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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honeymoon in dresden

No wasting time on apologies. I’m back in the blogosphere and going to do a couple of catch up posts, then I’ll try to stay more on top of things.

This post takes us back to October. Fall break for the schools in Bavaria.

Let me first back up to mid-August, though. Right after our wedding, there was just no time to jet off some place for a honeymoon. Some folks expressed pity. I didn’t really mind. Instead of spending a ton of money on a 10-day honeymoon in Europe like lots of couples, we were just moving to Europe (which is expensive enough). And, there would be time enough for a nice trip in the months to come.

Furthermore, the time following our wedding in the States was full: packing, partying, saying goodbyes, moving abroad, coping with jet lag, bureaucracy, parents visiting, another wedding reception, apartment hunting, moving in, Julius starting to teach, me starting to job hunt, etc. And the whole time, I still didn’t regret not having a honeymoon, but… let’s be honest, that’s enough change in a 2-month time span to make anyone need a BREAK!

So, fall break was rolling around at the end of October, and the funds weren’t there to take the delayed honeymoon in Italy we would have liked, but we decided a long weekend away was definitely in order. And where did this long weekend take us?

The romantic, exotic destination in former East Germany, the capital city of Saxony… Dresden! Continue reading

how to look at art: the lenbachhaus

Munich is a city with art. In my previous year living in Munich, I had been to both the old and new Pinakothek art museums on multiple occasions and was overwhelmed by the size of the collections housed there. Sensory overload is inevitable. In such a large museum, I tend to take my time at the beginning, but an hour in, I start to walk more quickly, observe less closely and, ultimately, I don’t really see the art that comes later in my visit. After a 3-hour art museum visit, some highlights stick out in my memory, but regarding most of the artwork, I’m unable to say much other than “it was pretty…” Well, it turns out that this isn’t the best way to experience art. You just can’t see it all in one visit, and you shouldn’t try to. (My husband would argue that you can spend an entire museum visit sitting at one painting.) We recently visited an art museum in Munich that I hadn’t been to before: the newly renovated Lenbachhaus. The floor plan of the Lenbachhaus doesn’t draw visitors through a tour of the entire collection of centuries of artwork, but rather invites you to focus on an area of interest. So, no traipsing through the entire 19th century gallery to get to the specific 20th century collection you actually came to see.

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Franz Marc’s “Blaues Pferd I”

And if you’re visiting Lenbachhaus for the first time, the collection to see is Der Blaue Reiter — The Blue Rider. Der Blaue Reiter was a group of early twentieth century artists centered in Munich, and the collection at the Lenbachhaus, acquired in 1957 from one of the artists herself (Gabriele Münter), is the largest Blauer Reiter collection in the world. This is “local art” — first exhibited in Munich a century ago, seen today in Munich at the Lenbachhaus. The subject matter is also not far from home. Several of the artists painted together in Murnau, a Bavarian village about 70 km south of Munich early in their careers. I was most drawn to Kandinsky and Münter’s vivid, colorful works from Murnau. Continue reading