Sunday, February 29, 2004

We have a nice few days, the days start out very cold, but also very sunny, so by afternoon it's pleasant. Jacob has been playing outside with Chloe, he loves to throw tennis balls and she loves to chase them. We are still trying to get things settled in the house, trying to figure out where everything is going to go. The idea of no closets to hide stuff in is a little alarming, but we are coming up with some solutions. Eventually it will all have a hiding place! Yesterday we went to look at some antique shops, just to see prices on some of the "schranks" which are like armoires. Most were very pricey, but we'll keep looking. We were trying to find the main entrance of one "Antik Mobel" store in the town of Lichtenau, we always see the back but can't find the front door. So we decided to drive through the old city gate and see if we could find it that way. Somehow we ended up on the top of the city walls - which are wide enough to drive on. There were a couple cars parked up there so it's obviously okay to drive on, but probably not a main thoroughfare. And definitely not enough room to turn around! We went all the way around and finally were able to get back down.

The first picture is one of the gateways we went through. In that same picture see the pointy roof with the snow on it? That's where we were driving around. The next picture is just another view of the old city center. After we got back down through the tunnels and gateways (which weren't built for SUV's, it was a tight squeeze) we decided we would come back another day, so the residents of Lichtenau would forget about the crazy Americans driving around on top of their historical city walls. I know the city is over 750 years old, not sure about the walls. We also went to downtown Ansbach and wandered around the market, it's always very busy on Saturdays down there. I got some more flowers - they are so pretty! I'm always amazed at how cheap they are over here, all the ones you see here were less than $10 altogether.

That gray thing covering the window is our blinds, they are like storm shutters. But everyone uses them in the evening, kind of makes your house into a maximum security building :) But supposedly it helps insulate, and in the summer keeps the sun out. I remember it being light until 10pm and then the sun coming back up at like 4:30 am. So that will be great in the summer!
While we were downtown we of course had some Greek food (or Turkish - very similar but don't tell them that) for lunch. We eat more of that than German food by far, it always so good. Today we went to the Army post of Wurzburg, to do a little shopping at their huge PX. And Kenny had his covert meeting in the parking lot to get our satellite system. Seems to be working, all of the channels aren't on yet but hopefully soon. Then we will be back in touch with the world, through a British perspective. And now it's Sunday evening, everyone is in bed and I will be shortly!

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Well, our vehicle made it and is officially registered with USAREUR (US Army Europe), which was quite the task. It took 4 trips total to the vehicle registration office, one of which was to punch holes in the license plate. It doesn't come with holes, that was really weird. When the Toyota was delivered, the driver brought it right to my door, no small feat with a huge car carrier full of vehicles. Our street is rather narrow and curvy, but he made it. Some of the neighbors came out to watch the unloading and reloading of the truck, very exciting stuff for the kids. They were all very nice, I hope to see more of them as the weather warms up and everyone starts to venture out. Kenny is back to regular hours as of today, no more 12 hour days. While the overtime was nice, he was very tired and it seemed as if he was never home.
I'm not sure but I think I was reprimanded yesterday by the German man working at the gas station. We normally use the gas station on the post, (gas is about 1/2 of what the locals pay) but I was in a rental car and you must get certain paperwork to use the American gas station. So, I had to fill the car up before I returned it and just stopped at the nearest station. All of my euros were wadded up in my pocket, so when I went in to pay I fished them out, smoothed them best I could, and set them on the counter to pay. He just looked at them and started rattling on and the only word I picked out was something about a wallet - I'm guessing he thinks I shouldn't keep my euros in my pocket. I just smiled, said "Danke" and went on my way, he was still muttering when I left. But I did put the rest of my euros in my wallet after that.
It has been snowing off and on the past few days, usually at midday it warms up enough to melt some of the snow. So at least we have some sunshine inbetween the snow showers. The heavier snow comes at night, you never know what you are going to wake up to!

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

SNOW! Woke up yesterday morning to snow, it was a nice surprise. If you don't watch the weather then you don't know what is coming. Jacob got bundled up and went out to explore in it. He likes it more and more each time.

We also got the good news yesterday that our vehicle will be delivered today or tomorrow, depends what route the truck takes. And our household goods arrive in Bremerhaven on Wednesday! They have to clear customs and make their way down here, but shouldn't be too long before they are delivered. I can't wait to get back in our bed and off the air mattresses. Then comes the daunting task of figuring out where to put everything. There are no closets in German homes - I don't understand why not. So we have to buy an armoire or something to hang some clothes in. It will be great to have our kitchen things, since right now we have one pan and that is it. We just don't want to buy more than that when we have a box full coming. That was all exciting news though, knowing it won't be too long and we will have everything here! Jacob and I took all three dogs for a walk today, there are some walkways through the neighborhood that lead out to some huge farm fields. Jacob can handle Chloe, and I take the other two.

Oh - and the flowers I bought at the market in Nurnberg opened up! They are so beautiful, a nice sign that spring is right around the corner. I can't wait to see all the flowers start to bloom outside, we are planning a trip to the Keukenhof for Easter.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

We took Jacob on his first train trip on Saturday and he really liked it. We went to Nurnberg, which is only about 30 minutes by train. We rode on the RB (Regional Bahn) which is the slow train that stops in all the little towns between here and there. It's a quick drive to Nurnberg, but the train in more fun, and you get off right in the city center. Here are Kenny and Jacob checking out the trains.

