Best Christmas Markets in Germany

 

If you are a huge fan of Christmas season, I am glad to tell you that next Thursday (11/21/2019) is the opening of the Christmas Markets in Germany. A magical time of the year where each city, full of Christmas lights and decoration, emits a delightful scent of Glühwein (typical mulled wine) and traditional food.

To be honest, I also think that this is a beautiful time of the year. Most of the people here in Germany enjoy this time to spend some quality time with family and friends, to open their advents calendars, to offer little surprises and to be more compassionate. Families come together and spend time buying Christmas decoration and having some hot drinks in the markets.

This markets tradition is celebrated all around the country. However, each city has different markets and each market has its own decoration and stands.

Do you want to know which are the top 5 Christmas markets in Germany?

Let’s check them together!

 

Dresden

The capital city of Saxony is our first stop.

The Striezelmarkt is considered the first Christmas market not only in Dresden, but in whole Germany.

It dates from 1434, when Friedrich II, Elector of Saxony, allowed traders to have a public holiday the Monday before Christmas. This celebration took place at Altmarkt square, where the Striezelmarkt is located today.

Its 240 stands attract around 2 million visitors every year. 80% of the stands belong to traders who come from the Saxony region.

One of the most relevant moments, during the time the market is open, takes place the Saturday before the second Sunday of Advent. That day a 4 ton Dresdner Christsollen – a raisin stollen – will be baked and carried from Zwinger Schloss to Striezelmarkt. The Dresdner Christollen is a piece of cultural history produced in only 120 bakeries and pastry stores around Dresden.

This festivity is known as “Stollenfest” and the organizer is the Schutzverband Desdner Stolle e.V. association.

The blaze of lights, the smell of Glühwein and Christmas music spreading through the market make this place a to-put-on-your-list one.

 

Opening time 2019

From the 27th  of November to the 24th of December

 

Monschau

This medieval city situated on the border with Belgium deserves a visit at this time of the year.

If you have already been here during summer time, you might already know that this stunning city is located between mountains – which gives it with a magical feeling. This feeling becomes stronger during Advent and Christmas time.

Here not only the market is decorated with lights and advent wreaths, also other business such as bakeries, restaurants and fashion stores are decorated according to the decoration of the Christmas market.

In the market, among all the stands, we can find Glühwein as well as traditional food such as Flammkuchen and melted cheese.

The most beautiful moment comes when the city’s choirs sing Christmas songs and go all over the market.

However, if you’d rather buy Christmas decoration during summer or spring, do not worry! There is a 3 floors store in Monschau where only Christmas objects are sold. And you know what? It is open from March to December! 😉

 

Opening time 2019

From the 22nd of November to the 22nd of December

 

Cologne

I am sure you have already heard some opinions about the Christmas market in front Cologne’s cathedral. Or maybe, you have already heard about the one in front of the Chocolate Museum.

Well, those markets are good. But what about discovering some less-touristic ones?

In this post I want to talk you about the one in Rudolfplatz, beside the famous Hahnentorburg from s.XIII.

This market is called “Santa Claus Village” and its decoration is stunning. Most of the stands are “two floor houses”, whose roofs are decorated with reindeers, candies, presents… It is a familiar market where you really feel in Santa’s village.

Another nice thing about this market is that some bands play live Christmas music every evening.

 

Opening time 2019

From the 25th of November to the 23rd of December

 

If you are willing to discover more cute places, I highly recommend you the Heumarkt market.

This market is one of the oldest in the city and the stands are organized by trades (food, leather, toys…), as tradition dictates.

Also an ice skate rink can be found in this market. In fact, this rink is the largest in Germany with a 1,800 square meters surface. This rink will open until the 5 th of January 2020.

 

Opening time 2019

From the 25th of November to the 23rd of December

 

Münster

In my opinion this could be the largest Christmas market in Germany because the whole city is a market.

How is this possible?

Easy. Münster is the home of 5 Christmas markets which are connected among them in a way that you can walk from one to another without even realizing. Well, that’s not 100% true… Each market has its own decoration and thematic, so at a certain point you realize 😉

A market that I really like is Aegidii market. This market has an impressive nativity scene, a 6 metres high wooden pyramid and a fairy tale area.

This year traders will even offer warm beer and cocktails. Are you ready to try them?

 

Opening time 2019

From the 25th of November to the 23rd of December

 

Nuremberg

I must recognize that I have never been to this market, however, the information I am about to tell you is really reliable 😊

The most stunning market in Nuremberg is called Christkindlesmarkt. Every year one child acts as a Christkind and appears on the balcony of the Church of Our Lady to open the holiday season and sing a traditional Christmas song.

This festivity takes place on Friday before the first Sunday in Advent.

Once this market is open the whole city scent mulled wine, rum punch and roasted almonds. If you visit this market, do not forget to try its famous Nuremberg bratwurst and gingerbread.

 

Opening time 2019

From the 29th of November to the 23rd of December

 

Your turn

Have you ever been to a german Christmas market? How was the experience? Do you know any of the above mentioned ones?

In case you want to share your experience feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social network. I am alway 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 level.

Supermercados BIO en Alemania

Es bien sabido que los alemanes son grandes consumidores de productos bio, de hecho, el año pasado se compraron en este país alimentos y bebidas ecológicas por el valor de unos 11.000 millones de euros.

