holidays

New Years Eve 2022!!! We’re bracing ourselves.

I fully expect tonight will be an awesome display of German style pandemonium. For the past two years, the customary neighborhood fireworks displays have been prohibited, because of the COVID pandemic. This year, Germans are once again allowed to purchase fireworks for New Year’s Eve. And as Bill has just come back from the local Rewe, where he bought sparkling water, beer, and laundry detergent, he noticed that a lot of people were at the grocery store, stocking up on bottle rockets, firecrackers, sparklers, and other assorted pyrotechnics.

I suspect the fireworks will upset Noyzi, who has been spared the armageddon like New Year’s tradition for the past two years. Last night, he happened to go outside as someone set off a firecracker. It totally spooked him, and he tried to run back inside before he took a much needed whiz. I made him stay outside and do his business, even though so far, he’s been very reliable about not relieving himself in the house. Noyzi is still very frightened of a lot of things and will jump or try to flee at very little provocation. He has gotten a lot better, though. It’s been very rewarding watching him evolve into a much beloved dog who has a family and a home.

Arran doesn’t care about fireworks. I suspect he’ll sleep through the whole spectacle, as he usually does. He’ll probably fart a few times for good measure. In that way, he is decidedly unlike his predecessor, MacGregor, who was terrified of fireworks. I remember poor MacGregor, the first year we lived in Germany (2007). The people in our neighborhood were all out in the streets, lighting explosives like there was no tomorrow. MacGregor found a spot under my desk and shivered until it was over, hours later.

Even though fireworks were prohibited for the past couple of years, some local Germans still had a stockpile from years past. New Year’s is the only time of year fireworks are allowed to be sold, so I know those were explosives that weren’t spent in earlier years. For New Year’s 2020, we still got a short show. In 2021, it was even shorter still. But this year, I will be very surprised if the fireworks aren’t erupting for a very long time and in high concentrations. I’m glad we have a balcony, so we can watch them. We don’t set them off ourselves.

Hell, I would probably not be too upset if there wasn’t a fireworks show… as they are loud and disruptive, and they upset animals and people with PTSD. And the reason they weren’t allowed in the past two years is because every year, people get hurt. I read one article today that mentioned how it’s customary for people to start showing up in German hospital emergency rooms at about twenty minutes after midnight. Germans are, on the whole, careful and law abiding people, but something about Silvester makes some of them lose their fucking minds. ūüėČ Alas, some of them also lose digits and limbs, or wind up with severe burns, because they handle fireworks improperly on New Year’s Eve.

I usually get quite tired before midnight these days, anyway… and Bill definitely does. But I know I can’t sleep through tonight. It will be impossible, unless I drug myself. And because my stomach has been giving me issues lately, I don’t want to take that risk. I’ll probably stick with my usual bubbly and call it a night… maybe read more of Jamie Lynn Spears’ book, which I started yesterday. I gotta say, after reading Paulina Porizkova’s book… or even Matthew Perry’s book… she comes off as a kind of a twit. I’ll probably enjoy writing my review. ūüėČ I predict it will be pretty snarky. If you want to read my thoughts on Paulina’s and Matthew’s books, you can find my reviews on my main blog. The link is at the top of this page (or right here).

Today, we’re taking care of some “honey do” chores. I managed to get a new bookshelf for the cookbooks I keep buying (and rarely using) at Christmas. I put it in our living room, where it makes the room look better furnished. I was going to buy another one for Bill’s Jung books, but after I moved some of the cooking/boozing books from our upstairs shelf, I discovered a whole shelf was available for the Jung books. That’s probably enough for now, although I might get another one anyway, just because I also need to buy new bathroom rugs.

As I write this, the duvet covers are being washed, newly washed sheets are on the bed, a load of clothes have been washed, and Bill is cleaning out the kitchen cabinets. He’s looking for a moth infestation, after I noticed two tiny holes in his favorite wool sweater on Monday, when we went to Villa Im Tal for a Christmas lunch. I figure the holes come from moths, because I’ve noticed a few of them flying around, and I know we have old stuff that needs to be tossed. I’ve already thrown out a couple of things, to include a package of Jello pudding that dates from 2017. ūüėÄ

It will be nice to have a slightly less cluttered and cleaner house. Since I got a new vacuum for Christmas, I took the old vacuum to the basement and used it to tidy up a bit downstairs. I’ll probably move that machine downstairs permanently, at some point. It will live with my Tineco wet vacuum, which I’ll probably use after I finish writing this post. That vacuum is good for getting rid of muddy paw prints on the parquet floors. I don’t do it very often, though, because frankly it’s a waste of time and energy. The dogs are constantly tracking mud into the house, because this time of year it rains a lot. Today, we have pretty warm weather, especially for this time of year… but it’s a bit cloudy.

