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.

Finding a Doctor in Germany

Living in Germany can lead to daily challenges such going to the hairdresser, finding the nearest supermarket or choosing the right doctor. Back home, this decision is easier since you already know the country and how things are done there, mostly when it comes to medical issues.

However, as an expat finding the right doctor can be tough, not only because of the language difference, but also because of the lack of knowledge about the healthcare system and how does it work.

As I already mentioned in my post about the German Health Care System, this country counts with universal coverage for all the citizens. Therefore, every German resident has at least a public health insurance. Nevertheless, those who’d rather pay to have more coverages are enrolled in a private insurance.

For you as an expat, it is important to know that once you do the Anmeldung (registration as a resident in Germany) you will need to decide whether you enjoy the benefits of the public healthcare system , or whether you privately pay for a private health insurance.

No matter which decision you take, finding a doctor and calling the emergency number must be done in the same way.

But, how can I find the right doctor? Where should I call if I get badly sick at night?

In this post I will answer these questions and more. Are you ready?

Finding the right doctor

Choosing the right doctor can be intimidating because of the language difference. However, many doctors talk in English, so you do not need to be worried.

If your friends or colleagues cannot give you a good recommendation (yes, first option is always to ask people you already know, the best references usually come by word of mouth), then the best way to find a good doctor is to use the website Jameda, where you can find all the different doctors in your area depending on your illness.

Do not forget that in most of the cases you will need to visit first the Allgemeinarzt or Hausartz (general practitioner). This doctor will then decide whether he/she can take care of you, or whether you need to visit a specialist.

My personal recommendation is that you find a practitioner close to your house or your work place, in this way when you are really sick, you don’t need to cross the city to visit him.

Finally, take into account that to visit some doctors such as dentists, gynecologists and ophthalmologists you can make an appointment directly with them without talking first to the general practitioner.

Which are the office hours?

Office hours may differ depending on the doctor. However, most of the times, doctors are open from Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 12:30 pm and two days per week from 14:00 pm to 18:00 pm.

If you have an emergency (high temperature, influenza symptoms…) you can visit the doctor without making any appointment. Therefore, check the Akutsprechstunden of your general practitioner.

Akutsprechstunden are short consultations intended for acute health complains which are conducted in the doctor’s office during concrete office hours. Usually, Akutsprechstunden take place either early in the morning or in the late afternoon.

How to make an appointment

When making an appointment either per telephone or online.

If you call the doctor’s office, the first person you will speak to is the doctor’s assistant, who will give you an appointment without asking further questions about why you want to see the doctor. Usually, you can shortly explain the reason of your visit, and she will note it down for the doctor.

When making an online appointment, you can do it directly from the doctor’s website or via Doctolib. This page helps you finding doctors near you and making a direct appointment with them based on their availability.

Emergency number

When you have an urgent medical situation at night or during the weekend and doctor offices are closed, where can you go?

In Germany it exists a very important telephone number for people feeling sick and not able to leave their places: 116117. Use this number in case of an emergency that does not require an ambulance rushing to your house.

When calling this number you will first talk to a telephone assistant which will ask you some questions about your symptoms, your address and your social security number (Krankenkassenkarte). This person will then decide whether you need a doctor or an ambulance. In the first case, the nearest doctor will receive an emergency call and he/she will come to your house in less than 10 minutes. In case of an ambulance, the telephone assistant will contact them for you, so that you do not need to take care about anything during this stressful situation.

However, if your situation is critical and you are able to move, go to the nearest hospital with your Krankenkassenkarte and do not care about the costs. In Germany, health insurances take care of them.

Your turn

Have you ever been to the doctor 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.

Leaving Germany: The checklist

Alright… a new experience is knocking on your door and you are ready for it! An exciting future awaits and you have decided to move on and leave Germany, but… do you remember all the administrative things you had to do when you arrived here?

I have some news for you: All those administrative things will come back to you before you leave the country.

Yes… Germans love administrative processes  😊

To be prepare to deal with all these tasks, I have prepared the following list for you. Before checking it, please be aware that many contracts in Germany have clauses where it is said that you have a notice period of -usually- 3 months before the renewal date.

And now…your checklist for leaving Germany:

Apartment Tenancy

In my opinion, this should be one of the first things you should take care of.

Usually, the maximum notice period is 3 calendar months. Unless your contract stipulates different conditions.

The Mietvertragskündigung – or the official tenancy termination notice – should include a short explanation with your reasons to leave the apartment, it also must be signed and it must be sent per post to the landlord.

Phone and internet providers

To cancel your internet or phone contract can be a nightmare in Germany.

