Ladyrebecca's Musings and Ramblings

The Increasingly Political Thoughts of Rebecca (Becky) Walker

Finally, a good day trip in Germany! June 20, 2009

Filed under: Anecdotal,germany — Addicted to Yarn @ 9:56 pm
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Living in a foreign country has given me a love of reality I didn’t know I could have. When I am based in reality, life is good. When I am based in fantasy, life is horrible.

A couple of months ago we went to Köln for two days. We took the train so we wouldn’t have to deal with finding parking. We stayed in a hotel near city zentrum (city center) so we’d be near all the sights. We bought one umbrella when it started to rain and attempted to share it. We went to a museum, the first we f0und in order to get out of the rain. I had made a list of the different things we wanted to see but we were unable to see most of them. We did walk through the Dom, the huge (and in my opinion, incredibly ugly) cathedral in the center of town. But it was cold and damp and everything was in German. We planned on using public transport but were unable, or unwilling, to figure it out. Our hotel room had two twin beds and a pull out for Jael. It was hot and stuffy so we had to open the window in order to sleep but because we were in the center of the city, the noise from the street was excessive. We all had pounding headaches. We got on the train the next morning and went home, depressed, discouraged and hating Germany.

We had today the day we’ve been trying to have for nine months. We drove to Koblenz today and while I did take a right when I was supposed to go left (due to a surprise turning lane), I was able to turn around at the next round about (within sight of the missed turn) and get right back on track. We went to a store and spent a couple of hours wandering around. We found things we weren’t embarrassed to have in our home (we were in an IKEA). We had an icecream with Jael. We went to the Midsommer fair they had in the parking lot and Jael had fun. She jumped in a bounce house, made a flower wreath head piece, and hammered a nail into a log. We went to the marktplatz and walked around until it started to pour VERY COLD rain. Then we ran to through the marktplatz until we found a store selling umbrellas. We bought an umbrella for each of us and found a quiet restaraunt to eat lunch in. We had a good lunch, a decent cup of coffee and a donut. Then we went home, again, without getting lost, not even a wrong turn.

What we did right today, what we’ve failed to do on our trip to Köln and on other days, was our expectations. When we started out today, we didn’t plan on having a “whirlwind German adventure.” We said, “We are going to the next big town to do some shopping. We’ll probably have some lunch there and see what we can see. We will probably not be able to find everything or even anything we are looking for.” And since our expectations were based in reality, reality was what we got and our expectations were met. We did not set our expectations on being “super tourists” who see all the sights and go to all the museums. We didn’t do anything touristy because until we are comfortable with a city, touristy stuff makes us want to gouge our eyes out.

Maybe next time, when we have an idea of where things are, we will do some touristy things before lunch. There are a number of neat things in Koblenz that we would like to do. There is a castle, a military museum and supposedly a nice park. Perhaps we’ll just go to IKEA and reveal in being in a large store. I don’t know.

But what I do know is that as I drove home, I felt happy and full of life instead of drained and depressed. Reality can be your best friend if you embrace it but your worst enemy if you try to deny its existence.

Oh, and Lisa and Angie…sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted. Thanks for you patience.

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Halloween Night November 1, 2008

Guten Abend meine Fruenden,

(Good Evening my friends)

We are doing well here in the Walker household. Tonight is Halloween and we are back from Trick or Treating with Jael. She dressed as Tinkerbell but unfortunately she wanted an authentic Tinkerbell costume, which meant a very tiny dress. I took a turtle neck and cut the sleeves off. I sewed the arm holes shut and cut the hem into a zig-zag. Jael wore it like a tube top with the turtle neck being the bodice of the dress. I made a pair of wings out of two coat hangers shaped into wings, covered them with a pair of white pantyhose and then sewed a couple of pieces of elastic to them and Viola! Tinkerbell. Of course, being that it looked an awful lot like Tinkerbell’s actual clothes, Jael was freezing and so wore her winter coat over the costume. I told her that next year she needed to dress up as something warmer, like a dog sled musher.

We went to Trier last weekend. We’d planned on taking the train but I must admit, the score is “Train system: 2; Walker’s: 0.” We’ve not figured it out yet. I think we are going to ask our landlords for advice. So we ended up driving. Which would have been fine except that we didn’t have a good map of Trier and the route I’d planned had been based off us starting at the train station. The first hour of our time in the city was a little frustrating but once we were parked and had figured out where we were, we were good to go.

The first placed we stopped was the Imperial Baths (Kaiserthermen).

The first cool thing about the baths was that I had to speak German in order to get our tickets. I said, “Zwei Erwachsene, ein Kinder,” and the man behind the counter told me the total and I almost understood him. Small victories.