Cada día que pasa se incrementa el consumo de este tipo de productos, pero ¿a qué se debe esto? Por un lado nos encontramos con una gran cantidad de consumidores concienciados con el medio ambiente que desean consumir productos naturales producidos de una manera sostenible. Por otro lado, el consumo de productos bio es una moda al alza que parece que aún no ha alcanzado su punto álgido.

En Alemania la cantidad de alimentos orgánicos adquiridos por los consumidores se ha incrementado de un 3% a un 6% en los últimos 3 años. Es por ello que muchos supermercados tradicionales han decidido subirse al carro y vender todo tipo de productos bio que incluyen desde bebidas hasta carne. Algunos incluso han creado sus propias marcas bio que incluyen chocolate y pasta, entre otros productos. Un buen ejemplo de esta “moda” es la cadena de supermercados Rewe, que el año pasado ganó unos 1.000 millones de euros gracias a la venta de este tipo de productos, muchos de ellos de su propia marca bio. 

¿Sabías que gracias a esto más de una de cada diez fincas en Alemania genera productos ecológicos?

Si vives en Alemania y tienes interés por encontrar productos bio sigue leyendo este post 😉

Cadenas de supermercado Bio

  • Alnatura
  • Bio Company
  • denn’s Bio
  • SuperBioMarkt
  • Basic
  • Ebl
  • Voll Corner Biomarkt
  • Tagwerk
  • Naturgut
  • Erdkorn

¿Puedo encontrar productos bio en supermercados de toda la vida?

Como te he contado al comenzar el post, los supermercados tradicionales han visto una buena oportunidad con esta tendencia por lo ecológico y no han dudado en abrirse paso en esta área.

Cadenas como Rewe, Edeka o Lidl ofrecen una gran variedad de productos bio que van desde bebidas hasta carne. Todos ellos no sólo trabajan con productores ecológicos, sino que además han creado sus propias marcas bio con las que ofrecen productos tan comunes como pasta, chocolate y yogures.

¿Existen también productos de belleza ecológicos?

¡Por supuesto! Aunque mucha gente asocia las palabras “bio” y “orgánico” a productos alimenticios, son muchos los productos de belleza y cuidado corporal en el mercado.

Hace años que empecé a interesarme por este tipo de productos, sin embargo, desde que llegué a Alemania he descubierto mucho más. Aquí os dejo algunos:

  1. Weleda – Me encantan sus cremas corporales y faciales
  2. Dr. Hauschka – ¡No sabría cual elegir de todos! La crema de rosas es increíble, también la de lavanda, el tonificante… Además tienen una gama de maquillaje muy completa
  3. Lavera – Sus champús, sus cremas y su variedad de jabón de manos son increíbles. La crema de cara para chicos funciona muy bien también 😉
  4. Neobio – De entre su gran variedad de geles de ducha me quedo con el de café y el de naranja

¿Y de limpieza?

  • Frosch – Los productos con olor a lavanda dejan un buen ambiente en el hogar
  • Ecover – Los he visto alguna vez aunque todavía no los he probado. ¿Tú los conoces?
  • Klar – Tienen productos que respetan el medioambiente y no llevan químicos.

¿Dónde puedo encontrar más información sobre este tema?

Hay varias asociaciones en Alemania dónde puedes más información sobre productos orgánicos. Algunas de ellas operan en todo el mundo y siguen reglas muy estrictas de la Unión Europea.

Otro punto de información muy interesante es la International Green Week, que tiene lugar cada año en Berlín – la cuna de la cultura bio – y atrae más de 400.000 visitantes en cada una de sus ediciones. 

Lista de asociaciones

Demeter

Bioland

Biokreis

Naturland

Biopark

Ecovin

 

Tu turno

¿Compras productos ecológicos? ¿Cuál es tu motivo para ello? ¿Dónde acudes a comprarlos?

Si quieres compartir tu experiencia con nosotros o recomendar algún otro producto ecológico puedes hacerlo dejando un comentario al final de este post o a través de las redes sociales.

Mosel Valley: More than Wine

 

After reading all your questions and posting some nice pictures in my IG account, it is time to explore the German Mosel region also in the blog.

Are you ready for a weekend trip in the picturesque Mosel Valley in western Germany?

The Mosel river valley is one of the most stunning, beautiful landscapes in Germany, including steep slope vineyards, kilometers of hiking trails, fairy tale castles and cute wine villages. As you may know, the Mosel valley creates the ideal conditions for wine culture, therefore its wine is recognized due to its high quality. Did you know that these vineyards were first cultivated by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago?

In fact, the Mosel river begins in France and flows into Germany where it twist sharply for around 250 kilometers. It is along this winding river gorge (see photo above) that we can find Riesling vineyards. Riesling is a floral, aromatic grape – first recorded in Germany in 1435 – with a high level of frost resistance. From this grape variety comes one of the world’s finest white wines in a vast variety of styles.

But did you know that spending a weekend in the Mosel valley is not only a highlight for wine connoisseurs? It’s actually a great opportunity to discover stunning landscapes and fairy tale cities.

Let’s start our trip!

 

Cochem

Pressed against the Mosel by the valley walls you can find Cochem’s charming old town, dated from the 18th century. Under the gaze of the romantic Reichsburg castle you can find ancient, half-timbered houses and stunning medieval gates all around the old town. Do not forget to walk around the medieval Markplatz and to comtemplate the baroque town hall from 1739.

Another emblematic building is the Klosterberg, a capuchin monastery built on top of a mountain around 1630 and used as a monastery until 1802. Nowadays it serves as the city’s cultural center.

