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Nov 1, 2013

Pros & Cons of Living in Germany: Part Acht


Kartoffelpuffer season is coming!! You guys, these things are da bomb. Do people still say "da bomb?" Probably not. I'm brining it back today because there's just no other word to describe these treats. Kartoffelpuffers are basically fried potato fritters/pancakes. Borderline latkes, if you will. These bad boys are served mostly at the Christmas Markets all over Germany, but you can often find them sneaking into other festivals and restaurants throughout the year. They are served piping hot (like burn-your-tounge-off hot) and with your choice of either applesauce or garlic sour cream dip. I hear jam is sometimes served with them, too. I, personally, enjoy the garlic dip, but the applesauce gives it a sweet unique flavor that's equally as delicious. Come to the German Christmas Markets for the glühwein, but stay for the kartoffelpuffers. So. Stinkin'. Good.

CON: Winter

Along with Kartoffelpuffer season comes the season I hate most here in Germany...WINTER. Guys, winters here are THE WORST. I'm talking seasonal affective disorder from the second it hits November 1st right up until March 31st. The sun goes into hibernation (making an appearance maybe once a week, if we're lucky) and the precipitation (rain, snow, fog) just hangs around for 4 months straight. It's enough to make a Floridian go insane. Germans are smart, though. Many of them have sun lamps in their homes to help keep up their Vitamin D levels. Us Americans are stuck taking supplements and moping around like zombies, complaining all winter about how mind-numbingly awful winter is. It's a sad, vicious cycle of perpetual dreariness that I absolutely won't miss upon returning to the states next year. I apologize in advance for all the Twitter complaining I'm sure to do in the next few months. German winters, YOU SUCK!

PRO:Federweißer & Zwiebelkuchen
The second autumn leaves start to fall in Germany, Federweißer season begins! Federweißer, also known as Junger wein (young wine) in Bavaria is a drink made from the first fermentation of this year's grape harvest. Typically, grapes that aren't quite good enough to turn into wine get turned into Federweißer. The name Federweißer translates to "feather white," which pretty much refers to the drink's cloudy appearance. Federweißer is unfiltered, so the yeast is still suspended within the beverage causing that cloudy color. The drink itself isn't super potent, usually only packing a 4%-6% alcohol punch, but it's definitely super tasty. Especially when paired with a slice of fresh Zwiebelkuchen (onion cake) straight from the oven. Holy YUM! The Federweißer we've tried along the Mosel River Valley kind of tasted like a tangy grape-lemonade concoction. But, another we've tried tasted like sweet grape juice. I guess the variation in flavors depends on the grape and how long the Federweißer's been fermenting. You can find Federweißer stands all over Germany...on the side of the road like a fruit stand would be, at festivals, or even bottled in certain grocery stores. The best kinds, though? Side of the road Federweißer. All good things come from the side of the road. But don't quote me on that. ;)

CON: No Iced Coffee

Ok, so I'm not saying iced coffee (coffee with ice cubes) doesn't exist in Germany at all, but it's one of those things you're hard pressed to find here. From what I hear, you can order traditional iced coffee at Starbucks. Problem is, Starbucks stores aren't on every street corner like they are back in the states. You're lucky if your town has one (most bigger cities usually have them). But if you've got an iced coffee hankering in some small no-name town you're exploring for the day, your "iced coffee" is going to look like something in the photo above. Ice cream dropped into your coffee. ICE CREAM. Also known as "Eiskaffee." Virtually a coffee milkshake of sorts. I know what you're thinking...THAT SOUNDS DELICIOUS! Yes, it totally does. But it's not the iced coffee I'm used to sipping on a hot summer day. Imagine D's surprise when he ordered "iced coffee" on a menu at this tiny cafe in Bavaria, but then receiving ice creamed coffee instead. He ate/drank it, of course...but since then we've yet to find true American iced coffee. My guess is because Germany isn't keen on ice. German friends, if you know where else we can find coffee with ice cubes or how I can avoid crazy looks when I try to explain it to baristas, suggestions welcome!!

