Friday, July 30, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-in #6

It's time for Wife of a Sailor's MilSpouse Friday Fill-in, which means it must be Friday! Woohoo, my favorite day! Heck, who am I kidding. With no kiddos, no job, and no school, they are all my favorite day! ;)

This week's questions are:

1. What is your spouse's best feature?
Ack! Do I have to pick just one? I don't think I can! His smile is so freaking wonderful. Makes me melt every time. It's a lil lopsided and adorable and sexy all in one. His hair. I am so jealous of his dark, thick, gorgeous hair! His height- I love tall guys. And definitely his sense of humor. He is "the funny guy" and that is ultimately what caught my heart. Sure he's romantic and perfect in every other way, but the fact that he can make me laugh and that we have so much fun together...that's the glue that sticks us together.

2. Mild, Medium or Hot sauce? Medium for salsa but hot, hot, hot for sauce! I love spicy food!

3. What is the worst uniform you had to wear for a job?
Well, Ive always worked in healthcare, so I've always had to wear scrubs in one form or another. They really arent that bad. Pretty comfy and that's what I want when Im working with patients. I did volunteer as a candy striper (striper, not stripper, haha!) for a couple of summers and that outfit was beyond ugly.

4. You have invisible powers… where is the first place you would go?
I have no good answer for this... if I were invisible Id also want to have some form of traveling powers too. Id like to observe some top secret meetings, watch a movie being made, & yep, Id peek in on Brad Pitt. If Im invisible, why not? =)

5. What’s left on your “to do” list for this summer?
Learn German, get caught up on travel scrapbook, meal plan for the next month, order bridesmaids dress, ...........

Happy Weekend Everyone!

PS...I purchased my first ever iPhone yesterday and I am stoked! If anyone plays Words with Friends, my username is klam143!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

It's a Quirky Day in the Neighborhood

I thought I would take a break from posting about our travel adventures and write about another topic: the quirks of living in Germany. Even though I had visited Germany prior to moving, it is still a bit of a culture shock to actually live here. I've been told that it takes a few months to get settled here and I certainly believe it's true. We've been here for a month and a half and we really are loving it so far, in spite of, and maybe even because of, these quirks.

*Telephone numbers- I still haven't figured this one out. I finally memorized my own phone number which is 12 digits long. The number of the numbers are different- from 10-13, sometimes you have to dial a prefix, sometimes not, some numbers I can call with my go phone, others not. It's pretty annoying, mainly because I am not a numbers kind of gal.

*On all cars here in Germany, two license plates are required, one on the front and one on the back. Doesn't matter if you don't have a license plate holder on the front or not. In this case (our case), you have to drill the license into your front bumper.

*At most public venues, you have to pay to use the public restrooms. Sometimes in restaurants, even if you are a customer. It isn't much, usually 0.50 euro cents. That being said, Germany has some of the cleanest public restrooms that I have ever seen. So unlike America in this respect.

*Radio stations here don't really have a specific genre that they play. Most of them just play it all from oldies to country to Top 40. Thankfully they like American music and play it all the time. The only annoying thing is that the radius for most stations is very small so we are frequently having to find a new station when traveling. Seek and Scan are my new best friends.

*No closets, storage, few cabinets- This is perhaps the biggest and most annoying quirk of all, and only because we have a lot of stuff. A LOT. Im talking 13,000 lbs. of stuff in 10 crates. Seriously. How two people have that much stuff, I dont know. Wait, yes I do. My mother. I'm pretty sure I can blame this one, at least partially, on her. She likes to buy me stuff, which I love. She is also the greatest bargain shopper out there and has taught me a thing or two. That means I can buy more stuff at a better price. J would tell you it's the cake pans. Apparently, they take up too much room. Good thing his opinion of them doesn't count! ;)

*German kitchens have TINY little ovens and dishwashers. Tiny. This presents a major problem for me because I love to bake. Unfortunately, Ive already discovered that some of my cake pans will not fit into the oven. And you can forget trying to cook a turkey in there for Thanksgiving. Or more than one item for that matter. As far as the dishwasher goes, well, sometimes the dishes get clean and sometimes they dont. It usually takes an hour to run one small load and it is so loud, you can hear it throughout the house. I think in the future the dishwasher will become the place where I hide the dishes until I am ready to hand wash them.

*In Germany they have some very strict laws when to comes to quiet hours, dogs, and home & car maintenance. Quite hours are daily from 1300-1500 and after 1900 until 0600. Dogs must be well behaved and can not bark for 10 consecutive minutes or more than 30 minutes daily. Seriously. Cars can not be driven with obvious malformations. You know the cars back home that have duck taped windows and bungee cords securing their bumpers? Well, that isnt allowed here. You're not supposed to even drive with a cracked windshield. Your driveway must be swept and kept clean and if it snows, your drive must be shoveled by 0600 the following morning! While it's true they are strict about many things, one thing they are definitely more relaxed about is driving. While the other 90% of their lives appear to be at a slower pace, it seems that they are always in a hurry when driving. Speeding is a way of life around here. I feel like I am taking a chance with my life every time I cross the freaking road! There are many parts of the autobahn in our area that do not have speed limits at all. Sure, they recommend that you not drive over 130 kph, but you can legally drive as fast as you want.

