We rented a car on Friday and went out and about this weekend. It was nice to get off base! It was a little scary to drive on the autobahn for the first time since they drive so fast, but once I got used to it, I did fine. And actually even though there is no posted speed limit, German law recommends going no faster than 130km - and if you are in an accident and are going faster than that you can be held liable for reckless speeding and driving. So people most people don't go faster than that at least!
We went to another nearby base that has a huge PX Mall and then another nearby town. We were exploring and also looking for some used cars. We finally found one! We had emailed a few people about some older BMWs and VWs and checked out a few at our base, but hadn't had much luck. We ended up finding this Ford Escort Wagon - that looked good, was a good, cheap price, and had really low miles for a '98. It is Euro spec (meaning the dash is in km not mi) but I think that's easier to glance down and look at for me right now while I'm still working on remembering to convert. The car is old, but nice and well maintained. I like the color - it's like a turquoise green. And I like that it's a wagon - good room in the back for stuff, but not too big for German roads. Andy really liked the car, just thought it was funny that we go all the way to Germany to buy a used Ford - haha! It will hopefully be a good second - drive around base and town - car for us for the couple years we are here and then we hope to resell it to someone else. Our other car, (a 2010 Ford Focus) is on the boat on it's way over and that will be our more reliable drive everywhere and take on trips car. That's the plan anyways.
But the car buying process here and on a military base has several steps. So it's taken me a few days to actually get the car. We looked at it Saturday and pretty much decided to buy it. Since I had to come back and get the insurance and everything else, we just had them hold the car for us until Monday. On Monday, I went back up and paid for the car and picked up the title and bill of sale. I couldn't leave with the car though. I had to next go and get insurance. Every car in Germany must have insurance all the time. So thankfully there was a branch right there in the same town and I got the insurance card and took care of that detail. Then I had to go back to my base and get temporary registration plates. At the registration place I waited for nearly 3 hours. Not. Fun. I ended up being the very last person they took that day - so glad I made it in and got the plates! Then I had to return our rental car, since it was due back and they wouldn't let me return it to the other base near where we were buying the car from due to a shortage in fleet or something crazy.
So today, Tuesday, I got up early and took the shuttle from our base over to the base near where our new (old) car is and then took a taxi from the base to the car. Which was cheaper than just taking a taxi all the way there (about a 30 min drive) or taking a taxi to the train. Anyways made it, got the temp plates put on the car and was happy! I had to get a gas ration card on base to fill up, but that was pretty painless with all the paperwork I had from the previous day. Now the only things we have left to do is get it inspected here on base and then get our permanent plates. Hopefully we won't have any issues. The place we got the car from does guarantee that it will pass and will fix anything if it doesn't though. I already got the first aid kit and warning triangles that we are required by German law to have in the car to pass the inspection. Then we should be all set for a while.
We're both excited to have our own wheels in Germany now!