A few months ago, my very first post actually, I mentioned that we hadn’t yet experienced a summer here in Germany and that I was a little apprehensive about it simply due to the fact that Germany is the land of no air conditioning.
Well, here we are in August and I can definitely say that the summer heat is in full effect. So full in effect, in fact, that we are effectively sweating to death.
From what I hear, Germany has never really had hot summers up until a year or so ago (lucky us) which is why they never really had the need for air conditioning. Germany is also very conscious about the energy they consume so that’s the other reason for the lack of air conditioning.
In our current living situation, we are not allowed to install air conditioners or ceiling fans but we are allowed to have floor fans (you know, the kind that just blow around hot air).
Most houses here in Germany have these cool little blackout shutters that roll down with a tap of a button and they are connected to the outside of the window rather than from the inside, called rolladens. The hotel we stayed in when we first moved here had them and we thought they were the coolest things since sliced bread. Unfortunately though, our current apartment does not have this luxury.
We are responsible for hanging our own blackout curtains, which would be fine but there are also no curtain rods installed in our particular apartment and instead we have these little clips on a track system that pinch the top of the curtains to keep them in place. Well, if I haven’t mentioned that we own a cat, we do. Frankie, while adorable and sweet, thoroughly enjoys pulling the curtains down from said clips and watching me scream in horror when I have to run over and reinstall them. Ah, the joys of pethood.
Over the past several months, I’ve learned to gorilla glue the curtains to the clips, the clips are replaceable as they just slide into a track so when we move I will have to toss the curtains with the clips and put in new clips. Hooray.
Anyway, enough Frankie shenanigans.
So, now it’s time to tell you some fun and entertaining facts that I’ve learned about living through the summer here in Germany with no air conditioning.
1. (THE most important fact) We can’t keep chocolate in the house. No matter what, it melts. As a matter of fact, grocery stores here (not all have air conditioning) are all complaining that their chocolate has all melted. I know this to be true because I tried to buy myself a Ritter Sport chocolate bar a couple weeks ago and it practically mushed in between my fingers. So anyway, we buy the half melted chocolate and keep it in the fridge. On a positive note, we eat a ton of popsicles and frozen Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups now.
2. You can’t use the oven on exceptionally hot days, or the stove for that matter. It’s amazing just how many kitchen appliances give off a tremendous amount of heat. You’d be surprised at how much heat the dishwasher and refrigerator give off. I know I was. I’ve tried cooking with low-heat solutions, such as the electric griddle or an air fryer and each one (surprisingly) gives off an incredible amount of heat. Once the kitchen heats up, it’s hard to cool the rest of the house down (as if it was cool in the first place.. ha!) I’ve tried desperately to hunt down low cook or no cook meals and the options are few and far between. I will say that the crockpot and the microwave, while they do give off a bit of heat, they are the better choices in this scenario. Also, we’ve caved in and started eating out more because, well, that’s just way easier.
3. The autobahn (interstate) is literally cracking under the heat. We have been told to drive cautiously because the road has been buckling under extreme temperatures, which for here I was told is anything above 86 degrees fahrenheit. I know that that doesn’t sound too hot but Germany really hasn’t got much experience with temperatures much higher than that. Present day, so far the hottest day was about 97. I think Tuesday we will have another 97/98 degrees day and I’m not looking forward to it. It’s hot everyday but those particular days we have to keep calm and often try to stay outside of the house and look for the rare buildings that actually do have air conditioning. Hello, IKEA.
4. You learn to co-sleep in the same room. We have all the fans (so far we have obtained about 7) plus a (super secret) portable air conditioning unit installed in the back room of our apartment, and we’ve all learned to sleep back there in order to survive the summer. Nothing says “family bonding” like having a family of five hovering over a single portable air conditioning unit (that doesn’t even work very well) just to get a decent night’s sleep.
5. All the portable air conditioning units and floor fans are sold out everywhere here in Germany at the moment. We went to try to buy another air conditioning unit and more fans and we couldn’t find any! So much for super secret. Ha. The employees just gave us a laugh and head shake when we ask if they had any in stock.
6. Not all restaurants, stores, hotels here have air conditioning, so there’s literally not many places to escape. We ate dinner at a restaurant a couple days ago and I ordered a brick oven pizza. I was already sweating in my chair and when my pizza came out all I could think about was the hot steam flying off my plate and how it was heating up my personal space even more. I almost couldn’t even finish my food because I was so hot. I also totally regretted not ordering something cold, like a salad or some ice cream.
7. Germany doesn’t like ice. So, when we do escape the kitchen for a meal cooked by someone else’s hand, the drink that accompanies it is cool for a few minutes and then luke-warm thereafter thanks to the heat. So no refreshingly cold drinks unless we purchase a bag of ice and make it ourselves… Sonic, we miss you. Also worth noting, our refrigerator/freezer is so small that we can’t fit any sort of bagged ice in it, so it melts in a floor cooler after the first night.
8. Summers here in Germany make you REALLY miss America. They also make you appreciate every single little thing that the United States has spoiled us with. Air conditioning and ice being the top two luxuries on our list at present time (obviously).
9. We’re all grumpy and irritated due to the intense heat felt in the house. This means, no hugs, no talking, and no eye contact.
10. We are more aware of our outdoor physical activities (no playing outside until the temps cool off) and have tried instead to just sit still inside in the dark (hot) cave we have created thanks to our black out curtains. The only thing that helps somewhat ease our suffering is the little ride home in the air conditioned car but that is short lived as we aren’t allowed to let our cars sit turned on in the parking lot (even though we sometimes do). I’m not clear on the time frame, but I have heard that you aren’t allowed to have your car sitting idly for more than 3 minutes. Often times, at red lights here, we see cars next to us turn off their vehicles at long stop lights. This is also probably the reason why the stoplights turn yellow again before turning green, to allow people time to turn on their cars or to shift gears in preparation for the green light. Anyway, coming home to a house full of heat after a long day outside isn’t fun and I will never again take a cold house full of air conditioning after a day of being out for granted. We definitely don’t get the luxury of coming home to cold air during these intense summers here. After a long day, we come home to more heat so we are forced to take cold showers and then sit quite still on the sofa. Speaking of showers, we have to keep the water temperatures cooler because the bathroom fogs up quickly with hot steam and it’s miserable stepping out into that afterwards. I’ve even learned to let my hair air-dry (instead of blow drying) because the blow-dryer is literally a death machine.
And there you have it, my top ten fun and interesting facts about my summer experience in Germany.
While those are some reasons why summer here (mostly) sucks, I will say that some days are better than others and sometimes at night it gets down to the 70s so we try to open all the windows again to air out the house. I think one of my favorite things about living in Germany is how often we get to open our windows and let in the fresh air. It’s such a wonderful feeling and we get to do so almost all year round.
Also, worth mentioning, in a week or two (fingers crossed), the weather is supposed to drop again and the highs will be low 80s high 70s and the lows will be in the 60s/50s. I cannot wait to open all these windows again and feel that wonderful breeze we’ve felt for most of the year. Needless to say, I am very thankful that summers don’t last too long here.
Fall and winter, I’ve never been so excited to embrace you.