainly progressed enormously, confidently and pragmatically in recent decades. Cheers and carry on enjoying and letting us know more ... Hilary

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  44. An in depth comparison and very interesting.

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  45. Awesome perspective overall! I learn many things about Germany through your post and perception... and what impresses me more was their way of environment friendly living and attitude.

    Enjoy the difference and cherish, Keith. Hope u lead a happy life there :)

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  46. Excellent update Keith. It sounds like an amazing place.

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  47. So good to hear from you again, Keith!
    And it is so fascinating to learn about how life is in Germany.

    My very best wishes to Beate and you. xoxoxo

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  48. So nice to hear from you. Enjoyed hearing about all the differences between here and there.
    I'd fit right in there with the walking. : )

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  49. So great to see you back here in the blog world! I love this post and I really enjoy seeing all your posts and photos about Germany.

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  50. It's great to see you posting again! I've had an uncle and brother n law that lived in Germany, but you have filled me in much better than they. :)

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  51. HA! I've never understood their fascination with "The Hoff" either.

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  52. I love your recap of life in Germany! I can say that it jives with my own memory of touring Germany with my husband in the 90s (back before he was my husband). Yes, castles everywhere. We took a Rhine Cruise, and at first we grabbed the camera every time we saw a castle. Then ... less.

    Me: There's another castle.
    Him: So there is.
    Me: Should we get the camera out?
    Him: One of us would have to get up from our lounge chair.
    Me: Meh. Let's wait for the next one.

    And yeah, no ice for our drinks. One night, it hailed, and the hotel staff was astonished to see all the Americans on our tour rush outside to gather the hailstones and pop them into our drinks. :)

    So happy that you are loving your new life!

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  53. Hi human, Keith,

    Nice to see you return. After all, your adoring fans have been waiting expectantly by their computer screens waiting for your next pawst, my nice human friend :)

    Such a thorough observation you have made. Quite the adventure for the both of you. I have a fascination for Germany and my son, even more so. Your story enhances that.

    Isn't it nice to have real chocolate as opposed to that glorified wax they sell back in the States? All the best to the both of you in your exciting, exhilarating adventure.

    Pawsitive wishes, your way, from one time zone behind,

    Penny! :)

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  54. Welcome back, Keith! Glad to hear all is well and you're enjoying living in Germany. Sounds great! I especially like the chocolate part ... and castles :)

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  55. I loved Germany! I want to move overseas myself. How did you manage to get past the 90 day thing? I might have to e-mail you!

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  56. Im happy you comeback to post Keith!!!
    Loads of loveto you both!!!
    xoxo

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  57. You're back! How lovely. So, welcome to Europe properly. Your analysis really made me laugh. This is a big achievement, moving to a new country, making a new life. Your happiness in your new life shines through. So pleased for you both.

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  58. You sound well balanced in your observations Keith, I'm thrilled for you! What an adventure!

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  59. I am glad you like living in Germany, Keith! The German bread clearly is the best! And David Hasselhoff was the only reason the German reunification, that's why he is such a hero. Or at least he thinks he is. :) I always missed having lots of bike paths in America. Germans surely love their bikes!

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  60. Hey Keith old friend! I have been unable to access your blog for months..it says it's private. Are you still available for me to read and comment? I would love to put you back on the HPO too! Hope you are well!! Gina

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  61. I'm so glad you're loving life in Germany Keith! It's such a stunning place of what I've seen and I hope I can one day make the jump across the English Channel and see more of Europe, I've only been to Belgium so far, so it's pretty bad! It sounds like you're settling in well and am wishing all the best you and Beate! - Tasha

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  62. I was so excited when I realized that I could access your blog again (at least this post)! So happy to hear that you are enjoying Germany. Loved this post.

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  63. Such an adventure and great observations. European nations are in most respects far advanced than the US. The biggest issues that they are so far above, are what you said: universal health care, labor laws, and free universities. I am realizing this now especially with trying to figure out my maternity leave, which is just barely six weeks. Enjoy living in a progressive country!

