Q&A

8 Jun

Hiya! I was so pleased with all the emails I got asking various questions about Wiesbaden, Germany, Europe, travel in general…Will certainly do my best to answer! In no particular order…

Q: How do you actually pronounce Wiesbaden? VEESE-bah-den. (All Ws in German are pronounced ‘V’)

Q: Has Neve gotten taller/thinner since you’ve been there? Several folks have asked about this and I can’t be sure, but I think so! We’ve had to get rid of a couple shirts because they’re too short…I’ve also noticed that a couple pairs of her leggings are looser fitting now than when we arrived. So maybe a combo of growth spurt and all the walking we do? We’ve also thrown away 3 pairs of shoes- and bought bigger ones!
growthspurt

Q: How old was Neve on her first big trip? We went to Jamaica when she was 10 weeks old. Her passport photo was taken at one month old. 🙂

Q: What are the biggest ‘surprises’ you’ve noticed about Germans since you got there? Oh goodness…I suppose most aren’t really surprises since we lived here for a minute before, but there has definitely been some jogging of the memory! The ones that stick out the most for us: How difficult the language is. The number of Germans who still smoke and how common it is in all public areas. Everything being shut down on Sundays. There are no black people (we’ve honestly seen only two since we got here.) Cash is used SO much more than debit cards (we’ve probably used a debit card less than 10 times total).

germanlanguage2

 

Oh, and they eat everything with a knife and fork- never with their hands. (We get stared at often with burgers, fries, sandwiches, pizza…it looks alot like this:

neveperplex

Q: Do you have to show your passport every time you go into a new country? No. All European Union countries are considered as one, I suppose, so you only show it when leaving the EU. There are still abandoned border stations, though, from the days before the EU. Those are kinda creepy. We had to go through customs twice going to the UK (not in the EU), for example.

Q: How many countries have you guys ever visited? Oh my, this one took a pen and paper! John and I are both somewhere around 25-30ish. Neve is currently at 9.

Q: How’s the radio there? Surprisingly decent! Definitely better than it was in Stuttgart where 90% of all songs were in German. Here, I would say about 75% of the songs playing are American hits! There’s a DooWop/Oldies channel, two Rock/Hairband stations, several 80s and 90s pop stations and a few current US hits. That being said, there’s ALOT of repetition of songs and some definite favorite artists that seem to play ALL the time. These include: Kelly Clarkson, Echosmith, Tove Lo, Jason Derulo, Bon Jovi, Lady Gaga and Pink.

melissamccarthy500miles

Q: Is John liking his job there and what exactly does he do? 100% yes. John is so happy with his job here. He’s an electrical engineer with the Navy (civilian). For most of his career, he has done satellite communication, which makes it possible for soldiers in the desert to talk with command in the States, for example. His current project, however, is completely out of the box for him with new things to learn, new challenges, etc. He’s so stimulated and rejuvenated. They are designing and building a huge building on a base here in Wiesbaden that will consolidate several military groups under one roof. Over the last year, John has led the electrical team to layout, on paper, all of the power (for lighting, computers, televisions, security, etc.) the 155,000 sf building will have. A few months ago, the building broke ground, just steps away from where John is working at the moment- it now has a foundation and a first floor. So by being here, he gets to be very hands-on, as opposed to being behind a computer at a desk, which is a dream come true for John. Should we stay, he will be the on-site coordinator for the entire project- kind of like a liason between the Army (who will ultimately own the building) and SPAWAR. He will know more about the ins and outs of the building than just about anyone else on the team. Tough to pass up, right?

engineer

Q: What’s your favorite German food? A soft pretzel, as cliche as it sounds. Paired with weisswursts for my perfect German dinner.

germanfoodraccoon

 

Not gonna lie, though. Really pumped for some good 'ol American cuisine!

Not gonna lie, though. Really pumped for some good ‘ol American cuisine!

Q: What’s your biggest peeve about restaurants there? I have three, actually. 1. That they don’t serve tap water- you have to pay for a huge bottle of water, which usually tacks on like €4 to your bill. And they don’t believe in ice. For any drink. 2. They charge for ketchup- or any sauce. Sometimes as much as €2. 3. The service. We’ve found a handful of restaurants where this isn’t the case, but overall, service tends to be slow and minimal. You seat yourself, it can take 15 minutes for someone to notice you, then another 10 to get your drinks. After your meal arrives 30 minutes later still, you will not see your server again until you flag her down to ask for the bill. No refills, no clearing of plates, nothing.

badcustomerservice

Q: What are you going to miss most when you come home? I could never pick just one thing. I will miss the traveling on the weekends, the truly amazing one-on-one time I’ve had with Neve, having John to myself, the simplicity of living in less than 500sf, walking and biking to just about everywhere we need to go, and pretzels. John will also miss the cheap beer.

germanybeer

Q: What’s going on with your dogs while you’re gone? We have the BEST pet sitter, Brittany, who moves into our house to handle everything house or pet when we travel. We love her, the dogs love her, Merlin the Cat loves her…Seriously, she’s just awesome- and yes, even sends me cute pictures every now and then without me asking :). We are very fortunate she was willing to do this for us for this extended trip! We have never been away from them for this long and I absolutely CAN NOT WAIT to see them!

