Sunday, April 26, 2015

Trash removal from homes in Germany

I’ve just finished reading the 23 page “Garbage Guide” for my town, near Kaiserslautern. Here are some helpful excerpts for newcomers to the area:
There are ELEVEN different waste management options for things you don’t want anymore.

Grey bins: Regular trash is picked up curb-side every other week, alternating with the “bio” container (brown bin). The size of your trash bin is determined by the number of people living in the household. Previously, three people lived in our house, so our can was exchanged for a smaller one fit for two people’s trash. “Should the gray container not be sufficient at times, additional non-recyclable waste bags can be purchased at the municipal administrations.”
This dark grey bin looks the same as the one above, but this one has another "floor" inside about 1/3 of the way up so you can't put as many garbage bags inside (only about 2 fit).
Blue bins: paper recycling, emptied every 4 weeks. Self-explanatory (only one page of rules in the booklet).

Brown bins: biodegradable waste. Kitchen waste such as vegetable and fruit scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, garden clippings, etc. If you compost all your bio items for your garden, your trash fee will be reduced, upon notification of the Kaiserslautern county administration and you will not use the brown bio bin.
Yellow bag: plastics and metals go into this bag. Yellow bags are picked up on trash day (every other week). We bought a bag holder/stand at Poco in Kaiserslautern, but it’s not working out because when the bag gets filled up about half way, it slips out of the holder onto the floor. I’ll post updates on the solution.
A hazardous waste truck comes monthly to each town, or you can take items to the recycling center. Do not flush old medicine or put it into the trash; you can bring it to a pharmacy or the hazardous waste center.

Bulk trash is picked up by request up to twice per year, with 4 weeks advance notice.

Batteries may not be thrown into the trash, they must be brought to the hazardous waste truck or center.

Glass recycling containers (clear, green, brown glass) are located in communities, but are not for window glass or light bulbs. The containers in our town are large metal boxes silver-ish in color. “Glass that is neither clear nor brown or green, e.g. red or blue glass should be put in the container for green glass”.  In case you didn’t know, Germany has quiet times each day… “When to use the glass container: Monday-Saturday 8am-1pm, 3pm-7pm, NOT on Sundays or German holidays!”
Walking/biking paths near our house
I’m tired of typing and I’m only on page 17, about garden clippings! “You may not deposit rootstocks and tree trunks with a diameter of more than 40 centimeters.”
Here are the office hours of the waste management team at the Kaiserslautern county administration:
Mon-Tue: 8am-12pm, 1:30pm-4pm
Wed: 8am-12pm
Thurs: 8am-12pm, 1:30pm-6pm
Fri: 8am-12pm

That’s the news for the week, folks!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The kindness of strangers

We left behind many friends in the US, and wondered how long it would take to meet new people we could trust. Not long, I tell you. Before we passed the driving test here and got out rental car, we walked all over the Air Force Base, to the tune of 10,000-15,000 steps per day. I’m usually very healthy, but between jet lag, so-so nutrition/digestion upset, and walking miles every day, I did not go to the mid-week soup supper & church service our first week here, even though I wanted to. It was a 40 minute walk each way and I had already walked over an hour earlier in the day. Jeff had gotten a ride to work that day, so he walked to the chapel, and came back shortly thereafter with a very kind person to give me a ride to the service. I couldn’t believe it! Another couple gave us a ride home after the service. Wow! I don’t know if I’ve ever gone out of my way like that to be nice to someone else, but it’s at the top of my list of priorities now!
One of our cats on the wall between our back yard and the town meadow
Jeff’s cell phone fell out of his pocket while walking down the street to meet with our new landlord/landlady. He obviously didn’t realize it at the time, but after the meeting, we searched the house, car, and sidewalk for 2 hours looking for the phone. Several hours later, my phone received a call from the person who found the phone, and we were reunited with Jeff’s iphone. What a wonderful neighborhood we have moved to!!! Oh, and our landlord gave us an Easter basked complete with chocolates and 3 cans of German cat food!!!
Sunset behind our carport & tool shed

I have been disappointed that several yoga classes at the base gym were cancelled, but something good came of that, too. I had planned to go to Tuesday evening yoga and then Thursday morning Bible study. When the Tuesday yoga was cancelled, I decided to go to the Tuesday evening Bible study instead. I was warmly welcomed, and when the group heard we were newly-arrived, one person said “my colleague is moving away and the house will be available”, and another person said “my office is hiring a social worker, do you want a job?” Um, yes, please? Guess where we are living? Guess where I got a job?
Come on over and relax on our glassed-in porch
When have you been supported or encouraged by a stranger?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Off the beaten path- REALLY! In Sarreguemines, France

