After leaving the simple life in Weierhof we headed to Solingen for dinner and drinks with Frederik and Nicky (more of Patrick's good friends). We managed to get off at the wrong train stop but our hosts came to our rescue after a quick phone call describing our snafu.
On the car ride to their home we got to talking about our careers. While traveling I've gotten a lot of envious looks when I described my job and how I am able to do it from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. I have to admit, I was quite envious myself when I learned about Frederik's career. He is an engineer researching and experimenting with renewable energy projects at a community level. He's one of many trying to solve what is probably the worlds greatest scientific challenge, sustainable energy.
When we asked about an example of his work, Frederik described a project involving a community using electric cars. They were used as a network of batteries to draw power from overnight. That helped compensate for the energy not being collected via solar panels. The trial was going extremely well, he said. I wish there was more support for this type of innovation at home. We are getting better... albeit slowly.
When we arrived at their home they described how it was a big construction site not that long ago from all their renovations. Frederik pointed out that Germans don't normally think of a home in the same way as Americans. He described how we often get a "starter home" and then upgrade as soon as we can afford something larger (guilty!). Germans most often buy a home for life.
It clicked for me that this is why energy efficiency has taken off here so much more than in the US. They were actually going to reap the benefits of expensive upgrades that made their homes more efficient. Paying for more durable materials suddenly makes more sense too when you plan to live in a home for 60 years. It was hard not to notice how many homes were using renewable energy sources. They had also invested in things like brick exteriors and real window shutters instead of just nailing some black shutter like plastic to the exterior for looks.
It is my hope that these societal differences are worn onto the rest of us. That we may be inspired to invest in our homes longevity and reap the rewards of moving away from petroleum based products and towards renewable's.
It was dinner time and man were we starving. We opened up some wine and had a delicious salmon and pasta dish for dinner. Desert was layers of rum soaked cookies, and mousse topped with fruit. We shared a lot of stories and laughs! After dinner I had to work and everyone called it a night.
The next morning we were headed to Hamburg to visit the last of Patrick's friends, Christian. I'll leave you with an excerpt from his email to me: