I already knew that Germans aren't as interested in air conditioning as we Americans are, which is fine when you're in a castle that breathes ancient cool from its stones, or a marvel of carefully engineered efficiency. The rest of the time, things can be a bit stuffy, and I had to wonder why I never saw a single fan anywhere. When I was a kid, summertime meant sleeping to the lullaby of the box window fan. The size of half the window, these babies went on the windowsill and sucked that marvellously cool night air into the bedroom. Cheaper than air conditioning and much more comfortable than going without breezes. Why haven't the Germans figured this one out?
The second and much more distressing absence was that of window screens, which I only saw on a single window in a single guesthouse during the entire trip. Unlike Iceland, Germany breeds plenty of mosquitoes who do the exact same nocturnal ballet as they do in Massachusetts. They're also just as attracted by the light, so apparently, the proper way to handle this is to diligently and carefully close all open windows at dusk and keep them closed until you go to bed. Once it's dark, they're safe to open.
We failed to do this one night, and the result was mosquito air raids all night. Since it was stuffy in the room (see the first point here) and since Europeans don't believe in sheets, just duvets (see previous conversations here), staying totally covered up in a mini-tent of blanket protection was a non-option. The next morning, fat mosquitoes, hungover from their blood-fest, festooned the walls. Weeks later I'm still finding battle scars on my legs from where I was munched on.
This is the country that has made a name for itself by coming up with the best and brightest in modern engineering, and they can't figure out a window screen? Is there nobody that finds it annoying to sit in a stuffily closed room as they eat dinner or read before bed, or dislikes the threat of being an insect supper should they wish for some fresh air?
In almost every other respect, I've been impressed by what I've seen in Germany. They've got a spectacular train and motorway system and clever features abound in their cities and homes, so I hope someday I will understand how these two simple, yet essential features of summer comfort seem to have gone missing there.