Thursday, 19 July 2012



Germany has been very successful with their recycling program.  A system called “the green dot” was developed in 1991 making manufacturers contribute to the recycling or disposal of any packaging material they sell. It is referred to as the green dot because this symbol allows the consumer to identify the program on all packaging. Manufacturers drastically cut back the amount of materials used in the packaging of their products.  A major part of the success in this program is the proper sorting of garbage.  As Americans it is important that we understand how to properly sort our garbage to not be a burden on the country we are being allowed to live in.

Private Trash Bins

In your home you should have 4 trash bins to sort biological waste, paper, plastic and waste.  You should receive in the mail or from your landlord a schedule of when each bin gets picked up during the week.  The following is a list of what can be placed in each bin.

Biological Waste (Biomull)
(Green Label)

Kitchen Waste:  Old bread, egg shells, coffee grinds & filters, food leftovers,  tea bags, fruit & vegetables

Garden Waste:  Soil, Hedge trimmings, leaves, grass clippings, weeds, dead flowers, branches, twigs

Other:  feathers, hair, tissues, sawdust, straw

Paper (Papier/Pappe)
(Blue Label)

Books, Envelopes, catalogues, cartons, pads of paper, brochures, newspapers, cardboard, broken down boxes

 Plastic (etc)
(Yellow bag or bin label)

Aluminum foil, aluminum cans, plastic wrap, packaging material,  yogurt cups, toiletry bottles, plastic bags, plastic food containers, screw top bottle tops, detergent bottles, miscellaneous plastic

Waste (Restmull)
(Yellow Label)

Wire, Ash, Carbon paper, electrical appliances, broken glass, bulbs, gum, rubber, carpeting pieces, diapers, photos, light bulbs, porcelain, cigarette butts, & all other miscellaneous waste

Public Trash Bins

In each town/ city there will be public trash centers set up in parking lots or on the edge of town.  Here you can recycle glass, aluminum and clothing.  Make sure to recycle between  Monday- Saturday 7:00am and 8:00pm in support of quiet hours.  Recycling can be very loud!

Old Clothes/ Shoes Containers

These bins are similar to the salvation army containers located in the U.S.  These bins are placed in town by private non-profit organizations.  Any unsoiled clothing and shoes can be placed in the bins preferably in plastic bags. 

Glass containers

Glass must be sorted by color into the proper bin.  There will be containers for clear, green and brown glass.  Porcelain,  light bulbs and broken glass should not be put into containers.


In most towns aluminum bins will be located next to glass containers.  In some smaller towns aluminum can be picked up at the home with plastic.


In some towns there will be large bio bins for large garden waist.

Large Item Pick Up (Sperrmuell)

Sperrmuell will happen several times a year. Your landlord should be able to provided dates for you and stipulations on what can be picked up and what cannot.  Some cities have facilities that will take large metal pick up at any time.

Store deposit ( Pfand) bottles

Some plastic and glass bottles you will pay a deposit on when you purchase the item.  Beer bottles will charge an average of eight cents per each bottle.  Some juice and water containers will  charge a twenty five cent deposit.  The plastic containers can be identified with this symbol:

  Many grocery stores have automatic machines for recycling your Pfand bottles. Smaller stores will hand sort the items and give you your money. 

Public Location Bins 

In many public locations, such as train stations, garbage barrels are divided into 4 parts for recycling.  Make sure to properly dispose of your waist in these bins. 

Thursday, 12 July 2012

German Holidays

German Holidays 

January 1st 
New Years Day (Neu Jahrs Tag) :  Holiday observed in all of Germany

January 6th
Three Wise Men Day ( Helllge drel Koenige) :  Holiday in BAVARIA, Baden- Wuerttemberg, Saxony- Anhalt

Good Friday, Easter Sunday, & Easter Monday
 The Friday before Easter Sunday and Monday after Easter Sunday  
Easter Weekend (Ostern) : Holiday observed in all of Germany

May 1st
 Labor Day (Tag der Arbeit) : Holiday observed in all of Germany

40 Days after Easter Sunday
 Assumption of Christ (Christie Himmelfahrt) : Holiday observed in all of Germany

50 Days after Easter Sunday
Pentecost Weekend (Pfingst Wochenende) : Holiday observed in all of Germany

60 Days after Easter Sunday
Corpus Christi Feast (Frohnleichnam) : Holiday in BAVARIA, Baden- Wuerttemberg, Hesse, Northrhine-Westphaia, Rhineland Palatinate und Saarland

August 15th
Assumption of Virgin Mary (Maria Himmelfahrt) :  Holiday in Saarland

October 3rd
German reunification day (Tag der deutshen Einhelt) : Holiday in all of Germany

October 31st
 Reformation Day (Regormationstag) : Holiday in Brandenburg, Mecklenburg Western Pomerania, Saarland, Saxony and Thuringia

November 1st
All Hallows (Allerrhelllgen) : Holiday in BAVARIA, Baden- Wuerttemberg, Northrine-Westphalia, Rhineland Palatinate  and Saarland

November 23rd
 Day of Prayer and Repentance (Buss und Bettag) : Holiday in Saxony

December 25th & 26th
Christmas Holiday (Weihnachtsfeiertage) :  Holiday in all of Germany 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


A brief introduction to Amberg 

Welcome to Amberg, Germany- a city of roughly 45,000 people in Bavaria, Germany of the Upper Palatinate (Oberpfalz) .   Say What? 

