Friday, July 31, 2009

Congratulations Amanda and BJ!!

Amanda and BJ are tying the knot this Saturday!! Phillip was able to make it back for the wedding, so we are very happy about that! Wish I could be there too as I'm sure it's going to be a great time! Congratulations and Best of Luck!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

No longer Homeless!!

We have a place to live!!! We will no longer be homeless come August 4th!

We picked the house that we were looking at before. We finally decided to go ahead and do a German contract since we kept looking and found nothing that was even close to the house that we previously liked! The landlord has been very easy to work with, so we feel comfortable with our decision. Plus our housing office offered little help, so we weren't benefiting by using them either!

It is a 3 bedroom/1.5 bath house with a combined living room/kitchen/dining area. Its a small house, but we're happy about it since it will really cut back on heating costs. Plus the house is brand new, and "low energy." The walls are made of special bricks and the heat is by a "heat pump," so no paying for oil or gas!! WAHOO!! And it is only minutes to base, so we won't have to worry about paying huge amounts in gas for the vehicle. Phillip is very excited about not having to drive an hour each way to work anymore!

So, no pictures yet. They are still finishing up some work, so I didn't want to post any til its done.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Germans Love the Rav4

A very odd thing is happening.  We keep running into all of these Germans who love our Rav4.  At first we couldn't figure out why all of these people kept staring at us.  We figured it was just because we must stick out as Americans. But now they have started coming up to us, saying how much they like our vehicle.  We have had at least 4 in the last week!

Just last night we were walking back to our Rav from dinner and this lady came up to us and started talking in German.  We didn't understand her but the way she was motioning we thought that she had scratched our vehicle! When we told her we only knew English she was able to talk to us and told us, "No I just love your car!  I was going to have them find you in the restaurant so I could talk to you!" 

I guess we picked the right vehicle, not only to buy but to bring with us! 

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tour de France!!

Today was one of the best days ever!!  We got to actually see the Tour de France IN PERSON!!!  It was amazing!  We were literally feet from some of the greatest athletes in the world, including my favorite athlete, Lance Armstrong!

I have to admit, we didn't really know how this whole trip was going to work out, but in the end everything came together.  We left Friday night and stayed in Mulhouse, France, which was only 8km from the course.  The hotel that we had booked somehow canceled our reservation, but we found another place and everything worked out fine.

We didn't know a whole lot about how the race worked, but we heard that the streets get closed down 3 hours before the caravan comes through so we wanted to be there early.  Ended up we were probably some of the first people there!  But, Hemisbrunn had a wonderful bakery and the most amazing croissants ever!!!

We got to the race road at about 8:30 am, and the caravan didn't come through until about noon.  To pass the time we hung out in the car away from the rain and watched a movie on the laptop.  The caravan is basically the sponsor parade and they drive their floats through and throw out goodies!  Lots of fun!!  

Then the racers came through about 1 hour later!  It was so fast!!!  We video taped it since we knew that we wouldn't be able to take pictures fast enough!  The entire group of riders were through within 2 minutes!  And the way the road curved, they were literally feet from us!  SO AMAZING!!!

I'm trying to post pictures and video, and will post the links when I get it figured out!  But I couldn't wait to share our experience!!

Some of the actual details:
Stage 14 - Colmar to Besancon
We were between the towns of Heimsbrunn and Galfingue

I clicked frame by frame through my video and found Lance Armstrong!!!!

Link to the pictures:

Copy and paste it into your browser!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The housing hunt continues...

We thought we had found a place, not so much.  The landlord and the housing office can't meet in the middle on a price.  So, the landlord now will only do a German contract, not affiliated with the base housing office at all.  We could do it, but I don't know.  We wouldn't have the housing office as advocates, and I'm concerned that the landlord may be very picky about the dog's nails and the new flooring!

