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.
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.