Sunday, July 5, 2015

Life without Air Conditioning

I feel like writing, but there's nothing to write about besides how hot it is. And we're among the lucky ones - here in our yard it only reached 34° (93 °F) today according to the thermometer I've begun to hate. A thunderstorm blew through a few days ago which did nothing more than raise the humidity to 94%, because the heat wasn't miserable enough. Another one is expected tonight or tomorrow. Yay.

Our roses are burning...

our chives have thrown up the sponge...

"Three days ago we were thriving happily in the grocery store produce section.
Thanks, Bitch."
and our raspberries are threatening to turn into biblical burning bushes.

M and I went for a 30-minute drive today just so we could sit in the air conditioned car. Back inside - and it's 8:30pm - it hurts to blink because my eye sockets are burning.

In Wisconsin it gets HOT. Hot hot hot and humid. It can be miserable. But there is no indoor place - house, store, library, movie theater, restaurant - that is not icy cold air conditioned. In fact most places set their thermostats so low that even when it's sweltering outside, I never go anywhere without a sweatshirt if I'm going to be inside.

In contrast, air conditioning is not common in Germany. Surely not in homes or apartments, but not even in grocery store produce sections. When it's hot outside, it's hot inside. There is nowhere to go to get relief (except the car). Some train cars are air conditioned, and most buses - but you can't even be sure of that when you travel. I've taken to bringing a wash cloth with me wherever I go so I can at least mop the sweat off my forehead and neck.

There are two newish shopping malls in Stuttgart, and in the paper the other day I read that Stuttgarters are retreating there, because there IS air conditioning in these new buildings. They're closed today, though, because it's Sunday.

Gosh, and I almost forgot - the speed limit on several Autobahnen has been reduced to 80 km/h (50 mph) due to the possibility of Autobahn blowups. When an Autobahn is made of concrete, it is possible in heat like this that the cement will actually blow up, and if you hit a spot like that going 136 mph, you're likely to get killed.

Germans are convinced that it is unhealthy to have a dramatic contrast between inside and outside temperature (and I neither agree nor disagree with them). In a heat wave like this I'm sure few would grumble about having some relief in the way of central air that removes the humidity and lowers the temperature by a few degrees, at least for sleeping. But setting the house temperature to below 70°F when it's nearing 100° outside is just not a good idea. I call it environmentally irresponsible to chill a place that much, but I don't know many Americans personally who put the environment above their own comfort or convenience.

We are sweltering here, and I have little desire to do anything but sit on the living room floor in front of the fan. Someone once told me that if you put a glass of ice water right in front of the fan, it's like air conditioning. I might try that (though ice cubes are also rare in Germany, M makes them when it's this hot).

So if you are sitting in your home and not sweating, do me a favor and appreciate that. Don't take it for granted. I'm headed for a cold shower.


14 comments:

  1. Glad to read that I'm not alone! It's sweltering in our top floor flat. We only have one tiny fan. We actually slept on the patio last night because it was so hot inside. Unfortunately we probably can't do that tonight because it looks like rain...

    We also took a car ride today to beat the heat and tried to find an air conditioned cafe. We weren't that successful!

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    1. A top floor flat - ouch! M used to live in a bachelor pad just under the roof of a multi-family home, and I remember well how awful that could be when it was hot and humid. Thank goodness this morning we have some relief - I hope you do, too. All our windows and doors are open to let in the cooler morning air, and it feels lovely! I'm ready to say that 20° (68°F) is a perfect temperature for me.

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  2. I wish I could've been staying in a place with a huge temperature difference! Once in a while, I yearn to stay somewhere air conditioned to the point that I have to sleep under a blanket. Yesterday I was so overheated that I felt physically ill -- literally (not just being a princess here). I finally gave up and went to the swimming pool because my head was spinning. It's interesting to me that my German friends don't seem to be so affected by the heat and don't talk much about the dangers of overheating. From what I gather, it seems as if they're more concerned about sitting on cold rocks. Since people can die of heat stroke I tend to feel the opposite way. Heck, I would've gladly welcomed a cold rock to sit on! ;) Last night, I slept sideways on my bed with my feet pointed at a fan and at the open window. I had to wear an eye mask so that the light outside wouldn't keep me up. It was a hilarious way to sleep but thank heavens it cooled off! I also had to securely close the door and lock the door to the kitchen because the patio door was open. I was so paranoid that Moo would get out.

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    1. I remember you writing about the cold rocks thing. That was a new one for me. Sleeping in this is the worst, and I better admit that we have a little room air conditioner that we put on in the bedroom. It's probably not environmentally friendly, but we only bring it up from the basement when we're desperate. I do wish I were hardier, but sweating through my BH while doing nothing at all makes me cranky. I hope you can find some relief somewhere!

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  3. It was 38°C here yesterday. It's like living in he'll! I know nothing abut ice cubes being rare in Germany though. All bars have them - they put them in cocktails for example.

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    1. Ah, there's the explanation - I don't drink cocktails! I guess I was comparing it to drinks in the U.S. - every glass of soda, lemonade, water, etc. comes filled to the very top with ice cubes (and therefore you only have half the soda you think you have, which doesn't matter since refills are free!).

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  4. I've been sweating bombs here too lately, it's nuts! Like you, I'm used to air conditioning back home so this is a little unbearable! Sleeping has been nearly impossible. Luckily my host family has a swimming pond so I've been getting some relief from jumping in there to cool off over the past week. And having cold showers as well. Haha.

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    1. A swimming pool sounds great, but I guess it doesn't help with sleeping unless you swim enough laps to be too exhausted to notice the heat. Last night I had a hard time getting the shower water cold enough!

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  5. Yes I do not miss those sweltering summer days, but I do miss WI in the summer! I tend to agree with you that we overuse the AC there in summer but I would have trampled a field of kittens to get to a place with decent AC this last week. We learned on our Italy trip that it doesn't even really work in our car, so that's great news. We only have one sad little ice tray, so at least we can have ice, we just have to ration it out like we're in a war.

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    1. I would have trampled that same field of kittens yesterday in Strasbourg to get to a/c. I was there with a group and during the organized meals we had tables reserved inside. Stifling. The sweat was running down my front and back, my face was beet red, even my hands were sweating... It was a great day, but way too hot.

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  6. I know, the weather's been unbearable lately! It got to neatly 40 degrees where I am! Hopefully it will cool off a little next week...

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    1. This morning it is still humid, but delightfully cool here so far. Thank goodness for some relief.

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  7. Anonymous20/7/15 09:27

    Hawaii is also very hot this year ..... reaching 90F......

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    1. I've never been to Hawaii, but I assumed it was always hot, as in 90F or hotter. Sounds like I might have been mistaken.

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