bio cult(ure)

Sometimes the simplest, everyday things of life in Germany make me think about cultural differences. Take trash, for instance. One of the things I had to get used to in Germany was separating trash. Paper, compost, metal, green glass, brown glass, white glass, plastic, and all the rest. In my first year here, I had to ask all the time about where to sort things. A tea bag, for instance, has a paper tag and bag, it’s filled with tea, which belongs in the compost, the string might go in the “rest” bin, and the tiny metal staple connecting the tag to the string would go in the metal bin. (This is just theoretical… no, we don’t separate all these tiny parts…)

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We have 4 recycling stations like this within close walking distance from home.

At our apartment now, they only pick up paper, compost, and the rest, so we collect the metal, glass, and plastic all together and carry it to large recycling bins down the street and separate it there.

This everyday practice has become second nature to me, and I think it is representative of a larger cultural phenomenon in Germany: Bio- and Öko-leben. Organic and eco-friendly living. Germany is really green. Continue reading

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rail tripping: murnau

As winter turned to spring this year, my husband and I said, “we live so close to the Alps, and who knows for how long… we must go, and often!” Really, in about an hour, we can be surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscapes. So we decided to take some day trips. Road tripping, but with the train. Rail tripping.

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Landscape hanging in the Lenbachhaus

First up? Murnau. Ever since I had visited the Lenbachhaus in Munich, where the Blaue Reiter art is on exhibit, I’ve wanted to visit the home of Gabriele Münter in Murnau, where she and Kandinsky and their posse lived and painted. The house is a museum, and is the birth place, so to speak, of the Blaue Reiter movement. The surrounding landscape and local culture provided their inspiration. When you see the explosions of color on canvas depicting the village of Murnau and the mountain panorama there… you just want to go see the real thing!

So, off we went on a Sunday afternoon. It was a glorious, sunshine-y day! Continue reading