Significant changes in Germany

significant changes in germany 2020

From VAT reductions to pension inflations, something is changing in German regulation.

In this post I want to explain more about the new temporary and log-term changes, which are effective from today, the 1st of July 2020, onwards.

Temporary reduction of German VAT

As part of its stimulus package aimed to support the economy after the corona crisis, the German government has decided to introduce a temporary reduction of the German VAT.

Regular VAT is reduced from 19 to 16 percent, and reduced VAT from 7 to 5 percent. The federal government assumes the tax shortfalls amounting to almost 20 billion euros.

The reduced VAT rates come into effect from today, 1st of July 2020, until the 31 December 2020.

Pensions

The more than 21 million pensioners in Germany can now enjoy a significant increase in their pensions.

From today onwards, pensions will increase by 3.45 percent in the west and 4.20 percent in the east of the country. With the current increase, the legally agreed east-west pension adjustment takes effect for the third time. In order to meet this goal, the pension adjustments in the east part of the country had to be higher than in the west part.

Minimum wages for caregivers

From July 1 onwards, caregivers in Germany can expect a slight boost in their minimum wage. The hourly salary will rise to 15 euros and it will go up again in April 2022, to 15.40 euros.

In addition to the statutory vacation entitlement, carers will also be given additional vacation: Five days this year and six days in 2021.

Tenant protection

During the coronavirus crisis, the government instituted a protection against eviction policy to prevent renters in financial difficulties from losing their homes.

As of July 1, this temporary special protection will no longer apply.

The rent remained due for the corona period, however, an interest on arrears may arise. This must be paid by the end of this year.

 

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English skills.

Cambios importantes en Alemania

A partir de hoy, 1 de julio de 2020, entran en vigor una serie de nuevas medidas económicas. Algunas de estas son temporales mientras que otras han venido para quedarse.

Vamos a ver descubrir cuales son las nuevas medidas económicas.

Impuesto sobre el valor añadido (IVA)

Como parte de su paquete de medidas económicas para impulsar la economía del país tras la crisis del COVID-19, la gran coalición ha decidido reducir temporalmente el IVA.

El IVA general se reduce del 19 al 16 por ciento, mientras que el IVA reducido pasa del 7 al 5 por ciento. Esta medida estará en vigor durante los próximos 6 meses, hasta el 31 de diciembre de 2020.

Con esta iniciativa, el gobierno federal asume en gran medida el déficit fiscal, que asciende casi a 20 mil millones de euros.

Pensiones

Los más de 21 millones de pensionistas en Alemania pueden disfrutar desde hoy de un aumento en sus pensiones, ya que estas aumentarán un 3,45 por ciento en el oeste y un 4,20 en el este del país.

Con este aumento, el ajuste de pensiones este-oeste entra en vigencia una vez más. Es por ello que para cumplir el ajuste de pensiones los ajustes en el este son más altos que en el oeste del país.

Salario mínimo para cuidadores

Los cuidadores de personas dependientes, mayores o enfermas contarán a partir de hoy con un salario mínimo de 15 euros por hora, que pasará a ser de 15,40 euros por hora a partir de abril de 2022.

Además, estos trabajadores recibirán no sólo el mínimo de vacaciones legalmente permitido, sino que cinco días adicionales, que pasarán a ser seis a partir de 2021.

Protección del arrendatario

A partir del 1 de julio ya no se aplicará la protección especial temporal contra la restricción de contratos de alquiler por parte del arrendador.

Durante la crisis del COVID-19, los arrendadores no podían rescindir los contratos de alquiler simplemente porque el inquilino no pudiese hacer frente al pago.

A partir de ahora, los arrendatarios deberán pagar la renta junto a posibles intereses de demora que hayan surgido.

Best things to do in Ljubljana

Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia and the largest city in the country.

Legend says that Ljubljana was founded by Jason, the hero of Greek mythology, and the Argonauts. Jason stole the golden fleece from King Aeetes and fled back home to the Adriatic coast. On their way Jason encountered a dragon, which he defeated and killed.

Dragon symbols have been present in Ljubljana since then. In ancient times, the dragon was present on medieval coat of arms as decoration, but later it assumed a more central position. Nowadays, the dragon is the symbol of the city. From its initial portrayal as a monster, it gradually transformed into a protector full of courage and wisdom. You will see dragons everywhere around the city.

This unique fairy tale look alike city is worth a visit. It is colorful, lively, small and stunning. You can just stroll and explore it without planning everything in advance. However, I highly recommend you to take part in a free tour. They will explain you more about the history of the city and the country, and you will see amazing spots.

But, how can such a small city have amazing spots?

Well, let me tell you that the vibrant old town is full of ancient buildings, pedestrian-only streets and lot of history. In this post, I want to share with you some of my favorite places in Ljubljana. Ready?

The City Center

Get lost in the old town of Ljublana. Stroll along the pedestrian-only street that lines the river, enter the central marke to try some local products, go for a drink or a coffe to Cankarjevo Nabrezje or have a walk in Park Zvezda.

Visit the central square in Ljubljana, Preseren Square, and the pink colored Franciscan Church of the Annunciation. You can go inside and have a look at the frescoes. During summer time, most of the free tours start from this point.