PRO: Oktoberfest & Volksfest

This one pretty much needs no explanation. Oktoberfest in Munich & Volksfest in Stuttgart are just too fun for words. They're also somewhat of an American rite of passage upon living abroad in Germany. If you don't go to one of these festivals and don your best dirndl or lederhosen, you're a shameful expat to Germany. Ok, maybe not shameful, but you're totally missing out! Check out my full recap of our experience at Oktoberfest and Volksfest at these links.

CON: Fest Table Falls

If I had a dollar for every time I saw someone fall off a fest table, I'd be one rich woman. Fest tables are the go-to tables of German festivals. Duh. Problem is, while practical, they're not always functional. Even when used correctly. Let me explain...fest table benches are basically long wood boards atop two thin metal "H" bars at either end of the wooden board. THIN is the key word here. Imagine you're at a festival, enjoying a plate of bratwurst and a cold beer. You're sitting at one end of the fest bench while another, unfortunately larger individual, is sitting at the opposite end. Now, say the larger individual at the opposite ends decides, on a whim, to get up and leave the table. What do you think is going to happen to you if no one else is sitting in the middle of that fest bench? That's right, BOOM! To the ground you go. It's the laws of physics at their finest. Additionally, if you're partying it up at Oktoberfest and 5 of you decide to stand on top of the fest bench and hop around...you're likely to fall off out of your own sheer (and drunken) stupidity. Like I said, fest tables are super practical for seating a large number of people in a confined space...but they're kind of dangerous if you're not aware of things like weight distribution. Have I ever been victim of a fest table fall? Yes, yes I have. When in Germany, folks. :)

That's all for now...Bis Bald!

*Please keep in mind that all of these pros & cons are formed simply from my experiences and perspective as an American living abroad. You can find the other installments of my Pros & Cons of living in Germany hereherehere, hereherehere, & here.*


  1. My fiance and I got his orders for January 2015, and we're headed to Hohenfels. I'm ridiculously excited, but I'm sure the seasonal affective disorder will get me, too haha I guess it might help that I really, really love winter, and we'll be in Arizona and ready for a change by the time 2015 rolls around?! :)

  2. This is one of my favorite blog series of yours! Living in the Midwest is pretty similar in terms of winter. Except last year, winter started in December (we had a glorious, unseasonably warm Thanksgiving) and lasted through May! Yes, there is a picture of me on my blog wearing boots, jeans, and a hoodie at the zoo from last May. France, New York, and Toronto were all pretty cold too, although at least May in France is very nice.

  3. All of the pro's sound amazing! I'm sure they far outweigh the cons.

  4. You're making me SO hungry - not even close to fair. These all look super delicious!

  5. this makes me so nostalgic for my years spent in Austria! i had an amazing kartoffelpuffer experience in Berlin, SO good. i know exactly what you mean about iced coffee too - as good as those are, they're not the "real" thing in my eyes! x

    Miho @ Wander to Wonder

  6. I lived in Germany for 2 years while my husband was in the Air Force, we were at Ramstein AFB, i also had my son over there in a german hospital because desert storm was going on, all im going to say is that its a nice place to visit, but not. to live, i saw awesome places, it took me 7 times to gt my drivers licence UGH, but im glad to be on america soil

  7. I like how two of your pro's are food, you've got your priorities straight, we can be friends :)

  8. I love these posts, Casey! And I think it's funny that you describe Oktoberfest as a rite of passage for expats in Germany - because I've got to admit: Even though, I'm German I've never been to Oktoberfest before and - here comes the confession - even if I never in my life manage to go, I probably wouldn't be super sad about it. And fun fact: I know tons of Germans who feel the same way! Okay, it's probably because I really don't care for beer and don't live close to Bavaria (I've met some people from Munich that flew back to Germany just to go to Oktoberfest), but I wonder why that is?