Most customers are on fixed-term contracts, which means that they are on 24 months with automatic 12 months renewal contracts. In this case you have to check the notice period written in your contract. For example, I have a notice period of 4 months before the renewal. If the renewal takes places the 1st of October, I have to cancel it before June.

If you are lucky enough to have a pay-as-you-go monthly contract, it will be easy to cancel it. Just send a letter to the provider or try doing it online.

Gym membership

Another nightmare for many expats who are relocating to another country is to cancel their gym membership.

Yes, if you thought that relocation would be a good reason to quit a contract… I’m sorry! Not in Germany!

Some of my friends – ok, almost all of them – had problems with this point. Therefore, my recommendation is to try to persuade the gym staff to accept your cancellation or try to make a deal with them. A friend of mine agreed to pay a certain amount of money so that they cancel the contract…

Another idea could be that someone you know take on your contract terms. A friend of mine did it and it worked! 😊

Insurances 

Moving abroad is not consider as an extraordinary right to terminate an insurance contract. Surprised?

In this case you should follow the regular procedures. Therefore, you have to send a termination letter to you insurance – signed and per post, German style 😉.

Usually, this written document should be sent 3 months before renewal. However, each insurance is different so you should better take a look at your contract to be sure.

Bank account

In my personal opinion, this should be one of the last things you should take care of.

To close your bank account either you send a written letter to the bank or you go to a bank branch with the letter.

The process is automatic and really fast, which means that once you start it, your account will be closed in less than 24 hours. So please, remember to remove all the money from the account before.

Energy

Easy and straightforward. The process is similar to the one you did when you entered the flat or when you moved to another flat within Germany.

On the day you move out, you have to read the meters and give them to your utilities providers. In case your landlord is the responsible of sending this information to the utilities provider, you just need to read the meters and share them with him.

GEZ or TV tax

The advantage of moving abroad is that you stop paying the €17.50 per month, that every resident in Germany is obliged to pay.

This must be formally cancelled on their website: Rundfunkbeitrag.  They will probably ask you for your Abmeldung.

Abmeldung

Do you remember when you came to Germany and you did the Anmeldung? (You can take a look at my experience here)

Well, now it is time to do the opposite: The Abmeldung.

How does it work?

You have to inform your local municipality when you are leaving the flat. Same way you did when you moved to a new flat. In this case, instead of showing the contract of your new apartment, you will need to prove that you are leaving the country. Therefore, you can use your one-way flight ticket and your new address.

Once you have done this, they will kindly ask you to leave the country in a time frame of one or two weeks – depending on the region you live. So I recommend you to do not do the Abmeldung until the last moment (6-5 days before leaving Germany).

Schlüsselübergabeprotokoll

Here comes the hardest part… Your beloved apartment… The place where you had so much fun, good times, good experiences… It is time to say goodbye… There are so many things you have to take into account before leaving an apartment in Germany…  In fact, I could write a post explaining how moving out of your apartment in Germany works. However, I am just going to focus in the last moments and administrative tasks you must do just before living it.

The day you move out, the landlord will come to inspect the property and to be sure that there is no damage. If everything is right and the landlord considers that the apartment is in good condition, you will receive your security deposit. Otherwise, he will keep it and you won’t see this money ever again ☹

After the inspection, it is time for the Schlüsselübergabeprotokoll, when you give the keys back to the landlord and you both sign a paper confirming that everything is fine. This document should contain the following information:

  • That the apartment is in good condition
  • That the lardlord has received all the keys of the apartment
  • The approximate date when you will receive the deposit back

Once this protocol is done, you are free to go to start your new adventure 😊

 

Your turn

Do you have experience moving out from Germany? Is there any other recommendation 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 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.

 

 

 

 

 

The origin and history of Carnival in Germany

Once again we reach this time of the year so important for the NRW region, especially for the cities of Düsseldorf and Cologne.

Carnival has been celebrated since the Middle Ages in Germany, however, few people talks about the historical roots of this (great) tradition.

Ancient times

This pagan tradition comes from the ancient Greek and Roman times. During those times, people along the Rhine celebrated a festival in honor of Dionysus, God of wine and festivity, and Saturn God of seed and sowing. The festival consisted of a feast with wine and dance, during which people had freedom to criticize and satirize authorities without any repercussion.

Christian times

When this area got Christianized, the above mentioned festival was included in the church calendar. However, things changed a bit and the feast started taking place six weeks before Easter, just before the fasting or Lent period began.

Lent is the period of 40 days which comes before Eastern in the Christian calendar. This is a quiet, reflective time when Christians remember the sacrifice and suffering of Jesus in his last days. Whereas Easter celebrates his resurrection and it is a festivity time for Christians.

