When we initially arrived in Germany, it was a Saturday morning. Jet lagged, we got acquainted with our temporary apartment, napped, and woke up in time to have dinner with a friend. At the restaurant, I asked our friend where we could pick up some groceries and told him, since we were so tired, we’d probably go to the store tomorrow.
He said, “Oh, no, you have to go tonight. All stores in Heidelberg are closed on Sundays.”
“What? I can’t shop on Sundays?”
As it turns out, all grocery and other retail shops are closed. Gas stations are open, and for part of the day, a few select bakeries are open. I’ve heard that pharmacies have a rotation, so if you have an emergency, you can go to your pharmacy and see a notification on the door that tells you which pharmacy is open that day. (Oh, and our pharmacies are not like CVS or Walgreens. They only sell medication. I’ll write more about that another day.)
The U.S. is a very comfortable, convenient place to live, and you really realize this when you find yourself planning for everything you may need on a Sunday. Do I have all of my ingredients for dinner? Am I stocked on every possible medication I could need?
Given the limited storage space most German apartments have in this area, I wonder if people stock up on goods. We are extremely fortunate to have a “kellar” storage unit. I’ve stocked away a few essential items down there (e.g. medications, toilet paper, soap) in case my American brain forgets that I can’t get something 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or if an unforeseen German holiday pops up when, again, all of the stores are closed.
On our arrival night, I remember asking our friend, “So, if everything is closed, what do you do on Sundays?” I guess I was afraid of not having anything to do. He said he didn’t seem to have a problem and that you’d be surprised how a day can pass you. I was skeptical, but now I see it’s actually pretty nice.
Since we moved into our permanent apartment, we’ve spent nearly every Sunday cooking meals that are very intricate and take at least an hour (though, usually several hours) to simmer or cook. We received two Julia Child cookbooks for Christmas and have made many difficult, yet extremely delicious, meals from them. I’ve found filling the house with wonderful aromas is a great way to pass winter Sundays.
Last Sunday, there were enough leftovers, so we didn’t need to cook. Also, Chris planned to spend the day working on a presentation he had to give the next day. So, I decided to cuddle up on the couch with my computer and catch up on some tv shows.
Chris came in the living room and asked me what I was going to do for the day. “Just this,” I said. “It’s my day of rest.”
He hesitated. I knew that he wanted to say, “Rest from what? You’re a self-proclaimed lady of leisure.” But instead, (while shaking his head) he closed the door and let me enjoy my German Sonntag.