Anyway… wish us luck. I wish you a safe and happy new year. I look forward to some exciting and more frequent travel experiences in 2023, God willing. Of course, that will probably mean losing Arran, which will be very sad… On the other hand, as sad as it will be, it will also present opportunities that we’ve been missing. Much like the Germans have been missing their fireworks. ūüėČ And, just like the Germans sometimes get into trouble when they set off explosives, so do Americans who travel in Europe. The silver lining is, those kinds of fiasco experiences lead to some epic travel tales. So stay tuned! Happy New Year! And tune in tomorrow, because I’ll probably have photos and video of whatever happens!

The featured photo was taken in Natural Bridge, Virginia, at my family’s homestead during our Thanksgiving 2014 celebration (last time I was home)… My cousin and his son are fireworks experts (seriously) and put on these shows for a living. A few years ago, they put one on for my cousin’s daughter’s summer wedding and pissed off half of Roanoke, Virginia. This is funny to me, because my dad never set off fireworks. I guess some of my relatives get their adrenaline rushes by lighting things on fire and watching them blow up.

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The waiting is the hardest part…

Today’s featured photo was taken at our neighborhood Rewe, which appears to be very gay friendly… The Rewe could use an Apoteke.

A week from now, barring any disasters, Bill will be home from his latest TDY. For some reason, this one has been harder for me than the previous ones have been. I think it’s a combination of the many months we’ve been locked down, bored, and the many weeks he’s had to travel on business. This time, he’s half vaccinated. At the end of the month, he’ll get his second injection. I’ll get mine on June 9th. Then, maybe we can start doing some normal stuff again. As Tom Petty used to sing, “the waiting is the hardest part”…

One of many great singers from my youth who have died since I’ve lived in Germany. I always seem to be in Europe when icons die. I was even in Europe when Princess Diana was killed, back in 1997. It seems to be my destiny to spend time here.

I had a bit of unexpected drama last night. On Friday, we got some new toys for the dogs. Arran had recently destroyed a little blue gorilla that he loved. It was a Kong toy, so it had lasted awhile, though not as long as some of the others we’ve had. I try to cycle the really damaged toys out, even if they are much beloved. I don’t want the boys chewing on toys that are raggedy because they can end up swallowing things they shouldn’t. That seems to be especially true in Noyzi’s case. A few months ago, he swallowed part of an old toy that had been three pieces. Arran had long ago shredded the other parts of the monkey– the toy part had come from– but there was still a leg with squeakers in it. Arran would play with it.

At the time that happened, Bill was at home. He took Noyzi to our vet; they gave him a shot to make him vomit; and he puked up the part of the toy he’d swallowed. It was an old toy, though, so I have been careful to get rid of the ones that get too torn up. Friday, I gave the boys four brand new Kong toys. Kong toys are known for being very tough. But the raccoon toy I got the other day was not as sturdy as the other rope toys I’ve been giving them.

Last night, I came downstairs at about 6:00pm to find that Noyzi had “skinned” the toy raccoon, leaving the head and tail, and the rope innards. I was glad he hadn’t destroyed the head, since that was where the squeaker was. But he had apparently swallowed the “fur”. Fortunately, this particular toy, by design, didn’t have a lot of polyester batting in it.

Immediately, I started thinking I’d need to get him to the emergency vet– Tierklinik Hofheim, specifically, since our vet wasn’t open. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get him into Bill’s Volvo. He’s too big and cumbersome for me to get him into the car by myself. I don’t think he’s too heavy… he’s about 63 pounds, and I can lift that. But he’s long and tall and not very cooperative. After a few minutes of trying to wrestle with him, I gave up.

Then I went looking for hydrogen peroxide, which can be used as an emetic in dogs. I thought we had some on hand, but it turned out we didn’t have any. And Germany, unlike the United States, doesn’t dispense things like hydrogen peroxide at the grocery store. You have to get it at the Apotheke. It also costs a lot more there than it does at US stores. So I went looking to see if any nearby drug stores were open. The one at the nearby Globus was open, but when I tried to get there, I got turned around and wound up in a strange neighborhood. I’m not used to driving Bill’s car… I would have driven mine, but it’s in the garage, and the Volvo was in the driveway. Then, when I got back, I couldn’t get the car parked in the driveway again. I know I should have been able. The Volvo has cameras and park assist, and of course, GPS… I can’t get used to using those things. I don’t trust them.