Therefore, Carnival was a time for rowdy behavior, where people could eat and drink in excess as a way to prepare themselves for the fast. And, as surprising as it seems, the Catholic church allowed it.

Therefore, Carnival is nowadays mostly celebrated in the Catholic regions of Germany – along the Rhine.

Prussian times

 It wasn’t until the 19th century, time when the Prussians governed the regions along the Rhine, when carnival was institutionalized.

During Carnival days, people dressed up in the uniform of Prussian soldiers as a satire of them and their rules. The normal order of things was reversed: Party and drunkenness were allowed and soldiers and royals were satirized.

During this festivity a tradition arose. People – craftsmen, farmers, workers… – rose to the position of princes and royals and paraded through the streets delivering food and wine.

Nowadays, we still find this tradition during Carnival time. In the Rhine area it exists different “carnival societies” which have their own regiments, military orders and their own prince. To differentiate one from the others, each of them wear different colors, bands and medals.

Modern times

The carnival season in Germany is known as the “Fifth season of the year” and it officially begins the 11th of November at 11:11 a.m.

Since that moment the “ElferratCouncil of Eleven – together with the different carnival societies start planning the upcoming events.

One of the most popular events, that take place during those days are the “Carnival Sitzung”, private parties – you need to be invited or get a ticket – where people dance, drink and have a great time together with the members of the society which organizes the event.

Relevant events during Carnival

Altweiber

At 11:11 a.m. people stop working and start eating “Berliner” to celebrate the beginning of the most intense Carnival days.

However, Altweiber is women’s day and it is tradition that they gather in the street to have fun and celebrate. This day they are allowed to “attack” men by cutting off their ties.

In the afternoon there are masked balls and parties all around the cities lasting until late night.

Rosenmontag

On Monday the cities along the Rhine celebrate “Rosenmontag”. A parade, organized by the different societies, takes place during that day. Floats depicting caricatures of politicians and famous personalities go through the city with performers tossing out “Kamelle” (sweets) and flowers.

Usually, each float belong to a different carnival society – which work during 7 months to design and build it – and drives dancers, music bands and the “prince guard” all around the city.

Veilchendienstag  

This tradition is mostly celebrated in Cologne area.

It consist in a ceremonial burning of the “Nubbel” – a straw doll – as a symbolical cremation of the misconduct committed during the carnival festivities.

Coming to an end…

Carnival is not a national holiday in Germany, in fact it is mainly celebrated in the region along the Rhine. In cities such as Düsseldorf or Cologne many schools, companies and stores close for the festivities.

If you ever visit NRW region in this period do not forget to greet people as follows:

  • Düsseldorf area: Helau! (instead of “Hallo”)
  • Cologne area: Alaf! (instead of “Hallo”)

Until “Aschermittwoch” and during 5 days, all the cities and towns of this region are full of floats – for children and adults -, music bands, prince guards and costumed people ready to enjoy this festivity. Once the festivities are over – Aschermittwoch or Ash Wednesday – it is time for Lent.

 

Ready to enjoy the festivities? 😉

 

*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 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.

Mini-job in Germany

 

Around 8 million Germans work mini-jobs and, for most of them, they are their only source of income. Although this model – known as “minor employment model” – is heavily criticised, its success from an economic perspective has motivated other European countries to consider it as an option. Mini-jobs are

But, what is a mini-job? What about health insurance? Can a minijobber get fired?

In this post I try to answer all your questions. Let’s go!

What are mini-jobs?

A mini-job is any form of employment with an average monthly payment of no more than €450.

Although mini-jobs are typically related to cleaning jobs, they can also come from agencies, startups, language schools and larger companies looking for part-time help.

Which are the pros?

  • Minijobbers – people who have a mini-job contract – with no alternative source of income pay zero taxes on earnings up to €450
  • The state covers the minijobber’s social and health insurance
  • All minijobbers have the same rights as other employees, meaning that “same rights” apply on holiday and sick pay, as well as on maternity leave
  • Minijobbers can take on another side job

Which are the cons?

  • Minijobbers are usually paid a lower wage than fully employed colleagues
  • To improve emplyoment statistics – you may have heard that the unemployment rate in Germany is around 4% – politicians count minijobbers as regular working people
  • It can be difficult to turn a mini-job into a full-time job.

Who benefits from this kind of job contract?

Both parties.

For minijobbers, a mini-job is always a good opportunity to earn some money – the €450 arrive always to the person’s bank account with tax deducted already –  and get some experience in the German market.

There are my students that work as minijobbers while studying just to get some extra money. At the same time, many expats use this system to try working in a multicultural environment until they feel secure enough to work for a large company.

