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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Long-distance train boost, confusing kitchens and Hanover highlights

In our weekly roundup about life in Germany we look at plans to invest in the train network, the perplexing lack of kitchens in German flats, the arrival of Herbst and some cool things about Hanover.

Farmer Harald Wenske steers a barge fully loaded with pumpkins across waterways in the Spreewald.
Farmer Harald Wenske steers a barge fully loaded with pumpkins across waterways in the Spreewald. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Patrick Pleul

German long-distance travel set for modernisation programme

There are some really positive things about train travel in Germany, but there is definitely lots of room for improvement. So we were glad to report this week that Deutsche Bahn is planning a €19 billion modernisation programme. The operator says that an extra 450 high speed – or ICE – trains will be added to the country’s network in the coming years. CEO Richard Lutz said the aim is to invest in “the trains of the future”, and even unveiled new double-decker models that will include special office cabins and family areas. The aim is to encourage people to leave their car at home and take the train. Let’s hope that punctuality gets better along with the style of trains. And there is good news when it comes to local public transport: German transport ministers plan to thrash out a plan next month for a €9 ticket successor. Although details are thin on the ground at the moment, it is likely to cost €49 and will be valid on buses, trains and trams throughout local transport networks. 

READ ALSO: How did train travel in Germany get so bad?

Tweet of the week

We relate to English footballer Georgia Stanway, who plays for Bayern Munich, and her confusion about German flats being rented out without a kitchen.

Where is this?

Pumpkins being taken by boat.

Photo: DPA/ Patrick Pleul

You know it’s Herbst (autumn) in Germany when the pumpkins are out in force. This photo shows Harald Wenske steering a Spreewald barge fully loaded with pumpkins across the water. The 72-year-old also grows potatoes, horseradish and beets in addition to pumpkins on his farmland, which is surrounded by waterways. Now is the time when you’ll start to see Kürbis (pumpkin) on the menu everywhere. 

READ ALSO: 10 ways to enjoy autumn like a true German

Did you know?

Situated on the River Leine, Hanover is the capital of Lower Saxony, which has a state election coming up on October 9th. But did you know it is also home to the World of Kitchens museum (or das Küchen-Museum), the first of its kind in Europe? The museum houses a cafe and cooking school, and features dozens of real kitchen exhibits from different cultures and eras starting from the Middle Ages. Visits to the museum are only possible with pre-booked guided tours, but are well worth it for food and history lovers.  Either at the end of your tour or before, make sure to indulge in traditional German cake and coffee at the Museum’s Schloss Cafe. While in Hanover, you should also check out the Royal Gardens of Herrenhausen, the New Town Hall and Eilenriede Forest. 

Thanks for reading,

The Local Germany team

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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Pushback on dual citizenship plans, university ‘buddies’ and Stollen

From possibly the most German-sounding university introduction ever, to a heated ongoing debate about dual citizenship, here are the latest talking points about life in Germany.

Living in Germany: Pushback on dual citizenship plans, university 'buddies' and Stollen

Pushback on citizenship plans

The German coalition government’s proposals to relax citizenship laws are in the spotlight once again this week – but not for a positive reason. In a last-minute debate called by the opposition conservatives (CDU/CSU), emotions ran high as politicians clashed on the proposals that would see naturalisation legislation changed to allow multiple citizenship and remove hurdles of becoming German.

Imogen Goodman wrote in her report that CSU politician Andrea Lindholz called the plans “irresponsible” and “unprofessional”. “I’m convinced that everyone that wants to become German should give up their previous citizenship,” Lindholz said, in response to the idea of allowing people in Germany to hold more than one nationality. The row has thrown doubt onto the changing legislation.

On our Germany in Focus podcast, Julie Schäfer, a citizenship lawyer and dual French-German citizen based in Düsseldorf, said she hoped the laws would be passed. Schäfer said the reforms “would be a great benefit”. “Especially because many people are seeking dual or even multiple citizenship because they still want to be part of their original country, where they were born or where they grew up. They do not want to lose their identity.”

Tweet of the week

The award for the most German-sounding thing this week (or possibly ever?) has to go to this tweet by a student. 

Where is this?

snow in Erfurt

Photo: DPA/Michael Reichel

There’s a real winter – and Christmas – feel in the air across Germany, with lots of snow forecast in the coming days. A coating of snow had already reached Erfurt, Thuringia, on Friday as seen here in this photo next to the central Christmas market. 

Did you know?

Stollen is a traditional Christmas snack in Germany. But did you know that it dates all the way back to the Middle Ages? During that time it was considered a fasting pastry in monasteries during Advent season. The recipe used to have very little ingredients (no butter, for example) and was a bit dry. It was only later that Pope Innozenz VIII allowed butter into the recipe. Nowadays, the cake contains dried candied fruits such as lemon or orange peels.

Some also have marzipan, and raisins. Another favourite twist on the recipe is filling Stollen with poppy seeds, which gives the dough a black, moist colour. These are all loaf-formed and covered in powdered sugar. The name of the cake is thought to come from miners who would take it with them underground as a food supply. In German mining tunnels are called ‘Stollen’.

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