First Days in Germany

Trip Start Aug 31, 2009
Trip End Jan 08, 2010

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Where I stayed
New Apartment

Flag of Germany  ,
Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September 2nd 7:00 am: We woke up early this morning, probably because we went to bed at 8:30 pm local time last night, I never realized how serious jet lag was until this trip.  I'm contemplating getting in the shower now and going to explore near the castle/palace (or Schloss as they say in Germany, thanks Wendy ;) to at least find some coffee (kaffee) and breakfast.  I'm surprised at how intimidated I am by the language barrier, I just assumed I would arrive and be able to figure everything out.  We were told it's very easy to get around Germany only knowing English, and so far that has been true, but many of the restaurants menus are in German only (surprising, I know :), which is fairly intimidating for someone who is TERRIFIED of inadvertantly ordering blood sausage (shudder).  I continue to be amazed by the European culture of teaching English in grade school, EVERYONE I've talked to here so far at least speaks a little English, it makes me feel very much like an arrogant American and frustrated that I didn't learn much of a foreign language when I was in school.  Anyway, our apartment is very VERY tiny and not exactly clean but it is beautiful and bright and in a wonderful neighborhood next to the aforementioned castle, I really like it.  We have a very small TV that only gets CNN in English (although it's mildly entertaining to watch shows you used to watch in the US in German) and a couch that folds out into a bed.  Also apparently Germany has a "TV Tax" that prompted our landlord to instruct us not to let anyone into the building that we're not expecting, his last tennant accidentally let a TV Tax Inspector (I guess) into the apartment subsequently charging our landlord a tax for having an "unregistered" TV in the apartment.  Really?
Last night we had dinner at the beer garden right below our apartment, it was good.  I had curry sausage which tasted like a hot dog covered in ketchup and dusted with curry powder, nothing special.  Alex didn't know what he ordered (I'm not kidding when I say menus in another language are intimidating!!) but I think it was deep fried pork.  During dinner I actually asked Alex "we're going to get fat here, aren't we?" just because of the things we've eaten thus far.  Yikes.  Hopefully all the walking around we're doing will offset some of the beer and sausage.
For now we're off to stretch our comfort zones but we'll be sure to write more and post pictures soon. - C.F.

Lessons in the European Electrical System, et cetera
Since my last entry I have learned the following about Europe: Germans aren't impressed with you unless you make an effort to communicate in their language (fair enough), things are expensive here (but awesome!), not all electrical convertors are created equal (we blew a fuse in one of our convertors and effectively destroyed my flat iron), you pay to use shopping carts in some stores, not all bathrooms have outlets (including ours), random bartenders will give you a city map if you ask nicely and look lost enough, and everything is better after a beer or two but figuring out what time it is in the Mountain Standard Time Zone gets tricky.  I need to keep reminding myself things aren't better or worse here, they're just different and I need to go with the flow...

September 3rd, 5:00 pm: We woke up early again today to run various errands, namely trying to find yet another fuse to put into our electrical convertors that are both kaput.  It has been brought to my attention (thanks Dad) that the convertors we bought in Montana are pretty much crap and don't provide enough voltage to support even a cell phone.  Long story short, we have fried both our electrical convertors and now have no source of power for the hair dryer, flat iron, and most importantly, the computer.  As I type this I'm sitting in an internet cafe near our apartment where you can buy espresso (you make it yourself!), beer, liquor, cigarettes, and a various assortment of candy...a place that multi-tasks, I like it.  The only downside?  I'm using a German keyboard, everytime I reach for the "y" I get a "z", everytime I try an apostrophe I get "" instead.  However until we get the computer electricity situation figured out emails, Skype, and G-Chat may become a little more infrequent.  Boo. 
We explored a new part of town today, a busier area with lots of markets and bakeries, I found just the spot we'll have a birthday breakfast pastry tomorrow. :) Today we took our first trip on the U-Bahn which wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be, unfortunately our trip was only to the electronic store and lunch where I learned the following: some Germans ability to speak English depends on their mood and malzbier is a TERRIBLE non-alcoholic beer for kids (I know, WTF?), one recommended by our waiter that we must have offended and a mistake I will never make again.  Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day with less rain and more US/European electrical problem solving.  Until then...  
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