We were able to go into the service tunnels underground and walk through the cave like labyrinths. As we walked along the outer wall, I noticed the holes in the walls for archers to defend the city from invaders. It was strange to walk along a wall, enjoying the beautiful sunshine and know that men had died on the ground we walked on, defending the city we were enjoying. It was strange to walk through a building that was so big. Not just physically but in importance. The Imperial Baths were a big deal. Trier was a big deal. The same people who built the “Colosseum” built the building we were walking through. The same society that gave us the constitutional republic, built this building. We were, literally, walking through history and it made me feel small.

We walked to the Porta Nigra, and I, again, got to practice my German. Again, success! The two things I remember the most were a loud and enthusiastic tour guide in period costume and Jael’s hunger. Sie hast hunger (She is hungry, or literally, she has hunger). I’ve not learned past tenses.

We went through town to find something to eat and I think we may have walked through the biggest crowd we’d ever seen! It was a little nerve wracking. I worried about losing Jael but luckily, she was perfectly happy to hold tight to a hand. There were street musicians playing with their cases open at their feet, playing for the few odd coins passerbyers might throw in.

We stopped at a park on the way back to the car and Jael played for a couple of minutes. She attempted to play with two sisters but they just looked at her like she was insane and continued to play amongst themselves. They even got a little mean, going out of their way to exclude her but she just kept playing. She’s a resilient kid.

Then we headed home. A successful trip. We were very tired by the time we got home. I think the crowds tired us out as much as the walking; at least for Israel and I.

Oh, and I passed my driver’s license test last week. It’s a hundred question test and you can miss up to 15 and still pass. I missed 7. I missed two sign questions and they were stupid mistakes. I don’t know what the other five were so WATCH OUT!!  ha ha.  Anyway, it’s been very good to have wheels again.

Our furniture should be here somewhere around the 17th of November. We are very ready to have some furniture. You might think it is hard to keep your house clean…try it with no furniture. No bookcases for books. No desk for paper, pens and tape. No file cabinets for paperwork. No dresser for clothes. No toy box for toys. Our house constantly looks like a tornado tore through here or a “miscellaneous stuff” bomb went off.

Jael went to Kindergarten today. I left at 8:30 to clean a house and at 8:45, Maria, our landlady who works at the kindergarten, stopped by to ask if she could take Jael with her to work. I had called last week about enrolling Jael and was told that they didn’t have any openings and that they had to offer any openings to German students first. Anyway, Israel said that was fine so when I got home, Jael was gone. Israel told me the deal and to my surprise, tears began to fill my eyes. Israel’s eyes welled up and we spent a couple of minutes holding each other as we realized how grown up Jael is getting. Israel asked what I wanted to do and all I could think was, “I want my baby back!” But we waited until 2 and picked her up. She was not happy to see us (very typical. She’d always rather stay and play than go home…makes me feel great!). She’d had a great time and brought home a little ghost she’d made.

We came home and carved our Jack-O-Lanterns. Jael drew the face for one and Israel did the other. They both came out great. We set them out and lit the candles. I was really pleased. I wish I had a camera and I would send pictures, but alas, we don’t so I can’t.

I can’t think of anything else. I have got to write more often so I don’t end up with such long letters. But I probably won’t. Anyway, that’s what’s going on here.

Becky

 

Update from Deutschland September 23, 2008

Filed under: Anecdotal — Addicted to Yarn @ 8:21 am
Tags: , , ,

So I am writing these regular updates to friends and family. I think I will post them here as well. Yup. I’m that lazy.

Gutentag! (Good day)

I hope everyone can forgive me, but there is so much to tell everyone that it’s much easier to write group emails and address the specific questions and such within. I hope no one feels slighted. I would like to respond to each email personally but I just don’t have the time or eye power to stare at the computer for so long. That and I would tire of telling the same stories over and over and someone would end up with:

“Have jet lag. Haven’t found house yet. Scenery is beautiful. Sorry about you being sick. Hope work starts going better. Talk to you later.”

And I don’t think anyone wants that letter. So, having said that, here’s the news with some personal notes at the end. Feel free to read everyone’s notes…I won’t put anything personal or private in a group letter. I may be kind of spacey but I’m not quite so spacey or tactless as that!