*Many businesses do not accept credit cards or will only accept European credit cards. Back home, J & I NEVER used cash. I rarely carried any cash at all. We were card carrying people. This has been a major adjustment for us. One morning, brunch with new friends turned into coffee only because not only did the restaurant only accept euro, but the nearby ATMs were all out of order. We've learned quickly enough to always have euro now.

*I knew about this next one since we had visited Europe before, but I wasnt really prepared for it. German homes and most businesses do not have air conditioning. Granted, most of the year the weather isn't hot enough for one, but coming from the grand ole US of A where pretty much every building has one, it's an adjustment. Instead, we have 8 fans for our 3 story house. Those, combined with using the rolladens (a lovely little invention), work really well. It really isn't a problem in our home, but when we go to a store or restaurant, I definitely start to...glow.

*I don't know if it's just me or what, but it seems like there isn't an easy way to get to any destination. This might be partly because I don't know my way around yet.

*Germany's recycling laws are very detailed and very strict. We have three different trash receptacles and two different colored bags for trash plus an extra bin for glass. Our pantry/laundry room is pretty crowded with them all! Im definitely pro-earth and all for recycling, but it does get a bit confusing deciding where things go.

*At German grocery stores and even on base at the BX, a deposit is required if you would like to use a shopping cart. You insert a euro into the slot on the cart and it unlocks from the rest of them. When you're finished, you just hook it back up to the other carts and you get your deposit back. It really is a genius way to make sure people bring their shopping carts back and don't leave them in the parking lot for someone to hit.

These are just some of the things that I've noticed in our 6 or so weeks here. I'm sure the longer we're here, the more I'll notice. I'm definitely ok with that. This isn't America and it isn't quite home yet, so I expect there to be certain...quirks that I'm not used. I'm actually looking forward to them. This is a grand adventure that we are on and I plan on making the most out of it!

To all of you who currently do or have lived overseas, what are some quirks that you've noticed?

Happy Weekend Everyone! =)

Friday, July 23, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-in #5

It's Friday again (Man, this week flew by!) and that means Milspouse Friday Fill-in hosted by Wife of a Sailor!

1. Besides the horizontal mambo, what do you miss most when your spouse is deployed?
Does everything count? No? Too much? Ok then.... sleeping beside him, cooking together, his company, laughing together, taking trips and adventures together, the ease of making decisions, and on, and on, and on....

2. What do you miss least?
Is it ridiculous to say nothing?

3. You only get three crayons to finish your picture… which three do you choose and why?
Pink, orange, & red because they are my favorite colors and could create a gorgeous sunset.

4. If you could have your own fragrance, what would it be called?
OPS: Operation Princess Sparkle... hahahaha... you had to be there....

5. If the shoes make the man (or woman), what do your shoes say about you right now?
That I need some new shoes!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg, Germany is a short, easy hour's drive from our new home. It's a gorgeous town with a young, vibrant feel. When we arrived, all we knew was that we wanted to see the castle. At the bus stop in the center of town, a nice lady told us which bus would take us to the castle. We waited 20 minutes for the bus, hopped on, and away we went! After 20 minutes and no castle in site, I had J ask the driver if we were headed for the castle. Of course we werent. Turns out, you dont even need to take a bus to get to the castle. We could have just walked.

I think J & I must be lucky because most of our adventures turn out really well. What seems like a wrong turn or a bad idea actually turns out to be a newly discovered town or attraction or a really fun detour. Thankfully, this time was no exception. The driver indicated to us that we should get off at the very top of the mountain. At the top was a restaurant overlooking the entire town. It was gorgeous! We decided to stay for lunch and a beer and take it all in. Afterwards, we took the tram down to the castle.

This castle is huge! We took our time exploring the expansive grounds. Afterwards, we walked down to into the center of the town. Heidelberg offers a variety of stores, especially for the American shopper. J & I browsed, but I cant wait to take a girl's trip back so I can get some real shopping in! One of the things that I was most excited about was the fact that they have a STARBUCKS! They also have gummy bear stores, locally made wine stores, and chocolate shops.

We had a great time in Heidelberg and I cant wait to go back!

On a side note:

We received our household goods yesterday which means I will be unpacking for weeks. I promise Ill take a break to blog! =)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-in #4

So now that I finally have internet in my house, I can start participating in this again. Thanks to Wife of a Sailor for hosting!

