Thursday, November 26, 2009

Getting Settled

We are finally getting into the swing of things. Our days have been busy and we are adjusting to life in Germany. On November 17th, Tim’s Jeep arrived from being shipped. Just to give you an idea of shipping times. We shipped his Jeep from Dallas on the September 29th and just got it. However we were able to track the shipment of our POV (Privately Owned Vehicle) and we believe it sat at a German port for several weeks. Obviously the shipping company was not concerned about delivering the vehicle as soon as possible. Luckily we only had to rent our car for a week.

Tim's Jeep with European License Plates.

Another good note is that we have a home! When we went to housing on the 12th, we were informed they only had an apartment on post or a home in a German community about twenty minutes away. We had no desire to see the apartment so the house it was! On the 16th, we met a housing representative at the home. The house is a townhome. There are about 30 townhomes surrounded by German homes. The only disappointment was that there is no garage, no fireplace, and the parking it rather dreadful. But the positive note, we are next door neighbors with our friends from Fort Polk. We seriously share a wall. Plus when Tim deploys, I will be surrounded with other Army wives which will provide a great support system.

Our front door...

Our back door and yard...Can you see the the small amount of parking? Right now since we only have one car, we are doing okay with parking. Imagine once we have two!

The townhome is three stories. The first floor has the family room which is connected to the dining room. There is a half bath along with an entry way and a storage closet. The kitchen is rather small so we are already brainstorming how to fit everything in it. The second floor has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. I wish the master bedroom was larger since we have a king bed along with several pieces of furniture. I am pretty sure one of the dressers will have to go in the hallway. The third floor has a laundry room, a storage closet, and two small rooms plus the attic. I know several people have requested pictures and I assure you once our furniture arrives, and we get settled, there will be numerous pictures.

Tim is already raking the leaves.

A view from our third floor window. It looks out to the town.

Tim is already back to work and working long hours. I was use to his school schedule at Fort Sill so I need to get use to not seeing him until 6pm or later. He is really excited with his job position and speaks highly about all the soldiers he directly works with. I am happy to know that he is adjusting well to his new work environment.

As for me, I am not working at the moment. We special ordered my car and it is not due to arrive till the end of January. So until then, I will be carless. However I have enough to keep me busy in regards to the home. Once I have a car, my plan is to become a substitute. Hopefully that will help me get my foot in the door and next year I will be able to get a position at one of the elementary schools on post.

Yesterday afternoon, we had our first official visitors. Tim’s boss, the Squadron Commander, along with his wife and daughter came to our home to welcome us to Germany. They were a wealth of information when it comes to traveling Europe. They even brought us a welcome basket with several German goodies along with some other thoughtful items like candles. Tim was blown away by the kindness of the SCO (Squardon Commander). This is not typical practice so it just shows the personal interest his family has with new arrivals and demonstrates his extraordinary leadership.

The thoughtful basket.

Last night, we experienced our very first restaurant where the waiter spoke no English and the menu was completely in German. Luckily what we ordered was completely edible and somewhat delicious. However we decided we needed to get a pocket German/English dictionary so we do not feel so clueless.

Today is Thanksgiving. We went to the Dining Facility on post with our friends. There was no way I was going to attempt to cook when my kitchen accessories only include paper plates and plastic utensils. Have I mentioned that I am counting down the days till my stuff arrives?

Eating at the Dining Facility for Thanksgiving was not too bad however being home with our families would have been even better!

As I end this post, we would like to say “Happy Thanksgiving” to our family and friends. We are so thankful for the love and support you give us and we wish you a happy holiday season!


Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Visit to Amberg

Last Sunday, we headed to Amberg ( with our friends. We started with lunch at an Italian restaurant named “Imperatore”. It was delicious! I had a pepperoni, tomato, and banana pepper pizza with a crispy crust. Tim had tortellini in a crème sauce. Yet another amazing Italian meal in Germany! Maybe one of these days we will try German food again. Here are some more tidbits about dining in Germany. First, there is no such thing as free refills on your beverages even if you are enjoying water which you must pay for. Plus there is no ice in your beverages so it is extremely common to drink warm soda unless the bottle of soda was refrigerated before it was served. I am learning to drink slowly and not finish my drink before the meal is served.