I met some other wives with their kids today. Jael and I happened to be at the park when another mom and her two kids got there. The kids played together for a while and then she invited me to a playgroup that meets on Tuesdays from ten to noon in the playroom in the TLF (Temporary Lodging Facility) basement. So we did that for an hour or so and then Jael asked to go home. She was feeling tired, what with getting up at 2am and all. 🙂

Anyway, I picked their brains, asking all sorts of questions. Simple things like phone service are complicated here. I’m afraid we might end up with DSL internet. 😦 I’d never used DSL before. Before we had cable internet, I’d used dial-up at home and cable or wireless at the libraries. Our room in TLF at Keesler had DSL and it was sooooooo slow compared to cable. Unfortunately, a lot of the small towns around here do not have cable internet. I guess we’ll adjust but if there are two houses available and one has access to cable internet, I imagine we’ll take it. The internet is our connection to the world, you know?

Oh, and there is a phone company here called TSK and they were running, Melloney was unsure if they still were, a special that you could choose one country that it would be free for you to call. Guess which country I would choose? If we do that, we will have to do the calling!!

The time difference. Just add seven hours to your time. If it’s noon for your, it’s 7 pm for us. If it’s 7 pm for you, it’s 2 am for us and, please, don’t call. 🙂 I’d say it’s safe for you to call from about 11 pm your time until about 3 pm your time. So in the middle of the night, early morning, naptime (for those of you with kids), and right before my dad gets home are good times to call. Weird isn’t it?

Israel doesn’t start work for a couple of weeks but he doesn’t have the day off. He should really get a couple off to get over Jet Lag (and I think it should be capitalized). He’s going to “Welcome to Germany” briefings all day. Fun. Tomorrow I will go with him as it’s more community minded things and less military. Then on Friday we should be going on a tour of Trier, the oldest city in Germany and boat tour. Hopefully. Maybe we’ll even have that new digital camera!

I’ve had a few people ask where in Germany we are. I wish I knew. Ha ha. No seriously. It seems very complicated. The US has such neat lines between the states that it seems much easier. Spangdahlem Air Base is located near the small town of Spangdahlem with larger cities Bitburg and Trier nearby. It is in the Eifel Mountain region in southwestern Germany near the border of Luxembourg. Trier, the oldest city in Germany, is twenty minutes from Spangdahlem. The Mosel River, with its picturesque villages and famous wines, flows nearby. Don’t know if that helps but there you are.

 

Germany…here we are!! September 22, 2008

Filed under: Anecdotal,military — Addicted to Yarn @ 12:30 pm
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Well, we have arrived. We are in Germany. We arrived Sunday morning after a long and somewhat tiresome journey. Our flights went well but the nine our flight from Atlanta to Frankfurt was long and while we only traveled from 330 pm to 12:30 am Mississippi time, we lost seven hours and arrived at 7:30 German time. So after not being able to sleep on the plane for more than a couple of minutes. we arrived very tired.

Mac was there to pick us up…although a bit late due to bad communication in the shop so we had a couple of worried minutes but it turned out okay. He drove us to the base, which is about two and a half hours from Frankfurt. Upon arriving, we attempted to check into Lodging but were informed that while they had a reservation for us, our room would not be ready for about three or four hours. Mac kindly offered his guest room to us so we went to his house and passed out on his couches. After a foud hour nap, we went back to the Hotel and received the keys to our room.

We hauled our things up to the second floor and opened the door into a beautiful apartment. We have a living room with a couch and two stuffed chairs, a TV and DVD player, a coffee table, a desk, and a door leading to the balcony.

The kitchen is larger than any kitchen we’ve had, except for Hilltop, which was a kitchen/dining room combo. The kitchen comes stocked with dishes, pots and pans, silverware, small appliances (toaster, microwave, can opener, etc), and dish soap. We have a dining room with table and six chairs.

Jael has her own room with large closets and a TV (which she doesn’t get to watch in there).

Across from Jael’s room is the bathroom, which is the largest bathroom we’ve ever had.

Down the hall is the second bedroom, with a full bed and large closet and another TV. Across from that room is the Master Bedroom with queen bed and TWO closets, TV, end tables and the Master bath, which has a washer and dryer in it. Again, it’s a very large bathroom.

So we are pretty happy.

Today, Israel started the inprocessing process and brought home a stack of available homes/apartments. And I mean a STACK! 163 listings to be exact. We spent the afternoon going through them and narrowing them down. We started by only looking at the ones that were eight miles or closer to the base so Israel can still bike to work. We weeded out probably 75% of the units. We are going to start at the closest and work our way through. Hopefully we’ll find something soon but I’m not too worried. Our “room” here in lodging is more than adequate.

Jael and I walked to the Commissary and brought home some cheese covered “pretzels,” which were bread dough, shaped into pretzel shapes and covered with cheese and jalapenos. We had those and some fruit for lunch and felt very European.

After supper, we went to the park and then took a walk around until we got chilled. Chilled. Not hot and sweaty, but chilled. YAY!

We are loving it here. I will post more as we experience more.