What food reminds you of your spouse?
Chocolate...especially chocolate chip cookies. J &I are huge chocolate lovers!

Who would you rather sit next to in a cross-country plane ride: an irritating non-stop talker, or a quiet stare-er?
A quite star-er hands down. They can look all they want as long as they leave me in peace so I can sleep or read. And I seriously dont want to have to make nice on a long flight. I hate to fly. It scares the beejeezes out of me.

What are your best tips on how to save money?
I do my research to find where the lowest price for something is and I use coupons. Ive always been a good saver, thanks to my dad. =)

What is your favorite summer memory?
These questions are always so difficult. I can never just pick one. I had a great childhood growing up in a quite neighborhood on a lake. My summers were all pretty great.

Do you believe in ghosts?
Not entirely, but I do think there may be a period of time where the spirit lingers before passing on.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Brussels, Belgium

One might ask why I opened this post with food & beer (and one may not, but I'll tell you anyway). It's because I do believe that's all we did our entire trip to Belgium. Eat & drink. Burgers bigger than my head, velvety chocolate, locally made beer, authentic Belgian waffles, ice cream, you name it and we probably consumed it. And it was all absolutely delicious!

This picture is of an authentic Belgian waffle, complete with strawberries, bananas, chocolate syrup and whipped cream. Absolutely decadent! It was more like eating dessert than breakfast and kept me full for an entire EIGHT hours. Yes, I said EIGHT hours. Which means that I really dont want to know how many calories were in that one dish. Even if I knew, I think it would still have been worth it. It was that good and I ate every bite.

Now on to the rest of the trip....

My first impression of Brussels was twofold: First- complete disbelief that the Belgians are worse drivers than the Germans and Second- Wow, what a huge city! As you all know by now (or maybe not), Im from a really small town. The largest city in my state only has around 130,000 people. So I was very impressed with the big city feel of Brussels.

Our hotel- Hotel a la Grande Cloche was wonderful! It was centrally located, about 5 mins from the city central. The front desk clerk was very friendly & helpful & spoke English very well. The room was clean & spacious enough, as was the private bathroom. (worth the extra euro) They didnt have an A/C, but they did have a fan, & with the window open, it was enough.

Besides the food, my favorite part of the city was the central square, The Grand Market. The buildings there date back to the 1600s & are breathtaking. Another favorite was all of the chocolate stores. They were everywhere! Most places had samples and a wide selection of chocolates to choose from. There were also plenty of shops to browse, from knockoffs to the high end stuff.

The Belgians themselves were very friendly & most of them spoke English very well, so we had no trouble getting around. Even though it is tourist season over here, the city center wasnt too crowded and we didnt have to wait in any lines.

As for attractions, St. Michael's church is a must-see. It was truly awe-inspiring. The outside is huge & impressive, while the inside is just gorgeous. Very intricate, clean & elegant with a dash or decadence thrown in. They have a variety of very old artwork & sculptures on display as well. While the main part of the church is definitely worth seeing, the crypt isnt, so dont waste the 1 euro to check it out. It's small & plain, with hardly anything at all to see. The Grand Palace was beautiful. We didnt get there early enough to take the tour, so we settled for watching the changing of the guards. The Atomium is a short drive away from the city center. It is a large, atom looking structure looming over the city. It was built for the 1958 World's Fair. We didnt go it, we just drove right up to it and took tons of photos.

Our only dislikes:
*Traffic was an absolute nightmare and lengthened our time there are home by at least an hour each way.
*There are few or no street signs and its very difficult to see the ones that are there. Thus, getting lost or taking a wrong turn is extremely easy.
*There are very few gas stations in Belgium that are right on the autobahn, so plan accordingly. Luckily we were prepared!

Overall, we loved Belgium and are looking forward to going back!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Sweetest Day

Im seriously in a great mood today! Why you might ask? (At least pretend to care. ;) Because we have internet. At our house! Finally! Im a communications junkie and have seriously been going through withdrawals for the past 2 weeks. We've already caught up on True Blood. We finished Season 2 last night. Love that show! To make this day even sweeter: We received our first shipment of stuff! Sure, it's only five large boxes worth, but I dont care. Its my own personal stuff and thats what Ive been craving. Its been so weird living like a nomad for the past 6 weeks. Im ready to make a home.

So now that we have internet, Ill be posting more frequently. Ive got Belgium, France, & the Netherlands to talk about plus the quirks of living in Germany and the frustrations of PCSing. I'm so excited! Ive had so many ideas for posts & have been writing them down... I just hope I can find that notebook! =)

Happy Monday everyone and I hope you all have a fantastic week. Ill leave you with this....

Yes, it is a soccer field/game replica all in.... Gummy Bears!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lovely Luxembourg

Our first out of country visit since arriving to Germany was to Luxembourg. Luxembourg City is only a two hour drive from Ramstein, so it made an easy day trip for us. We didnt know very much about the country prior to going, so we used our handy-dandy AAA guidebook to get a little info before we left.