So, we have been looking at more housing options.  Looked at 3 places in the last 2 days, and nothing.  2 were absolutely huge, and would cost an arm and a leg to heat!  The third had the laundry room in the room with the oil!  Nothing like clean clothes coming out smelling like oil!  And you would be opening the door to that room constantly, so the entire first floor would always smell.  We were down there for maybe 5 minutes and Phillip and I both walked out with huge headaches!

We have another place to look at tonight, so we are still hopeful!  Got the lists from the housing office again, so I am combing through those!  Pray that we find something soon.  We are on our third temporary living facility.  The first 2 were nice, this one is a little scary!  I've already gone through an entire bottle of fabreeze, in less than 2 days!!  And thank goodness the BX sells sheets and blankets for cheap!  

Here is Clara enjoying the couch at our first temporary apartment.  Ahhh... to have internet, phones, and be able to sit on the couch without a towel under you!  And no fabreeze or candles!! We were so spoiled!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The French Fry debate continues...

There has been some debate as to whether or not you have to use a fork depending upon which type of french fry is being eaten.  Do we use a fork for steak fries only, or for McDonald's type fries too?  

The type of fry has no bearing on whether or not a fork needs to be used.  We have found it depends more on where you are eating.  If you are at the Burger King on base, then you will blend right in with all the other Americans eating their fries with their fingers.  If you are at a German eatery, use a fork (even at the German lunch stand on base)!  The only place outside of base where we have seen fingers being used is at the McDonald's in Trier.  They even have french fry stands, and they will offer you a small fork for you to eat them!   

See example below of the little french fry forks.  I will have to find out where I can buy these!!

And for my Mom, please notice the Coke that I am drinking, not beer or wine!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Trier, Germany

This past Saturday we decided to go visit Trier.  It is only about 30 minutes from us.  Trier lies on the Mosel river and is the oldest city in Germany, built around 16 B.C.  There are lots and lots of things to see here, but we were only there for about 1/2 a day, so we will have to make more trips!!

Below is the Trier Cathedral, or Dom, a Roman Catholic church.  It houses what is believed to the the "Holy Tunic," or the robe which Jesus was wearing when he was crucified.  I took lots of pictures of the inside of the Dom because it was amazing!!  I posted a link at the bottom of this post where you can go view more of the pictures, as this site doesn't let me post very many at one time.

Here is the Porta Nigra, which is latin for black gate.  It is the only one of the original 4 that is still standing today.  It was built around 180 A.D.

Below is the link to more photos!!  You don't have to be a facebook member to view them!  Just copy and paste it into your browser.

Friday, July 10, 2009

What did I just order?

We went to Torschanke in Dudledorf, Germany for our Anniversary Dinner.  Our meal turned out petty good considering we weren't real sure what we were getting.  My meal ended up being some kind of meat ravioli with duck.  Phillip played it safe and stuck with the schnitzel.  When in doubt either point to what you want or just order the schnitzel!

Dudeldorf is quickly becoming one of my favorite little towns.  Below is a picture of the town's main arch.  The scrapes in the arch were caused in WWII when General Patton drove his tanks through it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Housing Hunt

So far looking for housing has consumed our lives!  It's a tough process here because it is so competitive.  That and trying to get past the language barrier. Many of the places we called were either taken or we couldn't be understood.  

But, we've had some luck!  Almost too much luck!!  We found 2 houses that we liked.  Both about the same price, but each with different amenities and sizes. So, after some debate, we decided to go for the smaller, yet more economical house.  I don't want to say too much yet because it has to get approved by housing, so keep your finger crossed!!!!!

One of the best parts of the house is that it is located in a town that has really good DSL!  The cable company here offers a "Surf and Talk" program where you can combine your internet and phone for a flat rate and get unlimited calls back to the states to any land or mobile line!!  YIPEE!!!  FINGERS ARE STILL CROSSED!!

On another note, I am embracing the German lifestyle and loving that they enjoy long meals and plenty of wine!  Going to attempt to get back into running tomorrow though (now that our housing search is hopefully over and I actually will have free time!), as all these cream sauces will soon catch up with me.

