(Side note: Apparently, I wasn't completely off about our American license being good in Germany--it is. We could rent a car, and drive around--legally. HOWEVER, because we will be residents here we need European license plates on our cars, and we can't get those without a license. Hence the test we must take. )
Through our sponsor and his family we have also met a few other couples. One of those couples is in a similar situation as us, (they arrived a week before us) and we've joined them on a few excursions. We are really lucky to have a Sponsor like we do; some people do not have as good of an experience--and I imagine that would really put a sour taste in your mouth about where you are stationed.
Thanksgiving was different for us this year; it didn't happen. But don't cry for us Argentina, because we had an early Thanksgiving with Steven's family before we left for Germany.
(Side note: Germans do not celebrate Thanksgiving....Thanksgiving is an American holiday...just a reminder).
The neat thing about being stationed in Europe is Steven gets BOTH American holidays AND European holidays off--so that translates to us having a four day weekend about once a month! Excellent. This Thanksgiving holiday was no exception; the whole base was shut down for four days. So we took a cab in to Vilseck. Let me just take this time to address a myth about Europeans, (or at least our area of Germany anyway):
Myth No.1: "No one drives in Germany. Everyone rides their bike, or walks, or takes the train." Well this is kind of true. Inside the little villages, everyone walks--or rides their bikes. But to get from one village to the next is usually done by train, or car. The train isn't always the best bet either. The train leaves every thirty minutes, (or every hour in some places) and makes several stops. Sometimes driving is the fastest/most convenient way to get around--and it appears plenty of people do it; especially in winter.
We took a cab to Vilseck because the little village is actually a couple of miles from base. We probably could have walked it, but--it's just really cold out there.
Vilseck is adorable. We stopped at a cafe/bakery, and had coffee (the coffee here in Germany is fantastic by the way!) and sandwiches
We were joined by a German man, who asked to sit down next to us. They seem to do that here. If you are sitting with someone at a table fit for four, someone will likely come and ask to sit in the vacant seat next to you. They wont necessarily want to have a discussion though. To me this is funny because in America, we would not only leave those chairs empty--we would attempt to place a whole a extra table worth of distance between us and the next party. We had a great little conversation with this local German man. I use the term "we" extremely loosely, because really Steven did all the talking. Steven assures me that to Germans he sounds like a three year old when he's talking; to me he sounds fluent. I'm glad he can speak what he does though because it makes getting around and functioning so much easier. Which brings me to myth number two:
Myth No.2: Everyone speaks English in Germany! No. No they don't. It is true that many people speak a little english, particularly in larger, more urban and "touristy" areas. However, do not count on it. We had quite an embarrassing moment in a shop when we asked for the bathroom. Apparently, "bathroom" doesn't exactly translate. They had no idea what we were asking for. Eventually, after much trial and error, a german woman, (who did NOT speak any english) said, "Oh!!! toilette!!!" Needless to say, not being able to speak the language here is completely embarrassing, and limiting. So I'm on Rosetta Stone, and I will also probably enroll in the German class they offer on base.
Steven's sponsor, (remember--this is the guy who is helping us get settled in, and acquainted with and acclimated to Germany) took us to the Christkindlesmarkt (Christmas Market) in Nurnberg. We went with with him and his son, a couple with two children, a couple with one child, a girl a little younger than me, (who's husband is deployed) and a man (who's wife is deployed) with two children. It was quite a crowd to say the least, but we still had a lot of fun. I thought I'd mention the crowd because it's the reason I didn't take great pictures. Here are a few:
We ate what is basically the german hot dog; only a lot better:
We had a special, and very popular drink here called, "Gluhwein." Gluwein is hot wine that they serve around Christmas, and it's pretty tasty. Nobody freak out--I had the children's version, a "kinder punch."This brings me to another myth:
Myth No.3: "Everyone drinks in Germany, including the kids!" Nope. This is not true.
We really can't get enough of this place. It's amazing. I'll try to take some better, more focused and intentional pictures for future posts.
|On the train to Nurnberg Christmas Market|
|After the Christmas Market|