Lets break it down!

Bavaria is a German State. So when you are here you are in the city of Amberg, in the state of Bavaria and the country of Germany.  Bavaria is located in the southeast of Germany.  The Upper Palatinate, or Oberpfalz in German, is the northeastern most of the seven administrative regions that make up Bavaria.  About 12.5 million people inhabit Bavaria making it Germany’s second most populous state.  Bavaria is one of the oldest states in Europe and comprises several distinct areas. Amberg lies very close to the Franconian/Oberpfalz border within Bavaria. While Amberg is the historical capital of the Oberpfalz it lies within the Nuremburg Metropolitan area.  This is why when speaking of Amberg’s neighboring city Sulzbach Rosenburg  many refer to them as Frankens. 

Bavarians are known as beer drinking, lederhosen wearing folk who speak with a special dialect called “Bayrisch.” To the traditional German speaker their words are extremely hard to decipher but to Bavarians it is their normal tongue.  There are many words in Bayrisch that do not exist in the German language. Have no fear though!  Bavarians are able to speak proper German as well.  In many formal  places of business speaking Bayrisch is forbidden.  The closest similarity I can think to relate to this is Ebonics in the U.S.
 To many northern Germans Bavaria, and the Oberpfalz in particular, is considered a backwards place. But to those who have come to experience it first hand, it is a little fairy tale on earth. When I think of Germany, I want to see beer drinking, leiderhosen wearing, pretzel eating, festival having folk and in Bavaria this is exactly what you will find!

Safety.  Amberg is safe…and I mean safe.   Need some convincing? When I first moved here I browsed a travel book of Germany to get some info on my new town.  Generally used to the horror stories of pick pockets and con artists  these books warn about throughout Europe- I was shocked to read Amberg’s safety description. “This area of Germany is completely safe.”
The city of  Amberg is made up of some of the most honest people I have ever met.  In the grocery store the clerk will check your eggs before selling them to you to make sure none of them are cracked.  At bars you can start a tab  on the honor system and the waitress will keep track of your drinks by marking your personal coaster.  My friend lost her wallet at a festival in town last year.  Hundreds of people were at the fest.  She was sure it would be gone forever but the next day found it had been turned to the police with every credit card, euro, and cent left inside.  My friends who are from the area like to use the roughly translated expression “There is a black sheep in every flock” – which is true so always be cautious.  But smile and relax- you’re in Amberg J

Cash: In Bavaria carry Euros!  Many restaurants and stores will not take credit card.  When they do, there is often an additional fee added and a minimum purchase required.  You will find several banks in the center of Amberg that have ATM’s (Geldautomat ) where you can withdraw Euros.  Currently 1 American dollar equals  0.81 euro cents.  For a current calculation visit:  It can be difficult to exchange money or use travels check in Amberg.  Personally I have found when traveling anywhere in Europe the lowest fee way to get Euros is using an ATM.  Check with your bank prior to coming to see their overseas policies and be sure to let them know you will be in Europe.  Master card and Visa are commonly  excepted.

Tourist Information Office: There is a wonderful tourist information office located just outside the Marktplatz (Market Square).  Here you can find Maps and some English information about the city.  The workers also speak some English and are very helpful.  

Getting Around the Amberg Egg

Amberg is often referred to as the Amberg Egg.  Why?  It is shaped as an egg!  The old city is made up of an egg shaped castle wall that surrounds it.  The city was made rich in the Middle Ages and built some of the best fortifications in Bavaria.  When walking under the train station away from the old city scripted  in the underground tunnel reads “Munich is the most beautiful city, Leipzig is the richest, but Amberg is the most secure.”   Today the majority of the city wall, that made Amberg so secure, is preserved.  Four main towers make up the wall.  The entire egg shaped wall can be viewed on a scenic 2km walking path that follows the wall where the moat used to be. On a nice day it is a beautiful place for a jog or stroll.  Because of the egg shape the Old Town is almost perfectly centrally located.  This makes for a very walkable Old Town complete with a pedestrian area in the center.

 Walking tour of the Old city

Beginning at the train station, located  on the eastern side of the Old Town, walk across the street, and follow the side walk left outside of the city wall.  After walking about three minutes, around the corner you will come to the Nabburger Tor (Nabburg Gate).  This is what many consider the most grand of Amberg’s four city gates.  Originally a drawbridge allowed access across the moat into the city.  The gate’s towers were originally used as medieval dungeons.   Today they are homes.

Walk through the Nabburger Tor down “Untere Nabburger Strasse.” (Strasse means street in German.)  You will reach a small square called Hallplatz.  The tourist information center is across the intersection on the right hand side. If you do not wish to visit the tourist information center walk west (take a left).

