Living On The 49th Parallel

We’re a few days into Spring now, according to the calendar, but the temperatures outside still scream WINTER to me.   The sunlight, though, is definitely springtime sun.  Ever since this winter was declared the darkest on record since records began, I’ve been feeling the darkness much more acutely.  A few weeks ago, we had about one week of warmer temperatures and sunlight- a  Spring tease, if you will.


This week, it snowed again.  And it got cold, damned cold.

49thParallelThe problem is that Germany pretty far north.  Bavaria, where I live, is on the 49th Parallel.  In North America, the 49th Parallel roughly describes the border between the US and Canada.   For someone who spent most of his life up until 2011 in Florida, this takes some getting used to.

During the core part of Winter,  the days are much shorter than anything I’m used to.  This is especially true in late November and December- it’s night-time dark by the time I leave the office at the end of the day.  Last year, I actually bought one of those sun lamps that people use to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  I used that lamp almost every day last winter, and I barely noticed the omnipresent gloom.  This year, I mostly didn’t pay attention to the lamp, and the end result was I didn’t leave my apartment as much, I didn’t travel as much, and I was generally less interested in doing much of anything. My friends noticed I was especially grumpy for about two months, and that it was obvious that I was super cranky and unhappy.

Lesson learned.

The trade-off is in the summer months, though. I was astonished last year while visiting Amsterdam to note that it was still basically daylight after 10pm, and didn’t start to get dark until close to 11.   When we switch to daylight savings time this weekend, that will put sunset at close to 8pm.  I’m really looking forward to it. (The switch for Germany is on the 31st of March, if you’re wondering.)

As usual, Itchy Feet nails what we’re all thinking:


Summer time is coming.  Do you prefer longer or shorter days? 


9 thoughts on “Living On The 49th Parallel

  1. I remember my first trip to London, in 1998. I wanted to get an early start and beat the crowds at the British Museum. I woke up, the sun was blazing and I thought I’d slept till 10. By the time I came to my sense I realized all the beds (hostel) were full and it was 4:15! In the morning of course. As a fellow Floridian we don;t have such big swings, and in summer you’re only too ready for the sun to go away! Great post!


  2. I used a daylight lamp the second winter I spent in Hamburg — which gets even less sunlight because of all the cloud cover than Bavaria does. In any case, I definitely noticed a BIG difference.

    I tend to be a big fan of the longer days. I still have a million things to cram into my day, but somehow it seems much more doable in the summer. Go figure. 🙂


  3. Coming from Wisco I feel relatively prepared for winter in Europe, but the sun does occasionally shine there during the winter months. Which is more than I can say for Germany this year. I’m completely with you on the feeling this winter. I pretty much spent most of January and February laying on my couch being blaaaaaaaaaaaaah… and now I’m paying for it. Spring needs to get it’s ass here! I’m looking forward to the time change, I was absolutely convinced that I had overslept yesterday and screwed up all my alarms, because when I left for the train station at 6:20 (ew), it was full daylight out! So weird.


  4. Longer warmer days. This has been a trying winter. Snow all the way to Hamburg on Friday. It was like Christmas instead of winter. Then 2 glorious days of sun! Now back in Stug and grey grey grey. Wo ist Fruhling? Komm doch lieber Fruhling!


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