After lunch, we headed to Amberg’s Marktplatz (Market Place). It is very common that stores close on Sundays for a day of worship and rest. However we enjoyed walking the cobblestone streets, looking through the store’s windows, and being surrounded by so much history.

The Late-Gothic Parish Church of St. Martin

A river runs through the Market Place.

Walking the narrow cobblestone streets. The tower of the Late-Gothic Parish Church of St. Martin is behind us.

Tim enjoying his very first German pretzel!

Gothic Town Hall (built in 1358)

This is the town's pharmacy...An Apotheke.

The Market Place's Christmas tree... we will have to return once it is decorated!


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Italian Food, A Nightclub, & Another Post

First of all, we would like to say thank you to all our family and friends who are reading our blog! We really hope this blog can be a way to follow along with our adventures in Europe. Our only real adventure, since arriving, has been getting settled into this new country. We will be planning our travels as soon as we get settled.

We have been getting out of our hotel room and exploring the surrounding areas. On Friday, Tim spent the morning in-processing. He needed to enroll us in this particular Tricare system (medical), made sure finance details were straight, and picked up a fuel card. The fuel card is a post in itself. In the evening, we drove to Steinfels. It is a small town close to post where Tim’s friends from Fort Polk reside. They gave us a tour of their home and then all four of us were off to Weiden (pronounced Viden). Weiden is one of the larger towns in the area. Here is a link to city’s website It took us some time to find a parking spot. I better practice my parallel parking skills because I have feeling I am going to need them in Europe. Once we found a spot, we headed over a cobblestone alley way to an Italian restaurant named Piccola Luana. I know what you are thinking… We are in Germany and eating Italian. But let me tell you this. This Italian restaurant compares nothing to Italian food in the US. Everything was homemade and utterly delicious. I enjoyed a fresh green salad with the sweetest vinaigrette along with a calzone that blew me out of the water. Tim had a similar salad however with fresh tuna and a deluxe mini pizza that had slices of egg, banana peppers, ham, salami, and tomato. And of course, we enjoyed some German beer. The beer I had was better than my beer several days ago. I am hopeful that one day I will find a German beer I love more than Bud Light. We finished the meal with a complimentary shot of Italian Brandy. As we were leaving, the owner, who was also our waiter, shook our hands. Plus I even got a kiss on each cheek. We will be going there again! Oh and just a tidbit, do you know that you don’t tip with your meal in Germany (I am not quite sure if that is also true in other countries in Europe.)? They find it offensive and the best compliment is to return to their restraunt.

After such a wonderful meal plus the alcohol, the couple wanted to take us to a local bar. We waited in a short line to be admitted where we paid 3 euros each to proceed. When we entered the main floor, we were surprised to find that the majority of the attendees were young. Yes, I know Tim and I are young but I am not being overdramatic. We were easily 8 years older than 90% of the population especially since the drinking age is 19. But they were even admitting “kids” younger than 19 but just not allowing them to drink. Obviously we went on “teen night”. What was even funnier was that fact the main floor resembled a junior high dance. The girls were literally on one side of the room and the boys on the other. Tim and I felt like lame chaperones so we decided to call it a night.
Also known as "Joe's".
On our way home, the couple wanted to try out their new GPS. It wasn’t until we were in the middle of a forest with their GPS stating “You have arrived at your destination” that we all started laughing hysterically. Basically when they sat up their satellites, they accidently entered the wrong coordinates for “Home”. Luckily we were not too far from home and found our way back. Tim made the comment that if we were in the United States in this situation, he would be scared. However in South East Germany, forests are extremely common. What a night!

