Monday, December 28, 2009
To live in Germany requires patience. Don’t get me wrong, I love it here. But as a whole, they have some ‘quirks’ that as Americans, take patience and some getting used to.
The villages in Germany have extremely narrow streets. Kasel, our town, is no exception. You often find yourself driving on the curb to pass a car going the opposite direction. Our streets HAVE sidewalks, most streets around here do because the Germans are always on foot. But the Germans rarely use the sidewalk. Instead, they choose to walk ON the narrow road, blocking traffic. WHY?! Also, if a car in front of you comes across a car of someone they know (doesn’t matter if the car is in the same or opposite lane), they stop, in the middle of the road, to chat. They don’t pull over. They don’t just say hi. They block the entire street to carry on a conversation with someone who they most likely see 4+ times a day.
Waiting for a parking spot with your blinker on means nothing. Don’t wait, for some German is bound to whip right in front of you and steal the spot.
If you’ve read the blog before, you know about the German line cutting ways (another quirk that takes a LOT of getting used to). Well this habit follows into the streets. The Germans CANNOT merge. And this is because they all cut in line, they all have to be first. Instead of merging when they see that their lane is ending, they speed up and try to pass each other. If it didn’t cause such a traffic back-up, no big deal, but instead, it causes major traffic delays. Yes, this happens in the U.S. as well, but not to the extreme, trust me. You can always spot the Americans on the autobahn, for they are the only ones who actually merge.
Americans living in Germany must learn patience.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
With Alex being on call for Christmas, we haven't been able to travel overnight (of course, that all changes with New Years/Sylvester). Fortunately, there are plenty of castles within 70 km. to explore! Today we took the dogs to Traben-Trarbach to walk around the Grevenburg Castle ruins (dating back to 1350), as well as Morbach to see the Baldenau Castle Ruins (dating back to 1320).
Friday, December 25, 2009
frohe Weihnachten auf Deutschland!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
While Alexander flew the United States again for work, my very best friend came to visit, again (twice in 6 months! I am one lucky girl! No, Mrs. Bhatta – she is NOT moving here… although I, of course, would love it!). We’re marking countries off of Bhatta’s list. This visit: Spain!
A few of the 23 pilots recommended Ibiza, Spain. I googled pictures and my heart was set. What a good choice it wound up being!
Bhatta flew into Dusseldorf, Germany, so we could fly out of the same location the next day. Of course the travel drama started with me picking her up from the airport. New airport this time, everyone that visits always flies into Frankfurt. I have Cassandra, the GPS, but besides her, I made the trek alone. 3.5 hours and many tears later (Cassandra said it would take only 2hrs), I made it to the airport. This is after lots of screaming at Cassandra, winding up in a packed football arena parking lot thinking it was the airport, getting flashed (the German way of giving speeding tickets – thank goodness I wasn’t on the phone, otherwise I would not have a license), and driving through a snow storm! But we made it! We stayed the night in a great hotel in Weeze, Germany, a cute German town with a cute Christmas market. The next day, our flight out to Ibiza.
Prior to Bhatta’s arrival, I checked Ibiza’s weather religiously. In the 2 months of checking, never once was there rain. When we got off the airplane, what did we see? Rain. Cool. That’s ok, we have almost 5 days. No worries.
We take a taxi from the airport to our “hotel,” and I use this term very loosely. Being the budget travelers that we are, Bhatta and I booked a hostel. Mistake. We were the ONLY people there, no staff on sight, no lock on the door, and the place was almost flooded because it was an “open” apartment (no ceilings accept in the rooms). We are both uncomfortable from the start, but decide to give it a go. That night we barricaded the door with a table and chairs. Yes, that is how sketch city this place was.
Our luck changed quickly, though! There was an internet café down the street. We quickly booked a new hotel, which turned out to be a spectacular idea. One of the nicer hotels I’ve been to, ever. Great restaurant, huge room, spa, free entrance to their club, great bar in the hotel, and more. We could only have been happier if it stopped raining, which it did! Travelers luck.
We got to explore two of the main parts of Ibiza – Sant Antoni and Ibiza Town. Both gorgeous. The Dalt Villa, or old town, in Ibiza Town was definitely the favorite. Great views, crystal clear water, and great restaurants and bars. Overall, a perfect vacation! We had trouble leaving.