By the way, if you are interested trying traditional Slovenia food and local beer, I highly recommend you to stop by Gostilna Sokol. An ancient restaurant where you can taste regional food.

Ljubljana’s Bridges

As I previously said, dragons are present all around the city, but mostly in Ljubljana’s ancient bridges.

Triple Bridge (Tromostovje)

Although it can sound kind of weird to have three bridges sitting side by side, there is a logical explanation for this.

Around 1840 the central bridge was created to replace the original, ancient medieval one, which was made of wood. This central bridge was opened to motorized traffic back then. Therefore, some years later, two pedestrian bridges where built on either side of the central one. And so, the Tripel Bridge was formed.

It was not until the year 2011 when motorized traffic was banned to drive the central bridge, making all three bridges pedestrians only.

The Dragon Bridge (Zmajski Most)

The Dragon Bridge replaced an old wooden bridge from 1819 and it is a unique creation considered a special piece of technical heritage. It is adorned with statues of fierce dragons and its uniqueness makes this place one of the most photographed spots in the city.

Butcher’s Bridge

The Butcher’s Bridge, built in 2010, is Ljubljana’s love bridge. Countless lovers symbolically padlock their love and drop the keys into the river as a symbol of eternal love.

All around the bridge you will see unique large statues and small sculptures created by Jakov Brdar.

Tivoli Park

A green oasis some minutes away from the old town. Tivoli park is the largest green area in Ljubljana. Stroll around its botanical gardens, enjoy the view of the lake and have some rest surrounded by nature.

Cathedral of St. Nicholas

Inside the cathedral you can see unique frescoes decorating the ancient building. Outside, the cathedral is full of bronze sculptured doors with reliefs illustrating scenes from Slovenia history.

If you decide to take a free tour, you will learn some interesting facts about the doors and the different illustrations.

Ljubljana Castle

On the green hill in the middle of the city, behind the ancient walls, you can see Ljubljana Castle. Over the centuries, the castle has played an important role and remained a city symbol.

Built in the middle of the 15th century, the castle has become a popular tourist destination. In fact, it offers an outstanding view over the city. My recommendation? Visit it in the evening and enjoy a magical sunset from the top of the tower.

Although surprising, you don’t have to pay anything to enter the castle courtyard. Opened from 10.00 am to 18.00 pm, it is easy to reach walking up the hill or by taking the funicular. Both options are amazing. I took the funicular to go up, and I walked down the hill to go back to the old town.

Other interesting spots

Neboticnok Skyscraper

Outside the old town you can find Neboticnik. It is a skyscraper with a rooftop terrace from where you can enjoy stunning views of the entire city. To come up there you do not need to pay anything, just if you order something in the bar.

Zitni Most Bridge

This part of the city is really beautiful if you want to discover a less touristic area. In fact, I had a great time here since it was a lively area but more quiet than the old town. Locals were chilling around and I enjoyed a tasty brunch at Ek Bistro.

Traditional Slovenia Food

Another great place I found to try traditional Slovenian dishes is Slovenska Hisa – Figovec, a restaurant not far away from Neboticnok tower where I tasted delicious traditional dishes and desserts. Highly recommended!

 

Your turn

Have you ever been to Ljubljana? What did you like the most? Is there any other recommendation you would like to do?

In case you want to share your experience, feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social networks. I am always thrilled to read your adventures!

 

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English skills.

6 Best Things to do in Lake Bled

Lake Bled is one of the most known places in Slovenia and one of the most visited ones. This magical, magnificent lake has one lone island where a charming church is located. There is no doubt that this is a Slovenia must-see. I had the chance to spend one day around and this is a once-in-a-life experience.

What to do in Lake Bled?

Ring the Wishing Bell

There is a legend dated from more that 500 years ago, that says that whoever rings the bell will have their wish come true.

To spend some time in the church there are two options:

  • To rent a boat and paddle around the lake – You do not need prior experience to do this but be ready to feel a bit unstable at the beginning. The drive takes around 10-15 minutes and it costs €20 per hour.
  • To rent a Pletna boat – This is a traditional wooden boat. You just need to sit down and enjoy the ride. It costs around €15 per person.

Traditionally visitors should walk the 99 steps leading to the Assumption of Mary Church, where you can ring the Wishing Bell.

Visit Lake Bled Castle

To enjoy one of the best views of Lake Bled you should visit this 1000 years old castle.

This is the oldest castle in Slovenia, dating to the year 1011. On a visit there, sept onto the lake-facing terraces and enjoy the spectacular view. The castle includes a museum detailing the history of Bled, and a restaurant with a wine cellar.

Bled Castle Opening Hours:

08:00 – 18:00: From January to March + November and December

08:00 – 20:00: From April to June + September & October

08:00 – 21:00: July & August

Take a Stroll around Lake Bled

Ready for a walk around a magical lake? In this case Lake Bled is the perfect place. It takes around 1 hour to walk the 6km distance, depending on how many times you stop to take pictures, and the views are stunning.

