Breaking ze Rules: Ruhezeit Edition

Anyone that’s been here in ze Deutschland for more than five minutes knows that the Germans have a lot of rules. One of the most perplexing for us foreigners seems to be the one regarding Ruhezeit, or, quiet time. Quiet time is serious business.

This isn’t the case in every part of Germany, but here in Bavaria, all day Sunday falls into the Ruhezeit category, which is why everything is closed. At this point, I really like it. But the first few times I forgot to pick something up on a Saturday, panic! Thankfully when I lived in Nürnberg, there was the train station. Here in the village, it’s a bit more tricky. We have a Shell station, but they don’t sell toilet paper. Luckily BV and I have done pretty well at Sunday preparedness (knock on wood, press thumbs, etc.) at least, so far.

But it’s not just Sundays in Bavaria. Supposedly in the past, there was also quiet time every day from 12-2 in the afternoon, but that’s thankfully no longer in practice. Nowadays, the usual time is from 10pm until 5 or 6am, depending on who you ask. During those times (and Sunday), you aren’t supposed to engage in any loud activities that might disturb your neighbors. That can be anything from mowing the lawn, to running a dishwasher, or putting up a picture in your house. Sound inconvenient? Yep, sometimes.

A lot of this of course, depends on your neighbors, and their level of asshattery. When I had my flat in Nbg, all the apartments around me were empty, and my washing machine was in the attic. I had exactly zero problems with noise from anyone else, and no-one ever scolded me about yelling during Packer games. However, I’ve heard from plenty of other people about neighbors who complain about nearly everything. Here in ze village, BV and I are in the upstairs of a house, with no one living below us. So again, we can do whatever we want, even operating a saw on a Sunday. Nobody judges us, except the cat of course.

ruhezeit4Look at her, with her judging face. And we hadn’t even begun sawing yet. Eh, at least we have a floor in the hallway now.

Last fall, when I moved to the village, I thought I was leaving the loud city life behind me (for a while, at least). I said, “Tschüss, bitches,” to the screaming kids in the park…. the ones who were usually so loud that I questioned if they were playing or lighting each other on fire.

ruhezeit2I recorded this moment for two reasons:

1) It was lovely.

2) It was the quietest moment this park ever saw.

I also said, “Tschüss, asshats,” to the people who treated the park as an all-night party spot. Because what says “good times” like drinking on a ping-pong table?

ruhezeit1Preparing for the all-night party, I’m sure. I particularly enjoyed it when the groups of kids would gather, and listen to music. On their phones. Do you know what makes techno music even better? Listening to it on full volume from a cell phone. All night.

But the village. The village would be quiet. The village would be lovely. There would be no violation of the Ruhezeit rules in the village… because people smile at each other here and say hello in the streets. It’s all civilized and lacks the anonymous rule-flouting that comes in the city.

I’m a moron.

Every Monday, at 5:54 am, it starts.

Normally I love our convenient train station-adjacent location. But next to the train station, you find this…

ruhezeit3Yes, our friendly neighborhood recycling station. Those first five green/white bins are for old clothes and shoes. No problems there. But the six white/green/brown bins? Those are for glass. All the glasses that you can’t take back for Pfand, need to go in there. I fully admit that I have contributed more than my share of wine bottles to those containers, so they are useful. But they are emptied every Monday morning, typically starting at yes, 5:54.

That’s right, six rounds of smashing glass, at an hour of the day that should not involve anyone doing anything. Ever.

Windows open, windows closed, it makes no difference. The smashing glass bores straight into my ears. And since it’s the government taking care of this, there isn’t much that can be done about it. I’ll assume that they are in the camp that Ruhezeit hours end at 5am. Grumble.

But they are not the only ones. Here is a short list of other Ruhezeit violators, both large and small.

1) Tomcats. As in many villages, we have quite a few cats roaming about. Their hobbies include killing mice and leaving them on my sidewalk, using our garden as a litterbox, creeping on me when I’m reading in the garden, and of course, trolling for dates at 2am. There’s a particularly fat Tabby, that has one eye and an ear on the side of his head. I like to think he’s the loudest one. And in true appreciation of their talents, Marry the Cat has slept through the show every time.

2) Construction trucks. Two kilometers down the road in the next village, there is a ton of new construction going up. Since our street connects that village to the main road (and thus the highway), we are on the main thoroughfare for allllllll the trucks. So again, starting about 5-6am, there are huge construction trucks rumbling and banging past the house. Quiet time aside, this goes on all day. And it scares the crap out of the cat almost every time. This road will be in dire need of resurfacing by the time they are done with all the new homes, and I told BV that we might want to think about moving before that happens.