Last but not least, do not forget to visit the Enderttor, the largest of Cochem’s three Medieval city gates, which provides the old town with lots of Medieval charm.

Bremm

Strolling through a vineyard with a 60 degree slope can be a great adventure if you like hiking. At the end of the climb you can find Gipfelkreuz, a viewpoint from which you can enjoy a dramatic view from the Mosel valley and, at the same time, savor a glass of fresh Riesling wine.

To climb this path I highly recommend you to wear suitable shoes, since it is a quite dangerous and steep hiking trail.

Briedel

The small town of Briedel is the ideal place to enjoy some peaceful days with your friends and/or relatives. To be honest, this is not the most tourist town of the Mosel valley, however, it is a special one.

If you want to taste wine from the town’s viticulturists while you enjoy a ride in a carriage among the steep vineyards, Briedel is the right place for you.

This is a worthwhile idea to learn more about the production process, the type of grapes cultivated by each producer and to enjoy some stunning views of the valley from the Aussichtsturm Prinzenkopf observation deck.

By the way, if you are lucky enough you may have the chance to taste the grapes directly from the vineyards.

The wine

Today’s vineyards cover around 9,000 hectares of steep hillsides, most facing the south or southwest. Half of the vines grow on steep slopes turning this valley into Germany’s most spectacular wine region.

Some facts about Mosel’s wine:

  • 60% of the vines growing in this area are Riesling, followed by Elbling (produced only in this region) and Müller-Thurgau.
  • Around 90% of Mosel’s wines are white ones.
  • The Calmont vineyard at Bremm with it 68% gradient is the steepest vineyard in Europe.
  • Winemakers mainly produce high quality Riesling.
  • Most winemakers offer tastings at their wine cellars.

Cycling paths

Although Mosel is known for its steep slope vineyards, this region is really well prepared for people who love biking. If you want to enjoy fantastic panoramic views of the river, the small villages and the vineyards, I recommend you to travel the Mosel valley by bicycle.

Luckily, the Mosel area is surrounded by kilometers of cycling paths and, moreover, each village and city in the valley has different guest houses where you can stop, enjoy tasty german food and take a rest.

In our case we spent the night at Korkenzieher guest house, whose owners are a nice young couple who not only manage this “hotel” but also its restaurant and, at the same time, organize tractor-drawn-wagon tours through the vineyards.

 

Your turn

This valley is a beautiful area with a lot to offer. Cycling, discovering incredible hiking paths, enjoying stunning views and visiting dramatic Medieval cities is a unique opportunity you should not miss. This place is dramatic!

Have you ever been to Mosel valley? Is there any other hidden gem you would like to recommend us?

In this case feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social network. I am alway thrilled to read your adventures and suggestions!

 

 

 

 

 

*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 level.

Best Expat Blogs 2019

 

First of all, I would like to thank Sparpedia.ch for nominating me for the Best Expat Blogs 2019 Award. This is the first award I receive this year, a great achievement for me as a blogger and a confirmation that my reader base is now bigger than just my family and friends 😉 .

Having said that, I would also like to thank all my readers for following my expat and traveller journey. If you are new to My Expat World: Welcome to this adventure.

My Expat World is a expat blog created to share my journey, inspire others to move abroad and to help expats (and future expats) in Germany to better understand this amazing country.

My name is Hor and I am a traveller and brunch lover. I enjoy outdoor activities, to discover new places and I LOVE the snow. Find more about me here.

If you want to know more about this award and vote for me 😉 just click on the banner above.

Once again, thank you Sparpedia.ch!

 

 

Post Series: La vie en Allemagne

Pour certaines personnes, voyager à l’étranger n’est pas qu’une question du tourisme et de découverte de nouveaux paysages. Chaque jour, de plus en plus de personnes dans le monde prennent la décision de quitter leur pays, leurs racines, leur famille afin de commencer une nouvelle vie dans un pays étranger.

Mais, quelle est la motivation de ces personnes pour quitter leurs origines et s’expatrier?

Bien sûr, les raisons, diverses, d’une telle décision appartiennent à chaque personne. Toutefois, vous trouverez ici les 6 causes les plus communes qui favorisent un déménagement à l’étranger:

De meilleures possibilités d’emploi

Habiter dans une autre partie du monde va vous permettre d’accéder à des nouveaux marchés de travail, où il peut être plus facile de trouver des opportunités de travail correspondant à votre profil et expérience professionnels.

L’amour et Famille

Ou alors, la raison principale pour quitter son pays est de suivre ou de se rapprocher des personnes aimées.

La découverte de nouveaux horizons

Nombreuses personnes ont envie d’explorer de nouveaux horizons, de s’intégrer dans une nouvelle culture, d’apprendre une nouvelle langue et, en même temps, d’expérimenter un changement radical dans sa vie. Déménager dans un nouveau pays avec une nouvelle culture peut être une opportunité de découvrir le monde et d’avoir de nouvelles expériences.

La météo 

Le beau temps est une des principales raisons pour déménager dans un autre pays. Saviez-vous que 62,2% des jeunes britanniques sont disposés à déménager dans un pays plus chaud?

Le développement personnel 

Bien que l’expression “développement personnel” représente un concept très vaste, de nombreuses personnes considèrent qu’apprendre une nouvelle langue, s’adapter à un nouveau style de vie, avoir un nouveau poste de travail ou avoir l’opportunité de rencontrer des gens sont des étapes importantes pour le développement personnel.