Along the way, we had a few first hand learning experiences. If you know French, youll have a distinct advantage in this country over those of us who dont. Just when I was getting into the grove of saying "Guten Tag", "Bitte", and "Danke," we had to switch gears to French. I dont know about you, but I took Spanish in high school and a little in college, which means I know a very negligent amount of French. Im talking "Bonjour" and "Merci," and seriously, thats it. Thankfully my husband chose to take French in high school (like he'd ever need it right?). He actually remembered several phrases that really helped us out that day. Very few people spoke any English at all here.

In the center of the city is a large open air market. I loved it! They sold everything from fresh fish and pasta, to flowers and cheese. I could have spent a lot of time (and money) here, but we had things to do, so I settled with some fresh cheese and bacon. The Grand Ducal Palace is across the street and is just brilliant. So beautiful. The royal family actually lives there and guards patrol the grounds. While the building was impressive, the grounds were not. There wernt any visible gardens or greenery of any kind. Around the corner is the Cathedral Notre Dame, which is gorgeous. It has such a long, detailed history that is summarized in several languages on the wall, just inside the front door. The designs are very intricate, the stained glass windows awe-inspiring. It looks very much like what we've seen in Italy. The Place d'Armes is a large area near the open market that is full of shops and restaurants. Expect to pay 18-30 euro/person for lunch as this area is very pricey. They do have a McDonald's though and some more affordable prices off the main path. I don't know about you guys, but Im not traveling Europe just so I can eat at a McD's when I could get that in the States. Sure, it's familiar and one day I may give in, but for now Im happy sampling the local fare.

And on that note....
We ate lunch in a cute restaurant with electric pink walls and an attached bakery, near the open market called Wiltgen. It was very reasonably priced and the food was delicious! J & I both drank the BEST caramel macchiato EVER! E.V.E.R. I swear Ive never had anything like it, and Im afraid I never will again. It was so good, we had to get another one to go! The waiters here did not speak English, we we had to point at our selections on the menu, but it worked out easily enough.

The driving in Europe is adventurous, no matter what country you are in, but here in Luxembourg, it was definitely worse than what we'd been exposed to in Germany.

While we were excited to see downtown Luxembourg City, our main goal for the day was to make it up to Vianden Castle, which was about 20 minutes from the city, or 2 hours from Ramstein. This castle is gorgeous! It was enormous and imposing, sitting high on a hill overlooking an adorable little village. It was built in the 12th century, but has been added on to and rebuilt many times since then. In fact, it's still being remodeled. It's 6 euro per person to get in. Be sure to wear your walking shoes as it's a bit of a hike to get to the entrance.

These books were from the 1000s-1500s! So old and yet still mostly intact. They were so cool! =) Our only confusion of the day was with the castle parking. We could not figure out the parking meter, so we just winged it, and luckily, did not get a ticket.

Friday, July 2, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-in

Today I am participating in the Wife of a Sailor's MilSpouse Friday Fill-in. This is a fun way to get to know other MilSpouses and I think it's a great idea! It's super easy- just answer the following five questions, link up to her blog post, and you're done!

So here we go...

1. Tell us about your dream job… one that you could do regardless of pay.
This one's easy- a travel writer. I'd love to get paid to travel and review the places I went. Restaurants, shops, hotels, attractions, anything really. I LOVE to travel and write about my adventures. Getting paid for it would be icing on the cake.

2. What is your most prized material possession (kids and pets don’t count!)?
Hmm... the standard I suppose- my wedding ring, jewelry that my husband's given me, the ring my mom gave me for my 16th birthday, photos, albums, and scrapbooks.... and the not so standard.... my cake pans and baking equipment. Some are really old, passed down from my mom, some are new, and I love them all!

3. What has been your favorite duty station and why?
We've only had two- one in my home state and our new one here in Germany, though we've only been here for three weeks. I loved our last base for the simple fact that I was from there. My family is there, my friends, my job, etc. But I am super excited about this new station and all of the adventures it will bring!

4. What is your least favorite household chore?
Umm, can I say all of them? I really, really hate to clean. Im organized and tidy, but cant stand actual cleaning. The worst has to be dusting and cleaning the bathroom.

5. If you could give one piece of advice to a teenager today (not specifically a MilTeen), what would it be?
Don't worry about what other people think. It's ok to be different. There will be people who like you and people who don't, but what you think about yourself is what matters the most. You definitely can not please everyone, so don't waste tears trying. Rude people suck, so don't be one. =) Manners are incredibly important and undervalued these days. (Sorry, I know that's not just one!)

We are moving today and may not have internet for a few days! Once it's back up and running, stay tuned for Luxembourg, Brussels, & the quirks of living in Germany!

Happy weekend everyone!