Move-in day

December 30, 2009

What a nightmare it has been! The lack of communication and preparedness on this end by the relocation company was ridiculous. First we were getting our items last Wednesday, then they called and cancelled, saying there wasn't any more room on the train into town for our container. Really? They couldn't have reserved a spot for us in advance, thinking it might be nice to get someone the contents of their entire home by Christmas? No, it was great living like squatters in one room of our place, without the necessities to do much of any celebrating (thank god for the Christmas market!). We then heard our items might be coming this Monday, and emailed to confirm. Didn't hear a thing until we called THEM Monday a.m. to ask what time they were showing up. Oh, not until the afternoon, they tell Russ as he's taken the a.m. off to help with the movers. Also, if we wanted them to release our stuff, we had to pay them 160€, with no notice and no invoice, for the moving truck's parking permit before they'd take anything off the truck. That was a huge fight we thankfully won (they're billing us), but yet another strike against them. Not to mention the fact that the permit they'd set up in front of our building is on a tiny one-way street a truck of that size can barely maneuver down. Good planning!

Once the driver was finally able to get his truck onto our street (nice guy, American, here by way of the army and from Miami), the movers themselves were another story. Naturally, they spoke no English to make things at all easy for us. Then they proceed to trash our apartment (busted our radiator off the wall, gouged the beautiful old door mouldings) setting up the scariest ladder/elevator thing outside our living room window to get everything up to us - and I mean everything: huge bookcases, tables, our 8ft leather sofa. Needless to say, just about every piece of futniture arrived with some kind of scratch, chip or stain on it.

Since it was so late by the time they'd gotten everything upstairs, they said they would come back the next day to unpack everything. They actually expected us to sign the form saying we'd received everything and it was free from damage. Um, no - nothing had been unwrapped or unpacked, and I was still missing a few of the box numbers from my quick tally as stuff came in through the window. After another fight on the phone with these guys' boss (apparently they couldn't leave without us signing, even though the job wasn't done) and some very rude behavior on their end, the boss let the guys go home and told us "to do whatever," which meant releasing our liability once the job was done the next day.

Next day was more of the same: no English, abundant smoke breaks, trying to get out before the job was actually done. I actually felt like I was in "A Day Without a Mexican" - much in need of some good workers (ah, the first pang of missing CA life). All said and done, I'm just happy we got all of our stuff and can finally start making sense of setting up a household here. It was easy to feel like we were just visitors here. Now, this is it - all our stuff is here and this is where we live (enter "yikes" here). And with all this hassle, we are not moving anytime soon - I'm talking years. Sorry friends and fam, you'll just have to come visit us in Europe!

In the midst of all the organizing the piles and boxes, I have something else important to do today: give my husband a good birthday. I'm sure he'll be working late tonight to make up for all the time off with the movers, but I hope we can at least get a little celebrating in. It's bad enough his day falls between the all-encompassing holidays of Christmas and New Years, but in the midst of all this, it's been practically forgotten. So if you can, please send him some birthday wishes and remind him it is an important day!

Happy birthday my husband - you're the best!!

I'm off to clean house, run errands and draft a letter if burning hatred to the moving companies. Till next time ...

Frohe Weihnachten!

December 24, 2009

We wish everyone at home a very merry Christmas - we miss you all!

'Tis the season

December 23, 2009

With all the running around for necessities we've been doing this week (can't express how much it means to have things like a shower curtain and hand soap), we'd nearly forgotten that it's only a few days from Christmas. To celebrate - and to give ourselves a break from IKEA runs and yet another fruitless attempt the get financing for appliances - we've decided to take the night off and head over to the Christmas market for some lacking holiday spirit and infamous gluhwein (hot mulled wine). I'm not sure what we'll do with ourselves for the following four days when NOTHING will be open and our to-do list stagnates. My goal is to at least make a holiday meal that consists of all major food groups (which would be a first, as of yet) and a Christmas breakfast of apple pancakes. Did you know they made apple-flavored cinnamon sugar? I didn't either, but I'm psyched to try it.

As previously mentioned, IKEA has become a sort of second home with all the shopping we've been doing there. We joke that if their kitchens actually worked, we might just try to stay. It's been fun to plan out our new apartment with catalog in hand. We've still got a ways to go while we wait for the now-monthly paycheck and exhorbitant expense reimbursement to come through. Thank goodness Russ finally got his EC card, which is basically like our ATM cards in the US, but here they are quite often the only accepted form of payment. Euros or EC card (you can see why it's so pivotal to get financing for all our appliances!). We just got a bar for the kitchen, so we can stop eating on the floor, and I anticipate our next big purchase being our wardrobes so we can stop living out of suitcases once the rest of our clothes arrive - yay for no European closets! But I find it hard to complain about our place when it has nineteenth century details like 12ft celings, ornate moulding and hardwood floors. Plus, the location can't be beat - just a few blocks from the park and Stadtmitte (the city center), and two groceries on our block. Huge thanks to my husband for landing us such prime real estate.