Personal tip: Do it at sunset… 😊

Hike to Mala Osojnica

If you are a hiking person, the walk to Mala Osojnica is the perfect plan for you. It is a quick hike, a little bit tough sometimes but the reward is a unique view of Lake Bled.

During the climb you will spend most of the time under the cover of trees. You know you are getting close to the top when you see the metal staircase. The main viewpoint – Mala Osojnica – is five minutes away from the stairs.

The entire hike takes one hour and you do not need hiking shoes, although I would recommend you to use them. Some running shoes could also be a good option in this case.

Visit Vintgar Gorge

Nearby you can visit Vintgar Gorge, one of the most amazing nature spot in the country. To access the gorge just walk the wooden boardwalk that follows the river to a waterfall.

Try Bled Cream Cake

Although every café in Slovenia serves it, the original source of Bled Cream Cake is Park Hotel.

This delicious dessert is one of the most popular ones in the country. It is said that the hotel is serving up Bled Cream Cake since 1953, shortly after the arrival of pastry chef Ištvan Lukačević following the Second World War. Hope you like it!! 😊

 

Your turn

Have you ever been to Lake Bled? What did you like the most? Is there any other recommendation you would like to do?

In case you want to share your experience, feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social networks. I am always thrilled to read your adventures!

 

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English skills.

Trucos para aprender alemán durante la cuarentena

Estos días, han sido varias las personas que me han contactado para saber cómo consigo mantener mi nivel de alemán en estos tiempos que corren.

Si tú también sientes que tu nivel de alemán, o de cualquier otro idioma, está sufriendo las consecuencias de esta cuarentena no te preocupes, no eres la única persona que está pasando por esto.

Los primeros días de confinamiento (voluntario en mi caso, ya que en NRW no ha habido un confinamiento como tal), me dí cuenta que cuanto más tiempo pasase en casa, más opciones había de dejar de lado el alemán. Por ello, me puse seria y decidí hacer todas las cosas que voy a compartir contigo en este post:

Escuchar la radio

Una de las mejores maneras de aprender nuevo vocabulario y agudizar el oído es escuchando la radio. 

No importa si escuchas las noticias, un programa sobre economía o un programa musical, lo importante es que intentes entender lo que el locutor está diciendo, ya que suelen hablar bastante rápido. 

Por último, en Alemania siempre dan las noticias a las horas en punto, así que tanto si escuchas una cadena musical como un programa sobre política, a cada hora en punto paran la emisión para dar las noticias. Información y nuevo vocabulario cada hora. 

Hablar alemán

Si estás trabajando desde casa y tienes la suerte de tener compañeros alemanes, invítales a tomar cafés virtuales contigo. ¿Cómo funciona esto? Muy sencillo. Organiza un “Termin” con ellos dentro del horario laboral pero de manera informal, de manera que podáis tomar un café juntos durante 15 minutos. De esta forma estarás mostrando no sólo tu interés por esa persona, sino que además estarás aprovechando un pequeño descanso para hablar en alemán.

En mi empresa la gente es muy agradecida cuando les invitas a tomar un e-café, ya que eso les permite tomar un respiro durante su jornada laboral y poder saber cómo te va y contarte como les va a ell@s.

Practicar gramática todos los días

Internet es una fuente ilimitada de información y puedes encontrar de todo. Por eso, si quieres dar un empujoncito a tu alemán, busca por las redes distintas páginas que cuenten con ejercicios online.

Un ejemplo de esto es la página web de Schubert. En ella encontrarás ejercicios online para todos los niveles (desde A1 hasta C2).

Otra página muy interesante si estás pensando presentarse al examen Goethe es la web del propio Goethe Institut, dónde encontrarás distintos ejercicios preparatorios para todos los niveles (desde A1 hasta C2). 

Ver películas y series alemanas

Esto es un clásico. Ver películas y series en alemán es la mejor manera de empaparse del “lenguaje de la calle”, ya que en ambos casos los personajes hablan como hablan las personas que vas a cruzarte en tu día a día. 

Si aún no estás muy segur@ sobre que puedes ver, echa un ojo a mi lista:

Series

  • Babylon Berlin
  • Türkisch für Anfänger
  • Tatort 
  • Dark
  • Weissensee

Películas

  • Fack ju Göhte
  • Isi & Ossi
  • 3 Türken & ein Baby
  • Good Bye, Lenin!
  • Ein Freund von mir

Echa un ojo en Netflix, HBO o cualquier otra plataforma y encontrarás muchísimas películas y series alemanas. 

Un buena idea siempre es poner subtítulos, así podrás aprender nuevo vocabulario y apuntarlo en una libreta para que no se te olvide.

Leer un libro

Leer un libro es muy buena idea para las personas que necesitan ampliar su vocabulario.

Dependiendo de tu nivel de alemán será mejor que empieces con libros más simples, o que pases directamente a comprar libros con un vocabulario más complicado.

Un amigo mío suele comprar libros infantiles porque aún no se siente seguro leyendo “tacos larguísimos”, como dice él. Otro suele comprar libros de un nivel medio, cuyas tramas son complejas pero que están escritos de manera sencilla.

En mi opinión cada uno debe buscar los libros que se adapten a su nivel, y para ello lo mejor es pasarse por alguna librería y pedir consejo a alguna de las personas que trabajan allí.

