What a delightful city! Quintessential Germany: half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets, vineyards, a castle, a wall walk, and much more!
There is a road connecting two of the bases – Patch Barracks & Panzer Kaserne – and it is an alternative to the autobahn. People who use this road call in the ‘Frog Road.’ Why? During mating season, the frogs try to cross the road to get to the other side. 🙂 Really!! Along this road, and set back from the shoulder, there is a barricade that is 18-24 inches in height.
According to people who have lived here longer than a year, this barricade is new; presumably it was erected to prevent the frogs from crossing the road and potentially getting flattened. When we sat through the classroom instruction before taking the exam to get our military sponsored driver’s license, the frog road was explained to us: when it is mating season, you must slow down so you don’t run over the frogs. Well, the warning signs have gone up and the speed limit has significantly decreased in order for the frogs to have the highest likelihood of safely crossing the road. (That 30 is kilometers per hour which translates to about 18 miles per hour. Normally the speed is between 70 and 100 kmph.) Not only that but there exists an Amphibian Project where volunteers capture the frogs, place them in buckets, and then carry the buckets across the road dumping the frogs out on the other side! According to our community newspaper, this will happen daily from 7-9 a.m. and 7-11 p.m., February 18 – May 10. This sign, however, has us slowing down from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. How, exactly, are the volunteers with the Amphibian Project actually seeing the frogs in order to catch them when it is dark 7-11 p.m.? Headlamps? I would think the greater concern would be slowing down so we don’t hit the volunteers transporting the frogs!
9/6/13: I decided to walk to the neighboring town of Echterdingen since there is a dedicated bike path leading to it from our village. The chance of getting lost would be minimal; I simply have to get to the main road and then walk along the bike path next to the main road. As long as I don’t veer down too many side streets once in Echterdingen, I should be able to find my way home. Easy! I set out armed with my grocery bag to pick up a few items; the key would be not to purchase more than I can carry! It was 2km to Echterdingen and the Rewe (grocery store) was farther into the town, not on the edge. I browsed the grocery store and bought produce, then walked home. The entire trip was about 2 hours in length; it is really cool that things are relatively close and walking is a possible mode of transportation.
Later I learned that I likely made a faux pas in purchasing my produce. Some grocery stores have a scale in the produce section. The customer is to weigh the produce and slap a sticker that the scale prints out with the weight and price onto the produce. This speeds up checkout because the cashier doesn’t need to weigh each item. Well, this Rewe had a scale but I wasn’t aware enough to pay attention to other patrons using it. When I was checking out, the cashier asked me something, but I didn’t understand what she said and I didn’t have the mental energy to try to translate. So I made a noncommittal grunt. In retrospect, that probably told her everything she needed to know: I am a clueless foreigner. In the dictionary, a foreigner is also called an alien! I am not going there…
9/5/13: I have had my feet on the ground for two days and I still feel overwhelmed by everything – the ‘deer in the headlights’ look. Jason is scheduled to be out of town next week and the car we had shipped from the States is to arrive next week. So he would like me to get my driver’s license in order to pick up the car from the Customs office in Böblingen. What?!! Is he insane? Couldn’t we just leave the car there until he returns from his business trip?
Driving in Germany is quite a bit different from driving in the States. The roads are extremely narrow, the signage is different, and some of the basic rules of the road are different. I’m sure I still have jet lag. This is a bad idea…
Nonetheless, I have read the driver’s manual the base provides, in English, and I sat through the 3 hour video/lecture/discussion before the test was administered. I passed with 97% but you could score 85% and still pass, which is a bit disconcerting. Shouldn’t we have to know everything about driving in Germany? Even with my score, I don’t feel adequately equipped to safely be behind the wheel. Really, public transportation is a GREAT idea! I’m sure with the bus and train system here, I can get anywhere.
9/2/13: Who really sleeps well the night before they have to get up early to begin a trip? I was out of bed at 4:00 a.m. in order to catch the 5:00 a.m. shuttle bus from my hotel to the Denver International Airport. I flew from Denver to Boston to Frankfurt to Stuttgart, arriving in Stuttgart at 9:00 a.m. local time on September 3rd. Since Stuttgart is 8 hours ahead of Colorado, I had only been on my feet and travelling for 21 hours; it could have been worse… Jason picked me up and took me to our fully-furnished temporary home; we are here for 60 days until we get into our permanent house and take delivery of our household goods. No time for a shower but I did get to brush my teeth! Ahh, I almost feel human again. I need to remember to keep a toothbrush and toothpaste in my purse when I travel.
Supposedly, trying to stay awake until bedtime on that first day helps with adjusting more quickly to the new time zone. So it was a day of errand running including getting an ID card for me so I can actually get on base – gotta love that sleep deprived photo! After a couple of hours, I found myself dozing off each time I sat down.
9/3/13: Day 2. Even though I felt like I slept fine last night, I still felt like I was in a fog this morning. Is it the jet lag? Is it the new surroundings of a different country? My dear husband suggested I get out and walk around our village, Stetten, but his parting remark was, “Don’t get lost!” It would be easy to do since everything is unfamiliar! The roads are windy and all the houses look similarly unusual.
I have no cell phone (that works in Europe) and I don’t know any important or meaningful phone numbers anyway. I really could get lost! Therefore, when I met Natalie at her bus stop this afternoon, I felt as if I had truly accomplished something in not getting lost!