Monday, November 15, 2010

Just Starting Out

So here we are starting off our second week in Germany. This entry may be a long one but I hope it’s an informative one for any civilians out there contemplating a tour in Germany.

Sometimes it seems as though we’ve gotten nothing done. Being able to stop and take a glance back at the last few days has helped me that we actually have accomplished a lot. There are some small hurdles to overcome. Saturdays and Sundays are pretty much "lay back and relax" days. As one blogger so eloquently stated, ’for my capitalist mind this is a very difficult concept to grasp’ - such is the case for me as well. For those that are settled, it’s a nice feeling to just sit back and have fun during the weekend. For newcomers it can be frustrating.

From Sacramento, we came from a department that was not DOD (Department of Defense). Because of this, it’s taking a little longer to transfer all of our information into the system. It’s also difficult for some personnel in DOD to understand. We are a bit of an unusual case. So getting our official non-guest passes has taken a while. The positive end of this is that it’s forced us to get out into town to find necessities. Also another fortunate was that our sponsor took us to the BX and commissary to get other things. Although from an objective perspective, it may not have been necessary, being able to buy things from the Commissary (sandwich bread, milk, eggs, veggies, cold cuts, meat, etc.) takes the stress away just a little. Food things that were convenient for our family to have immediately:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Bacon
  • Cereal
  • Cold cuts
  • Sandwich bread
  • Mayo
  • Mustard
  • Peanut butter (OK yes, SO AMERICAN but truly needed in our family!)
  • Jelly/Jam
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Carrots
  • Grapes
  • Apples
  • Cheese
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Chicken Broth
  • Orange Juice
  • Macaroni and Cheese

Some things that I should have thought of:

  • Tupperware
  • Zip-loc bags
  • Brown paper bags (for lunches and ripening things like avocados)

At the BX I bought some things that really came in handy. Like a swiffer vacuum sweeper thingy. With the laminate and tile floors in our hotel, it is coming in real handy. I should have bought more cleaning pads to go on it though as the vacuum starter kit only comes with 2. I bought some corningware so that I could use the oven. That night I was able to cook a home cooked meal. This was something that was truly missed in our family. Nothing fancy just roasted chicken with potatoes, onions, garlic, and carrots but boy it was good. One thing I should have bought was baking pans.

The hotel that we are renting is out in town. We did not get base lodging this time. The hotel qualifies more as an apartment. I’d say it’s between 500-800 square feet. It has one bedroom and one bathroom. The bathroom has a shower, washer and dryer. A small victory for me was learning how to operate the washer and dryer. Here are the translations I came up for most of the commands on the washer:


1-Mit Vorwasche- with pre wash

4-ohneVorwasche- with out pre wash


A-Spulen + Schleudern – Heat + Spinning

Pflegeleicht- Wash and wear

2-Mit Vorwasche- with pre wash

4-OhneVorwasche without pre wash




3-Mit Vorwasche-with pre wash

8-ohneVorwasche-with out prewash



C-Abpumpen- Evacuate

Intensiv- Intensively



D-Stopp-DUH! Stop

I selected “2” and then pushed start. It went to 2 skipped over 3,4,5,6 stopped at 7 and filled up with water moved to 8 and spun then moved to 10 and spun. I also found out that if I push a button marked ‘Intensiv Spulen’ the machine would spin the wet clothing much faster to take more moisture out of it. Leaving it to dry just a little faster in the dryer.

The rest of the apartment consisted of a living room with a couch, fold out futon, two chairs, bookshelf, coffee table and TV. We were thankful to have our portable DVD player as the apartment did not come with a DVD player. The TV had cable that had several English language channels. Joshua really got a kick out of watching Spongebob Squarepants in German. We were also thankful that there were attachments to plug in several of our electronics. It’s very important to check the electric current requirement on the device before plugging it in. Our laptop was OK but Joshua’s Nintendo DS was not. We had to purchase a new charger plug for that.

From the living room, there was a small inlet where a full size bed was. We put Joshua in this bed. Samuel is in the Pack n’ Play at the foot of Joshua’s bed. Away from the inlet was the kitchen. This is where the table for eating is. The kitchen had a microwave, oven, stove top, refrigerator but no freezer, and of course a coffee maker (This is Germany after all!). There was a good amount of storage, dishes, silverware, glasses and cooking utensils.

The heat is supplied by radiators through out the apartment. We are unable to control the heat. I imagine the landlord had many a guests who would jack it up way too high, sending his power bill in exactly the same direction! The windows let in a lot of light which is nice during the cold days when it seems so dreary. There are pull down shutters that resemble the storm shutters that we had in Japan. It’s nice because it keeps out the light well. I understand that this is important during the Summer months when the sun stays out very long. There is no central air of any kind so it’s important to leave a window cracked. The window handle can be turned so that a window can open as a door or, be cracked open from the top.

Also supplied was an iron and ironing board. I really wish there would have been a hair dryer supplied. That was a tough one for me and just about our first purchase out in town!

Hope that this was helpful to anyone facing an upcoming move to Germany and also helps our family paint a more vivid picture of what we’ve been doing the past several days.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the update. You do a great job of keeping it together for your family. It's the insight required to know in advance what you'll be needing in the future which makes moving OCONUS challenging. You've had so much on your mind, no wonder you didn't get extra Swiffer pads, duh! Good luck on your driving test!