Leer el periódico

Con este truquillo no sólo estarás al día de las últimas noticias, sino que aprenderás muchísimo vocabulario de actualidad.

Para eso puedes hacer una de las siguientes cosas:

  1. Comprar un periódico de papel
  2. Leer periódicos online
  3. Suscribirte a un periódico online – Esta opción ofrece más contenido que la anterior, ya que pagando una cuota mensual tendrás acceso a todos los artículos del periódico
  4. Comprar revistas – Hay algunas muy interesantes que se venden de manera mensual como Spiegel, Cosmopolitan o Deutsch Perfekt, donde puedes aprender una gran variedad de vocabulario relacionado con temas actuales. Esto te permitirá poder tener conversaciones de actualidad con tus amigos y compañeros alemanes
  5. Presse und Sprache – Este periódico recopila las noticias más importantes del último mes que hayan aparecido en los distintos periódicos alemanes y las clasifica en función de su nivel de dificultad. Las noticias más fáciles son nivel A y las más difíciles son nivel C. Al final de cada artículo aparece una lista de palabras que aparecen en el texto y su significado.

Ver programas de televisión alemanés

Otro clásico: Ver la televisión en alemán para aprender vocabulario y estar al día en las conversaciones con tus compañeros de trabajo. 

Recuerdo cuando llegue a Alemania y en mi oficina no hacían nada más que hablar de “Die Bachelorette”, y yo no entendía nada. Me tuve que poner un poco al día viendo videos del programa en internet.

Hoy en día la cosa es distinta. Veo algún que otro programa alemán (si te gustan los documentales te recomiendo “Galileo”, dura 20 minutos y puedes aprender muchísimo vocabulario) y ya no me extraño tanto cuando hablan de “Bauer sucht Frau” o “Tatort”.

 

Tu turno

¿Qué trucos utilizas tú para no perder tu alemán estos días? ¿Tienes alguna otra recomendación? ¿Te gustaría incluir algún comentario?

Espero que este post te haya servido de ayuda y puedas utilizar alguno de mis trucos para mejorar o mantener tu nivel de alemán. Si crees que puedes aportar más información y ayudar a otra gente, no dudes en dejar un comentario al final del post o a través de las redes sociales 😊

 

 

 

Predjama Castle and The Caves

In one day, you can easily visit three of Slovenia’s most stunning destinations: the Postojna Cave, Predjama Castle and Škocjan Caves.

Postojna Cave is a 24 kilometers long cave system, made up of four caves interconnected through an underground river. This cave is the longest one in Slovenia and one of the longest in all Europe. As interesting fact, German forces used the cave to store 1,000 barrels of aircraft fuel during World War II.

Predjama Castle is one of Europe’s most dramatic castles. This Renaissance castle,  was built in the mouth of a cave halfway up 123-meter cliff around year 1200, but most of what we can see today is from the 16th century.

Škocjan Caves are a unique natural phenomenon included in the UNESCO list in 1986. These caves, one of the largest underground canyons in the world, are truly amazing. They have beautiful stalactites, stalagmites and other rocks formations, but what makes this place so unique is the underground river (Reka River) which disappears into the underground beneath a rock wall.

Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle are near to each other (like 5-10 minutes’ walk), however, from the castle to Škocjan Caves you have around 30 minutes’ drive. To reach them I highly recommend you to rent a car and drive there. It is a one hour drive from Ljubljana and around a 45 minutes drive from the coastal towns.

Postojna Cave

Some important information

To visit the cave you need to book a tour. The price per adult varies from €25,80 to €27,90, depending on the season of the year you visit the cave.

Before the tour starts, a guide will group you according to the language you chose. Guides speak many languages; Italian, English, German… If you speak different languages I highly recommend you to avoid the English group because it is usually the most crowded one.

Inside the cave

Inside the cave there is a constant temperature of 10 degrees. It is damp and chilly, so I suggest you to wear pants and to bring a jacket to avoid cold. If you get cold easily, you may also want to bring gloves and a hat.

The tour of Postojna Cave starts off with a train ride. The journey is around 4km long and it last less than 15 minutes.

The yellow train drives you through a hall with Murano-glass chandeliers. I couldn’t stop taking pictures since I was amazed at what I was seeing. However, I didn’t know that this was not even the best of what the cave had to offer.

After stepping off the train a guide will lead you through the cave, sharing interesting scientific and historical information. You will follow a well lit path and you will see enormous stalactites and stalagmites, the oldest one – open to the public – is 150,000 years old.

I have read many blogs where people say that taking photographs is not allowed. Well, we could take photos (no flash of course) during the whole tour, so I assume it depends on the guide. Therefore, if you want to take photos of this amazing place, ask your guide before starting the tour.

Predjama Castle

Some information

Less than 10 minutes’ walk from Postojna Cave you will find Predjama Castle.

The entrance fee for adults is €11,90 and the opening hours vary depending on the season of the year. If you plan to visit the castle between May and October, the first tour starts at 9:00 am, otherwise you have to wait until 10:00am to enter the place.

If you are planning to visit both the castle and Postoja Cave you can purchase a joint ticket for €31,90.