Today was morning we relaxed. We slept until 11am because of how late we were out last night. We decided to head to another military post close by. Our post and this post are basically sister posts and there are several amenities that only one of them has. So we spent time at the PX walking around and there are several German vendors who are already selling their Christmas products. We can’t wait to attend the Christmas markets that have even more of a variety. Then we headed over to the gym. They are starting to create a CrossFit area. The idea of CrossFit does not fit an ordinary gym and several things are needed for a workout. So we are really excited that Graf is developing their CrossFit area and we plan on “CrossFitting” once we get into our daily routine. The best part of the day for me was easily driving the Mercedes rental car on the German roads. And I don’t think I made Tim nervous once!

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

I believe we are settling in the new country quite well. I still feel rather intimidated with the language. It sounds like a jumbled mess when the natives speak. However I plan on getting back into Rosetta Stone shortly and know that I can practice my German with the natives daily. Tomorrow we are headed to another town for sightseeing and Italian food!

Auf Wiedersehen (Goodbye! in German)


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Welcome to Germany

We have finally arrived to our final destination, Germany! It was a long 40 hours before we were finally in our room at the post’s hotel. As many of you know the week before we left for Germany, I spent a week in Las Vegas and Tim spent his in Ohio. Early on the 9th, Tim and I both flew to Dallas where we met to prepare for our flight to Germany. We got in around 8:30am but our flight was not due to leave until 2:45pm. So we got our bags checked in, went through security, and found a spot to camp out. Right before our flight, we enjoy a nice late lunch at TGI Fridays. We got to the gate with plenty of time but our flight ended up being delayed for an hour due to an electrical lighting problem. By 3:45pm we were on our way. Unfortunately, we were in the last row in the middle section. Tim complained that it was by the bathroom but it ended up being great so we could get up and stretch our legs during our 9 hour flight. We flew American and it was an overall great flying experience. They offered free movies, free tv, and free video games. The flight attendants were very nice and we were able to actually get some sleep on the plane. At the request of my mom and other family members, they insisted that I remembered what we were served. We were served two meals, dinner and breakfast. For dinner, we had the choice of chicken pasta or beef and mashed potatoes. The meal came with a salad, a roll, cheese and crackers and some delicious carrot cake. For breakfast we were served yogurt and a croissant. Tim and I easily agreed that we would be flying American for possible international flights again.

When we arrived to Germany, we deplaned away from the terminal. At the request of a friend, she told me to always remember the day that I took my first step on foreign soil. And boy will I remember… I was suddenly hit with a blast of cold air. Once we took the bus to the terminal, we went through customs. It was quite painless compared to our experience of entering Jamaica. When we got to baggage claim, we were quickly welcomed by a military greeter. We collected all 6 pieces plus our carry-on luggage. We were very surprised to find that the luggage carts are free!!! We were one of the many who flew in to Frankfurt who were also in-processing to one of the Army posts in Germany. We were lead to the Frankfurt Germany “World Class” Reception center where 120 soldiers were signing in. Out of all those soldiers, I was one of the few dependants that traveled along. It was rather intimidating.

We exchanged some dollars for Euros so we were ready when we got to Germany.

Enjoying some animals crackers and watching "Land of the Lost".

Some of the yummy goodies at the Frankfurt Airport.

I really need to learn German.

After three hours of waiting and waiting, they finally boarded us on buses that took us to our posts. We endured a five hour bus ride. However half way, we stopped at a McDonald's. Yup…our first meal in Germany was McDonald’s. We agreed that it tasted the similar to the States although I think my McNuggets were better. We were both flabbergasted by the trash system. The Germans recycle like crazy which is something the Americans could learn from. I did not take a picture but basically the cups get separated on the top of the trash container and they (the McDonald’s employees) separate our trash. Next time I will take a picture. I did not want to embarrass Tim by taking all these pictures however sooner or later he needs to accept the fact that I love pictures. During our bus ride, the landscape was absolutely gorgeous. Due to the speeds of the bus and me napping on the ride, I did not get many good pictures. However I look forward to driving the same roads and being able to pull over and snap pictures on a whim.