La qualité de vie

La qualité de vie, un concept très large qui est utilisé pour élaborer l’enquête internationale de qualité de vie Mercer. Cette enquête, qui évalue la qualité de vie de 231 pays du monde, a pour objectif de vendre des outils d’analyse aux entreprises. Celles-ci peuvent ainsi mieux définir leur lieu d’implantation, ou par exemple mieux évaluer la grille des salaires de leurs employés á l’étranger, en fonction des caractéristiques de chaque destination.

Allemagne

Si vous en êtes arrivés jusqu’ici, ça veut dire que vous êtes intéressés par commencer une nouvelle vie à l’étranger et, peut être, que vous souhaitez déménager en Allemagne. Mais, comment est la vie en Allemagne?

Pour vivre en Allemagne, il est préférable de parler allemand ou d’avoir quelques notions. Cependant, vous pourrez ne parler qu’anglais pendant que vous commencez à apprendre la langue de Goethe; les allemands maitrisent généralement bien la langue de Shakespeare.

Coût de la vie

Le coût de la vie en Allemagne varie d’une ville à l’autre, ce n’est pas la même chose d’habiter à Münich ou Düsseldorf, que à Recklinghausen. En général, le coût de la vie est moins élevé qu’en France, surtout en termes d’alimentation. Cependant, les transports ont un coût plus élevé, il faut compter 2.80€ pour un ticket de métro/bus et 70€-80€ pour un abonnement mensuel.

Se loger

Historiquement, les allemands ont plutôt tendance à louer qu’à acheter. À Berlin, par exemple, il faut compter en moyenne par mois 700€ pour un studio en centre-ville et 1.300 euros pour un appartement de 3 pièces. À Recklinghausen, un studio en centre-ville coûte en moyenne 250€ par mois. Au contraire, à Munich, le loyer d’un studio dans le centre s’élève à 995€ contre 800€ à Düsseldorf et 695€ à Stuttgart. Les loyers ont en effet beaucoup augmenté ces dernières années dans certaines villes comme Munich, Cologne, Berlin ou Düsseldorf.

La gastronomie

La cuisine allemande est une cuisine simple et traditionnelle. Les spécialités régionales sont à base de pommes de terre, de saucisses, de chou et de viande de porc. Vous devrez absolument goûter des “Bratkartoffel” (pommes de terre sautées), le “Strudel” et le “Schweinhaxe” (jarret de porc).  Une autre spécialité incontournable en Allemagne est le pain, on en trouve partout dans le pays. Vous allez trouver du pain blanc, du pain noir, du pain aux céréales… il y en a pour tous les goûts.

Quand on parle de gastronomie allemande, on ne peut pas oublier de parler de Bière. Car oui, chaque ville à sa propre bière. Si à Cologne, on boit de la “Kölsch”, à Dusseldörf on boit de l’”Altbier” et à Munich on boit de la “Weizen”. Et oui, la bière en Allemagne est une affaire sérieuse, en fait c’est la boisson nationale.

Déménager en Allemagne n’est pas très exotique ni dépaysant aux premiers abords mais ce pays a de nombreux avantages à offrir aux expatriés français. Proche de la France, bonne qualité de vie, coût modéré de la vie, des opportunités d’emploi; autant de raisons de s’expatrier en Allemagne…

Et maintenant, allez-vous trouver les vôtres?

The 5 best cafés in Düsseldorf

Cakes, among other sweet treats, are a hugely important part of German culture. Germans would rather get together for cake and coffee on a weekend afternoon, than at home for cocktails and ham, like in France, or for dinner, like in other countries. Across the country you can find many coffee places which bake their own delicious, homemade cakes every day.

But an afternoon coffee and cake break isn´t just for the weekend. Germans love to enjoy a nice piece of cake accompanied with a cup of coffee also during the week.

Also, when it comes to birthday celebrations tradition dictates that the birthday person has to bake or buy a cake to share with other people. Each year on my birthday I buy some homemade cakes – sorry, I do not know how to cook- for my friends and for my colleagues. In fact, every time it is someone´s birthday at the office, the main table is full of cake and cookies.

Of course, our modern times mean that people living in germany have less time for recreational breaks – people should work- but with such strong traditions like socializing around a piece of cake, also known as Kaffee und Kuchen or Kaffeezeit, german bakers need to have a sizable repertoire of cakes.

Since german baking is something traditional, you might think that traditional cafés are the only places where you can enjoy a Kaffe und Kuchen. Not at all! German bakery is all around!

Now, let me share with you the 5 best cafés in Düsseldorf to taste delicious cakes and good coffee.

Sulis Cafe

If you follow the blog since some time ago, Sulis Cafe shouldn´t sound new to you. This cozy cafeteria was mentioned in my old post about the best places to have brunch in Düsseldorf , however, this place is more than a mere place to brunch. Sulis´ cakes are known due to their high quality ingredients and their delicious taste

Sulis – the owner of the cafeteria – prepares a vast repertoire of cakes based on traditional recipes every day, so that their customers can feel like at home when they visit his café.

One thing I like a lot about this place is that in winter it is a cozy café where you can enjoy one of the offered tea specialities while eating a cake and in summer you can enjoy the sun sitting outdoor, in the spacious terrace.

Take a look at the website to find out more: Sulis Cafe (if you have a diary allergy or intolerance don´t worry Sulis is well prepared 😉 you can find soy milk here).

