All of us who choose to live in Germany find one of the most daunting aspects is what to do when medical problems occur. Indeed, one of the most common questions I am asked is how to go about finding an English-speaking doctor, dentist or optician. Whilst I plan on doing a full article on this subject in the near future, I just want to share my experiences gained over the couple of years or so that I have spent here. Continue reading
In Britain, we all complain about the National Health Service (NHS), but having myself lived in several countries that do not have one, I think it is pretty darn good.
Of course, Germany is also highly regarded for its health care, but I must admit I do find it considerably more complicated to navigate than the British system. For example, when you start working in Germany, you must actually choose a provider as the government effectively contracts it out. And if you earn above a certain salary, you can opt to go private and your and your employer’s contributions get fed into that. Things get even more complicated if you are unemployed, self employed or a student.
Therefore, I was pleased to find a page on the “How To Germany” website which gives a good overview of how it is all structured and some of the rules and regulations which govern it all. Click here to go directly to that page.
For those of you with property in the immediate vicinity of the river, flooding is always going to be in the back of your mind particularly with the current rainfalls being experienced across Europe. However, don’t despair too much as there are two very useful websites where you can monitor river levels from anywhere in the world allowing you to better decide when to either phone a neighbour and ask them nicely to clear out your ground floor or to make sure your insurance covers flood risk.
The first site is “Mosel Webcams“. As the name suggests, from there you can get real time video images streamed to your computer or smartphone from selected locations in several of the larger towns along the Mosel. The cameras are on all 24/7 and after the storms we have recently experienced the footage can be quite dramatic.
The website was started by two couples – Harald and Bernadette Mohr and Rüdiger and Heidi Mitscher – originally just to show off their home town of Traben-Trarbach, but the idea proved so popular that they added eleven more cameras in other locations and I am jolly grateful they did. Please do make use of the site and click on their sponsors from time to time so that they can continue to provide this excellent service. The site is in German only but is very easy to use even if you don’t speak the language.
The other website I find really useful if a little scary at times is the official “Hochwassermeldedienst” or “Flood Reporting Service” which covers all the major rivers and tributaries in the state of Rhineland Palatinate. Although it is also in German, much of it is pictorial and self-explanatory. For example, clicking on “Mosel” then “Karte” (which means maps) takes you to a simple map showing the monitoring points on the river, each identified by a coloured point representing the current river level status with green being less than the 2 year high water level (or in laymans terms, flood that occurs about once every 2 years in the statistical average) all the way up to purple which is the highest level i.e. greater than the fifty year flood level. It all depends where your property is located which colour is the one you need to watch out for. My house was last caught by the hundred year flood back in 1993, so I only need to start panicking when the alert hits purple.
Clicking on “Hochwasserfrühwarnung” or “High water early warning” reveals a simple map of the region similarly colour coded – green means all is okay, purple means inflate that dinghy and batten down the hatches. Although the map shows no place names, hovering your mouse over each section of the map will identify the municipality and you can click on those to get a bit more detail.
This site also offers graphs showing the current level of the main rivers (“Hauptpegel) as well as the tributaries (“Nebenpegel”) for each of the main rivers in the state.
The Germans are remarkably responsible people. I mean, there cannot be many other nations in the world where people stand to attention at a pedestrian crossing waiting for the green Ampelmann to give them the all clear despite the fact there is not a car within a three mile radius and the weather is like a scene from The Tempest. The very same nation that shuns microwave ovens for fear of the damaging effects on the molecular structure of the food being heated. However, that impeccable approach to responsibility does lapse once a year – at New Year in fact when the tradition is to get plastered and lob fireworks (and lots of them) at one another. Continue reading
Just a quick posting to wish all my readers a very merry Christmas whether you will be celebrating it on the 24th as the Germans do, or on 25th as we Brits do. I myself am spending it in Essen with my partner and our Christmas lunch will be a rather untraditional but incredibly tasty roast leg of lamb supplied by my brother back in England who runs traditional butcher shop in England and can claim Jamie Oliver as a customer.
Whilst I am here, I also want to apologise for the lack of posts over the last few months. Work problems, studying and more recently a family bereavement amongst other things have taken their toll but hopefully I will be able to start 2017 with a fresh outlook and provide you with lots more interesting stuff on life in both the Moseltal and Germany in general.
Take care everyone and enjoy the festive season no matter what nationally or religious denomination you are.
I just had to post this bit of classic British comedy from the Seventies. Possibly a bit politically incorrect now but hilarious all the same! Enjoy…
Germany is famous for its Christmas markets, and virtually every town has one. The problem is, they can be a bit ‘samey’ if you know what I mean. But there are plenty with an unusual twist, and I think one of the most notable and romantic has to be the Traben-Trarbach”Mosel-Wein-Nachts-Markt” which literally means “Wine Nights Market”, a clever play on “Weihnachtsmarkt”, the German word for Christmas Market.
In keeping with the wine heritage of the town, this event offers markets in some enormous old vaulted cellars which are decked out with stalls offering a big variety of traditional crafts, edible treats and of course local plonk. Also on offer is an ice skating rink (outdoor, not in a cellar!) plus an extensive entertainment programme.
The markets and other activities are open from Friday through Sunday to 18th December, and then daily from 22nd December to 3rd January, although 24th and 25th December are closed for obvious reasons. In general, opening times are 11am to 9pm, but please check the website (links below) for the exact programme.
Traben-Trabach is very accessible, being located right on the Mosel between Koblenz and Trier. A shuttle bus service is available from some of the other towns in the locality, and cheap flights are available from various European cities to Frankfurt Hahn regional airport which is only about 40 minutes away, so why not spend a weekend here and experience the real German Christmas spirit?
You can find out more by clicking here for the website but you may have to run it through Google Translate as it is only in German. Clicking here will give you the brochure which has all of the important information in English, French and Dutch and includes a map of the various attractions, programme for the entertainment and more. Alternatively, the Tourist Information office in the town will be able to help.
Here is another intriguing recipe using Riesling (or any other) wine, and despite it being called “festive” there is no reason why it cannot be enjoyed at any time.
Being a useless cook myself, I have to admit that I have not attempted to make this one yet, but if anyone does I would love to hear if it was a success!
You will need:
- 750 ml Riesling or other white wine
- 5 eggs, separated
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 sachet vanilla sugar
- 50 grams ground almonds
- Cinnamon and sugar to finish
Briskly beat the wine with the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla sugar and starch over a gentle heat until thickened – do not overheat as it will scramble! Beat the egg white until stiff and fold in the almonds.
Pour the egg yolk mixture into a greased baking dish and top with the egg white mixture. Bake for about 20 minutes at 200 ° C. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
(Adapted from the recipe the German imosel website which can be found here).
Christmas – or “Weihnachts” in German – is fast approaching and that means the famous German Christmas Markets are now well underway. For those of us living in or visiting the Mosel, the unique combination of the magical market atmosphere coupled with picturesque surroundings really is unbeatable.
So put on your woolly scarves and gloves and indulge in a glass or two of the ubiquitous “Glühwein” (warm mulled wine) or “Eierlikor” (eggnog) as you browse a multitude of stalls selling crafts, trinkets, sweets and a whole host of other traditional (an not so traditional) Christmas goods.
Most towns big and small have at least one market, some lasting just for a few days and others for much longer, and you can find a selection of those that take place in and around the valley here, or for a little further afield but still close enough for a day trip click here.