So I worried all night, although Noyzi was pretty much normal. I came down in the middle of the night to check on him, and he greeted me sweetly each time. I obsessively read a bunch of articles on the signs of a blockage, and finally got ahold of Bill, who said if I needed help with Noyzi, someone from the office could come over. This morning, I found Noyzi lying on his back with his legs in the air. When he saw me, he rolled onto his side and wagged his tail. I kept hoping he’d poop… because again, “the waiting is the hardest part.” A good poop is a good start on the way to recovery from something like this.

I just took the boys for a short walk. It was a short walk because it’s raining. Just afterwards, I let Noyzi in the backyard. For some reason, he doesn’t like to go potty when he’s taking a walk. Arran is just the opposite. Anyway, after a few minutes, he came out, took a whiz, then took a fairly normal looking poop with bits of toy in it. I suspect there might be more bits in his next constitutional, but at this point, I’m not too worried about him needing emergency vet care. He seems to feel better, too, even though he wasn’t that distressed in the first place.

I guess I’ve learned a few things from this experience. The first thing is that we need to train Noyzi to get in the car by himself. If it had been Arran (or the late Zane), it wouldn’t have been a problem getting the dog loaded. Both Zane and Arran fit in the Mini, too. But Noyzi needs the Volvo and has to ride in the cargo area. He needs to learn to get in by himself, because I’m not getting any younger or stronger.

Next– I need to buy some hydrogen peroxide to keep around for these kinds of emergencies. Noyzi has proven that he likes to eat toys. All of the new ones are out of reach, for now.

Next– I need to stop being such a luddite. I have yet to embrace GPS technology because I find the voice prompts distracting and annoying. But the GPS could have gotten me to Globus last night. And the park assist could have gotten the Volvo into the driveway. I have been able to park in the driveway before, by the way, but I was not in the right frame of mind for it last night.

I need to drive more, too… I just don’t enjoy driving if I have nowhere specific to be. Hopefully, with the availability of the vaccines, that won’t be so much of a problem for too much longer.

I was feeling pretty frustrated, though. I’ve been in Germany for years and I know how most things work here. But I’m still getting to know this area where we live, mainly due to the COVID-19 nightmare. I don’t know a lot of people up here, so being here alone is pretty stressful. I have fewer people to call in case of emergency. And I’m really tired of Bill’s constant business trips. The good news is, he thinks they’ll be done after this one… at least for the time being. I hope he’s right.

He’s perfectly happy. This was what he looked like last night, as I was fretting.

Anyway, I think Noyzi is going to be just fine. I guess I need to watch him more closely when there are toys around. At least until he learns that toys are for playing with, not eating. Sometimes, though, I do miss how things are in the United States… not that I’m hankering to move yet. I just want Bill to come home and fix me a martini and tell me it’s all gonna be okay. Just a few more days to go.

Edited to add: Two more dumps littered with toy debris have appeared… and they were both perfect. After each one, Noyzi seemed even happier and more energetic.

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Twice in a week…

Ever since we moved back to Germany in 2014, I’ve avoided doing a lot of driving. I have a 2009 Mini Cooper Convertible sitting in the garage now. The battery has died three times since we moved to Wiesbaden because I so seldom go anywhere. Bill has his Volvo, which we purchased in 2019 and picked up in Sweden. Those were the days! I miss being able to fly somewhere without a bunch of hassles. Normally he would be driving the Volvo today, but he had to go on TDY (temporary duty yonder) for three weeks, and his company makes him rent cars when he goes on business.

Since the Volvo is in the driveway, I can’t get my Mini out without moving it. I also had two chores to do this week. First, I had to drop off a fecal sample at the vet’s office on Monday. Then today, I woke up realizing that there were a few essential items I needed. I can walk to the Rewe if need be, but I also had an empty rack of beer to deposit. So I got in the Volvo and headed off to the store, after carefully dog proofing the house. I can’t say “beagle proofing” anymore, since one of our dogs is definitely NOT a beagle.

This may seem like not much of a big deal… except prior to this morning, I had not been to the grocery store in over a year. I quit going because of COVID-19. Bill goes, because he’s out and about anyway. I used to enjoy grocery shopping, back when I was single. Now, it’s a real chore. I hate wearing a mask for many reasons, which I won’t get into here. And I hate dealing with confrontational people. I actually looked into using the home delivery service, but that requires a 50 euro minimum order. All of the appointments were also booked for the next ten days or so. And really, it’s ridiculous not to just go to the store… I mean, in another life, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it.

