Category Archives: Adventures in Europe

Photos and stories of our European Adventure. While living in Germany, we plan to travel to as many cities, villages, and wilderness as possible.

It’s the Polizei!

Today I drove to Czech for the first time.  I’ve been there before with my friend, but until today she always drove.  I’m one of those people who can’t remember how to get to a place unless I am the driver.  We took my big American sized minivan.

Why is it called a minivan when there is nothing “mini” about it?

Getting to Czech was no big deal.  We went to our usual little shop where she bought her smokes and coffee, and I bought a bag of coffee beans.  Next up was a kännchen Kaffee (a small pot of coffee) while we enjoyed the warm spring weather on the patio.

pot of coffee
Kanchen Kaffee

After we finished our coffee in Czech, we drove back to Germany; our next destination was the used furniture store to look for a bookshelf and small dresser for myself and a wandshrank (a kitchen wall cupboard) for her.

We had barely crossed the border–which isn’t as clearly marked as you would think–when I saw flashing blue lights in my rear-view mirror.

What the heck?!?!  I was on a narrow busy street so I pulled into the nearest parking lot, all the while thinking what did I do? I know I wasn’t speeding. I didn’t miss any stop lights or signs. I stayed in my lane. I even remembered to turn off my head lights–always drive with your headlights on in Czech, but NOT in Germany!

The Polizei said something in German. My nervous response was “English?”

Just to let you know–I am ALWAYS nervous when I get pulled over for any reason–which is very rare! Being pulled over in a land that is foreign was quite frightening–especially since I had no idea what I did wrong and have very little understanding of the language.

I fish my Visa and my special driver’s license out of my purse while my friend hands me her identification.

The irony of the whole ordeal was that not an hour before this my friend and I had a conversation about Visa’s, German Laws, and passports.  Then my husband called and asked me where his passport was.  As a military family living abroad, I have to have my Visa on me at all times.

Apparently, there was a theme for the day.

So, the Polizei is standing there and asks if we came from Czech.  Thank God I was in the car with a local (meaning a German)! I might have peed my pants otherwise! She told him that we did just come back from Czech.  He wanted to know what if we purchased cigarettes.

Here’s the low down on buying smokes from Czech if you live in Germany. Each person is allowed to bring 4 cartons across the border.  My friend bought 4 cartons. We were good. I had to open the back of the van and show the Polizei our merchandise.

There is a big problem with smuggling and black market goods in our area because we are so close to the border, so the Polizei randomly pull people over when they cross the border from Czech into Germany.  I knew NONE of this!  I was convinced that I was being pulled over because of my big American van.  My friend explained it all to me and repeatedly told me that I did not get pulled over because of my”American” vehicle, but I’m still not entirely convinced.

After I got back into the van and the Polizei left, I exhaled, put my head on the steering wheel and tried to calm my nerves.  I was not ready to drive anywhere! So my darling friend, who desperately misses having a huge American sized van offered to drive.

Needless to say–but I’ll say it anyway–I let her drive.

The rest of the day was a blast and I got to hang out with some really cool Germans and have a few laughs.  Thanks to these awesome friends that I am making,  I’m understanding more of the German language.

Overall, because of the experience, I’m not so scared of the Polizei now and I have something to laugh about in my old age.







Flying to Germany–Or One of the Most Stressful Days of My Life

Though we have been here for nearly 4 months, I have unfortunately lagged behind in sharing our fabulous (Okay it’s not all that fabulous) adventures in Germany.

We boarded the Lufthansa plane at about 3pm on January 8th at the Dallas/Fort-worth  airport.  But I’m going to back track just a tad.

We had to take our van to the shipping agency before our flight to Germany. So while the kids packed up our stuff in the hotel room, we went out in search of a car wash. They won’t ship a dirty car.

It was a gloomy day and it had rained the day before, so the car washes were all closed! Who closes a car wash just because it’s a bit damp outside? Texans that’s who!

Now we are running out of time. We have to get to our appointment.  We drive and drive and just can’t seem to find this darn place! We finally find it–and we are 30 minutes late.   They send us to a car was around the corner that is open.  In the meantime, I am worried about the kids.  The shuttle was due to pick us all up in the next hour, but the car thing will take about an hour. The hotel is 30 minutes away.

I call the shuttle company and have them change the pick-up time. Crisis averted–or so I think! I sit around and wait while hubby takes care of the car thing.

My daughter calls. She said the shuttle driver has arrived! What the #!@$&?!? I speak to the driver. He said that the afternoon schedule is booked, so it’s either take the kids (and the big dogs) to the airport, or find another mode of transportation.

My daughter is a mature 15 yr-old and my son, well he’s a typical 13 yr-old boy. Do I trust the driver? Do I trust my daughter? Do I have any options?

Okay. I take a deep breath and tell the driver that these kids are my LIFE. Please take them, help them unload the van and put all our bags and the dogs in front of the Lufthansa check-in.  My daughter will give him $20 only if he follows my instructions to the letter.

The taxi arrives to pick me and my husband up from the car shipping place.  We are 20 minutes from the airport. My kids are on their way as well.  The van is good to go and will arrive in Germany in about a month. We head off to the airport.  Hubby is having a grand conversation in front with driver while I sit in the back and chew my nails down to nubs.

We pull up to the Lufthansa departure entrance. Right behind the shuttle that brought my kids.  He had just finished helping them bring all of our stuff into the airport and was about to leave.  I handed him another $20, shook his hand, and told him was my knight in shining armor today.  He tried to give me my money back, but I wouldn’t take it. I told him to take the $40 dollar tip and take his special someone out to dinner.  He said that he was going to use it for his son’s birthday present instead.

Now it was time to check in, get the dog crates approved, and find coffee.

It is just after 12pm.  Our flight is in about 3 hours.  The dogs look miserable in their crates.  I’m a ball of tangled nerves, and my kids are arguing.  I needed a shot of Tequila at this point, but settled for Starbucks instead.

I will skip all of the waiting. You’ve probably been to the “waiting place” so I’m sure you know how mind numbing it is.

It is finally time to board. We are at the very back of the plane.  If you have to fly coach to Europe, I recommend Lufthansa. I felt like it was at least Business Class. The seats were comfy, the attendants were fantastic, and the food was delicious.

My teenagers on a 9.5 hour flight.
My teenagers on a 9.5 hour flight.

From Dallas/Fort-worth, the flight took 9.5 hours.  I don’t sleep well on planes. I’m not afraid of hijackers, snakes, or of little gremlins tearing the wings apart. I’m afraid of crashing. engine failure. small spaces. heights.  I get a bit claustrophobic and rarely use elevators.  9.5 hours in a tin can flying across hard land and even harder water (yes harder–it’s a scientific fact) going a gazillion miles an hour was not fun.

Every time I dozed off I would wake suddenly to turbulence. I would look over at my hubby–sound asleep–and my kids who were wide awake and enjoying the movie selection.  Lufthansa has great movie screens embedded in the seat directly in front of you.

I watched at 3 movies.

We finally arrived in Frankfurt on January 9th at 9am.

We lost half a day.

Picked up our luggage, found our poor freaked out puppies and finally located our Military contacts. They loaded up the van and the station wagon and drove us to our hotel.  It was a 4 hour drive on the autobahn–and I slept.

The hotel would be our home for the next 9 days.

Army Hotel
Army Hotel
Our first "Home" in Germany
Our first “Home” in Germany

The kids and dogs shared a room while hubby and I had a room to ourselves.

Once we arrived, I felt a sudden drop in blood pressure and an urge to enter a coma sleep.

More to come on our first month in Bavaria soon.