May 012011

Several people have asked me recently if we “like” it here.  The answer is that I am really not sure!  There are definitely things I like as well as frustrations.  But, most of our energies are still being spent just engaging in activities like Trying To Get Food, Trying To Communicate, Trying To Do Laundry, Trying To Get Anywhere, and, for David, of course Work.  In other words, we are basically in Survival Mode.  Since we are still in temporary housing without a car it is very difficult to know what our actual lifestyle here will be like.  Still, I can tell you there are some things that I really like and a few that I am less fond of:

Blast Shields Down
  • LIKE- German Houses: They are both charming and practical.  Everyone seems to have pleasant gardens.  The architecture appeals to me far more than the faux adobe that litters the CA landscape.  There are big flat light switches located in intelligent places (in the doorway AND near the couch or bed).  The use of doors and radiators makes heating the house reasonable.  And, everyone has these nifty built-in blast shields that you lower at night to keep out the light or provide you with privacy.
  • LIKE- Bakeries: They are the Starbucks of Germany, only, you know…not.  You can’t walk 2 blocks without hitting one, they are open when other stores are closed.  And, they have breads and pastries!  What isn’t to love?
  • DISLIKE- Store hours:  Most stores are closed Sundays.  Many stores are closed at lunch.  Most stores are closed after work hours.  As David notes, How the Heck are you supposed to shop if you actually have a job?
  • DISLIKE- Tiny Refrigerators: When combined with the above mentioned limited store hours these make it very difficult to keep a well-stocked kitchen.
  • DISLIKE- German toilet paper: Ouch!  ‘Nuff said…
  • LIKE- 85 Gazillian kinds of ham and other pork products!  Who knew there were so many ways to cure a swine?
  • DISLIKE- Lack of other kinds of meats.  Beef is particularly hard to find, chicken and turkey are often available- but not always.  Haven’t braved the fish, yet, but that may be a good option.
Going Native- our lunch of fruit, a pretzel and cheese

Catching Up

So, what have we been up to since last I wrote?  As stated before, most of our efforts are still going to survival.

We have *almost* managed to get our bank account set up and usable.  It takes longer than you might expect!  Thursday the kids and I went into town to go shopping and meet David for lunch and a trip to the bank.  Unfortunately, the bank, like many shops, is closed during the lunch hour!  So, David’s lunch went longer than anticipated.  But, after waiting for the best English speaker at the branch to arrive, we did manage to get me added to the account.  Friday we finally got David’s ATM cards (one for checking, one for savings!) in the mail, and the passwords and TAN numbers (extra security) for online banking.  But, we need to wait a few more days to get his ATM passwords. I think he opened the account 2 weeks ago, now! After his stuff arrives,  my ATM cards should appear and eventually my ATM passwords.  Wheee!

Of course, the next step is to get money into it from our US account.  We tried calling for an international wire transfer today, but the customer service rep said we couldn’t do it over the phone and would have to come into a branch.  Not really an option at this point!  Our branch had told us that we *could* do it before we left, so not sure what happened.  The customer service rep told us we could write a check to ourselves and access money that way.  David will go to the Deutsche Bank tomorrow and see what solution we can come up with.  We really need access to the money if we are going to buy a car or rent an apartment/house!

Friday was a particularly frustrating day.  We awoke in the morning to discover that the internet was down and a couple of rooms had no power.  What we didn’t realize at the time was that the Fridge was on the powerless circuit- as were the phones.  Oof.  Being in a foreign country without access to the internet or phones while your hubby is away can bring your sense of isolation into perspective. 

The landlord was out and his wife didn’t know how to fix this issue.  I looked for a circuit breaker box, but couldn’t find one.  David headed off to work early for a meeting, and the kids and I were essentially stuck.  Also, the forecast was for rain, so I didn’t want to take everyone out to town and get caught in a downpour!  My plan had been to kick back at home, and it seemed that was what we were to do regardless.

This was especially poor timing for the outage as there were some problems with the rats back in the States and I was busy trying to track down options.  But, with the internet down, that was not possible.  So, we settled in a little uncomfortably, and kicked back.  I started the day by keeping up my international cultural credentials and watched the British Royal Wedding in German.  Germans, it seems, have an annoying habit of dubbing everything instead of using subtitles.  The exception would be celebrity endorsements- wouldn’t want to dub George Clooney or Cindy Crawford when they were hawking product!  Heidi Klum, of course, needs no dubbing and sells a wide variety of things.  In any case, I found it sort of distracting to hear the future King of England give his vows to his beloved Kate with the voice of an elderly German man, but otherwise it was a lovely diversionary spectacle-
                      -for me.  The kids couldn’t have cared less.

The neighborhood

The nicest part of the day was that after the wedding we went out for a walk around the neighborhood and did some exploring.  We found a German phone booth:

The local swimming pool:

Don’t wear the wrong trunks!

A couple of local pubs, a dog groomer, 2 schools, and some agricultural fields tucked away:

That is another thing I LIKE about Germany- lots of open spaces and greenery.

In any case, long day short, David was an hour late from work, but knowing the bus schedules I wasn’t too worried.  Still.  No phone.  No internet.  No way to contact him.  Once he got home David tracked down the landlord’s wife and she called him and he talked her through finding and using the circuit breaker (in the cellar!  Duh!  Should have looked there, but I am a CA girl- “cellar” isn’t in my housing vocab, yet).  After the net was up, I logged in and found out that the crisis with the rats was at least temporarily under control (knock wood! Go Tabitha!  Go Ratsos!).  And, a quick inventory of the fridge found that really all we lost with the prolonged outage was some of David’s milk and a pork tenderloin.  Alls Well that Ends Well!

Saturday we went into town as a family and did more food shopping.  We tried to figure out the bus passes, but failed.  Then we came home for another walk.  David and I searched used auto ads for much of the afternoon.  Then, after I managed a dinner of Teriyaki Turkey Supremes, Broccoli, & Bread (I was so proud to get a balanced meal cooked with just the items at hand),  I fell asleep right after the kids.  Still haven’t adjusted, I guess.  But, I have lost a kilo or so!

DS Wanted to go out and romp in one of the thundershowers
DD “See, Mom, I can be picturesque sometimes” (Note: I never doubted it!)

Today I have spent mostly writing this up for your viewing pleasure :-)  Oh- Also today, we tried a local (in Auenheim) pizza joint.  Not bad!  Decent price and, notice, Open on Sunday!  Woohoo!  “Pizzeria Bella Italia” for the win!

Post Script: Having given it further thought, we have decided that the “blast shields” shown at the top of the page would likely be a fairly effective tool in staving off the zombie apocalypse.  I envision headlines like “Europe Stops Zombie Invasion with common household Shutters”.  What do you think?

  One Response to “Progress and Survival”

  1. So it looks like if you wear the wrong trunks they will rent you some? I hope you get your transportation situation resolved soon. I know my SIL says a big adjustment for them when they were in Switzerland was that meat was so expensive. They had a lot more cheese-based meals.

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