Nikan Café

Do you like croissants? What about fresh milled coffee? And pralinés and cakes?

Yes, Nikan Café offers a wide variety of patisserie and bakery, from german cakes to unique french pralinés, all of them accompanied with fresh milled coffee brought from exotic places such as Ecuador, Colombia or Kenya. In fact, if you are a coffee lover I highly recommend you to buy here your next package of coffee.

Does it sound interesting? Check Nikan´s website to learn more: Nikan Café (oat and soy milk are available in this café).

Cafe Hüftgold

This little coffee place has a very comfy atmosphere, making it easy to conduct any kind of conversations for hours on end. Its homemade cakes are pieces of heaven brought to earth. The staff is always nice and coffee and teas are made with love.

This cafeteria is the perfect place to enjoy a unique Kaffee und Kuchen moment in winter and in summer also – they have a spacious terrace decorated with wooden tables.

You can find more information in the website: Cafe Hüftgold  (I´m sure that they have soy milk, and they might also have oat milk).

Espresso Perfetto

Located in  Friedrichstadt, this rosa, cute place serves one of the best coffees in town. In fact, they are also known for offering barista trainings for those interested in learning how to prepare nice coffee.

Among its bakery you can find delicious cakes such as the hazelnut or the apple-almond one. Furthermore, if you enter this cozy coffee place during lunch time, you can always try one of their tasty ciabattas.

Find more information about this place in its website: Espresso Perfetto Düsseldorf.

Cafe Knülle

And last but not least, a small bar/café that I discovered some weeks ago: Cafe Knülle.

Gilbert Knülle opened this establishment in 1988 and since then the charm of this place remains intact. Legendary is not only its breakfast offer – try the delicious croissants – but also its coffee specialities, made with an ancient espresso machine, its varieties of tea and its homemade cakes.

Of course you can always combine a cake with a glass of French or Italian wine, or even with a cold alt beer 😉

Cafe Knülle does not have a website, therefore, if you are curious enough to visit it you can find it in Oberbilker Allee 24. (This place is also ready to serve you a good coffee with soy milk 🙂 ).

A present for vegans…

Carrot Cake

If you are a vegan living or visiting Düsseldorf, this place should be in your bucket list. This lovely, cozy cafeteria is the ideal place to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while eating one of its incredible homemade vegan cakes, such as the chocolate one, the nougat cake or the berry one. Some of them are even gluten-free!

The place is closed on Monday and Tuesday, however, they offer delicious vegan brunches during weekends.

Check the website for more information: Carrot Cake

 

Your turn

What about you? Did you already know these coffee places? Do you have any favourite café in Düsseldorf?

The above mentioned coffee places where chosen based on my personal opinion. Since I love to try new things and to discover new places, I would be really happy if you leave a comment below sharing any other café that you love and you want to recommend us! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

*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 level.

New Regulations in Germany 2019

 

For more expensive train tickets to a new packaging law, many changes have come to Germany since the beginning of the year.

As we enter the New Year many new laws and regulations take effect in our host country. Therefore, whether you already live in Germany or whether you are planning to move to this beautiful, welcoming country, it is good for you to discover what changes have been implemented since the 1st of January 2019.

Ready to discover more? Let´s start then!

Family

  • A new law on Day Care arises – The idea behind this law is to improve the supply of child daycare centers in the whole country by offering longer opening hours, better services such as lunchrooms and a completely free daycare center to low-income families.
  • The monetary help known as  Kindergeld” increases as follows:
    • €204 per month for the first child
    • €210 per month for the second child
    • €235 per month from the third child onwards
  • In case of divorce child support increases as follows:
    • 0-7 years: €354 per month
    • 7-12 years: €406 per month
    • 13-18 years: €467 per month

Housing

  • The tenant’s contribution rate for modernization costs the landlord has incurred will be reduced from 11% to 8%. Good news if you are planning to rent a renewed flat!
  • A cap will be introduced for the amount by which the landlord may raise the rent to €3 per square meter within six years. However, in cases where the Kaltmiete’s price does not exceed €7 per square meter, the cap will be limited to €2 per square meter.

Social Security

  • Diverse gender – A new German law, approved in December 2018, introduces a third gender option on birth certificates, passports, driver’s licenses, and other legal documents. This means that people born with reproductive anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male (also known as intersex) are now recognized by the German government.
  • New Packaging Law – From a customer point of view, this law will allow you to know if you are buying a product with a single-use packaging (Einweg) or if it is reusable (Mehrweg).
  • Fuel labeling – The European Union harmonized the set of fuel label to provide drivers with better information on the fuels. The three new labels will be as follows:
    • Gasoline-type fuels: Marked by an “E” inside a circle
    • Diesel-type fuels: Marked by a “B” inside a square
    • Gaseous-type fuels: Mentioning the specific subtype within a rhombus.

