Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Germany...so far

     So, we've been here a little over five weeks, wow!  Just reading that I can't believe it's been over month!  At first it was a little difficult adjusting to the time change with that lousy jet lag, walking everywhere, the weather, hotel living, Big. L's school, and language barriers and customs.  But right around the two week mark we got accustomed to the time difference, even though the sun is still up after 9:00pm here.  I can see why everyone tells you to bring "black out" curtains.  Cause you really do need to block out the sun when you or the kiddos are trying to go to bed.  Thank goodness there are some here in the hotel!

Germany here we come...

About to land in Stuttgart, Germany


The view from our hotel window


Our first of many trips to the PX






     Walking...when you first arrive most of us don't have a car or let alone a license to drive a car, even it you wanted to rent one.  So, our Sponsor had to come pick us up.  With that said, for the first few weeks if we needed anything from the PX or mini Commissary, we were walking there, rain or shine!  I am so happy I decided to bring both strollers (umbrella and jogging).  Sometimes we would have Little K. in the umbrella one and Big L. in the jogger.  Seems that with all the walking we were doing, Big L. was getting shin splints and the jogger is big enough for him to take a ride, so as to not hurt his legs.  We even got motivated enough to walk down to the public bus stop which was a good twenty minutes away, just so we could hop on the bus to do something outside of the hotel.  We also ventured a good twenty-five minutes away to a great hidden restaurant.  It was worth the walk.  With all the yummy foods we have been eating, all the walking is a good thing.  We recently purchased a previously owned 2002 BMW for our commutes, but mainly for the hubby to get to work instead of relying on the duty buses, which seem to never be on time.  It's definitely helped out with trying new restaurants, house hunting, grocery shopping, and just exploring our new home.  I can't wait to get my license and eventually my car, so I can venture out more!


How we roll from the mini commissary back to the hotel


Our first meal off base at a local German restaurant




The kiddos playing a nearby Spielplatz (playground), 
they are everywhere!




Taking a walk to a new local restaurant




Schnitzel and Kartoffelsalat 
(Pounded Pork and Potato Salad)


We got to go up there, the view of Stuttgart was amazing!


Always time for a selfie



Taking the duty bus to the other base to check our mail


Our first public bus ride around Böblingen 



Our new car!



Went house hunting...
decided to pass on this one



Our first trip to LegoLand Deutschland
We got season passes after our visit




Did some grocery shopping at a German store




     Weather.....I belong to a FB group for our local area that helps new people coming here by answering any questions they may have.  I noticed many people posting on what clothes to bring and what the weather was like here.  When people posted about bringing layers, like sweaters, and hoodies, ok no problem...check.  Then to also include rain gear, raincoats, rain boots, and umbrellas.  Rain gear?  Really?!  Eh...ok I'll get some for Little K. but not worry about the rest of us.  Boy, was I wrong!  Now I'm glad I got at least something for one of us.  Because it rains, and rains a lot, and rains often!  We all, except Little K., had to go invest in water resistant coats and umbrellas.  I didn't worry about the boots, since mine will be here when we get our stuff.  I still need to find some for Big. L to wear that aren't too expensive, and the hubby just won't wear them.  So when someone tells you to pack them, pack them!

Ready for the rain

Watching the rain with a cup of hot chocolate


     Hotel living.....Another thing we had to adjust to is living in a family room in the Panzer hotel.  Yes, there is a room, and a living room, a bathroom, and a kitchenette.  So, we have the bedroom, the kiddos get the pull out sofa bed in the living room right?  So we thought.  For the first few nights that was great, since we were all adjusting to the sleeping arrangements and by time it was bed time we were all exhausted and just fell asleep anywhere.  Now that we are used to the time, sleeping has become, well hum, difficult at times.  Big L. needs to get to bed early, which I will explain in a bit, which means Little K. needs to go to bed too around the same time, since we have limited bed options.  Since she still takes naps during the days, she sometimes, most times isn't tired when he needs to go to bed.  Which requires a lot of patience to get her to sleep.  Sometimes we have to do some bed swapping.  She will go in our room with me or the hubby, while we put him in the other room/bed with one of us.  And let me tell you, for the kiddos the pull out bed isn't that bad, but for adults who weigh more, the springs don't feel all that good when you are trying to get some rest.  Besides the sleeping arrangements, we also had to adjust to cooking in a kitchenette. Which consists of a microwave and an electric glass top two burner stove.  We do have a mini fridge with freezer, so that helps too.  Just can't put a lot in it.  Hence, the many trips to the PX and commissary.  We like eating out, but it too can get costly paying for the meal and the gas for the car (everyone here is given a gas ration for the month).  So we make meals here in the hotel too.  I will admit, we do make some of the premade meals that we can just warm up.  Hey, you gotta do what ya gotta do.  Other times, on a nice day, we will go out to the charcoal grills outside the hotel and have dinner outside.  I'm glad we got a kitchenette to use, but definitely looking forward to trying out our new kitchen in the house we 
will be renting.

