The First Month

We have officially been here for over a month and I can’t even believe it. Unfortunately, we are still living in a hotel room but we did find an apartment! HORRAY! June cannot come fast enough! Since my last post about the first week, not too much has changed. We have just been super busy doing a lot of basic administrative stuff like getting all of our paperwork in line and finding a place to live. Thankfully, all that is left is to move into our apartment so now we can start enjoying our time here.

The weather is pretty spontaneous here so it can go from sunny one minute to rainy the next which makes doing stuff outdoors a little difficult. For the most part it is fairly nice. If it’s not raining, it’s usually a nice warm and sunny 70 degrees during the day. The evenings get a little cooler to around 40’s and 50’s. After one big rainstorm, we saw the most amazing rainbow ever! Mike started back at work full time which leaves me and Frank with a lot of free time. If the weather is nice and I can manage to get the lazy dog up, I’ve been really enjoying taking walks in Schlosspark. It is right behind the Biebrich Palace along the river and is huge. Frank loves walking and sniffing. He does tire out quickly due to his stumpy legs so occasionally I have to carry him around to give him a break. His new favorite thing is chasing ducks but only these ducks that I’ve never seen before.

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Everything about Germany is absolutely beautiful. It is so well maintained and well kept. You see zero garbage anywhere. And the funny part is that you also see few trash cans. That means that people are courteous enough to wait for one to come up to dispose of their trash. The other day we saw a lady empty out a bunch of trash from her purse. You can’t beat the scenery here too. Lots of open fields and grass for Frank to frolic around. Unfortunately, with fields of flowers also comes buckets of pollen. But you want to know what’s strange? They’re actually not bothering me! I haven’t had an allergy free season in maybe 5 or 6 years. This is a big incentive for me to never go back to Jersey! Frank on the other hand, is suffering pretty badly. His allergies in Jersey were pretty mild but here it is really rough for him. Hopefully the pollen will go away soon.

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Since the first week, we have gotten a lot more comfortable going out and trying new things. Going out to dinner has been much easier since we have learned that most places offer an English menu. My goal by the end of our trip is to be able to order off the German menu! When we took our first road trip to Cologne, we realized that we had to put gas in the car for the first time. We weren’t sure how it worked so we had to ask the concierge how gas works here. She got a pretty good laugh about it. She didn’t quite understand that us Jersey folks don’t pump our own gas! These plastic glove things are pretty much required when you pump gas because it leaks a little and gets all over your hands.

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As I mentioned before about the pollen, our rental car was EXTREMELY disgusting. I wouldn’t have really cared to get the car washed but the car became so sticky that opening the doors became a problem. I was feeling really motivated and adventurous one day so I decided to take the car to the carwash with Frank. I figured how hard could it be to put some money in a machine and drive your car in. WRONG. So very wrong! I pulled up to the car wash and found a 17 paragraph long instruction sign all written in German. After google translating the first line, I realized I had to purchase some sort of ticket from the people at the gas station. Okay no problem I can do that. I pay the kind man and ask him what I need to do. He responds simply with scan the ticket and press the button. I think to myself okay that’s easy enough. I pull back up to the car wash, scan my ticket, and realize there are a BILLION different buttons. So of course I press a few, drive my car in, drive my car out, push some more buttons, drive back in, scan my ticket a few more times, and repeat. Fast forward 20 minutes, I must have broken the car wash because everything started flashing. The guy from the gas station walks all the way over to see what is going on. People started pulling up behind with a very annoyed look. I am beyond mortified at this point. The attendant fixes the machine and turned the machine on so fast with my car in that I was not able to get Frank out. I don’t know who was more freaked out, me or Frank! After a grueling 5 minutes of waiting, I returned to my vehicle to find poor Frank huddled and shaking in the corner. I felt like an AWFUL mom. I gave him lots of treats upon returning back to the hotel and vouched to NEVER go to that car wash again.

Since we are living in a hotel room, we obviously do not have any laundry machines. After the first few weeks, we had it done at the hotel but it just became WAY too expensive. Feeling like I had no other option, I ventured off to a local laundry mat. I went to the military PX and bought some laundry detergent and made my way with a giant suitcase full of our clothes. I had read somewhere that the American laundry detergent doesn’t work well with the German machines as it creates a ton of bubbles and breaks the machine. All I could think about was breaking another machine so I was sure to put only a small amount of detergent as suggested. Thankfully, the instructions for the machines were only 8 steps and came with pictures. The one machine I had a little bit of a hard time with but thankfully a lady was nice enough to help me. Four loads of laundry and 2 hours later, I have successfully did laundry without breaking anything. I felt super accomplished! Until I got back to my car…. Sorry Enterprise.

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I’ve actually started looking around for a part time job to occupy my time but that seems to be easier said than done. The jobs are very limited and the pay is almost not worth it. To work as a nurse, I would be getting paid half of what I was making in the states and would have to commute over an hour. All that is left is fast food service and some other small jobs that barely pay minimum wage. I’ve just started to look into some volunteer work instead. In the mean time, we are keeping focus on enjoying our time here and traveling as much as we can. After the first week, we have ventured to Cologne, Heidelberg, and Paris. Paris will have a post of it’s own soon! Since our one year wedding anniversary fell on a holiday weekend here, we decided to just spend the day in Heidelberg and celebrate the next weekend in Paris. Here are just some beautiful shots from each place.