Work

  • Contributions to unemployment insurance, levied as a percent of income, decrease in 0.25 points.
  • The increase in the minimum wage from €8.84 to €9.19 per hours. Good news, don´t you think?.
  • In response to growing concerns over elderly care, a joint effort by Germany’s healthfamily and labor ministers is now in the pipeline. 13,000 positions will be opened this year to attract new applicants interested in working in this sector.
  • From now on, the monthly installment of the “Krankenkasse” (Health Insurance Company) will be equally paid between employees and employers. So far this installment was paid by employees. So this is good news, isn’t it?
  • Reintegration into the labor market of people who have been unemployed for a long time by creating subsidized jobs will be encouraged. The requirements for accessing this aid are as follows:
    • The unemployed person is at least 25 years old.
    • The unemployed person has received unemployment benefit II (also known as “Hartz IV”) for at least six years.
  • The right to go back to work full-time again arises – People who have reduced their working hours for at least one year, within five years, have now the right to go back to work full-time if they want to. This right, however, will only be applicable in companies that have more than 45 employees and as long as the person has a minimum of six months career in the company.
  • To consider a job a midijob the minimum monthly remuneration must not exceed €450 and the maximum monthly payment must not exceed €1,300.
  • Company bicycles and transport vouchers will be tax-free.

Your turn

Have you ever heard about all these new regulations? Do you think that I missed any important information? Is there any other new regulation/law you would like to share with us? In this case do not hesitate to leave a comment below or to contact me via Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

 

Always glad to read your comments! 🙂

 

 

*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 level.

 

Interesting facts about Germany (Part II)

Some weeks ago, and after some controversial comments of #germancolleague that I shared with you in Instagram, I wrote an interesting, funny post about the german language, culture and history, so that we all could better understand this beautiful country and its citizens.

Since knowledge does not take up any space, I am back to share with you more interesting facts about Germany, its geography, its beers and some inventions that we can attribute to this country.

Are you ready? Then, let´s discover more interesting facts about Germany!

Beer

  • The world’s oldest brewery is located north of Munich and it is operating since 1040.
  • There is a law about how to brew beer in Germany – The Purity Law (Rheinheitsgebot) allows only water, barley and hops to be used in the production of beer. This law came effective in April 1516 after the unification of Bavaria to maintain the “purity” of beer and to lessen the competition between brewers and bakers for the grain of wheat. If beer could only be made with barley… Less problems to get some wheat 😉
  • You can drink a different German beer every day for almost 15 years.
  • The Oktoberfest started as a wedding party – 6.700.000 liters of beer are consumed at this enormous festival, which takes place in September.
  • There are around 1.300 beer breweries in Germany, which produce over 5.000 types of beer.
  • Be aware of where you are when you order a beer in Germany – Each region and city have their own beer. If you order just a beer in Düsseldorf, you will get an Alt, in Köln you will get a Kölsch and in Munich a Weizen.
  • In Berlin you can order a beer which is not brown – The Berliner Weisse is a white beer with either raspberry- or woodruff-flavored syrup.

 

Geography

  • Germany has the world’s narrowest street – Located in the city of Reutlingen this street is called “Spreuerhofstrasse,” and it is approximately 31 centimeters at the narrowest point and nearly 50 centimeters at the widest.
  • Approximately one-third of Germany is still forested.
  • Germany is the fifth largest country in Europe, covering an area of 357.022 square kilometers.
  • Germany’s largest wooded area is the famous Black Forest –  A mountainous region full of pines and fir trees, which also contains the source of the Danube, one of Europe’s longest rivers.
  • Zugspitze is the highest mountain in Germany – Its name means “Windy peak” and you can take a cable car up to the top of the mountain to enjoy spectacular views of the Alps.
  • Germany shares borders with nine other countries – Germany´s neighbours are France, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands.

 

Inventions

  • The first magazine was invented in Germany in 1663 – It was called Erbauliche Monaths Unterredungen (Edifying Monthly Discussions) and it was a philosophical magazine.
  • Do you like Fanta? – Then you may already know that Germans created this soda during the World War II due to the difficulty to import Coca Cola during Nazi times.
  • It is said that the first Christmas tree was created in Germany – Rather than being draped with illuminate lights and candies, the original tree was decorated with nuts and fruits such as apples.
  • Coffee filter paper was created in Germany – Melitta Bentz, a housewife of the city of Dresden, started to experiment to find a way to prevent coffee from becoming too bitter. When she tried using the blotting paper from her children’s school books, she had her “eureka” moment. It was 1908 when she patented her invention.
  • Have you ever heard about Haribo and its Gummy Bears? – The iconic Gummibärchen (Gummy bears) sweets were invented by Hans Riegel around 1920. He used acacia gum to create coloured candies. He started his own company to sell these tasty sweets in the city of Bonn around 1922. In fact, Haribo is just an abbreviation of Hans Riegel von Bonn.
  • Germans invented the first car – Carl Benz´s patent for a vehicle powered by a gas energy is often regarded as the birth certificate of the automobile.
  • You can credit the Germans for inventing the accordion – Christian Friedrich Buschmann was a german musical instrument maker who attached bellows to a portable keyboard with vibrating reeds. Naming it “Handäoline”, he patented this instrument in 1822. The first accordion was used in 1829.
  • Handball – This worldwide known game in which two teams pass a ball using their hands with the aim of throwing it into the goal of the other team, was invented in Germany.

 

Your turn!

Did you know any other interesting facts about german beer or geography? Did you know that Germany is the country thanks to which nowadays we can enjoy all these great inventions? Did you know other inventions we can credit Germans for?

If so, share them with us by leaving a comment below or via Social Networks. I hope you liked this post 🙂 Read you soon!

 

 

 

 

Paternity Leave: Rights and Job Protection in Germany

 

A couple of days ago I had an interesting conversation with both an American and a German guy about parental rights for employees in Germany. I think it was an interesting talk, because it was really enriching to better understand each country´s point of view about the necessities  and labour rights of parents-to-be.