For employers, a mini-job is a good deal to save some money – they do not have to pay for insurance obligations – and to hire motivated professionals. A good example of this are startups companies. Most of them use this system to hire people until they have enough earnings to pay for higher salaries.

Why are mini-jobs more popular among young people?

Upcoming events – Summer in Düsseldorf

Looking for something to do in Düsseldorf this summer? Whether you’re a local, new in town or just cruising through I have loads of great ideas for you.

Ready to find the upcoming summer events in Düsseldorf?

June

European Fencing Championships

Did you know that fencing was one of the first sports to be played in the Olympic games? In fact, competitive fencing is one of the five activities which have been featured in EVERY modern Olympics.

This month of June Düsseldorf will be the house of all fencing athletes competing for their qualification for the Olympics Games 2020.

To experience fencing on the highest level with all possible emotions just come to Düsseldorf 😉

When: From the 17th to the 22nd of June 2019

Where: Messe Düsseldorf

More information: https://www.madeofsteel2019.de/en/

T3 Triathlon

Once again the awaited T3 Triathlon is coming to Düsseldorf. Around 2,000 participants register each year for this important event, where both professional and non-professional athletes swim, run and cycle around the city. As usual, “Mediahafen” is the starting point of this intense competition.

During two days, the meadow in front of the NRW state parliament will be the meeting point. Around 40,000 people come every year to enjoy the triathlon, support all the athletes and spend some time surrounded by friends and family.

When: The 23rd of June 2019

Where: The meadow in front of the NRW state parliament (registration point).

More information: https://www.t3-duesseldorf.de/

Nacht die Metropole Ruhr

50 venues, 24 cities, 300,000 visitors, one night: Die Nacht die Metropole Ruhr.

Since 2001 the Night of the Industrial Culture or “Nacht die Metropole Ruhr” became a unique cultural event where the industrial part of NRW (Ruhrgebiet) opens its doors, so that visitors can discover its impressive industrial heritage. Therefore, around 500 events, from classical music to stand up comedies and fireworks, take part among the different cities of this area.

Dortmund, Duisburg, Dorsten and Essen, among other cities, welcome around 300,000 visitors who easily switch between locations and cities thanks to a free shuttle bus.

If you are interested in discovering more about the industrial heritage of the NRW, do not miss the chance to take part in this event. For only 17€ you have access to all venues and the already mentioned shuttle bus.

When: The 29th of June 2019

Where: Find here all the cities taking part in this annual event – https://bit.ly/2Kija3Q

More information: https://www.extraschicht.de/home/

July

Düsseldorf Frankreichfest

The event of the year is coming to Düsseldorf.

As every year since 1989, the Frankreichfest is a great opportunity to keep cultivating Franco-German relations.

During three days, visitors can experience delicious French wine, local specialties from places such as Alsace and Bretagne and live french music.

In the year of the 30th anniversary LEJ, one of the most successful music band in France today, will be playing in the courtyard of the town hall. At the same time, another anniversary will be celebrated this year during the Frankreichfest: Citroen celebrates its 100th anniversary!. Ready to enjoy one of the biggest gatherings of Citroen cars in Germany?

When: From the 5th to the 7th of July 2019

Where: Rheinpromenade and Düsseldorf town hall

More information: https://www.duesseldorfer-frankreich-fest.de/

23. Open MIC Comedy-Show Punchline

The 23rd open mic comedy show is a nice opportunity to discover new comedians and to experience a crazy show guaranteed to make you laugh.

When: The 9th of July 2019

Where: Biergarten VierLinden, Düsseldorf

More information: https://bit.ly/2wS1t2a

Lichterfest

The festival of lights or “Lichterfest” is the most popular open-air event in Benrath. Here you will find classical music of the highest standard, breathtaking water features and colourful fireworks.

Every year around 11,000 people experience this unique event. Ready for a unique experience?

When: The 13th of July 2019

Where: Palace of Benrath, Düsseldorf

More information: http://schloss-benrath-lichterfest.de/

Open Source Festival

THE music festival of the summer season in Düsseldorf for the last 15 years.

If you like to discover new artists and new music styles do not miss the chance to experience this unique festival.

When: The 13th of July 2019

Where: Galopprennbahn Düsseldorf

More information: https://www.open-source-festival.de/

Kirmes am Rhein

The Rheinkirmes is the largest temporary amusement park in NRW with around 4,000,000 visitors per year. This event lasts 10 days and it takes place every year between the second and third week of the month of July.