Bill had given me a few tips about the new rules. Everybody has to wear a mask and use a cart. I noticed in the drink market, people didn’t use a cart. I did, because I decided to get more beer. I don’t need to be drinking beer. In fact, I usually avoid drinking when Bill isn’t home. But this has been kind of a shitty week. Early Monday morning, I skinned both of my knees. One of the knees was already skinned from a mishap two weeks ago, so I undid a week’s worth of healing. All week, my knees have hurt– stinging, itching, and oozing stickiness. Beer helps dull the pain and annoyance of being so clumsy and having ugly knees.

I drove the mile or so to the store. It’s probably not even that far. It’s literally around the corner. I parked the car, put on my mask, and loaded the empty beer rack in the cart, along with the many empty water bottles and odd aluminum can we had. The Pfand refund totaled about 6 euros. I got my beer and a couple of cans of soda in the drink market. Then I loaded that stuff in the car and went back into the grocery store, which is in a separate building. When we moved here in late 2018, our Rewe didn’t have a drink market. It was just built in 2019. It’s nice, since it’s very well stocked.

I picked up my items at the grocery store, doing all I could to avoid the floor cleaning guy. It surprises me he’d be doing that work during regular business hours, especially since there were a number of people shopping, but what do I know about how things run around here?

When I got home, I was confronted by my lack of driving practice. Bill’s Volvo is much bigger than my Mini is. Consequently, it’s a lot harder to park it, even though it has parking assist and tells you how to park. I don’t quite trust it myself. Every day, I watch Bill expertly maneuver the car into the driveway, making it easier for the landlord to get in and out. I had to make a few passes, having parked the car in front of the house because of the groceries. I noticed the landlord drove up in his little car and looked a little annoyed that the Volvo was parked in front of the house, even though we’re allowed to park there if we want (and for the rent we’re paying, it shouldn’t be an issue, anyway).

But sure enough, I got the car parked… and there were no scratches on the car. The dogs were delighted to see me, and I can make something decent for dinner. Lately, I’ve been skipping dinner because I just can’t be arsed. I hate it when Bill is gone. The saddest part is, last night he was messaging me, proposing that we plan a trip to Stuttgart and get our teeth cleaned. We badly need to get them cleaned, since it’s going on two years since we last saw Dr. Blair. But this is not the kind of thing that should be a field trip. And yes, I know we could find a local dentist, and we might go ahead and do that at some point. We just like Dr. Blair. He’s the best dentist either of us has ever had. And we like visiting Stuttgart… and miss the days when we could do that without a bunch of bullshit.

I miss the days when we could go out and do stuff… and I’d have things to write about besides our new dog and random trips to the grocery store. I hate these marathon TDYs. I hate being clumsy. And I hate that Angela Merkel and her minions are keeping things locked down until March 28th. Fuck COVID-19.

Anyway, yes I’m proud of myself for taking care of that little chore. It would have been better if I could have driven the Mini, but it needs air in the tires and Bill has yet to find a place with a functioning air pump. So that’s another project for when he gets home… in two fucking weeks.

In other news, I’m thinking about buying a new car… one that can accommodate the moose dog, Noyzi. He doesn’t fit in a Mini Cooper. Also, as you can see in the featured photo, our trash guy smokes while he works.

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The bed’s too big without Bill.

Sigh… Bill left a few days ago for his latest TDY. It’s only been since Monday, but it’s the third or fourth TDY he’s done since the New Year. You’d think after 17 years, I’d be used to this, but I hate it when he leaves town. I’m kind of a loner and usually end up spending a lot of quality time watching TV.

This morning, I finally decided to take my car out of the garage. It’s been ages since I last drove anywhere, and given that I almost hit the house as I was backing out of our little garage, my lack of practice really shows. Our house, like a lot of German houses, has a very small garage that fits the Mini Cooper perfectly. But backing in and out of it is a bit tricky.

We live very close to the Rewe, so I could actually walk there, but I knew I needed to pick up a few things. Also, I had a crapload of empty plastic bottles to deposit. I drink a lot of water, especially when Bill isn’t around. When he’s not home, I try to stay off booze. This week, I’ve had a bottle of wine and a couple of beers. So you can imagine, I went through a lot of mineral water with gas this week!