As tough as it has been to acclimate thus far, I'm trying to celebrate the little victories - basically anything that doesn't involve a response on our end of a gaping open mouth and blank stare. When I head out to brave the public, I mentally brace myself for the possibility that someone will try to interact with me. Mostly, my mind immediately starts formulating a response to tell them I don't understand before they've even gotten out their question or comment, and I rarely even hear what they're saying. Today, I was able to actually bump myself up from blank stare status with an interaction on our front steps. I was changing our buzzer from the previous tenants' names to ours with Bailey when I heard someone say something behind me. I was actually able to say "excuse me?" and listen to her repeat herself. Unsurprisingly, I didn't understand a word and told her my German was not that good while shaking my head in an effort to convey I had tried to understand her. She smiled and gave a 'nevermind' kind of gesture, then hesitently reached down to Bailey, who immediately began licking her. I then understood she had asked something about my dog, and was thankful that Bailey's overly friendly nature was able to break the stress of the communication barrier.

I'm still anxiously awaiting an internet connection other than my iPhone so that I can post with more regularity and with pictures we've taken. In the meantime, I will continue to post my mobile photos via my TwitPic feed. There are so many beautiful things here that I look forward to sharing with all if you. Till next time ... Aufwiedersehen!

We're here!

December 21, 2009

It has been an exhausting whirlwind of a weekend! Bailey was a trooper for the trip - she managed to hold her bladder in for not only the 10+ hour plane ride, but also from the night before! We ended up with a small lake in our bathroom floor as a result, but I'm not complaining. She's picked up the concept of going downstairs & outside to go potty really well. We're just thankful she's decided not to disown us after what we put her through!

We've done a lot, but there's still so much left. Everything is makeshift right now (i.e. The windowsill acts as our fridge for now, since it's, well, freezing), so we're trying to do what we can to prioritize our errands and purchasing. But I promise more updates soon!

So long, farewell

December 17, 2009

The day is finally here - and I can't believe it. All the weeks, no, make that months, of stressing and planning have lead to this. As we await our airport transportation, the thought has definitely crossed my mind: are we crazy? We don't speak the language, or know anyone there. But as I think about the other huge journey we've decided to embark upon - marriage - I realize that this is just another way to create our own life together, as a family. So as we all head out today to our newest adventure, I will think about all the people we will miss but will remain excited about the possibilities this move will bring. Just cross your fingers that Bailey dog still loves us after 15 hours in a crate!

More news from the other side of the pond to come soon (as soon as we get internet, or my iphone up and running)! Aufwiedersehen!

So it begins

December 11, 2009

It's an exciting morning! We're off to the international vet to get Bailey the approval she needs to be let into the country once we've arrived and then picking up my husband at the airport. It's been over a month since we've seen him - not the way I would recommend spending one's time as newlyweds! I'm sure Bailey's assumed he's never coming back at this point, so she'll be more than thrilled to see he's still part of the family. In his absence, she did much overseeing of the moving process (see above) and generally being my support system. It will be nice to have us all together again and start on this much-anticipated adventure.

Our new contact info

December 10, 2009

Updating friends and family of our new contact information in a way that reflects "us" has resulted in a daunting search. I was initially hoping to get my wedding invite designer to create something for us, but alas, she didn't even return my inquiries. After sifting through many mediocre options (can anyone say "clip art"? - ugh), I came upon the Tiny Prints website. While their entire line of personalized card options are wonderful, their moving announcements are light years ahead of their competition in terms of style and selection. Above are a few of my faves, and ours are in the mail being rushed to us to mail out the day before we leave. One more thing checked off the list - phew!

Farewell dinner #2

Industrial-strength margaritas and fresh cal-mex was the perfect way to enjoy my last evening with one of my dearest friends (oh, how I will miss you Tara - and Mexican food!). Of course, I was so caught up in, well, catching up, I neglected to get a photo of us on our last outing. This just gives me more ammunition to beg a trip out to visit us so we can get photos together around Germany. As much as my husband and I are homebodies and don't get out much, moving somewhere we won't even have the opportunity to see our friends on a semi-regular basis makes me even more aware how far away we are really going. I've been mostly excited up until this point, but as we enter our final week in the States, it saddens me that we may not see a lot of these folks for a very long time.

Thank god for Facebook. And beer.

Farewell dinner #1

December 09, 2009

It was so great to have everyone come out to enjoy an evening of great food and company to commemorate one of the few nights I have left in the Bay Area at one of my favorite spots in SF - Salt House. Sadly, my brother-in-law, sous chef extraordinaire, was not on hand to make us any of his special creations, but the kitchen took care of us just the same. The food was almost as special as the company, and that's saying a lot. See below for our gluttonous dessert order (do forgive my lack of culinary detail - there was so much more to each than I've described). "One of everything" was the only way to go on such a special occasion!

In our defense, there were seven of us ...

Apple crisp

Lemon Panna Cotta

Carrot cake and pistachio cardamom ice cream

Brownie with fudge, bananas and ice cream

Cinnamon toast ice cream
And the food coma has set in . . .