Archives for October 2010

My first day in court

Paragraph Symbol - ©Can Stock Photo Inc. / froxxThis week I had my first experience of visiting a German court.

I’ve talked before about the payment culture in Germany, and how some customers just don’t pay up.  I have had to register customer debts with the court before, but this was the first time I had actually been to one, as it was a slightly different situation.  This time, it was a supplier who owed me money.

Last year, I sent some items of computer hardware back to one of my supplies for repair or replacement.  Unfortunately the supplier then filed for bankruptcy.

It took a lot of telephone calls to get my hardware dealt with, but one of the items, which I had luckily noticed was not working before I sold it to a customer, was gone for a long time.

In the end I called the manufacturer and was told that the item had been destroyed and a credit note issued, meaning that rather than getting a replacement I now had to register as a creditor (called a Gläubiger in German) to my own supplier. [Read more…]

Stuttgart 21

For the past few weeks, the German news has been full of reports about the “Stuttgart 21” project.

“Stuttgart 21” is the re-development of Stuttgart’s main station and the surrounding railway lines.  At present, Stuttgart is a “Kopfbahnhof”, meaning that it was built as a Terminus and the tracks end there.  Trains go in and out through the same entrance, consequently passengers in high-speed intercity trains change direction when the train stops there and train crews have to change ends to continue their journey.

It is not the only such station in Germany.  Frankfurt and Munich, for example, were built this way as well.

But now the station is to be transformed into a “Durchgangsbahnhof” – one where the tracks run through and out the other side.  This is said to save time, because the stops will be shorter – the train crews can stay where they are.

At the same time, new lines should improve connections to Paris and to Stuttgart’s airport. [Read more…]

Parking in Düsseldorf on a Sunday

Halteverbot mit 2 PfeilenI learnt a valuable lesson last weekend: you can’t park in Düsseldorf on a Sunday.

Well, maybe that’s not entirely true, but it’s definitely not easy.

Last Sunday I wanted to hear Cathy Dobson’s public reading from her book “Planet Germany“.  I left in plenty of time.  Driving to Düsseldorf is usually a matter of about 2½ hours.  A bit more if I hit Cologne around the rush hour, but not on a Sunday.  Not on a public holiday.

But I decided to allow myself plenty of time anyway, and left home 4 hours before the reading was due to start.

The only trouble was, that the motorway to the east of Cologne was closed to allow a bridge to be removed! [Read more…]

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