Now… ordinarily, this trip to the store wouldn’t be a big deal, except our Rewe was recently renovated because we got a brand new drink market. The construction workers spent all last year turning what used to be a field into a lovely new drink store, and they freed up lots of space that used to be taken up by drinks for the older grocery store. The work was done in early December, and yet I still hadn’t been in there. Let me just say, I was really pleasantly surprised at how nice the store is now. It’s a huge improvement. They have a much larger meat counter, a cheese counter, and a much bigger frozen foods section. There are more aisles and the crappy beer selection they used to have is greatly expanded in the drink market.

I took a few photos after I found the bottle depository, which is now in the drink market. I got 5,25 euros off my order, y’all! The bottle depository is also a hell of a lot nicer. It doesn’t mess up as much as the old one did and you can even get directions in languages other than German.

Germans are pretty serious about recycling, so everyone brings back their bottles for a “Pfand”. That’s the money you deposit for each bottle. I remember, as a kid, I used to collect glass bottles and turn them in for money. Then we moved to redneck Gloucester, Virginia, where everybody just took their trash to the dump. Here in Germany, you have to separate everything into different bins and I’m back to turning in bottles for cash.

I noticed that the store was stocked with pasta, toilet paper, and detergents. All week, I’ve heard that Germans have been panic buying everything– especially pasta, face masks, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer (and just a note from your friendly MPH– washing your hands is a better solution). Germans have a funny term for this type of purchasing– Hamsterk√§ufen. Yes, it’s akin to the fuzzy rodents known as hamsters, who are known for packing their cheeks full of food. In some places, Germans are likewise buying out stores because of the Coronavirus. But maybe they’re not so panicked in our neighborhood.

I picked up a few items I needed, along with a new rubber chicken for Arran. The cashier got a kick out of the toy and gave it a few squeaks before ringing it up. Arran was delighted to have a new plaything to destroy. He went freakin’ nuts with “crazy dog” when I gave it to him. But I think my most exciting score was sushi. Our new improved Rewe has sushi now! That will be a welcome change from the chicken I’ve been eating all week.

I think we’ll get through the next few days, while Bill visits his long lost younger daughter in Utah. They haven’t seen each other since 2004. There’s a long, painful, convoluted story as to why they’ve been apart for 15 years. I’ve written about it a lot in my original blog. I like to keep this one relatively tame whenever possible. Anyway, I suspect there will be an exciting reunion. He’ll meet his son-in-law and grandchildren. I’ll sit at home and eat sushi from the new and improved Rewe.

I suppose I could get braver and drive somewhere else further afield, but I think I’ve had enough excitement for one day. Besides, Arran went nuts when I left for the store, and I was only gone for about 30 minutes or so. I’ll wash the sheets, do some more writing, and maybe even record a song. I love it when I’m a busy bee.

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Sweet and sour coffee…

This morning, my husband Bill left to spend the next 18 days working in another location. ¬†As is his habit before he goes on business trips, he stocked up the groceries for me. ¬†Yes, I know that’s crazy… he takes very good care of me. ¬†He enjoys it and I enjoy it.

Bill noticed that the sugar was getting low. ¬†He forgot to buy sugar at the commissary, so he went to our neighborhood Rewe¬†to pick some up for me. ¬†You would think this would be an easy task. ¬†How hard is it to buy sugar? ¬†Well, as it turns out, in Germany, it can be a real challenge, just as buying flour is a challenge for some, and buying chicken can be a downright disaster. ¬†We have lived in Germany for a good while now… over four years this time, two years last time, plus Bill was in Bavaria in the 1980s. ¬†But sometimes, we still make rookie mistakes.

Bill bought what he thought was sugar for baking cakes. ¬†He put the sugar in the canister, apparently not noticing its “odd” appearance. ¬†Then, this morning before he left to go TDY, he fixed me my usual cup of coffee. ¬†At first, I didn’t really notice anything amiss. ¬†But as I got closer to the bottom of the cup, I started to notice that the coffee tasted… strange. ¬†I noticed some white stuff was clumped to the bottom, and some had floated to the top. ¬†I thought maybe our half and half was getting old, or something. ¬†The clumpy white stuff on the bottom of the cup reminded me of the Cremora non-dairy creamer my parents used to use in their cheap Maxwell House sludge.

I asked Bill what kind of coffee we were drinking. ¬†He said it was Peets’ wonderful Haraz blend. ¬†I was dismayed by that, since the Haraz is one of my favorites and the coffee just didn’t taste right. ¬†It tasted sour to me.

