P1020911.JPGAgent Lederhosen Lief

Agent Lederhosen Lief here with new observations on living in Germany.

Having just finished laying cinder blocks for our new pool house before leaving Chelan I have considerable appreciation for block laying. Buildings in Germany are often constructed of stucco-covered block but the blocks used are much different than in America. They’re orange, thicker, and much more finely cast than ours. But perhaps the most interesting difference is how little mortar is used. No mortar is used for the vertical seam and only a paint-thin layer is used for the horizontal seam. This thin layer is spread from metal chute that rolls along a string line. The vertical seam is sealed when the stucco layer is applied.

P1020910.JPGGerman Masonry

Even though we got a super deal on our car rental, we regret that we didn’t arrange to return the car to Munich or Ulm. We have to drive back to Amsterdam (all-day drive) and then return here via train. At first check, the price of the train ride was shockingly high – $200 apiece. I was going to make the trip alone at that price. But I have since been able to finagle a “special price” of only $80 apiece and now Mary is going with me. We’ll take the opportunity to travel the so-called “Romantic Road” up through central Germany in our car at that time (a little over a week from now.)

Speaking of trains, we were walking to town the other day and encountered a bunch of police at the place where the footpath crosses the tracks. We later learned that a local woman had been killed there just that morning! Apparently she was jogging and didn’t hear or see the train. That may be hard to understand if one’s point of reference is American trains but these German trains are whisper-quiet and fast! The local train goes by at about 80 mph and express trains over 100 mph. Even the footpath crossing here has the bells and gates just like a road crossing in America so the woman must have ignored them.

P1020906.JPGThe Fatal Crossing

Solar energy is big here. On a recent (sunny) day the newspaper trumpeted that over 50% of Germany’s electricity that day had been photovoltaic-ly generated. That doesn’t surprise me. Solar panels cover every other roof here in Bavaria and they don’t just have a few panels; they cover the whole south- or west-facing roof. What is surprising is that Germany isn’t a particularly sunny place.

I did a little research and learned that Germans pay a steep price for their ecological purity. A surtax of over six cents per kilowatt-hour is assessed on all electric energy consumption. That tax alone is more than twice the total cost of electricity paid by Chelan County rate payers. I don’t think too many Germans heat with electricity.

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Despite putting out several feelers including an ad in the local paper and several calls to language school teachers, I haven’t been able to arrange a German conversation partner yet. I haven’t given up. Meanwhile I’ve taken to reading German comic books as a substitute:

P1020909.JPGWalt Disney, the Universal Language

We drove south to Obertsdorf on the Austrian border yesterday for a look at the real Alps. With cable-car assist, we got into the high country. Again, “steep” hardly suffices to describe the trail, about half of which we did the hard way. Mary is pretty much laid-up today with sore muscles, front and back.

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