With Ibiza being so beautiful and us having such a good time, we of course had to made plans to go back. Quarter of a Century Birthday Party for Bhatta and I: April 2011. Ibiza here we come.. again!
Monday, December 21, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
The Germans are huge on recycling, as were the Swiss. It’s one of the things I love about the country. They care about their environment.
When we moved into our house, we were issued one small trash can, one large paper bin, and many, many ‘gelb sacks,’ (yellow bags). Our small trash can, about double the size of a normal kitchen trash can, is shared between two houses. It is emptied ONCE A MONTH. That’s it. Not once a week like in America. Because of the extensive recycling, we have yet to have a problem, or even fill it up. Impressive, if you ask me.
The gelb sack is for plastic, aluminum, and Styrofoam. These are picked up two time a month. Paper is also picked up twice a month.
With glass, we have a few options. The city does not pick it up on the street. And rightfully so. Who wants broken glass all over the street? We can either drive our glasses down the street to bins where we can dispose of them. Or we can return them for a refund at the grocery store. Both good options if you ask me.
I look back at the amount of trash that we “made” in every other home and can barely believe it. We would empty an entire kitchen size trash bag almost every other day. Here, we use small grocery-sized bags for our trash and take them out once a week, MAYBE.
Our Christmas tree is even recyclable – alive and replantable!
Almost forgot to mention.. they also rewear their clothes. And by rewear, I mean, day after day, without washing. I am not such a fan of this habit.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
As per request, by one of my favorite people in the world (Grandaddy Martin), a picture of "zee Germans." This picture was taken on Thanksgiving.
Monday, December 7, 2009
This list will continue to grow as we live here longer, eating more and more.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
In spirit of the Thanksgiving season (and in honor of Mrs. Rapalje's Thanksgiving table tradition), I’d like to say that I am extremely thankful for being able to live overseas in these next few years of my life. Many people aren’t able to travel overseas in their lifetime, much less live over here, and I am lucky enough to do both, with my very best friend. Couldn’t ask for more!
Monday, November 23, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
(The Creek and Snake #1)
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
One of the first things I did when we moved into Trier was a join a gym. The one on base is too far away to go everyday, so why not join the Germans (of course, that's what I said at the time.. now I know why, they're smelly when they're not working out, just imagine when they're all sweaty and working out). I walked in and tried to explain to the trainers that I wanted to join their gym. With the language barrier, this was difficult. I finally got the point across and they gave me the application to fill out, which of course, was IN GERMAN. For the most part, I knew what it was asking for, but not really knowing German, I could have just signed my life away.
I was pretty inconspicuous for a while. I’m definitely the only American there. Minus the one trainer that helped me join, no other members and/or trainers suspected me of being American. I almost got caught one day when not walking in with a ‘handtuch,’ (handtowel) to put on the machines – these are required. A trainer yelled at me in German, so I took the towel and thought, ha, you didn’t hurt MY feelings, I don’t even know what you said!
The cat came out of the bag the other day though. While on the elliptical, one of the trainers was walking around asking a few people questions. Crap, I can’t answer him, I don’t speak German. I tried to ignore him, but had no luck. I used the German I did know to say, I don’t understand you, I speak English ( Ich verstehe sie nicht. Ich spreche English). Turns out, he was just asking if he could open the window (OF COURSE you can open the window – there is no AC and everyone in here smells – PLEASE OPEN!). He says a couple more things to me and walks off. Not so bad afterall? Not so fast…
The next day I walk in, find my machine, turn on my iPod, starting working out, when another trainer comes up to me. He says excitedly, “Are you the American?” Guess everyone knows, might as well admit it.
German Trainer: “Oh my God, are you listening to an iPod?”
German Trainer: “I LOVE American music. Can I have it?!”
Me: “Um, NO.”
German Trainer (in broken English): “No, just play over gym stereo today.”
Me: “Ok, I guess.”
Luckily, my iPod decides to play a non-embarrassing selection of tunes for the Germans to listen to. The next day, however, is a different story. The same trainer asks me for my iPod. I agree. Why not? I’ll tell you why not.. First song to come on: Mariah Carey 1990s classic, “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” I hear it start to play and think oh nooo. About 30 seconds into it, the song is manually skipped by my trainer friend. I’m embarrassed. Now, before I go to the gym, I weed out the embarrassing tunes!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
One 10mo. old Labrador Retriever, Riva, and her 18mo. old sister, Boston.