We are trying to plan something fun for this weekend too since Thursday is our 4-year Wedding Anniversary!  More exploring and pictures to come!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Cochem, Germany

Cochem, Germany is about an hour from where we are, so we decided to give it a visit this past weekend.  It was absolutely beautiful!  It felt like we literally stepped into a post card.  It was the perfect little day trip.  

The Cochem Castle (or Burg) sits on the hill above Cochem, which is on the banks of the Mosel River.  The vineyards are planted on the hillsides, very steep hillsides!  We wandered through the picturesque shops, and made sure to buy some Mosel Rieslings before we left.

Here are just a few pictures from the many I took.  I am going to set up a Flicker account to accompany the blog, since it is hard to put more than a few on each post.

We had lunch at a restaurant that had a terrace overlooking the Mosel.  I'm drinking a Mosel Riesling next to the Mosel River!

Below is a link to view more of the Cochem pictures!!  You don't have to be a facebook user to see them!  Just copy and paste it into your browser.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Beer Run

A beer run in KC meant going over to the Missouri side.  

A beer run here is running over to Belgium!  Only a half hour away!  Not that Germany doesn't have a good selection (over 5,000 we've been told), but we had nothing better to do on a Friday off.

It was a full trunk load back home!  Thanks to our partners in crime, Drew and Rhiannon, who are also stationed in Germany!!

Our personal loot!  The Bitburger is German, which we already had.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Das Auto

We started today by taking our German Driver's License test.  I'm happy to report that Phillip and I both Passed!!  WAHOO!!  We are now legal drivers!  We thus wasted no time in running to Bitburg to pick up our car rental!

While there we decided to explore our first German pub.  The hardest part so far is the language barrier, but most Germans have at least a small English vocabulary.  I know a few German words, but I need to work on learning a lot more!  Below is a picture from our table.

We each ordered the Schnitzel Gorgonzola, which is a veal cutlet, breaded and fried.  It also came with french fries.  And don't you dare eat those french fries with your fingers!  I grabbed one, ONE!, and the waiter said "American."  You eat them with forks.  Anyways, the lunch was great!  We were told most American's gain 25 lbs over their tour here, and its not too hard to see why.

So, while we are sitting at lunch, no more than 30 minutes after renting our car (and paying for 8 days!), the vehicle processing center calls and tells us our own vehicle has arrived!!  UGH!!  I literally called yesterday afternoon to check if it would be here soon and was told they had no way of knowing.  Oh well.

Anyways, we make it back to base with just enough time for Phillip to get everything done so that we can have our car legal.  Best part... it made the trip with NO DAMAGE!!!!!  We were very worried it would get torn up.  But it looks great, and so far runs great too!  It's really nice to have it here!

As such, tomorrow we will be returning our rental car!  Hopeful we can get most of our money back.  Then we are going to do some exploring with our college friends Drew and Rhiannon who are stationed out at Ramstein!  

Have a Happy Fourth of July!  

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Post #1!

So, I decided to start this blog since we are now living in Germany!  Hopefully it will be a way for us to stay in contact with all our friends and family, and you can see more of what we are doing day to day.

To update, we got to Germany about a week ago and have been busy since.  Our most consuming task right now is looking for a place to live.  The housing market is pretty competitive, so this may take a while.  We looked at a couple so far, and haven't found anything doable yet.  But we are staying positive.

Interesting fact I learned at orientation today:  There are only about 6 in 1,000 woman in Germany who have babies each year.  Their reproduction rate is very low.  So low that the government offers the parents 3 years of maternity leave, at %60 pay, and a guaranteed job upon return!  Phillip and I will not be helping them out though!  It was hard enough getting the dog here!! :) 

And keep your fingers crossed for Phillip and/or I to pass our Driver's License test tomorrow.  We would prefer to be able to do some exploring this weekend!

Picture of Phillip sitting outside after we had dinner the other night.  This is at about 9:30pm!!  It does not get dark here in the summer til about 10:30pm, and it is light again by 5am!  The winters are gonna be rough as it doesn't get light until about 9am and is dark by 3:30pm!!