Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Right" of Way

Hello, folks, Ben here to offer a short post about the quirkiness of the German traffic laws and other silly situations that come up for Americans moving to Germany.

The term “Right of way” literally means that in an unmarked intersection, in Germany, where multiple cars meet at the same time, the person to your right has the “right of way”.  If you are having a hard time picturing this, just imagine how it would look to see 4 vehicles all speeding toward an intersection from different directions all with green lights. 10 feet from the intersection and all of the green lights turn red, with no yellow signal to warn any of them, followed by all four cars slamming on their brakes and waiting for someone to do something. This is the system the Germans chose rather than putting up signs at intersections. There are many other traffic differences which are quite remarkable, like priority roads, hash marks on poles that tell you that you are 240 meters from a train crossing, parking on sidewalks, and driving on streets that look remarkably like sidewalks  but I won’t get into that right now.

Power is also quite different. Frankly, I am completely shocked that a continent so concerned with their carbon footprint would make every outlet 220 volts. Most of our stuff isn’t here yet, but I wanted to mention this because I had to use a transformer the other day for my hair clippers. Ironically the only clippers I could find at the store were American style, 110 volt clippers. But the real issue, which the transformer apparently can’t fix, is that Americans use 50hz, and Europe uses 60hz. I plugged in my clippers and for a brief moment I thought that I was going to die from 220volts and 60hz coursing through my body. As it turned out, I survived. However, I think that my clippers will only get two or three uses because the additional power to the motor made the clippers run at an incredible speed, and the sound of them was deafening. They were vibrating so violently I confused the sensation for electricity. I proceeded to cut my hair, but my ears were ringing for the next 30 minutes…

I don’t know what to do with our trash, but it is starting to get a bit smelly and I have no idea how to deal with it. For this particular subject, we are given four trash bags, all of varying colors and different uses. There is a blue bag, a yellow bag, a brown bag, and a green bag. Recycling is an absolute must and if you don’t separate it the trash man won’t take your trash. Unfortunately, when we moved into our temporary housing, there were only blue bags, and I don’t know what to put in them. Furthermore, I’ve heard that there are bio-base bins/bags, and if you put your uneaten meat in it, you WILL get rats… It is all very confusing, but we kinda need a solution soon.

Well, thanks for taking the time to read about our quirky adventure here in Deutschland. Stay tuned for more .

Kim here posting this for Ben... thought it would be hilarious to add that Ben is outside with the landlord right now learning about trash. ;-)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Settling in can be unsettling

We've arrived, barely - long story short we were denied boarding the military plane from Baltimore to Ramstein. I had no clue Ben needed a military ID in order to fly this way. A birth certificate, marriage certificate, social security card, regular stateside drivers license, a leisure passport and an official DoD passport are clearly not enough documentation to prove his identity! Needless to say we got to spend a sucky night in Baltimore... Next day we were off to Fort Meade to get Ben and ID - another no go. I think Baltimore might be the land of 'no's' - so much for getting to "yes!" After hours of holding up an innocent cabby on the post I eventually got the lovely (not sarcastic at all - they were actually the best) Air Force Academy Ticket office to issue our family commercial tickets to Frankfurt. So we rode in style, on a 777 with individual TVs! Maybe the Gods (I use that figuratively because I believe in one God) knew I couldn't handle an 8 hour plane ride without the usual comforts.

I guess that turned into a long story.

Our temporary apartment in Mackenbach, Germany is alright.  Very basic, just the right amount of motivation to find our own place! What I don't get are the white walls, white floors, white couches, white everything! Oh, and european beds/pillows/sheets are bizarre and not a bit enjoyable. I cannot wait for my oversized king pillowtop mattress with 600 threadcount sheets to arrive. Maybe then I will sleep again, you see it is midnight here nearly - I am officially turning into a night owl.

Ben and Ave ventured out into the village today and had an authentic german lunch and used some euros, so cool. I visited my office, and must say the people are great, it is a small office so good thing.

Champ is such a champ, Avery is incredibly resilient and Ben is taking it all in stride. Other than being cooped up without a car we are great. Once we have transportation I bet our adventure will really begin.

Tomorrow we are off to see Peter Pan, the play with my good friend Tara, should be so fun. I really am glad to have friends here already. Here's to an incredible 3 years, prost!

Pics from the trip here and around our village Mackenbach...