And enjoying the ride!

On Saturdays there is always a market downtown with meat, fruits & veggies, flowers, cheeses, breads etc. But this weekend is Fasching (carnival) so they also had a little fest going on down there. Much like a small fair. So more food than usual and lots of rides, which Jacob thought was great. He went on most of the kiddie rides, and ate some bratwurst. There are some beautiful sights down there, here is one of the churches. It is St. Lorenz (Church of St. Lawrence) Built c. 1250-1477. I know I have a book on it coming with our household goods that has more info regarding it's history.

We had a nice time although it was a little cold. I bought some beautiful flowers to help brighten up our place. Little by little it's beginning to feel more like home! We stopped to use the "toilet" before we got back on the train, rather than use the regular bathrooms we went here

And it was as promised, very clean. but it cost 1.10 Euro ($1.43) to use a toilet, and half that for the mens urinal. Seems a bit steep to me, even if they clean the stall after every person. There is an automatic turnstile to enter, you put your coins in the slot and it unlocks and lets you in. Look for a door with a green light and you're set! Very busy in there, they even offer showers (those cost more). So it's a popular place!

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

We are settling in nicely here, it's finally beginning to feel more like home, or at least like home with no belongings! We did find a couch this weekend, so that makes things more comfortable. We were quite pleased to find a place to live that already had a kitchen and light fixtures? Why is that you ask ----- well normally German apartments do not have those things, you must put them in. So we actually have a nice kitchen with big countertops and cabinets and even a dishwasher. And the previous tenant left the light fixtures as well, they are all very nice. Even some ceiling fans which will be great in the summer. Our next project is satellite TV, because while I don't miss TV in general, I'm getting a little frantic for some live news. We think we are going to get British TV rather than the Armed Forces Network, it has more variety. And FOX News!!! We really don't have anything "blog-worthy" to put in, just normal setting up the household things. All of the manuals for the freezer, washer, and dryer are in German, so that has led to some confusion. But so far the food is still frozen and the clothes look clean...... what more can you want? Here is a picture of the town of Wolframs-Eschenbach, we took this while out for a walk, about a block from the house.
And a closer shot of the church tower

We can hear the bells when the windows are open, it's a very pleasant sound. Hopefully we will have a more interesting end of the week so the blog will be a little more exciting!

Friday, February 13, 2004

At long last, here is our first post from Germany. It took us a little while to get back online, but finally we made it. I won't go into the details from the flight over, it went as well as it could with me, 2 dogs and a 2 year old. Very long but everyone except me slept quite a bit.

Here we are waiting at the gate - all of this stuff goes with me on the plane. We lucked into a row of 5 seats by ourselves so that was great. Amazingly we made it thru customs and found Kenny. And then it was on to the hotel, and Kenny went and got us a schnitzel dinner from Stinkys down the road (an old favorite from when we were here before). We all passed out at 7pm and aside from a milk and cookie break at 130am we all slept until 9am. Then we went and found a place to live. I used to work for a lady named Gerda who also does real estate, and she showed us a few places. We settled on a place in Wolframs-Eschenbach, more like a townhouse than an apartment. It has a small yard for Jacob and the dogs, and is a very family friendly neighborhood. I finally got my ID card so I can move about freely on the Army post - and got a spiffy little rental car.

So Jacob and I have been running around every day trying to get all the little things done so we can feel more settled in. I have no idea when our things will arrive from the states, mid March is the best estimate. Jacob is settling in, he loves the yard and likes to play in the snow.

The first night we came to the house to drop off some things, we came in the dark. We had only come once, when we looked at it. So we were trying to find it again and having no luck. So we drive by a fire station and I tell Kenny to stop so I can go in and ask for directions - I know they will at least have a great map. I go in and ask in my awful German for directions, and show them my address on the rental form. One fireman comes out and is trying to tell me how to go - pointing down the road and waving his arms. Then his coworker comes out and he speaks great English, but still the directions are totally confusing. "You go here, then cross and turn left - then around and right, then left and more left" What????? So the first guy says - "you stay here , I go with your mate in the car and show him". So off they go, luckily I'm left with the fellow who speaks English. He is eager to talk so we talk about how many fires they have (only 2 so far this year, and a few bad accidents), why we are there, where we came from. When I tell him Tennessee he gets very excited and says "Jack Daniels Whiskey - yes?" So I tell him, yes, it's not too far from where we lived. "Do you have connections (as he laughs) to get me some for less money?" So folks, that is what the state of Tennessee is known for over here in Germany :) Eventually Kenny returns and off we go to the house. Which we never would have found without their help, so maybe we will stop by the firehouse with a bottle of Jack Daniels for our new friends.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

This was just a few days before we left, Jacob was getting very good at amusing himself! The movers were very efficient, they packed up everything very quickly and seemed to be very organized. Jacob was quite surprised when we went back to the house and everything was gone - - he kept saying "alllllllll gone". We are staying in a hotel by the house for a couple days, and we fly on Thurs. Next entry will be from Germany!

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