I have to show just two photos, both blurry and indistinct, but both showing little details of living in Germany that make us quite envious.
The preface to the above photo is a story about a trip to our local, large mall here in the Campania region. A few months ago, when the Babe was probably four months old or so, a friend and I spent a few hours at a local shopping mall. At that time, Nora was pooping once a week, and when she went, it was a complete, blowout disaster. And yes, I'm going somewhere with this. I'm not just talking about my baby's poop for no reason. As we strolled around, the air began to smell a little funny, and I got a sinking feeling deep in my heart. One closer whiff confirmed my Mommy sniffer - humongous blowout time. Thankfully, we were in a store right next to the public restrooms. While my friend continued shopping, I headed off to take care of this disaster. At home, I'm blessed with a bidet, which we used to call the Foot Washer, but now call the Baby Washer. It's the perfect size to clean up these types of issues. Out and about is a different story. I don't think Italians take their babies out for longer than an hour or two because I've yet to find a bathroom with a changing table. Or even enough clean(ish) floor space to lay the baby down and make do. Surely the mall will have something. Surely. And it did. Inside the tiny, two stall bathroom was a fabric changing table that looked to be roughly 40 years old. That guess is from a far away glimpse since there was a family of only three somehow taking up all available floor space and stalls, one of which the changing table blocked. Even if I could have gotten to it, I could not, in my heart, put my poop covered baby onto this fabric knowing that other babies might be put upon it later. I turned around and found a corner of the mall near the bathrooms, sort of out of foot traffic, and changed Nora there. When the lady whose family had been taking up all the room came out, she scolded me and told me there was a changing table. At that point, I was holding up a bare bottomed child and doing my best to wipe and wipe and wipe and wipe. Then my friend came out of the store and just laughed and laughed.
Fast forward to Germany and the mall. Diaper change time. We all headed for the bathrooms, and imagine our surprise when we saw a big sign to an entirely separate room just for diaper changes. We asked the attendant in disbelief if Nathan and I could both go into it and walked into diaper changing paradise. A huge room. Huge! Just for parents. With an adult table and chair (for nursing, perhaps?), a kid size table and chairs for the toddler siblings, a long, deep counter with TWO, plastic change pads and a heat lamp on the wall above them. A heat lamp, I say! I instantly wanted to move to Germany.
Then at our departure airport, a small airport, we found that they did not allow gate checking of strollers. We would have to leave it with the oversize luggage department before going through security. We were distressed. Carrying around a squirmy or sleeping 18 pounds is not for the weak (which I am). Then the gate agent said some magical words: "There are airport strollers for your use just over there." Hmmmm? Airport strollers? We walked in confusion in the vague direction to which she'd pointed, and sure enough, an entire line of strollers. Just put in your euro coin deposit to unlock it, and you are home free all the way to the gates, where there is a handy drop-off point. Germany is just a wonderland of efficiency.