I’m counting the bottles

New Year’s Eve in Munich. We had planned to join friends for dinner and a viewing of fireworks, but a persistent flu bug has decided otherwise for us both. It’ll be a quiet evening.

We did, however, force ourselves to make an expedition early this afternoon. We had heard that stores close up tight all over the city on New Year’s Day, and since stores are closed on Sunday anyway, that would be an entire weekend without access to shops. Our tiny little fridge demands that food shopping be an almost daily affair, and we were running a bit low on supplies. So, we used the bicycle cart to haul crates of empties left over from pre-Christmas festivities back to the refreshments store, and took some time selecting, buying, and packing up the cart with replacements. By the time we left there to walk to the grocery store around the corner, it was 1:05PM.

The grocery store was locked. People were still inside, but a sign on the door said it closed at 1PM. Sharp.

We wandered a bit, coughing and dragging our flu-bitten butts miserably, but there was no sign of life in any of the other stores in the neighbourhood. On the way home we took a mental inventory of our larder, and decided that we could survive on beans and rice for the weekend. I was a bit distressed that we were out of black tea, but comforted myself with a glance at the load of beer in the back of the cart. I’ll manage without that small hit of morning caffeine, somehow.

This total absence of mercantile activity on weekends and holidays is a bit of a shock for us North Americans accustomed to a culture of 24-hour convenience. It took a long time to get used to grocery stores that are smaller than most corner stores back home, but this is a real challenge. We remembered ruefully that even a country town like Collingwood, Ontario (where Laird’s sister lives) has a 24 hour grocery store, and then immediately put the comparison out of our minds. We’re in Europe now, and things are different here. People believe that personal time off takes priority over spending money, and maybe that’s not such a bad thing. It just makes for a couple of a lean weekends on the learning curve.