It looks and tastes… strange. ¬†It also doesn’t blend well.

Bill argued with me about the sugar, even after he pulled out a spoonful of it to show me. ¬†It didn’t look like everyday granulated sugar. ¬†Annoyed, he found half of a box of sugar cubes and directed me to use those. ¬†What I will probably do is just go to the Rewe myself and buy the right sugar. ¬†I am still capable of that much.

No… this is not the right sugar.

It contains pectin and other ingredients for making jams, jellies, and relishes. ¬†You shouldn’t put it in coffee… especially exquisite reserve coffees.

Before he left, Bill brought me the bag and broke the news. ¬†He had bought me sugar intended for making jams. ¬†This is not the first time Bill has messed up my coffee. ¬†In fact, very recently, he ruined my second cup of coffee by stirring it with a spoon he’d just used to mix ricotta cheese and fish oil for our dogs. ¬†The tiny bit of fish oil residue left a very pervasive and disgusting taste… ¬†Maybe I should put it on my food as a diet aid.

The simple solution, of course, would be for me to mix my own coffee or start drinking it black.  And I will be mixing my own coffee for most of March, since I will be without my love.  He likes taking care of me, though, and does an excellent job of it.  And he usually mixes my sugar and cream better than I do.  When I make my coffee, I only put in one spoon of sugar because I want to be disciplined, even though I prefer two spoons.  Bill always gives me two spoons.

Anyway, I’m sharing this cute story for my readers in Germany who shop on the economy. ¬†When you’re buying staples, take a minute to make sure you get the right stuff. ¬†Sweet and sour coffee is not so good.

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An insider’s guide to German grocery stores…

I’ve had the idea to write this post for… I don’t know… three years, maybe? ¬†I actually remember when I got this idea. ¬†I was in the city of Calw and Bill and I were at a Kaufland. ¬†I started thinking of all the grocery stores on the economy where a non-German might find themselves shopping. ¬†I thought to myself, “It might be useful to have a guide to some of these stores…” ¬†But at that time, I didn’t have quite enough experience to write the post and it got pushed to the back burner as I toured beer spas and wrote restaurant reviews.

In about 24 days, Bill and I will be moving to Wiesbaden. ¬†It will technically be our third German tour together, and his fourth in total (he was in Bavaria in the 80s, when he was a young lieutenant). ¬†I’ve seen a lot of German grocery stores now. ¬†Since today I was too lazy to do anything (because November is going to be a very hectic month), I’ve decided that today’s post will be about grocery stores, at least here in the Stuttgart area.

Here’s my usual disclaimer. ¬†This post is more or less meant for newcomers. ¬†It will consist of basic information, and does not represent all of the stores where you could be shopping. ¬†I am posting this with the hope that readers will use German supermarkets over the commissary. ¬†You will find that the food quality is mostly better and the cost of food is generally less expensive. ¬†We do use the commissary for convenience and when we want items that are strictly American. ¬†When we lived in Germany the first time, I will admit that we used the commissary more than we did our awesome local supermarket. ¬†This time, we shop a lot more on the economy and are better off for it.

First thing’s first. ¬†Grocery shopping in Germany is somewhat different than it is in the United States. When you shop at a German market, you either need to bring your own bags or buy bags at the store. Bill and I use RedOxx market tote bags. ¬†I like the RedOxx bags because they are very sturdy, made in the USA (Montana, to be exact), have a lifetime guarantee, and the business is owned by a veteran. ¬†They also sell their bags in a dozen pretty colors and will ship to APO. ¬†We also have a bunch of their other bags, too. ¬†Bill likes them because their design is very military and they are extremely well made.

Of course, you don’t need to use fancy bags. ¬†The cheap, reusable bags you can get at the commissary will also do the trick quite nicely. ¬†You will also have to do your own bagging, so after your stuff is rung up, prepare to pack your stuff. ¬†If you do need to buy a bag, the German word is “T√ľte” (tooti).

Grocery stores in Germany don’t sell medications. ¬†If you want to buy over-the-counter drugs, you will need to visit an Apotheke (drug store). ¬†You will often, but not always, find Apothekes near grocery stores.

In German grocery stores, you can find things like shampoo, soap, toilet paper, and detergents. ¬†In some stores you can also find housewares, electronics, clothing, toys, and in many places, you can buy booze. ¬†Germany also has “drink markets”, which sell all kinds of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as a limited array of shelf stable groceries and other goods.

