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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Currywurst, Schnitzels, and Beer in Cologne
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!
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!
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.
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!