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  64. great to hear you're enjoying yourself, and I smiled at all your comparisons, because it brought back memories of when I lived in Germany. I lived there in high school grade 10-11-12, and then I lived there again when I was a young mother with 3 little children...as a matter of fact my youngest daughter was born in Germany. We lived in Lahr, Schwarzwald. It was beautiful. Have a wonderful time over there.

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  65. seriously 2 million!! whoa! Germans are very hardworking and no-nonsense people and of course have a great sense of hygiene. Nice post!

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  66. Nice to see you posting again! Sounds like Germany is ahead of the states as far as environmental action.

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  67. Sounds like Germany is awesome. I hope you love it.

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  68. So great about college tuition, maternity leave and paternity leave! and lol about David Hasslehoff! So good to hear from you!

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  69. Not sure if I mentioned this to you before, but, I used to live in Germany and LOVED it. The architecture was just amazing. And the castles, yep, you're right, everywhere. It was quite the shocker to go from autobahn driving to country driving in a matter of moments but boy, was it fun! The side streets are so narrow and terrifying but so enchanting as they wind through the countryside. I just loved it! Enjoy and good seeing you! Glad you're doing well!

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  70. You are a delight Keith . . .
    I loved reading your overview . . .
    Learning you like things in Germany
    AND
    You like things in the States . . .
    What a truly wonderful place, space, time in your life . . .
    I am happy for you . . .

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  71. We need German-style labor laws here in the States. My German teacher let me know about them before I got political. You think it's any wonder why I'm liberal?

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  72. My friend, I have missed hearing from you! Oh, but I'm glad to hear that you're settling in well! A lot of these facts about Germany resonate with me (especially the room temp water! So much yes there), and now I really want to go see the country where my ancestors are from!

    Hope you are doing well! It sounds like you are having a fabulous time already. =D

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  73. Geez! This makes me want to pack up and move to Germany! Then...I read the part about David Hasselhoff...

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  74. Some of the things you mention here are common in many European countries, and some are specifically german, I guess... but I can feel that you are loving this new venture. I am happy you have updated your blog dear friend. Much Love xx

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  75. Some of the things you mention here are common in many European countries, and some are specifically german, I guess... but I can feel that you are loving this new venture. I am happy you have updated your blog dear friend. Much Love xx

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  76. Good morning Keith, I just found that you are posting again-I loved this post that is pretty funny about Hasselhoff lol

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  77. Hi Keith, I don't blog much these days since we are staying SO busy with LIFE. We traveled to Wyoming in August and had a marvelous time at the Tetons and Yellowstone... We also are putting lots of time and attention to getting and staying healthy at our ages. We have FITBITS--and both of us try to average over 10,000 steps each day. We enjoy walking --but it does take time. We also continue to eat healthy --and keep a food journal (My Fitness Pal)... Busy but crazy life!!!!

    I'm so happy for you and your new life with your new bride. Sounds like you are doing a great job learning all about Germany.

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  78. That's quite a list. The cars sure are small but those BMW's are fantastic machines. Good to hear you're happy in Germany.

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  79. Hello Keith, I just noticed you started back blogging. This is a great post. I hope you are very happy living in Germany. Happy Halloween, enjoy your weekend!

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  80. Chocolate from German-speaking countries is out of this universe. Try Austrian or Swiss chocolate.

    Of course they love their Fahrad. there are Fahrad everywhere, there are many Fahradwegen. :-)

    You are a lucky person for relocating to Germany at a time when the country is coming to terms with its past and setting its agenda for the future. Deutschland has become the economic power of Europe.

    Alles Gute für dich und Ihre (or deine?) Frau. :-)

    Greetings from London.

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  81. Hi again Keith!

    I found this post SO interesting. I am part-German and have always wanted to visit there. Sounds like a very progressive country, in so many ways. Good to hear about the family-friendly perks and the environmental awareness and ACTION, in particular. You really hit gold didn't you? The lovely Beate and a great new home too!

    Hugs and Happy Wednesday. G

    PS: I'm still posting at my review blog (linked to this comment) gave up my WP blogs as my writing is taking up more and more of my time these days.