Inside the castle

The entrance fee includes an informative audio guide with 29 points of interest throughout the castle detailing its history.

During the visit you will find many original items, as well as replicas in the rooms and halls. Thanks to the audio guide you will learn several interesting facts as you walk among them.

The castle itself is easy to visit, although some areas are very narrow and cobbled, so I recommend you to wear compact trainers.

The audio guide tour lasts around one hour. You can also walk through the castle without the audio guide, in this case inform yourself about its history before visiting it, otherwise you will wander through the rooms without knowing what you are seeing.

Once you finish the visit it can be a good idea to drive 30 minutes to Škocjan Caves

Škocjan Caves

Some important information

To visit the caves, you will need to book a tour. There are three different tours:

Through the underground canyon: The first tour takes places at 10:00am every day of the year. The price per adult varies from €16 to €20 depending on the season of the year you visit the cave.

Following the Reka River underground: This route is only available from April to October. The timetable varies depending on the season of the year but the price per adult  remains constant to €12,50. A combined ticket of both tours (1 + 2) costs €24.

Along the Škocjan Education Trails: This tour allows the visitor to learn more about the geology, relief forms and hydrological characteristics of the area. This is also a guided tour and costs €6 every day of the year.

Before the tour starts, a guide will group you according to the language you chose. Guides speak many languages; English, German, Chinese…

In a group of maximum 25 people, you will enter the Škocjan Caves.

Inside the caves

Inside the cave there is a constant temperature of 12 degrees, so it is advisable to bring a jacket and hiking boots or compact trainers to avoid cold and to prevent yourself from the slippery floor.

For an hour and a half, a guide will lead you through the caves, sharing interesting historical and scientific information. You will see enormous stalactites and stalagmites, you will walk across a bridge that sits 50 meters over the river, you will see the largest underground canyon in Europe and you will enjoy a unique uphill, downhill walk.

The tour ends at the natural opening of the cave.

 

Your turn

Have you ever been to Predjama Castle and the caves? What did you like the most? Is there any other recommendation you would like to do?

In case you want to share your experience, feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social networks. I am always thrilled to read your adventures!

 

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English skills.

Visit Slovenia: Piran & Izola

Slovenia is mostly landlocked, with the exception of a small part of land that stretches out the Adratic Sea. In this part of the country there are three small coastal towns: Koper, Izola and Piran, which are worth a visit.

Since I was not really sure what to do, my Slovenian colleagues recommended me to visit Izola and Piran, two beautiful towns with incredible views and great seafood restaurants.

Let’s start our visit to the coast of Slovenia in Piran!

Some information about Piran

The colourful town of Piran was part of the Republic of Venice until 1797, then it bounced between Austria, France and Italy until 1991, when it became part of Slovenia (What a mix of cultures! 😊).

Much of the food and architecture in Piran have Italian influences, since this village is located not far away from Trieste. In fact, until the middle of the 20th century, Italian was the official language.

Best things to do in Piran

Tartini Square

Until the end of the 19th century Tartini Square, named after the violinist Giuseppe Tartini, was filled with water. It was not until 1895 when some platforms were added and buildings were constructed forming the square we can see today.

Medieval Walls of Piran

You can walk the medieval walls of Piran to get a unique view over the city.

These walls were built during the times when the village was part of the Republic of Venice to protect it from Turkish invasions.

The Church of St.George

To get another spectacular view of Piran and the coast, climb up the hill to visit the Church of St.George. From the yard, in a sunny day, you can even see the Italian and Croatian coastlines.

The Old Town

The old town is a stunning mix of cobblestone streets and colorful houses.

Wander through the old town, eat some seafood in a restaurant in front of the sea and take a walk until the beach.

Some information about Izola

Izola is a hidden gem located between Piran and Koper. I did not know anything about this town before I visited it. In fact, I planned to visit Koper until my Slovenian colleagues stopped me and recommended me to visit Izola. And thanks God!

The town of Izola was established on a small island by refugees from Aquileia in the 7th century. Its name originates from the Italian word “Isola”, which means Island. It became part of the Republic of Venice in 1267. It was in 1954, when it was first incorporated into Slovenia.

Izola still preserves the fisherman’s traditions. The small harbor is the belly of the town and there you can find nice bars and restaurants. The point where all streets meet is consider the center of the town.

Best things to do in Izola

Church of Mary of Haljaetum

The Church of Mary of Haljaetum dates from the 11th century and it is considered the oldest building in Izola, consecrated to protect fishermen.

This ancient building is generally open during daylight hours.

Church of St. Maurus and The Bell Tower

At the top of Izola stands the Church of St. Maurus, patron saint of the town.

The legend says that when praying to the patron to save Izola people from the Genoese navy, a white dove appeared and drew the nave away from the town.

The church was originally built in 1356 and reconstructed several times in the past centuries, but the original Renaissance design and later Baroque modifications were preserved.

You will find a Gothic bell tower standing beside the church. This bell was built in 1585 and is more than 30 meters high. You can visit and climb the almost 100 steps leading to the top of it.

The Besenghi Degli Ughi Palace

This palace, built in 1781, is one of the most well-preserved Late Baroque monuments in Slovenia.

