There are many differences between Melbourne and Leipzig. Some are obvious, some more subtle. Here’s some random differences I have found in no particular order, they are not absolute, merely based on my experiences alone as an Australia who has visited German a few times and has lived in Leipzig for about a month.

Image from here

Bike riding

Traffic lights are mostly directly above your head. In Australia they are usually on the other side of the road so it takes a bit of getting used to when bike riding! In Australia bike helmets are compulsory yet here you get the joy of riding with the wind in your hair, it’s really quite lovely. In Germany you ride on the opposite side of the road to Australia and there are a hell of a lot more bike paths.  But many are shared with pedestrians and it can be a bit confusing who goes where when as most pedestrians (including me at times) tend to meander. It makes me terrified of smacking into someone! You are often riding on cobblestones and paths and pavements are poorly tended, making the potholes of Brunswick seem like pin pricks in the road.

I thought there were loads of bike riders in Melbourne but here there are loads more. Everyone ride, regardless of age and size, which is encouraging to those like me who are bigger and less than fit! But I’m working on it and am enjoying riding my bike regularly. (We tried to sell our bikes before leaving Australia but no joy so we shipped them over).


Supermarkets in Leipzig tend to have a separate attached bakery and shop selling cooked meats like roast pork and (surprise, surprise) sausages. Each supermarket has almost more aisles of booze than real food. There’s also a lot of processed stuff like packet mix sauces and desserts and various things that I look at and have no idea what they are. I must look like an absolute nutter every time I go shopping as i look at everything and take ages.

Portion sizes are far smaller in food. You can get mini watermelons. Flour and sugar come in 1kg packets, no bigger. You can buy half a loaf of bread and icecream comes in little containers. Part of the obvious reason for this is that apartments and fridges are far smaller. It’s a real mental shift, I’m used to have a big fridge and shopping in bulk and freezing. Here I can’t do that so much.

There’s no green shopping bags like we have in Australia. Not a bad thing as they aren’t great for the environment. We bought cloth bags with us from Australia.

Supermarkets and almost all businesses are closed on sundays. The exception is the shops at the main train station.


Based on 6 years work in the sustainability sector, I think Australians in general are very compliant on recycling. Judging by our block of apartments, this is not the case in Leipzig. Of course, it is a lot more difficult in apartments as there is no way of controlling who is doing the wrong thing etc.  In Germany every plastic or glass bottle you buy attracts an extra fee. You can return your bottles at any supermarket, receive a receipt and get the cash back. An excellent idea meaning there are no bottles or cans littering the streets.

People buy a lot of bottled mineral water in bulk packs in Leipzig, where as back home everyone drank tap water. It’s really hard to get tap water in a restaurant. (I keep forgetting Leitungswasser -tap water).


Seriously I have never seen so many smokers! I say that as someone who used to smoke myself for 10 years. Here every time i turn around someone is puffing away. I really struggled with it when i was ill with the lurgy as I couldn’t stop coughing. You can smoke inside most restaurants and bars too.

By comparison I believe the rate is smoking in Australia is declining. In part due to the sheer cost of smoking (over $16 for a pack of cigarettes compared to $6 in Germany) but I also couldn’t help feeling that smoking had become in many instances, very socially undesirable. Plus of course there are messages like these on cigarette packets in Australia. Of course culture, socioeconomic status, gender, age etc all have a part to play…


Vegan and vegetarian food haven’t been hard to find at all. There’s plenty of lovely summer produce and all supermarkets have tofu, faux meat products and vegan cheese. There’s plenty of health food shops that stocks bits and pieces of vegan and gluten free food. I’ve had the odd kebab with haloumi from the Turkish kebab shops that are everwhere. Plenty of felafels too. I haven’t been able to find vegan ‘butter’ or nutritional yeast but there’s a vegan festival coming up in September so I may find it there.



** In Germany it’s really easy to buy alcohol. There are corner shops with nothing but booze and cigarettes, supermarkets etc. Also, you can drink in public. I remember the first time I took my husband Chris (from the UK) to a music festival in Australia and he couldn’t believe that if you wanted to drink you had to stay in a literally caged off area surrounded by security guards. And every time we went to an event somewhere like a classic concert at the Myer Music Bowl you were subjected to a lengthy bag search. Have I mentioned that booze in Leipzig is insanely cheap? Well except for mixed drinks. A G&T is about $7AUD at a bar or restaurant. Cocktails can be cheaper than mixed drinks which I find quite strange, perhaps the cost is for the soft drink?

With that, I think it’s time to make myself a spritzer…