Soon you will come to the Marktplatz or main Market Square!  On Wednesdays and Saturdays the square still hosts large markets selling produce, flowers, bread and meat.  In the winter this is the location of the Amberg Christmas Market.

On the south side of the Marktplatz you will notice a massive gothic Catholic church.  The church is named St Matrin’s and was built in 1421.  The massive 92m steeple was added 300 years later.  On the weekend tours are available up the steeple upon request at the tourist information center.  Feel free to look inside the church.  It stays open during the daytime.

If you look East in the Marktplatz you will notice Amberg’s Rathause (Town Hall).  The building dates from the 14th century and boast a charming external stairase and balcony.

On the left hand side in front of the Rathause you will see a small fountain that commemorates a wedding celebrating the 16th century marriage of the Prince Elector. It is the biggest party in the cities history and every two years a medieval festival is hosted in Amberg to reenact this wedding.

After getting your fill of the market square and possibly trying a traditional German Beer ( Saying “Ein Bier Bitte” will get you a locally brewed Amberg helles beer at most restaurants) duck around the left side of St Martin’s where you will come to the Vils River.

The Vils divides the old town almost perfectly in half.  Originally the vils  (river) was used for trade and transportation.  Iron was transported to Regensburg from the city's mines while salt was brought back in return.
            On the weekends and special holidays in the spring and summer from 2:00pm to 5:00pm boat tours can be taken to the park located outside of the Old Town.  It is a fun family event on a sunny day.  The park also has a small pond, ship themed play ground, food stand and bathroom facility.  The boat tour cost 2.50 for adults and 1.00 for children.  You can pick up the boat tour outside of the Air (luftmuseum) museum.  Tickets are available on board. 

The Luftmuseum is a new age concept museum housed in a 14th century building. The museum has 21 rooms exhibiting art, architecture & technology all somehow related to the concept of air.  I can’t say I recommend this museum but it is a funky experience.  For more info visit

If you continue down the side of the vils either on boat or along the side of the river you will come to the City Spectacles (Stadtbrille) gateway.  The gateway gets its name because the middle two semi-circular arches cast a reflection in the water making the illusion of a pair of spectacles.  The gate was built in the 1500s and makes up part of the cities wall.

The beautiful pink building to the left of the Vils is the original palace for the palatine prince elector. Situated with the palace are a residence and armory that date from the 15th century.  You can see its beautiful balcony from the street outside of the wall.  Also on the opposite side of the building is the town's little glockenspiel.

Walk across the small wooden bridge and follow Schiffbruck Gasse as it curves right.  On your left hand side you will see the Frauenkirche (Church of our Lady).  The spot the church now sits on was originally a synagogue that was demolished in the 15th century shortly before the church was built.

 Here you will see the most decorated house in town.  Make a left and a quick right onto Seminar Gasse and look for house number 8.  Here you will find the house of love.  This is a spot that can easily be overlooked to the unobservant passerby. The Eh’hausl (Little wedding house) is only 56 square metres and comprised of two rooms.  It is claimed to be the worlds smallest hotel with the most romantic heritage!  Legend has it that the council law only permitted homeowners to marry in the 1700’s.  A  common man was unable to marry because he could not find a home. He found a narrow spot between to houses and quickly built a front & back wall and roof and called it his house.  The man wanting everyone to be able to wed would sell his home for pennies to “own” for a night so all could own property and all could wed.

If you follow the alleyway to the end of the street you will find a walled section.  Walk through the wall and you will find Amberg’s modern library on your right and St Georg’s church on your left.  It is a beautiful 15th century renaissance style Catholic church.

 Maria-Hilf-Berg-KircheOutside of the Old City you will probably notice the large yellow structure towering over the city on the hill.  This is Amberg’s very own Monastery.   If you have the energy, I recommend hiking up one of the many walking paths to the top.  The tourist information center can direct you to one.  You can also fetch a taxi or drive up yourself.  There you will find a stunning view and amazing church!   On your way up the path you can also observe the stations of the cross that are displayed in the form of statues. The inside of the church is even more stunning than the outside.  It is generally open and serves as a quiet place for prayer.  You will see many locals throughout the day coming to do just that.  There is a wonderful German restaurant and brewery located right next to the church.  The restaurant has an outdoor patio to soak in the sun and an awesome view!  Maria- Hilf- Berg is also famous for hosting Amberg’s most popular festival- The Maria- Hilf- Bergfest.  Tents and beer gardens are set up along the hill and special sausages are severed to celebrate the warding off the plague.  The bergfest takes place usually from late June to early July.  It is a week long celebration. To find an exact date you can visit their website at

Getting to and from
Taxi’s: Although Amberg is a very walkable city if you are in need of a taxi you can find them located outside the train station on the right hand side.  To reserve one call 490962124240.  A taxi from Amberg to Vilseck will cost about 40 euros.

Bus Station:  Across from the taxi station is the bus station.  Buses run throughout the day to all neighboring towns.  Schedules are posted on the wall outside of the bus station. A bus to Vilseck will  cost about 5 euros.