Nowadays, the palace hosts the Izola Music School and it is used as a venue for wedding ceremonies.

Parenzana bike trail

Enjoy some biking in Parenzana Bike Trail. A trail that connects the three countries of Italy, Croatia and Slovenia.

Your turn

Have you ever been to Slovenia? Is there any hidden gem that I forgot to mention?

In case you want to share your experience, feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social networks. I am always thrilled to read your adventures!

 

 

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English skills.

Qué es el Kurzarbeit y cómo funciona

En estos días en que muchos países están viviendo un acontecimiento único que les está poniendo a prueba, los expats que vivimos en Alemania estamos aprendiendo mucho de manera inesperada.

Por un lado, estamos aprendiendo la manera en que los alemanes hacen frente a esta situación tanto a nivel privado como a nivel público. Por otro lado, estamos aprendiendo nuevo vocabulario con palabras como Sicherheitsabstand Ausgangssperre.

Entre todo ese vocabulario que estamos aprendiendo se encuentra la palabra Kurzarbeit.

Son muchas las personas que viven en Alemania que estos días están oyendo esta palabra en sus empresas. ¿Pero qué significa exactamente Kurzarbeit? ¿Cómo funciona? ¿Cómo afecta a mi vida laboral?

En este post voy a responder detalladamente a estas y más preguntas. ¡Comencemos!

¿Qué es exactamente Kurzarbeit?

El Kurzarbeit es una modalidad de jornada reducida en la que el estado, a través de la Agentur für Arbeit, asume parte del salario del trabajador de manera que ante una caída de la producción el empleador pueda continuar contando con toda su plantilla y evite la perdida de puestos de trabajo.

Esta situación suele aparecer en momentos de crisis (ej: la crisis de 2008, el Covid-19…) donde los empleadores optan por reducir las horas de trabajo y solicitar ayudas al estado, para evitar despedir a parte de sus plantillas.

¿Se aplica esta jornada reducida de la misma manera a todos los trabajadores de la empresa?

La reducción de horas laborables no tiene porque ser la misma para todos los trabajadores. De hecho, el Kurzarbeit no tiene porque ser aplicado a toda la empresa. Este puede limitarse a departamentos concretos que estén pasando por una fuerte caída en la producción por causas ajenas a la empresa, como por ejemplo una crisis económica mundial.

Para que se considere Kurzarbeit la empresa debe solicitar como mínimo un 10% de reducción de jornada para al menos un 30% de la plantilla.

Es muy importante que esta reducción de horas y salario sea aprobada en base a convenios colectivos con todas las personas afectadas y a nivel empresarial.

Si tu empresa cuenta con un Betriebsrat (órgano de representación de los intereses de los trabajadores), el empleador tendrá que ponerse de acuerdo con este. En caso de que no tenga Betriebsrat, todos los trabajadores afectados tendrán que comunicar de manera unánime y oficial y que están de acuerdo con esta situación, en caso contrario no será posible aplicar el Kurzarbeit.

¿Afecta la jornada reducida a trainees y estudiantes en prácticas?

Sí, los trainees y estudiantes haciendo prácticas en una empresa que solicita Kurzarbeit cuentan como trabajadores de la misma. Esto incluye a trabajadores no sujetos a contribuciones a la seguridad social (ej. Mini-jobs).

¿Qué ocurre con las Resturlaub?¿Hay que coger las vacaciones del año pasado o se pueden conservar?

Si tu empresa ha solicitado el Kurzarbeit y te quedan vacaciones del año pasado, tendrás que cogerlas para así evitar problemas en caso de necesitar la ayuda Kurzarbeitergeld.

Esto no afecta a cualquier otro plan que tengas para el año en que el Kurzarbeit se solicite.

¿Qué es el Kurzarbeitergeld?

En Alemania la Agentur für Arbeit (Agencia Federal de Empleo) se encarga de pagar el subsidio de jornada reducida (Kurzarbeitergeld) a aquellos empleadores que se vean obligados a solicitar Kurzarbeit. En este caso, la agencia federal de empleo reembolsará al empleador parte del sueldo de los empleados para que este pueda hacer frente a su pago.

Durante el tiempo que dure este subsidio, el trabajador tiene garantizada la vuelta a su puesto de trabajo tan pronto como la situación vuelva a la normalidad.

El Kurzarbeitergeld puede ser recibido por un periodo máximo de 12 meses.

¿Cómo se solicita el Kurzarbeitergeld?

Es el empleador quien tiene que solicitar este subsidio a la Agentur für Arbeit. Para ellos deberán solicitar formalmente un porcentaje de reducción de jornada (que puede ser entre un 10% y un 100%) para un porcentaje de la plantilla (entre 30% y 100%).

Una vez llevada a cabo la solicitud la autoridad local competente determinará si esta cumple los requisitos sociales y legales necesarios. Si es así, el empleador podrá optar al subsidio Kurzarbeitergeld.

¿Qué empleados tienen derecho a este subsidio?

Todos los empleados con pérdidas de más de un 10% de su salario debido a la reducción de jornada y que estén sujetos a cotizaciones a la seguridad social podrán recibir el Kurzarbeitergeld.