The pictures do not show the beauty of the German countryside.

When we got to post, we un-boarded the bus. We were quickly welcomed by our sponsor along with Tim’s friend from Fort Polk. Due to the massive amounts of luggage, it took both of them taking us to the hotel. When Tim checked into the hotel, he was informed there was only one room left and it only had twin beds. We didn’t have much choice so we accepted. We were both asked to meet the commander (basically, the boss). It was a lot of Army talk as I sat there but a great experience for me.

After the informal meeting, we went to the commissary to pick up a few items. We stopped at Subway and headed back to the room. We ate. We showered. Tim crashed as he did not sleep as much as me. I fell asleep a few hours later. The best news from the whole day other than arriving in Germany…we had no jet lag what so ever! We had a wonderful night’s sleep and woke up with absolutely no jet lag!

Day Two

We woke up and attended the hotel’s continental breakfast which is nothing to write home about. The milk is long lasting and the yogurt is runny. Not quite the American continental breakfast I am use to. We returned to the room and stayed in our twin beds for the majority of the day studying for our driver’s test on Thursday. In the afternoon, another of Tim’s friends surprised him. He took him off post and showed him his home. Shortly after, Tim’s friend who greeted us the first day came and picked us up with his wife and son. They took us to one of their favorite German restaurants. Holy cow! I was overwhelmed and way too intimated to attempt ordering my meal in Germany. I pointed. I ordered a sausage salad. What I got was cold slices of sausage in a vinegar sauce covered in onions along with some bread. Not quite what I was thinking when I ordered a sausage salad but I need to remember that I am not in the US anymore. We enjoyed a beer and I am still a fan of Bud Light. What can I say? After dinner, Chad and Gloria showed us their home. They live in a cute German town and there is possibility we will be living there too. Chad brought us home and we studied a bit more for our driver’s test and went to bed. Day two down!

Enjoying our first German beer!

Day Three

WOW!!!!!!!!!! Today was super productive!!! We were out the door by 7am to enjoy breakfast and was at the driver’s orientation by 7:45am. We endured a somewhat cheesy orientation for two hours and took our driver’s test. We both passed. Woo Hoo! We can officially drive the streets and autobahns of Germany! After, we went to the housing office where we put our name on the “list”. We have an appointment Monday at 1:00pm to see the only home available for Tim’s rank. It happens to be directly next to Chad and Gloria (the couple from last night). We continued to run errands. We got a German bank account, a post office box, our German cell phones, updated our ID cards in the system and picked up our rental car. Most of those errands were done by foot so we are quite thankful we are assigned to one of the smaller Army post's in Germany. And our rental car…a Mercedes Benz C Class station wagon and that is the most basic car. Mercedes and BMW are the Hondas & Fords of Germany. Hopefully by next week, we will receive Tim’s car. Ohhh and I must mention the cell phones. I never knew how lucky we were in the US with our cell phone services. First, we have many choices when it comes to providers. Second, cell phone service is cheap in the US. We were paying $120 US Dollars for two iPhones. If we wanted to keep our iPhones here in Germany , we would have to play close to $200 plus 29 cents per minute when calling a cell phone outside of TMobile. (TMobile has the contract with Apple in Germany). So we settled for cheaper phones with no internet and we are paying the exact same as we were in the US. Germany might be awesome but it is certainly not cheap. So now it is evening. We picked up Subway once again for dinner and here we sit on our computers as we watch TV.

Our Mercedes Benz rental car!

Oh and the weather. Cold and dreary. I can’t believe it is only mid-November. I have never experienced a cold, wet winter so my heavy jacket, snow boots, scarves, and hats will come in handy!

I apologize that this post it so long and perhaps boring. Our families requested details and details is what they are getting. Please follow along as we continue our adventure in Germany! I promise many more stories as we begin to explore Europe and pictures to accompany!!