When you buy produce, in some stores you may have to weigh it and get a price tag sticker, which you’ll put on your produce so it can be scanned. ¬†The commissary has a similar system, so you’ll get used to it quickly.

Grocery stores in Germany are mostly closed on Sundays, with a few exceptions. ¬†In the Stuttgart area, the Edeka supermarket at the airport is open on Sunday. ¬†Although dogs are welcome in a lot of places, including restaurants, you can’t bring your dog to the grocery store. ¬†And, at many stores, you will need to use a euro coin to get a cart from the cart corral. ¬†They are chained together. ¬†When you return your cart to its proper place, you get your euro back. ¬†If you have ever shopped at Aldi in the United States, you know of what I write.

Many grocery stores have areas where you can drop off your empty bottles. ¬†If your store has a drink market, you can bring back the plastic bottles and crates of glass bottles (say, a case of beer), feed them into the handy machine, and it will spit out a receipt, which you can present to the cashier and get money off your order. ¬†Speaking of cashiers… do not be surprised, especially here in Swabia, if the person ahead of you counts out exact change, even if it holds you up. ¬†More than once, Bill and I have been behind someone who pays for groceries with a lot of coins. ¬†Remember that in Germany, some coins are worth more than two dollars! ¬†Be patient. ¬†Others will be patient for you. ¬†Also, some stores have shopper’s cards you can collect stamps on and redeem. ¬†Frankly, I never bother with them, but some people do. ¬†Don’t be surprised if the cashier asks you if you want one.

Also, a lot of stores will have restaurants or snack bars within them. ¬†In fact, even some hardware stores have food available. ¬†Our local Toom (hardware big box store) has a snackbar, of all things. ¬†Shopping in Germany is very civilized. ¬†Many stores also have restrooms and most don’t have a Klofrau looking for change, although that’s not always the case.

You might even find a CoinStar at your local store. ¬†Our Real now has a CoinStar, which I think appeared somewhat recently. ¬†After you’ve been here awhile and have collected a huge trove of coins, you’ll see how awesome that is! ¬†My husband’s first boss dumped his collection of coins on Bill and his co-workers before he left, with the direction that they should all go out to dinner. ¬†Someone took the time to count the coins and it added up to over 800 euros. ¬†Bill and his former co-workers had dinner, including family members, and only spent 500 euros! ¬†There’s still 300 euros left to use! ¬†You will collect a lot of coins while you’re here!

Okay… now here’s a very brief guide.

General grocery stores– hypermarkets

Edeka– ¬†I’ll start with Edeka, which is a very well-known German grocery store chain. ¬†Many towns have an Edeka, and they are pretty much my favorite of all the usual German grocery chains. ¬†It’s kind of a posh market, very clean, with really nice lighting and high quality products. ¬†As of 2017, Edeka is Germany’s largest grocery store chain and holds a market share of 20.3%. ¬†Chances are, your town has an Edeka. ¬†If it doesn’t, chances are the next town has one. ¬†We live in Unterjettingen and there is no Edeka in our town, but there are in Herrenberg and Nagold, both of which are less than a few miles away. ¬†Frankly, of all of the grocery stores in Germany, Edeka is my pick. ¬†It has everything I love about a grocery store.

Real in Jettingen.

Real– Jettingen does have a Real, which is a “hypermarket”. ¬†Real is basically Germany’s version of Walmart. ¬†Indeed, Real stores were originally Walmarts before Walmart was driven out of Germany. ¬†I don’t know for certain, but I think Walmart didn’t survive here because Walmart is famously anti-union and Germans weren’t down with that. ¬†Anyway, Real operates a number of stores in Germany and they’re a lot like Walmart, minus over the counter drugs. ¬†You can find almost anything there, but I hate going in there because it’s usually very crowded and hectic and I experience sensory overload with every visit. ¬†Still, lots of people love their Real, and I will admit we shop there often. ¬†Parking at our Jettingen store is free, which is more than I can say for the Edeka in either Nagold or Herrenberg (but some Edekas do have free parking).

Kaufland– Germany’s fourth largest grocery store chain is Kaufland, which was founded in Germany back in 1984. ¬†Kaufland now operates almost 1,300 stores in seven countries across Europe. ¬†It reminds me a lot of Real, only with a slightly more upscale look and nicer lighting. ¬†You will find groceries there, but you can also find housewares, electronics, and clothing. ¬†Many locations also have drink markets.