Sin embargo, hay otros empleados que también tienen derecho a este subsidio y que no cumplen al 100% los requisitos anteriormente mencionados:

  • Trabajadores temporales
  • Trabajadores que se encuentren de vacaciones
  • Trabajadores que no se encuentren en condiciones de trabajar y aún no estén sujetos a una baja laboral
  • Trainees con salarios superiores a los 325€
  • Estudiantes que coticen a la seguridad social

¿Qué empleados no tienen derecho a este subsidio?

Los siguientes empleados no tienen derecho al subsidio por reducción de jornada y no pueden ser contados para calcular la misma:

  • Trabajadores que se encuentren recibiendo Krankengeld (subvención por baja laboral)
  • Trabajadores que ya están recibiendo alguna subvención de la Agentur für Arbeit
  • Estudiantes que estén trabajando sin ningún tipo de contribución a la seguridad social
  • Trabajadores en baja de paternidad recibiendo el Elterngeld
  • Trabajadores que estén disfrutando de un permiso de formación (Bildungsurlaub)

¿Se puede seguir llevando a cabo un curso de formación durante el Kurzarbeit?

Sí, aunque el horario del mismo deberá adaptarse a la jornada reducida.

Esta situación volverá a la normalidad una que se recuperen las horas de trabajo habituales.

¿Se puede tener un segundo empleo mientras se está en Kurzarbeit?

Sï, se puede disfrutar de un segundo empleo mientras dure el Kurzarbeit. Sin embargo, el salario que venga de ese segundo empleo se tendrá en cuenta y será reducido del Kurzarbeitergeld.

 

Tu turno

¿Tienes experiencia con el Kurzarbeit? ¿Has estado alguna vez en esta situación? ¿Te gustaría incluir algún comentario?

Espero que este post te haya servido de ayuda y tengas más claro como funciona este proceso en Alemania. Si crees que puedes aportar más información y ayudar a otra gente, no dudes en dejar un comentario al final del post o a través de las redes sociales 😊

 

Best things to do in Slovenia

Some months ago I had the good fortune of being able to visit Slovenia. But to be honest, apart from my business meetings I had no idea what to do in Slovenia or even if there were any interesting things to do!

Slovenia has hardly ever been on my list of places to visit. What a mistake! The moment I landed in this country I realized how beautiful it is full of towering mountains and crystal clear rivers.

There are so many things to do and visit in Slovenia, that I think I will have to revisit 😊

I hope by the end of this article you also fall in love with this stunning country and even have booked a trip to visit it.

Best things to do in Slovenia

Visit fairytale city Ljubljana

One of the most obvious things to do in Slovenia is to visit the capital Ljubljana. It is colorful, it is lively and it is packed with interesting museums, architectural gems and gorgeous parks.

More than anything, Ljubljana is incredible pleasant to explore. While you are here stroll the colorful streets, enjoy the unique Slovenian food, observe the many bridges and contemplate the sunset from Ljubljana Castle.

Visit Piran and Izola

These small, colorful coastal towns are considered by locals Slovenia’s gems.

Established in the 7th century, these towns were strategical for fishing. This led to many disputes among neighbors making both towns public enemies during the 13th and the 14th century, when there were “town wars” among them.

When visiting Piran and Izola stroll the streets, enjoy fresh fish or seafood and walk along the sea to enjoy some fresh, Adriatic air.

Here more about these stunning places 

Visit Predjama Castle

Built more than 800 years ago directly into a cliffside, Predjama Castle is the largest cave castle in the world. This castle was run by Erazem of Predjama and when it was under siege, the cave system was used both to get food inside and to get people out safely.

Visiting Predajma Castle is a quick day trip from Ljubljana and can be combined with Postojna Cave, the largest cave system in Slovenia.

Visit Postojna Cave

The Postojna Cave system is a jaw dropping experience. It is a series of 2 million years old caves and halls, some around 24km long. The cave has a constant temperature of 8-10° and with the regular tour you can visit around 5km of the cave (3 of them covered by electric train).

My personal recommendation is that you visit both Predjama Castle and Postojna Cave the same day, since they are not far away.

Visit Lake Bled

One of Slovenia’s most popular destinations.

Sure, Lake Bled is touristy but there are many reasons for visitors to pay a visit to this stunning place. With a castle on the hill, a unique island and hiking trails, Bled is a nice place to visit all year long.

When visiting Lake Bled cycle around the lake, ring the bell of The Church of the Assumption, hike to a viewing point and try Bled cream cake.

Other things to do in Slovenia

Slovenia is an amazing country. Sadly I did not have enough time to visit everything I wanted.

Here you can find other interesting places in Slovenia my Slovenian colleagues recommended me:

Hike Vintgar Gorge

Vintgar Gorge is a short but spectacular hike located just few kilometers away from Lake Bled. Locals come to this picturesque area to escape from the bustling city.

Visiting Lake Bled and Vintgar Gorge is a spectacular, quick trip from Ljubljana.

Drink a glass of wine in Gorica

This beautiful wine regions, close to the Italian border, has medieval cities and stunning vineyards.