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Cologne Cathedral

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Currywurst, Schnitzels, and Beer in Cologne

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Heidelberg Castle

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Heidelberg Altstadt

A lot of people have been asking if we are feeling homesick yet and things we miss the most and things we don’t miss. Surprisingly, we have not felt too homesick. We figured the time will probably come during big holidays where our families will get together. We of course miss our friends and family but we also know our time apart won’t be too long. Skype has been the best invention ever. Except when you’re skyping with your parents and they show you all the delicious home cooked food you’re missing out on. That’s just mean! Anyone that knows my mom, knows her food is RIDICULOUSLY amazing!

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As for things I miss the most? Home cooked meals, American television, Marshalls/TJ Maxx, and Target. Things I don’t miss? People hogging the left lane of the roads, dirty bathrooms, and the fast paced, hustle and bustle kind of lifestyle. People have also asked what I love most about Germany and what I dislike. I truly love how clean everything is. Zero garbage anywhere. I also love that everyone properly follows the keep right pass left laws on the roadways. What I dislike the most has to be the smoking. I’m not a fan of smoke so it’s a bit rough when you’re out to dinner and everyone around you is smoking. Granted, they’re only allowed to smoke while dining outside but who really wants to dine inside when the weather is so beautiful and the scenery is one not to be missed.

Before we had moved here, we had kind of been briefed that there really aren’t grocery stores here like Acme and Shop Rite and that it will mostly be farmers markets and stuff. That is partially true! All of the produce here are INCREDIBLY fresh. When certain things come in season, they make a pretty big deal out of it. When we arrived, it was the start of spargel (asparagus) season. The spargel they serve here is obviously not like the typical green ones we have in the states. These ones are white and a lot more meaty. They are the main star of the dish and is typically served with either butter or hollandaise sauce with a side of boiled potatoes. You can also add a meat to the side. It is so delicious. Whenever we have gone out and they had a special “spargel menu,” I have always ordered off of it. Since it is only in season from April-June, most people take advantage of it. This night was also Mike’s birthday. We had an amazing dinner at Hotel Nassauer Hof and they were awesome enough to send us out a special birthday plate! Strawberry season just started this week and we are so excited. Strawberry picking is very popular here so we will definitely be doing that. The Germans are awesome with keeping all of their produce natural and free of all those pesticides. I happened to stop at the local grocery store and the strawberries literally stopped me in my tracks. They were absolutely beautiful! I snapped a shot and sent it to Mike and he didn’t believe me that they were real. I obviously took a box back to the hotel and we devoured them all. They were the sweetest and juiciest strawberries I’ve ever had!

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I’m very thankful that things are starting to feel a little normal. We’re making some really cool friends and spending more time away from the hotel room. The other night we went to a town called Eltville am Rhein and it was this super adorable old German town. We had dinner along the Rhein so the view was spectacular.

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Everyday I am thankful and fortunately for all of the experiences we get to have. I knew moving to a different country would have it’s ups and downs but so far it’s been mostly ups. I joke all the time with Mike that we may never return back to the states if we had the option. So until then, we are most certainly going to spend the next two years soaking in every moment! Stay tuned for my next post about our trip to Paris! If you want to see our travel from Franks point of view, you can also check out his blog at frankthewiener.com! Auf Wiedersehen friends!

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The First Week

It’s hard to believe that it has already been one whole week in Germany. You want to test how strong your marriage is? Insert yourselves in a 200 square foot hotel room, add a dog, subtract all American TV except for CNN (Can I tell how brutal it is that I can’t even watch the last episode of Grey’s Anatomy?! Everyone already spoiled for me who died!), all in a country where you barely understand the language. We still have another 3 weeks in this hotel room unless we find an apartment soon. Fingers are crossed we find something soon!

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After an 8 hour flight, we finally landed in Frankfurt. Mike and I were (and still) in complete disbelief of how great Frank did on the plane. We were 100% convinced that he would cry and be awful the whole flight. During take off he did flip out a little so I put him in my lap and he was still very anxious. After about 10 minutes of his squirming, I decided to put him back down in his bag when we finally got in the air. I’m not sure if it was all the exercise we did that day, the drone of the plane, the calming spray, or all of the above, but something worked and he was out cold! Regardless, I am just very thankful that all three of us made it out of the plane happy and in one piece!

Once we landed, it was a little bit of chaos trying to get our bags and the rental car. Not sure how we got so lucky but our Volkswagen was somehow upgraded to this sweet Mercedes. Hello Autobahn!

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When we finally got to the hotel, we took showers and took a nice 5 hour nap. We really didn’t want to nap because we were trying to adjust to the jet lag but neither of us had slept because we were so worried about the dog on the plane. After finally getting up, we decided to go to downtown Wiesbaden. Everything was just so pretty! Old cobblestone streets with a ton of shops, restaurants, and cafes all lined the streets. We ended up stumbling into this cute little castle. Can you find Frank?