Q: Have you learned any German since you got there? I wouldn’t say I’ve necessarily learned German, but I’ve gotten to where I’m pretty darn good at reading it for day-to-day purposes. We know what we’re ordering at restaurants, we can shop for the normal stuff at the grocery store, we can get the jists of advertisements…I can speak a handful of the most commonly used phrases (please, thank you, excuse me, Do you speak English?, I don’t speak German, I’m sorry, good morning, see you later, please bring the bill, still water no gas…) But I can’t understand a single word they’re saying 99% of the time…

germanlanguage1

Q: What restaurants are in the Food Court on base? The big base has Burger King, Popeye’s, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Charley’s Steakery and Starbucks. The base John works on has Subway, Pizza Hut, Doner Kebap, and a bakery.

bonquiqui

Q: How are prices on base compared to at home? A bit higher for most items. But there’s no tax.

Q: How are prices in Germany compared to at home? This totally varies. Overall, I think food is cheaper here. Cheese for example- the biggest brick of ‘specialty’ cheese will always be less than €5. Meats are the same way, even the grass-fed, organics. Restaurants range just like at home- there’s fast food (pretty similarly priced), regular weeknight type restaurants, then fancy ones, so costs are set accordingly and maybe even a little cheaper than at home, especially if you’re talking downtown Charleston hotspots. Clothes and shoes seem to be higher here, even for the cheap stuff. Toys are higher. Cars are cheaper. So yeah, it just depends on what products you’re looking for.

Q: What will you do with the bike when you leave? Sell it! Anytime we fly somewhere, we have to buy a carseat as soon as we land, so we’re old pros at selling things when it’s time to go! Luckily, just about every city has some version of Craigslist, so about a week before we leave, I list anything we need to sell and make arrangements with buyers for them to pick up the day before we head home. We’ve even had buyers meet us in the airport parking lot! Ha! This time, I’m selling our bike, Neve’s bike seat, the car seat, the bedding set (because we couldn’t stand the two separate comforters!), and the bedroom fans (can’t sleep without them!). Meeting a few people this afternoon and the rest tomorrow 🙂

craigslist

Q: Is there anywhere you’d hoped to travel on this trip, but didn’t make it? Yes, we really went back and forth alot on Portugal, but because it would’ve involved lengthy flights and we were restricted to long weekends at best, we opted to save it for later when we have more time to spend. Other places shelved for similar reasons: Copenhagen, Greece and Monaco.

travel2

Q: Have you always been travelers? Actually, no! Both of us had great annual family vacations as kids, but they were all within the US. During my college years, I had horrible anxiety when it came to flying and therefore, didn’t travel too far even when I had the chance. John was at The Citadel, so his free time for travel was limited to say the least. It wasn’t until he started working at SPAWAR and traveling with his job that both of us started to get the itch. I’ll never forget his first big trip was to Hawaii right after we were married and I was too afraid to fly. I was so jealous of him that week- seeing his pictures, hearing about all that he was doing around his work schedule, just listening to the excitement in his voice…I made a vow then and there to get over my fears come Hell or high water. And just a few months later, he had to go back to Hawaii. And I was right there with him. And things have never been the same since! 🙂

travel

Q: How do you pronounce your daughter’s name? It rhymes with ‘Bev.’

Q: If you could live anywhere in the US, where would it be? Oahu. It’s our happy place that we will go back to as many times as we possibly can. Next would be NYC and San Diego.

Q: What was your favorite place you visited while you’ve been there? John and I have talked about that a few times and it’s really tough to decide! I think I’ll make it a separate post sometime soon 🙂

Q: If you decide to stay, will you get to take all your stuff? Yes. SPAWAR will pack and move any and everything from our house- furniture, clothing, kitchen, art, etc. , as well as one car. Because we would rent our Summerville home as furnished for short-term periods, we would likely only bring the most important stuff and leave the rest.

Q: How long would you get to find a house and what would you do in the meantime? We would get 90 days to shop for a house. During that time, we could either stay in a hotel or a short-term apartment like what we’re doing now.

Alright, I think I hit ’em all! Hope everyone learned a neat new factoid or two! Talk soon!

2 Responses to “Q&A”

  1. Eleanor June 10, 2015 at 1:06 PM #

    Loved this blog. Hope to see you soon. Safe travels home! Love you, E-

    • Erin T. June 10, 2015 at 3:28 PM #

      You will most definitely see me soon! Can’t wait! Love you.

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