Category Archives: shopping in Germany

Medieval town – straight out of the box

This week I was in Ochtrup – a town in the Münsterland, near the Dutch border.

The city fathers have just constructed a new “medieval” walled town in the centre of the village. Actually it’s one of those outlet-centres where eye-wateringly expensive brands are offered at merely wallet-flinching prices.

The entrance to the shopping-village is through a pseudo city-gate.

FOC Ochtrup

The city gate lacks only a portcullis and drawbridge.

Inside, despite the cute step gables and olde-worlde street lights, the place feels odd. The upper floor windows are all blanks. There is no sense of street-life or community. It’s all very Stepford-wives-ish.

Outlet centre Ochtrup

Sterile cuteness…

And of course the impression is exacerbated by the fact that nearly all the shops are selling designer labels. What the place really lacked was a greengrocer, a cheese shop, fishmonger, butcher…

I think I’ll stick to our high-street and local market.

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More weird stuff appearing in German shops…

OK – the Christmas goodies started appearing in the shops in late August, the Halloween merchandise in early September, and now, finally in October a small display of essential products to mark a German festival which is actually celebrated at this time of the year! Saint Martinmas.

Sankt Martin

Paper lanterns and battery powered illumination sticks… but then you knew that, right?

Of course it is questionable as to why so many pre-made paper lanterns are on sale, because any German child hoping to take part in the festival will of course make their own out of card, translucent paper and glue. In the old days the lanterns were lit with candles stuck inside them. Yes… I think we can all spot the design flaw there… toddler, fire, paper lantern…. so modern day technology has come to the rescue with those plastic sticks with a bulb on a wire at one end and a battery and switch at the other. These are variously used for sword fighting, whipping your siblings, beheading the prize dahlias, poking your parents and scaring the neighbour’s cat. By the time St. Martinmas comes around the plastic bulb refuses to light… and at this point every plastic illumination stick within a radius of 400 km has sold out. Any parent who fails to provide their child with an electric stick for the St. Martinmas parade is officially a Rabenmutter (bad mother) in Germany… so it is wise to panic-buy and stockpile.

Sorry… I should have told you this a month ago….

 

 

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Filed under About Germany, children in germany, German festivals, Life in Germany, shopping in Germany

And the Planet Germany award for the best named German Imbiß (snack bar) goes to….

German snack bar

Spotted today in Mönchengladbach…

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It’s that time of the year again…

… Yes, late Summer. When the Christmas stuff starts appearing in the German supermarkets.

Lebkuchen and other Christmas goodies

Seasonal fare, unseasonally early…

They’ve still got all the Oktoberfest produce in too.

Muenchener Weisswurst

Weisswurst in Lederhosen? What?

I only popped in for a carton of milk!

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German beauty branding fail!

I was in the German town of Brüggen this morning when I spotted a couple of hair and beauty salons.

Their names definitely did not tempt me to go in….

German hairdresser

Hairstyling for the brave… or the bald?

Beauty free

Beauty free …. hang on, that means ugly, right?

 

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German women – we know your secret!

With the Oktoberfest coming up, strange and unfamiliar products have been appearing in almost every aisle of the supermarkets up here in Northrhine Westphalia. Everything from Weisswurst to Lederhosen to funny little handbags with Edelweiss embroidered on them.

But yesterday I spotted a new line in the ladies’ underwear section. The Dirndl Bra.

This is clearly the secret weapon used by German women to turn their otherwise normal looking bust into that impressive ship’s prow which juts out of every Dirndl-blouse.  Not so much a push-up bra as a piece of lace-edged scaffolding.  Even the size of the box is scary!

dirndl bra

The secret weapon for creating that Dirndl prow

German ladies… we know your secret!

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Scary clothes-shop windows in Germany

Going clothes shopping in Germany has become a disturbing experience of late.

Many normally respectable stores have completely changed their clothing range.  For example, when I was in Mönchengladbach yesterday, I passed an otherwise normal department store and the shop window looked like this.

Dirndl Lederhosen

Not what Germans normally wear.

Oktoberfest

Fancy dress?

I should point out that this type of clothing – the Dirndl for women and the Lederhosen for men – is not what Germans wear in normal life.  You may come across people dressed like this in Bavaria, but not up here.  A Rhinelander wearing a Dirndl or Lederhosen would be like a Londoner wearing a kilt and sporran. If you see someone in this garb, they are either a very lost Bavarian… or more likely an American tourist. But most definitely not a local.

So why are these weird foreign clothes everywhere all of a sudden?

The reason is the upcoming Oktoberfest.  The Oktoberfest is Germany’s biggest beer-party, and the most famous of all is the one on the Wiesn in Munich.  In an un-Germanic fit of anti-logic, the Bavarians hold the Oktoberfest in September. Possibly to confuse non-Bavarians and thus prevent them turning up until all the beer has been drunk.

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Filed under About Germany, German festivals, Life in Germany, shopping in Germany