    And good luck surviving the winter! Just think of Christmas Markets and delicious mulled wine! :)

  9. I totally know what you're talking about with the "eiskaffee" isssue! I was in Europe on a kind of comprehensive business trip a few summers ago and NEEDED iced coffee like nobody's business. But everytime I *tried* to order it I ended up with something like the above picture. At starbucks they would put the coffee over ice but it was just normal coffee and not cold brew so it would melt the ice and turn all watery. However, it did hold me over in desperate times :)
    I've never had glühwein before -- but it sounds mighty tasty!

  10. I went to a Volksfest in Nuremburg. All I really remember was that we had been given 50 Euro by my husband's Tante and we spent it all on food. That festival also made me realize how obvious Americans can be, just why what we are wearing. I'm excited for Lebkuchen! The commissaries always carry it for Christmas. I'm going to have a make a special trip just to find some. I don't normally shop at the commissary because we live so far from base.

  11. Ugh. Russian winter is the same way (totally depressing), but without all the good beer. Tragic.

  12. Here in Costa Rica we don't really have iced coffee either, unfortunately! Or coffee to go, really so it's like a double whammy!

  13. Those potato pancakes look DELISH! And I kid you not I used "da bomb" in my last blog post. Let's bring it back, baby!

  14. I love your pro's and con's of Germany for lots of reasons - the pictures, your colorful commentary, but mainly because YOU inspired me to move to Germany! When given an opportunity to move to Heidelberg last Spring I floundered for weeks about whether to go for it, I couldn't imagine what it'd be like to live here. Eventually I googled 'Germany, blog' and yours was one of the top results. After browsing through lots of posts and diligently reading all your Pros and Cons, I made the jump! Now in Heidelberg with my fiancee and pup, I couldn't be happier! Thanks, Casey!

  15. The food pictures look amazing and Me and Mr R have been dying for a trip to the Oktoberfest in Germany for like ever! (He studied at the German school growing up and His class was the only one that missed a trip to Germany)
    And as for Winter I might say I adore winter but seems like those are much harsher than any winters We've known!
    Oh well, enjoy ^_^!!


  16. I think I just love the word Kartoffelpuffer. We're actually making a trip to Germany this winter and I'm looking forward to a bit of freezing cold and snow (sort of) but more so the food and the beers and the markets. We also don't have a starbucks here in our town in France and while I'm sometimes glad, I craved ice coffees all summer long too ;/

  17. Looks like the pros out weigh the cons. That food looks amazing!! German winters sound a lot like Michigan winters!

    ~Ashley @ A Cute Angle

  18. these may just be my favorite posts of yours : ) and after seeing all that food, i'm booking the first flight to germany.

  19. All those pros. All that food. Damn. Definitely outweights the cons. The winter in London is just as you described the German ones, but we don't get all that amazing food though!!!! Germany - 1 England - 0
    xx Vagabond Girl

  20. The Kartoffelpuffers alone look like they're worth a trip to Germany!

  21. I am soooo looking forward to kartoffelpuffers! But winter....? NOOOOOOO! I am already freezing. :(

  22. I love these posts! What a great idea. Fun, yet honest, with things you'd never think about missing unless you actually lived in Europe/Germany! Thanks, as always, for letting us follow along on your time in Germany :)

  23. You need to show the people of Madrid your winter photo because THAT is winter. It's gotten down to 40 degrees lately and people are bursting out the "Baby, it's cold outside" pictures on Facebook and wearing huge winter coats. As an Indiana native, I find this unfathomable. :)

    Those Kartoffelpuffers look amazing. I'd be a fan of the garlic sauce too.

  24. Mmm, those look amazing!! Hopefully one day I can experience one myself :)

  25. Somehow I have yet to try Federweißer - I will have to do that soon.

    I never have fallen off one of the fest tables, because usually hteres so many people around to keep me standing paha!

    Always look forward to these posts!

  26. I love kartoffelpuffers! MMMMMMM! I have yet to try Federweißer though! Thanks for sharing. I'll have to find it.


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