Locals consider it as a quiet place everybody should visit once in life.

Visit Maribor

The second biggest city in Slovenia was founded in the 12th century in the east of the country and it is full of interesting monuments.

This beautiful city is also known due to its wine. Vineyards are located just outside the downtown. In fact, you can see them on the surrounding hills. Isn’t it a dream for wine lovers?

Visit Triglav National Park

Triglav National Park is one of the most beautiful areas in Slovenia. Here you can hike, bike, swim, fish or just relax in nature and enjoy the stunning views.

 

This month I will be sharing more experiences about Slovenia. I will create various posts to share more information about the different places I visited.

In the meantime, I hope I aroused your interesting to find out more about this stunning country.

 

Your turn

Have you ever been to Slovenia? Is there any hidden gem that I forgot to mention?

In case you want to share your experience, feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social networks. I am always thrilled to read your adventures!

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English skills.

 

Kurzarbeit in Germany: What is it and how does it work

These days the world is facing an unprecedent challenge which is leading to a variety of responses, depending on the country.

Italians and Spaniards, among others, are confined at home working remotely, whenever it is possible, and waiting for the day they can go out, have a long walk and breathe fresh air. Germans, however, are still allowed to go out and enjoy nature, respecting social distancing.

If you are an expat living in Germany, I am quite convinced that this challenging situation had forced you to learn new vocabulary such as Sicherheitsabstand, Ausgangssperre and, in the worst cases, Kurzarbeit.

Yes, due to the current situation many of you have asked me about this last word – Kurzarbeit via social media.

Therefore, I am going to answer all your questions by explaining what is Kurzarbeit, how does it work and what you can do during this time.

What is Kurzarbeit?

The meaning of Kurzarbeit is short-time working, which is a special situation in which employees agree to or are forced to accept a reduction in working time and pay.

Most of the time, this situation appears when employers decide to avoid laying off any of their employees by instead reducing working hours and payment, being the government in charge of making up some of the employee’s lost income.

Are working hours reduced equally for all employees?

Working hours do not need to be reduced by the same percentage for all employees. In fact, Kurzarbeit does not need to be introduced for the entire company. It can be limited to individual departments within it.

The most important thing here is that, for all affected employees, the cut in working hours and pay is effectively agreed on the basis of collective agreements or firm-level agreements.

If your company does not have a work council (Betriebsrat), all employees affected have to agree the short-time work. Otherwise, the Betriebsrat needs to agree for short-time work to be introduced.

Is short-time work also possible for trainees and students?

Yes, trainees and students doing any internship in a company are counted as employees who work for the company when the short-time work applies. This includes also employees who are not in jobs subject to social insurance contributors (ex. Mini-jobs).

What happen with Resturlaub? Do employees need to take any holiday leave carried over from the previous year?

If employees still have Resturlaub, they are in principle required to take this holiday leave to avoid loss of payment of Kurzarbeitergeld, in case it is needed. This does not apply if the employees have other plans for the year when the Kurzarbeit is being planned.

What is Kurzarbeitergeld?

In Germany the Agentur für Arbeit (Employment Agency) pays the short-time allowance (Kurzarbeitergeld) for a loss of earnings caused by a temporary cut in working hours. This reduces costs faced by employers and enables them to continue to employ their employees.

The period for which the short-time allowance can be received is limited to 12 months.

How do I apply for Kurzarbeitergeld?

It is the employer who must apply to the Agentür für Arbeit for the short-time allowance.

Employers must declare the reduction of hours before the application is submitted. Then, the authority have to check whether the social and labor law requirements are met.

Once this process is done, employees will be entitled to receive the Kurzarbeitergeld.

Are all employees entitled to receive Kurzarbeitergeld?

All employees who have a loss of earnings of more than 10 per cent of their pay due to the short-time work and who remain in employment subject to social insurance contributions are entitled to receive Kurzarbeitergeld.

But they are not the only ones. The following employees are also included:

  • Temporary employees
  • Employees who are on holidays
  • Students subject to social insurance contributions
  • Sick employees unable to work and not already entitled to sick leave
  • Trainees with wages of up to €325

Who is not entitled to receive Kurzarbeitergeld?

Following employee groups are not entitled to receive short-time allowance and can’t be included in the calculation of loss of working hours:

  • Employees receiving Krankengeld (sick pay) before the introduction of the short-time work
  • Employees receiving monetary support from Agentur für Arbeit (Employment Agency)
  • Students employed without being subject to social security contributions
  • Employees in Elternzeit (Parental leave) receiving Elterngeld
  • Employees on Bildungsurlaub (Educational leave)

Can a continuing education or training program be continued during Kurzarbeit?

A continuing education or training program must be adapted, in terms of time, to the short-time work.

This situation will end when the employee returns to his/her normal working hours.

Are employees on Kurzarbeit allowed to have other job?

Sure it is allowed to have a side job. However, income coming from a side job will be included in the calculation and will reduce the amount of Kurzarbeitergeld.

 

Your turn

Have you ever experienced Kurzarbeit in Germany? Is there any other information you think I should include in this post?

In case you want to share your experience, feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social networks. I am always thrilled to read your experiences!

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English skills.