The 19th of July do not forget to enjoy the impressive fireworks performance 😉

When: From the 12th to the 21st of July 2019

Where: Oberkassel, Düsseldorf

More information: http://rheinkirmes.com/

August

Open Air Kino

Are you a cinephile? In this case I suggest you to experience the largest open air movie theater in Germany.

Open Air Kino is the best chance to watch the latest movies during warm summer nights. This yearly event takes place in different spots of Düsseldorf during one month.

Ready to eat pop corns under the stars?

When: From the 25th of July until the 25th of August 2019

Where: Düsseldorf (different spots)

More information: https://alltours-kino.de/

Gourmet Festival

Do you enjoy trying different kinds of food? Are you a foodie? Are you willing to discover new tastes? Then the annual Gourmet Festival is the right place for you!

Here you will find high quality restaurateurs, special producers and wine from all around the world.

When: From the 23rd to the 25th of August 2019

Where: Königsalle, Düsseldorf

More information: https://gourmetfestival-duesseldorf.de/

 

Your turn

Do you know any other interesting summer event in Düsseldorf? Are you planning to attend to any of the above mentioned events?

Since I love to try new things and to discover new places, I would be really happy if you leave a comment below to share any other summer event that you love and you want to recommend to all of 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.

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 I)

If you follow me on Instagram you have probably heard some stories about #germancoleague.

Since a couple of weeks, I realized that he´s becoming famous and, at the same time, he´s generating mixed feelings among my lovely Instagram family. Don´t get him wrong, he is really nice, the only “problem” with him is that he never got the chance to learn interesting facts about other cultures 😉

So that you don´t have the same problem as my colleague, I prepared a nice and interesting post about Germany, its history, its culture and its language.

Wait! Do not run away! I am not becoming a history teacher! 

This post is a funny way to discover some interesting (and maybe unknown) facts about Germany.

Are you ready now? Keep reading!

History

  • Germany was once a cluster of small kingdoms, duchies and principalities – They were unified as the German Reich in 1871. Later it became the Third Reich and in 1949, after the war, the nation was divided in two parts: the German Democratic Republic (Soviet-supporters) and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). The 3rd of October 1990, East and West were reunited.
  • Berlin was not always the capital of the country – Before Berlin, there were five other German capitals including the cities of Aachen, Regensburg, Frankfurt-am-Main, Nuremberg and Bonn.
  • Germany is home of famous inventions  – The light bulb, the automated calculator, the discovery of insulin, the invention of the clarinet, the automobile engine, the LCD screen and the Walkman, among others.
  • The first printed book was in German
  • Although the population is on decline, Germany still has the largest population in the European Union with around 81 million people. 3 million live in the capital, Berlin, and around 18 million live in the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region (Düsseldorf, Essen, Köln, Dortmund…). It is expected that population drops to 67 million by 2060.
  • If you look at a satellite image at night, you can clearly see the difference between East and West Germany.
  • Mattel produced a Barbie doll of Angela Merkel to celebrate her 50 years old – The Chancellor of Germany (since 2005) was ranked as the powerful person in the world by Forbes magazine in 2012. Will she win the next elections?

Language

  • German is spoken in different countries – It is the official language of the following countries: Germany,  Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein.
  • The German alphabet has extra letters –  A part from the common 26 letters of the alphabet, germans have umlauted forms such as ä, ö , ü and the famous “ß”, which do not exist in English.
  • There are two main divisions of the German language – “Hochdeutsch” and  “Plattdeutsch”.
  • When JFK visited Berlin he said “Ich bin ein Berliner”  which can be translated as “I am a jelly donut”.
  • Dialect changes drastically depending on where you are
  • German has hilarious proverbs
    • Das ist nich dein Bier! – “None of your business” –  literally “It is not your beer!”
    • Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei – “Everything has an end, only sausage has two”
    • Ich kriege so eine Krawatte! – “It really annoys me”  – literally “I get such a tie!”

Culture

  • Germans are the third largest beer consumers in the world – After the Czech and the Irish.
  • There are over 300 kinds of bread in Germany – So if you want to try each of them, you will need approximately one year. Are you ready?
  • The Christmas tree tradition came from Germany – Here it is called Tannenbaum and every single german person has one Christmas tree at home, mostly natural not plastic ones.
  • Berlin, the capital of the country, is nine times bigger than Paris and it has more bridges than Venice. Can you believe it?
  • In German schools, once German kids  are in the 4th grade, they are placed into Hauptschule, Realschule or Gymnasium, which pretty much determines if they will go to university or straight to the work force. Is it the same in your country?

 

Your turn!

Did you know any other interesting facts about german culture, history and language? If so, share them with us by leaving a comment below.

Within the next weeks I will come back with more information about german beer, geography and inventions. Read you soon!