To write this post, I thought that it would be interesting if I answer all the questions that the american (let´s call him Sam) asked to our german friend, so that we can better understand how parental leave works in Germany, which are your rights during this paid time off work and, last but not least, which are the most important german terms you should learn if you are expecting a baby in Germany.

 

How does the paternity leave work?

  • As an employee, you are entitled to parental leave until your child turns three.
  • Both parents can take time off work to enjoy their newborn (or newborns). Therefore, the parent intending to do this must apply seven weeks in advance. Do not worry because during this period your job will remain open to you and your contract cannot be terminated by your employer.
  • Parental leave can be taken by the mother and the father individually or jointly. Grandparents and other relatives can also take parental leave under certain circumstances, for example if the future parent is a minor.

What paternity pay and/or benefits can I claim?

  • Mothers are entitled to full pay during the first 14 weeks. This is known as mother protection time. However, both parents can claim some parental benefirs if they are on leave during the first 12 months after the birth.
  • This benefit is called “Elterngeld” and it is fully explained together with other important legal german words at the end of the post.
  • Important reminder: Those receiving parental benefit (Elterngeld) are still allowed to work part time up to 30 hours per week.

Can I extend my leave?

  • Usually, changes to parental leave or unplanned extensions must be agreed with the parent´s employer.
  • The extend leave is known as “Elterngeld Plus”. In this case, parents may get 28 months of financial support if  both parents work part time up to 30 hours per week at the same time. If so, the applicable percentage is the 65% of the difference between the average nett income before the birth plus earning post-birth.
  • The idea behind the “Elterngeld Plus” is to  “give mothers and fathers more time for family and greater flexibility”, said the former federal family minister Manuela Schwesig.
  • Important information: Parents can choose between Elterngeld or Elterngeld Plus, or they can combine both models. Let´s see this with some examples:

 

Can I travel while I am in paternity leave?

  • From a legal point of view, there is no problem to travel aborad while enjoying paternity leave. However, if you plan a long stay abroad you should be sure that the Krankenkasse (health insurance) takes over the cost in case of illness. In general, german health insurances covers up to six weeks when travelling outside the country. Afterwards, you have to insure yourself and your family privately.
  • Important information: This rule always applies – regardless of whether you travel during parental leave or just like that – but many people tend to forget it 😉

I struggle with the germans word, could you please explain me the most relevant ones?

Mutterschutz

This is the most important word: Maternity leave.

The “Mutterschutz” is considered a period of time to prepare yourself to welcome your baby, as well as a time to rest after the delivery.

Some important information you should take into account:

1. In total, the mutterschutz last 14 weeks. As a mother-to-be you can enjoy the 6 weeks before the delivery to prepare yourself for that moment. After the child´s birth you still have 8 weeks to rest and to enjoy your newborn (extended to 12 weeks in case of  multiple births).

2. The health insurance (Krankenkasse) covers a maximum of 13€ per day with a limit of 390€ per month, the rest is covered by your employer. Let´s see how it works with an example:

Frau Müller (traditional german name 😉 ) earned 2.800€ gross per month during the three months previous to the birth, which means that she earned 1.950€ net salary per month. If we calculate how much did she earn per day during the past 3 months, we can see that her net salary per day was 65€ (1.950*3 = 5.850€/90 = 65€). In this case, the Krankenkasse covers 13€ and the employer 52€.

3. In the case that Frau Müller had a private health insurance, she will receive 210€ in a single payment.

4. During maternity leave you will keep receiving your salary (Mutterschaftgeld)

5. Your job remains open to you and your contract cannot be terminated by your employer during the Mutterschutz because you are protected by Maternity Protection Act (Mutterschutzgesetz).

 

Elterngeld

Elterngeld is a tax-financed payment for couples who became parents. This subsidy will be paid during the first 14 months after the child´s birth and it must be divided between both parents.

The amount of the elterngeld is based on the after taxes income of the parent which ask for it. A person who earns less than 1.000€ per month will get between 100% and 67% of his net income, however, a person with a net income higher than 1.240€ per month will receive 65% of it (with a limit of 1.800€ per month).

Who can get this subsidy?

  • People who recently became parents
  • Parents of adoptive children
  • If the parents of the newborn didn´t work in the months previous to the child´s birth, they will receive a subsidy of only 300€ per month
  • Multiple births – In this case the parental allowance increases by 300€ for each additional child
  • If the beneficiary earned more than 250.000€ in the calendar year preceding the child´s birth, there is no entitlement to Elterngeld

Elternzeit

Elternzeit is a paternal leave provided by the employer, which can be taken any moment during the first three years of the newborn´s life.

This parental leave can be a full suspension of working hours or a reduction of the working day.

Both parents have the right to go on parental leave. Let me show you some examples to better explain how it works (these are real cases of friends of mine):

– Example A: Some friends of mine decided to divide their Elternzeit between both of them, therefore, each of them took 6 months of paternal leave (first the mother, and the last 6 months the father). Both parents enjoyed a full-time paternal leave so that they could enjoy the first year of life of their son.

– Example B: Other friends of mine decided to divide their Elternzeit in a different way. In this case, the mother took a 12 months parental leave after Mutterschutz and the father enjoyed 2 months of parental leave, one month in August (to enjoy some summer time with his daugther) and the second month once his wife´s parental leave ended, so he could spend some time with his daugther before she started the kita (kindergarden for babies).