Where, again? After being in Germany nearly a month, I was eager to go to another country, so we drove 1.5 hours into France! Some folks from the chapel had recommended this town, known for its history of pottery-making. No, we didn’t buy any, but had a great day. This is an easy day trip from the Kaiserslautern area, and there was no passport control at the border.
 After a pleasant drive on the A6 through the countryside, we arrived in Sarreguemines and parked near the tourist information center. The staff there were at least tri-lingual, and gladly gave us maps of walking routes and museums around town, explaining everything in English.
We did not know ahead of time that the entire town shuts down from noon-2pm. Good thing we were hungry, as restaurants were still open. We looked in the window of a chocolate shop, then realized it was 12:01 (therefore the door was locked). The owner had just started walking down the street, and opened the shop for us, so we’d recommend Leonides Chocolates for the tasty chocolates and friendly service.
 We decided on the walking tour, and followed the map along shopping and residential streets. We passed an “American Diner” restaurant, that Jeff voted for, but after seeing the expression on my face, he agreed to the French place next door. I did promise that the next time we could go to the American place. I loved the Nicoise Salad, thanks for the anchovies!
Kiln for ceramics- last one standing
The walking tour continued past a lovely church, an interesting ceramics museum, and passed near the river, where we added our own mini stroll beyond the map route. We ended our visit with excellent pastries at Artisan Boulanger Patissier Froehlich.

Our afternoon wrapped up nicely into the evening at the Saarland-Therme just over the border back in Germany, which we’d also recommend. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on waterparks/spas.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Grocery Store Finds in Germany

The food here in Germany was the least of my concerns when anticipating the big move. Living in a hotel for over a month in MA and here left us nutritionally challenged, even when ordering salads in restaurants. Over here, it’s meat and potatoes land! And pastries. I was glad to have very basic cooking facilities in temporary quarters, so I could have oatmeal with fruit for breakfast, and I made spaghetti at least once per week. Jeff says he likes how microwave baked potatoes taste, especially when they are slathered with salsa, but I’ll stick with oven baked, wrapped in foil.
Thank goodness the commissary (military grocery store) sells 2 hard boiled eggs for 40 cents in a small plastic container, along with thousands of other familiar products from the US. I’ve visited a bunch of German grocery stores, and am pleased to let you know that they are phenomenal, except for the toilet paper. We found out after we signed the lease that we are not allowed to use comfy American TP due to narrow sewage pipes, so there goes that idea. Anyway, this is about food, not the end result, so here are our preliminary findings:
Globus is a huge store with a Target/super Walmart feel (large kitchen appliance section, small book section, etc.). Jeff highly recommends the fresh chocolate pudding sold in beverage-sized disposable plastic cups with whipped cream in both the fridge section of the store and the bakery at the front of the store for people who don’t have time to go all the way into the store!
L: Lemon Mousse  R: Hash browns for Easter Casserole "crust"
Aldi (and at least one other store) has a machine that “bakes” products on the spot! Jeff recommends the instant pizza, which seems to me is pre-cooked and then just heated up, as it pops out just about a minute after you push the button. A new friend recommends the regular bread products out of this machine, to be consumed fairly immediately.
L: fruit juice  R: smoked ham cubes for Easter casserole
Edeka is another chain store that has nice mixed vegetables (also available at other stores). The European touch is that there can be a mild cream sauce in the package, resulting in tasty cauliflower/broccoli/carrots (not like the thicker American “cheese” in some frozen veggies).
Cafe in Kaiserslautern
Lidl is also in our new town, and is a discount store. All that means to the consumer is that lower-priced groceries are still on their cardboard palates, which is no hardship to me when buying a box of pasta. They have vegetarian meatballs, which are great…alongside meat meatballs, also tasty!
Kaufland translates into "shopping world", and that it is. They sell clocks, batteries, and boom boxes, along with just about everything else. My favorite items there are prepared “salads”, in this case, cucumber salad in a dill vinegar dressing, shrimp salad (too much mayo, but I mix it with their bulgur and chic pea “salad”), herring in sour cream, and potato salad. There is also “meat salad”, which I haven’t bought yet, but have had in the past: looks like bologna lunch meat cut into strips, in mayo, of course!

There are several more, but I haven’t spent a great deal of time in the others, so I’ll post on interesting finds there later.