We do laundry, loads of it


We do mani's and pedi's


We dress up as Princesses


We play card games


We make meals


We read books


We enjoy FREE coffee and cookies


We nap


We play in the sand


We read the comics


We hang like a monkey


We visit Sehne...A LOT



     School....Big L.'s school schedule has been a big adjustment for not only him, but for all of us!  We let him take the first two weeks to settle in before introducing him into school.  One of the downfalls of living in the base hotel is that all the school age kids who are registered to go to the DoDDs school have to be bused all the way to the base across town, which is a good forty-five minutes to an hour away!  And that's just one way, he has to do it all the way back to the hotel after a long day at school.  Which means he has to get to bed early, as I said before.  I usually wake up around 6am to get him up and dressed, breakfast ready, lunch packed, teeth brushed, and down outside to get on the bus by 7am, so they can start school around 8am.  Sometimes it's on time, but he says it's usually late, so he has to miss morning recess.  By the time he gets off the bus, he is exhausted, hungry, and crabby.  Not a fun combination when you add in random homework he brings.  Don't get me started on that...that's a whole other post! (and I do NOT in a good way).  So after a snack, homework, dinner, bath, it's already bed time, just to start it all again for the next four days!  I can't wait for next week when school is over!

Riding the bus for the first time

Waiting on brother to get home

      A new country....This is definitely something to get used to. A new country brings new language, money, rules, regulations, laws, traditions and festivals, transportation, and even getting new phone plans.  With the language I kind of lucked out, since I took two years of German in High School.  Before we even headed over I found some great Apps that helped me jog my memory.  It's coming back pretty easy and I am having fun learning more.  
     The money issue is really pretty easy.  We just go to the ATM and withdraw Euros, but finding the ATM is the hard part.  They are few and far in between, so usually use one of them on post.  Germans usually deal in cash, so we always have to make sure we have a good amount of Euros with us at all times.  
     As far as the rules and regulations, there are a few things we aren't allowed to do.  For example, we are NOT allowed to mail Kinder Eggs to the United States.  I know, it's so sad, and I'm sorry to all my friends and family who will never get to enjoy these.  But they are banned in the U.S. and we can be fined.  Guess that means you have to come visit us to have one, or two, or ten!  Another "no no" is having medicines, vitamins, meats, or even coffee mailed to our APO mailing address.  This is against German law and can result in losing our mailing address.  So please, NO ONE mail these to us...ahem, Mom.  
     Of course, driving in a new country means a new driver's license.  One I have yet to obtain!  They do offer a four hour driver's class for all new people to take for free, then given the test afterward.  The hubby passed his already last month so he could drive us around.  I do plan on attending class next week, fingers crossed.  Scheduling time for him to watch Little K. has been the issue.  But hopefully all will work out Monday.  Another motivator is that we finally got my car delivered!  So we have two cars but, I can't drive it.  It will be so nice when I can drive us around so we can explore a little more.  Till then, we are walking, taking the buses, or waiting for the hubby to take us somewhere.  
     As for traditions, it has been fun attending all the festivals and learning all the do's and don'ts of living here.  So far we have gone to our first Stuttgarter Frühlingsfest (Spring Festival) and looking forward to attending more festivals throughout the year.  
     Public transportation is something else we are slowing getting acquainted with.  In the U.S. we would just hop in our car and go where we need to go.  Here most people take either the bus or the trains, even taxi's.  People do drive, but getting a license is costly for the average driver.  So far we have taken the duty bus from one base to the other and back, rode on the public bus around Böblingen, and zipped on the S Bahn into Bad Cannstatt.
     Another important part to moving here was finding a German phone provider that would work with our unlocked phones we purchased in the States.   It was pretty simple actually, we just went into the PX and signed up with Telekom.  However, the service isn't all that great when compared to our old one with Verizon, just because there aren't as many cell phone towers as there are in the U.S.  But on the positive side, many places around here have WiFi, so that saves on the data plans.  When a new customer signs up sometimes you are given a free gift, right?  A pen, a magnet, bumper sticker, whatever cheap swag the phone provider can give you with their phone number on it.  Well, here they gave us a mini fondue set.  Most people wouldn't be very excited, but that's not the case with me.  I was so happy!  I mean, who wouldn't want a fondue set, right?!  I can't wait to use it!
Can't go anywhere with out some Euro


Mmmmmm, I've waited 31 years to have another one of these
(used to get them as a child way back in '84, when my dad was stationed in Berlin)

Can't believe I found a Fox Kinder Egg and a Fox toy inside one


The kiddos having their first Kinder Eggs



Spring Fest here we come on the S Bahn!




Biggest Ferris Wheel I've ever been on



Thanks for the fondue pot Telekon


So far we are loving Germany!  Can't wait to explore it more!

     
     
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