If you’re moving to Germany with children in tow, here’s a list of top 10 reasons to convince your children why it’s more fun to be a kid in Germany than anywhere else.
You’ve got little ones and they don’t want to leave America. Understandable. But maybe if they knew more about the perks of being a kid in Germany, the transition would be smoother… and I’m not talking about your standard “You’re going to learn a new language!” and “You’ll see all kinds of things you’ve never seen before!” No. That’s not specific enough to sway anyone. So here are just a few things that make Germany an awesome place to be a kid!
First, there’s the Gummy Bears: Germans love to hand out gummy bears. Shop keepers, the doctor’s office, restaurants; they all distribute gummy bears to kids like it’s Halloween, every day. Even a shopkeeper who had just scolded Sequoia (for bumping into a shelf in a cramped store where an elf would bump into a shelf)-he handed her gummy bears before we left. During our first month, during which we shopped and ate out quite frequently, my purse was overflowing with tiny packets of gummy bears.
Then there’s the free meat: Every time we order meat from the butcher, they hand Sequoia a chunk of bologna the size of a plum. I’m in a perpetual state of jealousy.
And the free bakery treats: The local bakery always gives Sequoia a small roll. At bakeries which serve coffee with a small cookie on the side, typically they slip Sequoia another two cookies for herself.
Play corners in almost every store, and some of them are awesome
The smallest of stores can have a kid’s table with blocks, books, etc. Bigger stores might have elaborate play areas. Department store Playmobil sections, for example, are ridiculous.
There’s a shoe store in Wiesbaden with a slide.
Christmas presents from perfect strangers and service providers
When we visited a local museum in December, they gave Sequoia a puzzle from the gift shop. Normally, they’re a EUR 5 souvenir. Merry Christmas! And one day as Christmas was approaching, we walked into the Volvo dealer. The guy handed Sequoia a hollow Santa the size of my forearm. Seriously. Huge. “This is for you.” The crazy thing was, it was a walk-in, not an appointment. So they must just have a pile of Santas somewhere in the back, on the off chance that a kid might walk through the door. A few days later, a repairman came to my house. He handed Sequoia a box of Christmas chocolates. Why am I not a kid?
You ain’t seen playgrounds until you’ve seen German playgrounds. And you don’t just have one or two playgrounds per town. They’re everywhere. They have giant play structures, zip lines, creative rides, ponds, sandboxes, hedge mazes…
Even school playgrounds are awesome. Our elementary school playground includes this:
And safety standards are more lax, so you might find, say, a trampoline sunken into the ground.
Every… single… festival
(But especially Christmas markets.)
Ice cream and gelato everywhere
You can’t walk 10 steps without finding it in the city, 20 steps in town. What more is there to say about ice cream?
The most random stuff in town squares
Our Marktplatz has a telescope, and a tall water thing you can crank a tornado inside. Walking through Wiesbaden, there’s a random set of squares you can jump on to play music. They chime. And town squares always have some of the best fountains to check out!
Better Happy Meals
Wait… whaaaaat? That’s right. When there’s not a big movie promo, during which time the same movie character toys as in America are being distributed, McDonald’s isn’t just handing out cheapo toys in between. We first found this out when Sequoia got to choose a book. A real, big hardback book chock full of information about forest life. Awesome. At first I thought it was just that particular McDonald’s.
Right now, there’s a Shaun the Schaf promo. The items? A covered bowl in the form of a sheep. A nice quality plastic sandwich container. An egg timer. Some good-looking stuff.
Not only that, but when you order a Happy Meal, they let you pick which toy you want. You’re not stuck with multiples of the same toy, or asking the girl for a specific one and getting a dirty look. Germans let you choose!
And I don’t know if they’ve started doing this in the States, but when the Monopoly game is going, the instant winners aren’t just ice cream, a drink, a breakfast sandwich… a kid can win a book. A hearty story, not a five-word board book.
You know the ski-lift things that go above hills and mountains? Sometimes shorter rides, sometimes long, and not necessarily leading to ski slopes. What kid doesn’t love having a view of the whole world?
One word: Castles