3) Omas and Opas. BV disagrees with me on this one, saying that they are out and about at a reasonable hour, but I disagree. Our corner is often a meeting point for the old folks of the village while they’re out on their morning strolls. It may not be smashing glass, but their Kaffeeklatsch outside my window at 7:30 feels like a violation to me.

4) All-night train station party-ers. July and August were particularly bad on this front, due to the school holidays. To be clear, our train station consists of two glass shelters, and a building that is no longer used. But the kids still hang out there and party. Then they walk home, and have long-drawn out goodbyes on our corner, which often include stuffing beer bottles in our hedge. A few weeks ago, I went to catch the train and noticed that an entire wall of the glass shelter had been smashed. No idea when that happened, but hey, at least I didn’t hear it! Maybe that was one of the margarita nights… yes, I’m night-drinking to ensure solid sleep.

and finally…

5) Martens. What’s a marten, you ask?


Oh, hey… you sleeping?! Via

Cute, right? I do love a furry critter. I love them less though when they are having their own all-night parties in the forest across the street. There was one night when it sounded like there were at least 50 of them. They sound a bit like small dogs, which means that there is a lot of yapping and some squeaking involved. It seems to have tapered off in the last couple of weeks, but earlier this summer it was out of hand. If that was mating season, I shall be investing in some ear plugs for next year.


So, who’s the worse Ruhezeit violator in your neighborhood?


26 thoughts on “Breaking ze Rules: Ruhezeit Edition

  1. LOL! I currently live in the noisiest house ever, and it’s doing my head in… ahrgh. In London, I used to live across from a bottle recycling station, so I know exactly what you’re talking about there 😉

  2. The old lady upstairs starts shrieking at around 7am every morning. And no, she’s not being murdered or anything – she just likes shrieking. I was so looking forward to quiet time in Germany – now I’m not so sure 😉

  3. Honestly- we’re probably the worst offenders of Ruhezeit in our neighborhood. At least the 12-2 and Sunday Ruhezeit, but I want clean clothes and dishes, you know? 😉 My landlord has dogs though, so I figure we’re even. We’ve yet to be scolded, but with the number of dirty looks we get I’m sure we’ve broken several German rules.

    • Well the 12-2 thing was in the past, so you’re okay there. But I think if nobody has come knocking on your door on a Sunday, you’re probably doing alright so far. Wash away!

  4. Hahaha, oh this was so funny! We have some young neighbors a few houses over who sometimes party all night, blasting loud music at 5 am. We now have the police number posted by the phone in case they keep it up. Lol, someone should arrest the martins! They chew on cars too, annoying little things.

    • Those young kids and their techno music! Can you program the number in on your speed dial? Might come in handy… 😉
      I wanted to, believe you me. And as I wrote in the comments with the Lady of the Cakes… it’s only a matter of time until we have a marten incident. BV insists on keeping the garage door open for some reason, but I suspect it’s old and faulty, and he’s concerned about the car getting trapped in the garage indefinitely.

  5. I totally sympathize… In the warmer months (i.e. any time it’s not at least 0C outside), I have to keep my windows open at night to get any kind of decent sleep. This is how I know that the street sweeper comes by at about 5:30am, the garbage truck at 7:30am, and after that the senior center next door gets their drink delivery or obst und gemüse delivery… There’s a bunch of student housing down the street, so I hear them walking out TO the bar, and then I hear them drunkenly coming back. They like to sing, loudly and off key. Also, my street is a major track for the taxi drivers that like to lurk at the nearby Bahnhof so I see those cream colored fuckers zooming down the street at all times of the night.

      • I don’t envy you either… There was a big student house by me in Nbg, but luckily it was behind our building and it didn’t bother me too much. Just the occasional flute concert, and the Thursday night open bar during the semester. But no, no Martens there either. I assume they are scared off by the rats. 🙂

  6. All our neighbours are fairly young so nobody cares about the Ruhezeit… luckily! I regularly hoover and use the washing machine on Sundays.

    Trams don’t care about Ruhezeiten! Ours are actually gone now due to construction for the new Strassenbahntunnel, so instead we have construction work from 7 a.m. on a Saturday. Technically after the Ruhezeit and so okay from a legal standpoint, but I do not need drilling/clanging/whatever else outside my bedroom window on a SATURDAY!

    The student residence I used to live in was opposite a primary school. Groups of small children arriving at school are LOUD!

    • Oh, I sympathize on the trams (and construction). There were 6 trams outside my place in Prague, and 4 night trams. It was rough some days, but lots of Sunday mornings. 🙂
      Agreed on the kids…. like I said in the post, most of the time I didn’t know if the ones in the park were playing or lighting each other on fire.

  7. Pingback: Gingerbread Rules & German Tales | Heather Goes to Deutschland

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