Saturday, March 16, 2013

Otterberg Oh My Goodness: Shopping on Sunday

A poster for Verkaufsoffener Sonntag, or Sunday Shopping
In Germany, pretty much everything except for restaurants and some gas stations are closed on Sundays. Stores previously would close in the early afternoon on Saturdays, but now that is changing a bit. Laws used to require this but they've been relaxed a bit so Saturday hours, as well as weekday hours, are a bit longer (Kaufland was open until...gasp...9 pm when I stopped by once on a weeknight, but most stores close around 7 p.m.).

Even though stores are usually closed on Sundays, sometimes there are special Sundays when stores in a town will be open. It's actually kind of a big deal and it seems to be quite the novelty. Sometimes there are a special events planned in conjunction with the Sunday openings.

Last weekend, Otterberg was having such a weekend. Since it is only a 10 minutes' drive from home and I had seen many posters to advertise it, I decided to check it out to see what the fuss was about.

Otterberg is a smaller town with about 7,000 residents. The downtown is only a few blocks long and is accessed from the west side of town with a confusing roundabout. The roundabout is confusing because it's so small that it's not incredibly apparent that it's a roundabout until one is almost on top of it. The center part is just bricks that are a different color than the road around it. Most roundabouts have a curb around the middle but this one doesn't.

Anyway, after navigating the roundabout, I parked and visited the stores. There weren't many to see but I stopped by a book/gift store, walked by an appliance store, and poked my head in a shoe store. In one of the squares, there were some food booths set up with crepes, flammkuchen, and of course, sausages. There was also a carousel and even an organ grinder playing a street organ (I was hoping for there to be a monkey as well but I was disappointed on that one).

I stopped at the yarn store that also sold tea. A cute kid was blabbing in German to the store owner, who was smiling and listening to him the way only an indulgent adult can. She handed him some chocolates and sent him on his way. I smiled  about the interlude and she told me something in German. I got the gist of it that he's a kindergartner and is a nice kid so I smiled and nodded. Of course I looked like a ninny when I went to buy some tea later and didn't understand everything she said so she had to tell me in English so it must have been obvious I didn't understand everything she said about the kid. Oh well. As part of the special Sunday shopping event, the store owner gave away a gift with purchase so I received a candle holder and votive.

On my wanderings I also stopped by the church, Abteikirche, which is the Abbey Church. Its foundations have had a tumultuous history -- literally! There was originally a Cistercian monastery but it was toppled after unrest in the region. The Abteikirche was built later. Catholics and Protestants shared the church but squabbled over it so in 1708, a wall was erected between the Catholic area (in the transept) and the Protestant part (in the nave). The wall wasn't removed until 1979.

I enjoyed the day out, including the visit to the church with the interesting and divided history. Otterberg is quite small but they had a nice showing for their Sunday open shopping day.

Handles on the door to the Abteikirche. They have animal motifs.

Cute half-timbered building, a good place to get glasses.

Another building with body parts on it.
Gee, I wonder what services this business offers?

Altes Stadthaus (Old Town House/Hall)

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