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  82. I love that you took the time to write down all these observations and comparisons. Enjoy your new home!

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  83. Gosh Keith that is a realistic blend of Scotland and Australia!

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  84. Haha, you're absolutely right! :D

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  85. Castles & chocolate & beer, oh my! Outdoors & breads & social common sense, too. You really make me want to move to Germany. I would love to visit someday. Thanks for your wonderful blog!

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  86. Very good list. I've spent the last two summers in the "German" part of Italy, and most of the list is true for there too. Everything also closes from just after lunch, around 12:30 to 3:00 every day, with nothing open on Sunday. It does seem life is less consumer if one is in the countryside. The outdoorsy nature and the casual outdoor clothes is also nice. Su

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  87. I love Germany and your description is so true! Reading this post makes me want to go back.

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  88. Danke for all of the wonderful memories of Germany, Keith! I have dear German friends in Karlsruhe. So, I have been very fortunate to visit Germany often. Enjoy your time living in Deutschland!
    Dawn@Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes

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  89. i hope your life there with beate is everything you could have ever hoped for and more. and i hope all of your dreams are coming true. :)

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  90. Hello :) I enjoyed this post very much, since I am actually German! Though I live in North Rhine-Westphalia and that's a little different to the Bavarian lifestyle it seems.
    Hope you keep on enjoying Germany!

    p.s.: I don't like David Hasselhoff at all.

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  91. Congratulations. I'm looking at Scotland because that's where my ancestors lived. I want to feel, live and see where they all were. Blessings, Janet

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  92. I visited Schweinfurt where my son in law was stationed with my daughter and grandson. Loved it there. I like how the cemeteries are in the villiages where people live and shop. I watched from the window, family and friends go to their loved ones gravesite and replaced the candle if it was spent and how the grave sites were decorated with mosaic designed greenery and flowers. The 90 year old german woman downstairs gave us plenty of grapes to make juice , but she was making wine with hers. She helped us understand and in little time communicating was not so bad. Visited dachau and that was very sad and , well I just don't have the words to explain how I feel about that place.
    I totally miss the schneeballs that we ate while visiting Rhothenburg. I am sure things are much different now than in 2007.

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  93. Enjoyed your post about Germany. I have been wanting to visit for a while. I imagine my Tennessean perspective would be similar to that of a Kentuckian.

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  94. Hi Keith,
    thanks for the "ocean in red" ;-)
    Interesting is your view about Germany and the Germans
    some of it is true, some not
    .. I don´t like David Hasselhoff ;-)
    So, enjoy your stay in my hometown and have a good time!
    Gabi

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  95. Your post makes me want to visit Germany. It sounds like a very forward thinking country. I like that you wrote only positive things about where you live.

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  96. I get to be your hundredth commenter. I very much enjoyed this post but was distressed about the smoking. Oregon is probably much more restrictive than Kentucky, what with even bars being non-smoking in some cities. Not only are the buildings non-smoking in hospitals colleges, the open air is also closed to smoking. Does Germany have any restrictions that you’ve observed?

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  97. Keith, I didn't see this post until later, and it's so interesting. I guess because my kids are part German on their father's side. I love the fact that there are lots of Castles! I think it's nice that everything is closed on Sunday - it's a day of rest and the workers should too. I'm not one for paperwork, so I didn't care for that one haha. College tuition is free? - how incredible is that? Nel got her Ph.D., so you can imagine the expense of it all. And I think it's really nice that they appreciate our American culture. When Jess visited Germany several years ago, she said they were one of the nicest people in Europe. Thanks for sharing these tidbits about Germany. It sounds like you are fitting in well.

    ~Sheri

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  98. Hahaaaaa, that's great! I'm a german girl and it's so interesting to read your view about Germany.... didn't know, that so many things act different ! I hope I can visit the states sometime 😃

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  99. Hahaaaaa, that's great! I'm a german girl and it's so interesting to read your view about Germany.... didn't know, that so many things act different ! I hope I can visit the states sometime 😃

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