Our Summer in Germany: We're not in Pittsburgh Anymore! | Pittsburgh Newborn and Family Photographer

August 15, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Our Summer in Germany: We're Not in Pittsburgh Anymore!

I had the wonderful oppertunity to live in Germany this summer with my family while my husband was on short term assignment in Cologne. I first traveled to Europe when I was 16 as a foreign exchange student near Vienna. I returned twice in college to study business in Monaco and take photography courses in Ireland. I taught English in Prague for a year before my husband and I were married. We try to travel back with our kids to visit his family at least every other year. With so much traveling experience I once joked with my husband that we should write a travel book for parents traveling to Europe with children. Only minutes after making the comment I was crying in the airport because the security guards made me dispose of all our toiletries because I was unaware that new travel regulations were made about the amount of liquids that can be taken on board! I no longer want to write a travel book but I would like to share about my experiences this summer. Let's start with what I have come to love about Germany. I should mention that many things that I love about Germany are also true of other European countries.

1. Germany is truly a beautiful country. I found it to be very orderly, clean and structured. Germany has more regulations on zoning than USA for the countryside to stay rural, which means farmers actually don't live at their farms but at a nearby village and commute to their fields. I felt very safe and peaceful in our quiet neighborhood outside of Cologne. 

2. Typical homes have large casement windows with large window sills due to their home's thick walls. I admire the beautiful decorations that such large window sills can hold.

German window with decorationsGerman WindowLaura Mares Photography Pittsburgh Newborn Photographer German window  

3. Fantastic bakeries sell the best breads, fresh pretzels and delicate pastries and are only a short walk from just about anywhere in the country.

German PretzelPretzelLaura Mares Photography Pretzel

4. Beautiful floral gardens are outside homes everywhere I turn. I am inspired to work more in my own yard to create my own floral masterpiece!

5. Hundreds of castles and picturesque medieval towns dot the countryside. For example we took a Rhine River cruise where we saw numerous castles on both sides of the valley cliffs, we even saw a castle built on the Rhine itself. Before Germany became unified there were hundreds of Lords.

Castle EltzCastle EltzLaura Mares Photography Pittsburgh Newborn Photographer Castle

6. The kids and I had no trouble completing 10,000 steps everyday. We could walk to just about anywhere we wanted to go, a coffee shop, bakery, grocery store, river walk, castle park, playground and public transportation. I loved seeing newborn babies out in their prams for morning and afternoon walks.

7. Drinking delicious coffee served in beautiful porcelain cups topped off with simple designs in the milk's froth has become my new favorite past time. I typically paid just 2 Euros for a latte, cappuccino or macchiato. I appreciate the culture of relaxing in the afternoon with a great drink, many a cup of coffee or maybe a creative drink. My children love creating their own unique drinks at pop machines when we eat out. They were delighted to learn about Schwip Schwap. A Pepsi soda that is a mixture of cola and orange. I enjoyed drinking radlers, which is half beer and half Sprite or Fanta, and adding elderberry syrup to sparkling mineral water. Since I usually drink water in Pittsburgh, I enjoyed the creativity that surrounded ordering drinks in Germany!

Coffee and computer on tableCoffeeLaura Mares Photography Pittsburgh Newborn Photographer Coffee

8. The produce tastes great and has lots of flavor.

9. Europeans have impressive designI often found myself gazing at logos, window displays, magazines and architecture. Cities are a unique blending of old and new architecture that in my opinion is ingenious.

10. Beer Gardens are in nearly every little town and it's a place where people can meet, eat, drink and enjoy themselves in the outdoors. It's more than just eating, it's an enjoyable way to interact with your neighbors. I guess it's like having a Haufbrau Haus right around the corner.

Isn't there always a little bad along with the good? I also found a few aspects of German life that take some adaption. 

1. The entire recycling process | Not only do Germans have to separate paper, plastic, bio waste and true garbage but they must also return glass jars and plastic bottles to the store for a refund of their deposit. It takes a lot of time and space. I much prefer Pittsburgh's one container recycling system.

2. Aggressive bikers with their ringing bells | Instead of the pedestrians having the right of way, here the cyclists have the right of way. I quickly learned that "The biker is always right." A mother walking her two kids plus one in a stroller is no reason for a cyclist to slow his or her pace.  When you hear the dreaded bell you must move your family instantly.

3. The lack of convenience in convenience stores | One must quickly bag groceries into his or her own bags, or purchase new ones, off the counter. If the other customers and clerk feel that you are not quick enough they will give you the evil eye and make comments about it. Luckily I don't understand their comments but their facial expressions tell me they are not saying "Have a nice day."

4. Keys are vital |  Sometimes I felt like a jail warden and other times I felt like a prisoner. We had keys for the front door, inner door, back door, fence, mail box, basement door, windows and washing machine electrical box. You need to use the keys from the inside and the outside. For example, when I'm home and a friend comes to visit I must unlock the front door my keys. I don't know how common this is, for example my friend's keychain was no where near as large as mine.

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Laura Mares is an experienced photographer specializing in capturing timeless family keepsakes. Laura works on location and in her fully equipped home studio, located in Mt. Lebanon, eight miles south of Pittsburgh, PA. Laura’s style is creative, natural, and timeless. Would you like beautiful portraits of your newborn baby, to update your child and family portraits or to document a milestone in your life such as a wedding, graduation, birthday or reunion? If you are interested in high quality, timeless photographs, book your session today, call (412) 654-3367 or email [email protected]. To view a wide range of gorgeous portraits and to get great tips, advice and beautiful inspiration follow us on Instagram and Facebook.


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