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I had my first moment of realization when we started to get hungry and realized Oh crap, everything is written in German… Everyone speaks German.. We know zero German.. Now what?! In that moment, I had so many different emotions running through me. I went from being so excited to be there, to frustrated and helpless that I couldn’t understand, nervous that I would never pick up the language, and most importantly, LOST. Toto, we are not in the US anymore. I guess I had different expectations because when we had traveled to Thailand and Vietnam for our honeymoon, EVERYTHING was still written in English. All menus, all signs, everything. I guess they were more geared towards tourists. After walking around a bit in panic, we found ourselves a Starbucks and I never felt happier to find a piece that felt like home. Who would’ve though a white cup with that famous green lady would make me so happy. I was even happier to walk in and find that the menu was written in English! Whew! We got our coffees and sat on some steps and just people watched for a while. That night we ended up having dinner in the hotel with the English menu.

The next day, we told ourselves we needed to get out of our comfort zones and really embrace the culture. We ended up traveling to Frankfurt and hung out in the Sachsenhausen area where we knew we potentially wanted to live. The area was absolutely stunning. We found ourselves hanging out by the Eiserner Steg along the Main river which is this really awesome bridge and everyone places a love lock on there. I guess we will have to do that sometime in the next two years!

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(Frankfurt-Sachsenhausen, Germany)

After sitting for a while, we decided to try getting some food. We really wanted some authentic German food but apparently that is much easier said than done. We go to Germany and were do we end up? At an Asian restaurant. After staring at the German menu for a while trying to decipher what is what, the server kindly gave us an English menu. Whoops. While waiting for our food, I compared both menus to study what means what. Garnelen is prawns, cannot order Garnenlen due to allergies. Käse is cheese, no cheese please! The food finally came and it was actually delicious! Frank was pooped out from all the walking. One of my most favorite things about Germany? Dogs are allowed practically everywhere!

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Over the next few days, we did some more exploring trying to get a feel on what areas we love the most and where we want to ultimately live. Let me tell you, it has been difficult and we still have no idea! Every place that we have been, we LOVED.

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(Schlosspark and Berbrich Palace in Wiesbaden, Germany)

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(Old town Mainz, Germany)

While in Mainz, we had some Cappuccinos at this adorable little cafe and we finally found some German food! Wiener Schnitzels! Mike of course got the super large portion with some delicious sauce.

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Wieners and Wiener Schniztels!

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(Downtown Wiesbaden, Germany. Top pic is the Casino and bottom is the Marktikirche)

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The BEST mango mojito I’ve EVER had at Lumen!

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Frank has been loving every bit of this journey so far. I guess he’s happy to be back in his motherland!

This past week I have already learned so much about myself and just life in general. So much of Germany I am already loving more than the US. In the past week, I have discovered a few things.

1. There are minimal stop signs. I’ve seen ONE the whole time here. They are mostly yields.

2. Speed limit? HAH.

3. The women’s restrooms are SO clean! I have not come across one dirty bathroom here unlike the US where half of the toilets are either clogged or covered in gross pee.

4. No one honks their horns! No one. Unbelievable. It is a very nice change coming from New Jersey where people honk at you as soon as your light turns green.

5. The yellow light at the traffic signals comes on when the light is about to turn red but also when it’s going to turn green. Talk about confusing lol

6. The light switches are backwards. Down is on and up is off. I still haven’t gotten used to that yet.

7. There is no such thing as tap water at a restaurant. You want water? You have to pay for a bottle and more than likely it will be sparkling water.

8. Visa card? Almost useless here.

9. Dogs are welcome everywhere. We spent the other day walking around the mall with Frank. Frank is almost pro at dining in a restaurant.

10. People follow the keep right pass left rule on the highway. IT’S AMAZING!!!!!!

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As I’m sitting here and looking out the window, I can’t help but feel so lucky and thankful. We are so lucky to have been given this amazing opportunity to see this part of the world. We can’t express how much we miss our friends and family but we keep reminding ourselves that we will see you all again! I am looking forward to seeing what the next few years has to offer! Until next time! Auf Wiedersehen! XO

Introducing… the Wife and the Dog!

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I guess I will start my first post by simply just introducing myself and my life! My name is Susanna and I am 27, soon to be 28. I am a born and raised Jersey Girl straight from the beaches and recently moved up north to Hoboken. (Fun fact: our first dance was “Jersey Girl” by Bruce Springsteen!) I have been a nurse for almost 6 years and couldn’t love it anymore. After being together for almost 8 years, in May of 2014, I finally got to marry the love of my life, Mike. We have a two year old (not-so) minature dachshund named Frank. He has more spunk and personality than any other dog or human that I know of. He even has his own Instagram account! (@frank_the_wiener) And yes, he sadly has way more followers than me. My life has always been full of wonderful crafts, baked goods, couponing, and many other fun things so I figured I would start a blog to share some of my goodies with you all! Hope you will enjoy it as much as I will! XO