During Elternzeit both parents are protected by law, any termination of employment is invalid during this period. That means that neither the employer nor the employee can terminate the employment contract.

When should I apply for Elternzeiz?

7 weeks in advance.

This is easier for mothers-to-be, since they have 8 weeks medical leave after the child´s birth. However, fathers have to ask for parental leave 7 weeks before the birth takes place, if they want to go on family leave right after the child´s birth.

Your turn

What about you? Did you have children in Germany? Have you ever ask for parental leave in Germany? Was the process complicated?

I still remember the american´s face when our German friend explained him how does the Elternzeit (Parental Leave) works. Alhtough, to be honest, also in Spain we don´t have such a great work-life balance. In fact, this is a quite sensitive topic in my home country…

How does work-life balance work in your home country? Do you also benefit of parental allowences, elternzeit and such things? Feel free to share your experience by leaving a comment below 🙂 or via social networks.

 

 

New brunch places in Düsseldorf

One of the things I love the most about Düsseldorf is the possibility to enjoy a delicious brunch during the weekend. Almost every restaurant or coffeehouse in the city is ready to offer different kind of brunches to their clients.

If you already follow me on Twitter this post won´t be a surprise for you, since you probably already know that I am a brunch lover and that one of my favorite hobbies is to discover different brunch places around the city.

Some time ago I wrote a post talking about some of the nicest places to have brunch in Düsseldorf

Today I want to show you new coffeehouses and restaurants that I have discovered since then (and which I would love to recommend you).

Ready for a culinary visit through Düsseldorf? Let´s go!

Stadtmitte

Rosie´s

If you like international meals, Rosie´s is your place to be!

In the menu you can find a worldwide variety: American brunch, Monaco breakfast, Spanish brunch… All of them are well prepared, with high quality ingredients, and quite fast served.

Food is not the only positive thing about this restaurant. The crew is always really nice and attentive, in fact, if you want to modify your dish (let´s say you are a Nutella lover and you would rather eat more Nutella than strawberry jam) you won´t have any problem. They are quite open to adapt the ingredients for you.

Food alert: They have gluten free bread, different kinds of milk and vegan dishes.

Address:

Adersstraße 21, 40215 Düsseldorf

Alex

Do you want to go for brunch but you are not sure what to eat? Then come to Alex Düsseldorf.

Every Sunday they offer a buffet with a huge variety of food, such as salmon, german style fries, soups, cold meat and different kind of desserts. They also offer nice coffee and fresh orange juice.

Food alert: They have soja milk

Address:

Kasernenstraße 48, 40213 Düsseldorf

Pempelfort

Sulis

A nice, cozy place where to enjoy tasty classic brunch recipes and delicious cakes.

Sulis is a cozy coffeehouse where you can easily feel at home. They even have a special computer friendly area in case people need to use their laptop while enjoying a nice meal.

Hint: Make a reservation if you plan to go on Sunday, it is always crowded.

Address:

Tußmannstraße 5, 40477 Düsseldorf

Carrot Cake

This is the perfect place to enjoy a vegan meal even if you are not vegan.

During the weekends Carrot Cake offers a nice breakfast, which includes fruits, yogurt and jam. Coffees and teas are prepared with love, as well as their amazing, tasty cakes. If I should choose one, I would go for the brownie… But to be honest, it is really hard to decide, all of them are tasty!

I highly recommend this place! Some friends of mine, which are not vegan, and which had a misconception about vegan meals, went to Carrot Cake and they were highly surprised!

Address:

Moltkerstraße 75, 40479 Düsseldorf

Derendorf

Mangold

American Pancakes, Avocado Brunch, Eggs Benedict, Canadian Breakfast… I mean… Here you can find whatever you want to eat! Just imagine something and order it 😉

It can be really crowded during the weekends, so do not hesitate to make a reservation to avoid problems finding a free table.

Food alert: They do not offer alternatives to regular milk but they are really friendly if you have any allergy or intolerance and you need to order some additional ingredients.

Address:

Glockenstraße 20, 40476 Düsseldorf

Kwadrat

Right now, Kwadrat is the place to be if you want to have a cool brunch.

In the menu you can find traditional breakfasts (croissants with nutella and butter), different kind of scramble eggs and some extras such as yogurt, muesli and toasts.

Food alert: Depending on your food allergies or intolerances I wouldn´t recommend you this place since they don´t offer many alternatives

Address:

Blücherstraße 51, 40477 Düsseldorf

Spoerl Fabrik

During the weekend, at brunch time, you can choose between their variety of breakfasts or the lunch menu. They are quite classical in terms of weekend-breakfast, however, the place is really nice both in winter and summer time (they have a huge terrace).

Many people love this place and I wanted to recommend it to you, although I did not have a good experience (here comes a “Food alert”).

Due to my food intolerances I asked for alternatives (gluten free bread and soja milk), which they didn´t have. Usually it is not a problem for me. What I usually do is to order something and to change some ingredients (more fries instead of eggs for example).

In this case, the waitress told me that they couldn´t not adapt the dishes for me and that I had to order what I saw in the menu.

The moral of this story is: If you have food allergies or intolerances…. Maybe this is not a place for you… 😦

Address:

Tußmannstraße 70, 40477 Düsseldorf

#YourSundayBrunch

I hope you like these recommendations and that you have time to try some of these places. In that case, feel free to share your brunch with me via Twitter or IG.

If you feel like recommending any other place to have brunch in Düsseldorf leave a comment below 😉