Wednesday, May 16, 2012

getting around...

Since we got to Germany, we have been getting our exercise in by walking....a lot. We were able to ship our car - a nice reliable little Ford Focus - over, but it is still on a boat on its way to us and won't probably get here for at least another month or so. So we are without transportation, which in a lot of Europe is fine since they usually do public transportation better than a lot of places in the US. Germany seems to be the exception and most people here have cars and drive fast! We were hoping that we would be able to get around base ok for a few weeks without the car and then be ok with just the one car during our time here. But the base is bigger than it sounded like it was going to be - with huge hills - and just harder to navigate on foot than we had hoped. We have been trying though, out of neccesity. One day we just went out and got a bunch of stuff done and realized we had walked around base for about 7 hours by the time we made it home (we did make several stops in there and sat down for a while at lunch to rest)! Andy really is doing pretty well, even with his hip issues from the car accident. There is a shuttle which goes around base every hour - or two? We can't quite figure it out and it definitely doesn't seem to meet Andy's needs for getting to work on time.

Monday morning was Andy's first morning to walk to work since last week we were able to just settle in and get things done that we needed to. It takes him about 25 min. or so to walk there - and he has to go out of one gate and into another.  The base is interesting in how it is situated inside of the German town of Baumholder - the gates are to get on and off various parts of base and then other than that you are in the German part of town.

Then yesterday I walked into work with him since the Red Cross office is right next door to the place where you take the class and test to get your USAREUR drivers license to drive in Germany. We decided that I would take the test first so that we could rent a car or possibly look at getting a cheap "beater" second car in the next week or two and then Andy will try and take his test next week after he finishes getting oriented at his new work base. I did know to study ahead of time since I heard this was a fairly hard test and I knew I needed to learn the German road signs - here is a link to the online practice test if anyone is curious about some of the differences in German road laws and signs. I had to go to a class in the morning, provide a current stateside driver's license, and military ID - the class wasn't all that helpful but you just had to have studied a lot. Then you came back in the afternoon if you were ready and took the written test. Totally old school, exam books, matching road signs and then he graded it right there in front of you when you were done and told us if we passed. He told us in the morning that most people don't pass on the first try - in our class there were 12 that took the test and only me and one other that passed it.

I was just so happy to pass!

To drive with this license we still always have to have a valid stateside license and our military ID. This license I got (which is the temp license - I'll get the permanent one in the mail soon) is a special license that was created for military and command sponsored civilians who are residing in Germany that is good for three years to make sure we know how to follow German road rules while here. If you were just coming to visit you would be fine without it or just with an international driver's license from AAA. We are going to get our international license in a few weeks so that we can drive in other countries too. But since we are command sponsored and going to be here for more than a short visit we are required to get the USAREUR license. 

So that's our latest news.....we're hoping to get out and about a little more easily soon!

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