REWE– REWE is a Cologne based grocery store chain with locations around Germany. ¬†To be honest, I haven’t spent a lot of time shopping at REWE, but our new home has one very nearby. ¬†There are also several locations in the Stuttgart area. ¬†The last REWE I visited was in Wiesbaden and it reminded me a bit of Edeka, only with harsher lighting.

The actual experience of shopping at any of these grocery stores is very similar. ¬†You typically enter through a “gate” and you have to pass through a cashier stand to exit, even if you don’t buy anything.

Discount grocery stores–

Aldi– A lot of Americans know about Aldi, because Aldi is slowly infiltrating U.S. culture. ¬†If you’ve shopped at an American Aldi, you are probably already familiar with having to use a quarter to get a cart. ¬†You also know that this store is no frills and has low prices. ¬†Our town has an Aldi, but I don’t go in there very often. ¬†It has basic stuff– frozen foods, bakery items, some beverages, ice cream, and some non food items. ¬†It’s the kind of place you go when you need to pick up a few items. ¬†Actually, according to Wikipedia, Aldi is Germany’s largest wine retailer. ¬†Who knew?

Lidl– Lidl is another discount store that is slowly gaining a footprint in the American market. ¬†Like Aldi, Lidl is very no frills, but it does have an interesting line of “American” products, which I blogged about last year. ¬†I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the Lidl versions of American products unless you need a laugh. ¬†However, given a choice between Aldi and Lidl, I think I’d choose Lidl, mainly because the stores seem newer and cleaner to me.

A city version of Netto.

Netto– Another discount market. ¬†Every Netto I’ve been in has been small and no frills, with an emphasis on frozen foods, a small array of beverages, and bakery products.

Penny MarktРAgain, no frills supermarket.  Emphasis on frozen food, candy, ice cream, and low prices.

Specialty markets–

Denn’s Biomarkt…

Denn’s Biomarkt– This is a national chain that specializes in “bio” (organic) products. ¬†The Denn’s chain is represented in several local communities, including Sindelfingen, Nagold, Ludwigsburg, Stuttgart, and Vaihingen. ¬† You can find bio fruits, vegetables, wines, and cheeses, as well as other natural products.

The Nagold Mix Markt.

Mix-Markt– This is a European market that offers products from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. ¬†It was founded in Germany, but there are now stores all over Europe. ¬†It’s a great place to shop for exotic wines from countries like Georgia and Moldova, both excellent wine producing countries. ¬†Also, if you like Russian products, you can find them there.

“Feinkost” is another term with which you should familiarize yourself. ¬†A Feinkost is translated as “delicatessen”, but in my experience, Feinkosts also offer upmarket products. ¬†One well-known Feinkost in Stuttgart is Feinkost¬†B√∂hm, which is a super fancy and expensive market downtown. ¬†It’s fun to shop there for special occasions and to see how much they’re selling Pepperidge Farm cookies for. ¬†Stuttgart also has the Markthalle, which has a lot of ethnic markets, meats, cheeses, produce, and desserts. ¬†Your town might also have a Feinkost, but it may or may not be as fancy as the one in Stuttgart.

Your local town may have its own specialty markets.  You may find Turkish, Asian, Italian, Spanish, or even Portuguese specialty markets, depending on where you live.  Keep your eyes peeled, because you can find some great stuff in the little ethnic markets.

Also, many towns have produce markets that happen several mornings a week and/or on Saturday mornings. ¬†You can also buy specialty meats at Metzgereis (butchers) and baked goods at Backereis (bakeries). ¬†Some local areas also have farms where you can buy fresh produce, eggs, and fresh milk. ¬†See my post “Farm Fresh” for more information about buying fresh food at farms– it’s frequently done on the honor system. ¬†You will also find vending machines that sell things like eggs, milk, noodles, and lentils, among other things. ¬†My “Farm Fresh” post has a video showing how to get fresh milk (which should be pasteurized at home) and pictures of the vending machines you might find in your neighborhood.

Generally speaking, I find grocery shopping in Germany to be a pleasure. ¬†There’s always something to see and German stores offer a lot of good products, some of which will be familiar to you and others you may come to love and will miss when you’re back in the USA. ¬†Some stores are more pleasant for me than others. ¬†Some people love the local Real, but give me an Edeka any day. ¬†I suspect I’ll soon be very familiar with REWE, since I know my new neighborhood has one. ¬†Once you’ve been here awhile, you’ll be able to find a store to your liking. ¬†If you like very fresh food, I highly recommend shopping on the economy as opposed to at the commissary. ¬†Hope this post is helpful for a few folks!

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