1. Roads-- 1. Autobahns: Before you get super excited about driving as fast as you want, please know that many sections of the autobahn actually do have speed limits that are about what US highways have. If there's construction, the speed goes way down--and there's lots of construction. But it's true that on the sections without a limit, you'd better stay in the right lane, because there will be a string of German-made cars zoom past you like you are standing still, and that's when you're going 140 kph (about 87 miles per hour.) Speaking of the roads, if you visit here and use an international driver's licence, please know that passing on the right is a huge No-No on the autobahn. It's just not done, so don't do it. 2. Village roads-- Are extremely narrow in many places. I'm thankful we sold our minivan, though I still miss it terribly. And I still fear for my life on a regular basis when I see giant Mercedes garbage trucks barreling down the country roads around here toward me at 100 kph, when the roads barely fit one of us.
|A two way street in a village. Looks wider here than it was.|
2. Weather-- WINTER-- Not as bad as I feared. It was dark really early and cold for a long time, but there was far less snow and ice than I feared. SUMMER--> No air conditioning. This is our first full summer here and it's hit in the 90's...and when you don't have AC, that hurts. I miss air conditioning, but usually we do get a break in the heat and have a week of cooler temperatures before it gets hot again. It's hot right now. It makes winter seem not as terrible, because the heating system works great.
|The view outside our house at dusk in winter.|
3. Toilets! When we travel, I have never paid such close attention to where the bathrooms are, when the next bathroom break is, and if it'll cost money. Especially on bus tours, you may need to hold it for a while if you drink a large soda before climbing aboard. Paying for bathrooms has become normal. In Germany, except in a restaurant or store where you are already buying something, usually toilets are 50-70 Euro cents to use. This includes gas stations, even if you fill up your gas tank there. There is often someone sitting at the entrance to the bathrooms with their basket of coins, and their job is to keep the bathrooms clean and make sure everyone has toilet paper and paper towels and what not. At some rest stops, you get a ticket that is like a credit for part of the amount if used in their store. I've grown used to this and when there are public toilets on the highway that do not require money, they are so gross that gagging occurs. I'd pay for clean toilets any day, but it was a hard adjustment for me at first.
4. Salads-- Germany may be famous for its wursts and schnitzels, but their salads are amazing. They almost always have a pile of marinated carrots, cabbage and often other chunks of vegetables under the green leafy lettuce. I've only been asked one time in a year what dressing I'd like-- most places use their own house dressing and that's what you get, period. Around here, it's a yogurt-based dressing often with dill. The salads often come with spirals of ham and cheese or other meats, and egg, so it's quite filling. Highly recommend.
|A side salad in Bavaria|
|This salad has a small steak, a coil of baked salmon (under that twist of lemon), and baked feta cheese in addition to the marinated cucumbers, cabbage and carrots, topped by great greens.|
I do still miss a lot of things in the states. First and foremost, is my family and friends, of course. Secondly, I miss air conditioning today in particular. I miss stores where I know what to find where and what to expect: Target, Kohl's, HEB. I miss listening to NPR on the radio while driving. And I miss just that feeling of HOME that I have in Texas. But I've learned to appreciate many things in our current abode, too.
It's been quite a year! I graduated with my Masters of Library Science, I turned 40, we moved to Germany, and my first book was released through Curiosity Quills Press. I wonder what this next year will bring?
One year down-- two more to go!