On Thursday we spent four hours working out the logistics of a contract for a house, and now we finally have a place! It’s near to the library, within walking distance, is on a tram line, and has a garage for a small car if we need to take that route. The garage will most likely hold our bicycles unless Herr gets a job that requires a vehicle.
The house, called a rowhouse and is similar to a townhouse, has three floors and a full basement. The basement has four rooms, one for laundry and the rest for storage or other purposes. We have access to the backyard from the basement. The first floor has a water closet (considered a half bath), a full kitchen, a dining room (or study), and a large living area with access to a patio. Take a spiral staircase to the second floor, where three bedrooms, another water closet, and a bathroom are located. Continue up to the top floor and it is split into two areas with angled ceilings. Turn left and you enter a spa area with a bath and sauna. Turn right and there’s the fourth bedroom.
We’ve considered turning one bedroom into a library/conservatory, another bedroom into a walk-in dressing room (bedrooms here do not come with closets), and using the third room on the second floor as the master bedroom. The master bedroom has a balcony off the back. The top room we are thinking will be the guest room, although it is farther from the bathroom.
The landlady is elderly but stronger than me… she is okay with us having a dog and is very friendly. With a front and back yard, we will be able to do a lot of gardening too. We’ll be able to move in on February 1st, the day before our first anniversary! We’ll borrow temporary furniture until our shipment arrives, which can happen between February 1 and the 14th. The rest of our shipment will be here at the beginning of March.
So we should have plenty of space to accomodate visitors and do what we hope to do! We really lucked out and got this place before it made it to the market (the people who were moving out used to work at the library). We should have pictures in the next few weeks, but we’ll see when we actually get an Internet access hook up! Step by step…
It’s been a little difficult to get used to the food available here. Water is very difficult to come by here, and I haven’t found an adequate means to meet my water needs yet. The Germans eat a lot of bread. For breakfast, it’s a bruchen (similar to dinner rolls) with cheese and meat on it. We’ve modified it to have either olive oil or butter to help swallow it. The beverages either have carbonation or are alcoholic. People look at you weird when you ask for Wasser ohne Gas (water without bubbles).
My favorite food here is still pretzels and ice cream. The chocolate is very good too. I am looking forward to getting a kitchen with our cookware and staples so we can have normal meals!
Access to the Internet has been slim the last week, so my apologies for being “backed up”.
Last Saturday my brother, Mac, Lilo, Herr, and me hopped in the car to Ludwigsburg, which is about an hour south of Heidelberg near Stuttgart. A palace wasn’t too far away, but we decided to only walk the grounds instead of waiting two hours to take a 90 minute tour of over 60 rooms in english. The kind souvenir shop lady told us about a market that was only a few blocks away that we went to after looking at the gardens.
The market was fantastic! In one of the market squares, people set up several stands including meat and cheese stands. At the fountain, a choir boy was singing choral music. We walked around the market a while, with churches on either side and birds hovering around the steeples. We ate at a nice restaurant and walked around the city a bit, checking out a local mall before heading back up to Heidelberg.
Monday I did a lot of shopping to get more adequate shoes for walking and a few other miscellaneous useful things, such as an alarm clock… it was a good weekend, and we spent more money than we should have. Things will get better once we’re settled and are getting the stipends and paychecks…
I now wake up at 5:30 a.m. to start off my day. Outside it is dark. Street lights are sparse. After our shower we hear the first church bells ring. Three churches are within distance of hearing the bells, and they ring many times a day. We have a bruchen with meat and cheese or jam for breakfast. A bruchen is similar to a dinner roll, but much better. At quarter to six, we turn off the one radiator we turn on while we are in the apartment, and then we walk on the dark streets to the train station. At our temporary housing, it’s about a ten to fifteen minute walk. On the early buses, the trains are packed, but people are accomodating for the cyclists trying to squeeze their transportation in alongside them. At our stop, we walk another ten or fifteen minutes to base.
Life has been interesting here. I did not pack enough good walking shoes, so I hope to pick up some boots in the next few days. Last weekend I picked up a new red knee-length petticoat. Slowly, projects are becoming clearer at work. There’s a great need for organization, so I feel like I am here at the right time. It’s a time of growth, whether people know it or not.
On the housing front, we thought we had found a place, but negotiations aren’t going well. The landlady is in her eighties, and is set in her ways. I have also heard that if something were to happen to the landlady, we could be forced to move. If that happens, we would have to pay for it, not the Army. This could then cost several thousands of dollars, so regardless of the contract issues we are facing, I am now concerned about renting from someone so elderly. Nothing against her and her yellow flowers and lilac hating, but if she finds it her time to go, I could get stuck in a very hard spot… I’m so bad!
Herr has started the job search. We found a few potential jobs, so he’ll be putting in for those as well as applications “on the economy” (a phrase used to mean on the German market). I’m looking forward to my first three day weekend!