Uncategorized

Wiesbaden, take two… the dog friendly housing quest continues. Part six

Sunday morning, we got up, had breakfast, and started loading up the car.  Bill was sidelined for about twenty minutes because he misplaced his car keys.  I had to laugh at that, because one Christmas, he got me “Tiles”, which are little things you can put on your stuff that make them easier to find when you misplace them.  They beep when you clap your hands or something.  However, I notice that I’m a lot less likely to misplace things than Bill is.  I don’t think I’ve ever bothered putting the Tiles on my stuff because my stuff is always in my gargantuan sized purse.  Bill, on the other hand, is constantly losing shit.  Incidentally, I found the keys under a dish towel by the sink.  Bill had put them there while he was washing the dishes.

I kind of shooed Bill to the car and he complained that we were going to be early for our 11:30 appointment.  I told him I didn’t care and we could drive around the area if we were too early.  Off we went to a town called Breckenheim, which is a borough of Wiesbaden.  Sounds fancy, right?  Well, it appeared to be kind of fancy, although it was very congested, just like most of the other towns we looked at.  Even the ultra modern house was on a busy corner with a lot of traffic, although at least the street wasn’t packed with cars.

We found the little private drive where the house was located.  It was crowded with parked cars.  It appeared that there were a bunch of people at the little school on the road, so this might not be a constant condition of the street.  On the other hand, it probably is always that crowded.  It seems to be a familiar state in the areas near Wiesbaden.

We were about twenty minutes early, so Bill parked the car.  We were just going to wait, but the prospective landlord spotted us and welcomed us to tour the house.  We left the dogs in the car and they were very good, for once.  They didn’t make a peep.  I almost went to the landlords’ house, which is located next door.  Ordinarily, having the landlords next door would be a huge red flag, but we were running out of time and options.  Neither of us has any desire to go back up to Wiesbaden for more house hunting.

We walked inside and I noticed that the layout was very normal.  The house was clean and has no carpeting or nightmarish tiles on the floors or walls.  It has a really cute kitchen that is at least twice as big as the tiny one we’ve been enduring for four years.  There is no dorm sized refrigerator in the kitchen that doubles for counter space.  Instead, there’s a normal sized fridge with a small freezer.  We already have a standing freezer and a small fridge, so that’s no problem.  I’ll probably finally get my “fridge of sin” back for beer and wine.

There’s a living room with a charming fireplace.  The bottom floor appears to be a mother-in-law apartment/hobby room.  The house has a nice laundry room with a vent for my dryer.  Most of the other places we saw would require condensation dryers, which I’ve heard are a real pain in the ass and take forever to get the job done.

The floors were just redone and look nice and, most importantly, the house can accommodate our furniture.  There’s a dining room for my Eckbank Gruppe and the two bedrooms on the second floor have a shared balcony and sloped ceilings, but they’re big enough to take the king sized beds, or we can put one bed in the downstairs area, where there’s another shower, and use one of the bedrooms for office space.  There’s also another room that has a balcony and can be used as an office.  I noticed the house has curtain rods, so I can easily hang my drapes.

The bathroom has a rainfall shower and a tub… and most importantly to me, the toilet was recently replaced with a modern version that will probably be able to handle any toilet paper I throw at it.

The backyard is small, but it has a high, secure fence.  Finally, we can sit outside with the dogs and not have to worry about them escaping.  Also… there was no awning to be found or broken.  Instead, it appears that the terrace has a roof.  There’s a garage and small parking spot for my Mini and another parking spot right in front of the house.  Tanja, the real estate lady showed up on time, just as we were finishing our walk through of the house.

When I asked the real estate lady about the landlords living next door, she immediately realized my angst.  But she said they’re laid back… and I did notice that not only did they allow the previous tenant to put up a fence and remove some of the doors from downstairs, but the previous person lived there for seven years.  That tells me he or she must have been relatively happy there.  I don’t love the idea of living next to the landlords, but who knows?  They might turn out to be people who can appreciate or at least tolerate my odd sense of humor and lack of cleaning related OCD.  I did notice that the husband has a sense of humor, which is always a good thing.  Like our very first German landlord, the owner of this house also worked at IBM in Böblingen at one time.  He understood why Bill and I are being forced to move, because the same thing had happened to him.

Bill was fretting about the price of the house, which is by far more than we’ve ever paid for housing anywhere.  It’s 3100 euros plus “other costs”.  It comes out to over $4000 a month.  But… Bill is going to get a small bump in his housing allowance, and we’re mostly debt free now.  Bill heard a rumor that pretty soon, the company he works for will only offer the money for actual rent instead of a lump sum, which would defeat the purpose of finding a house that costs less than what he’s paid.  And while I would have liked to have found something less expensive in a less busy neighborhood, Bill will get to enjoy a very short commute of less than ten minutes.  That has never happened in our sixteen years of marriage.  He’s always had to sit in traffic.  Maybe he’ll save money on gas.

Speaking of traffic, there was slightly less of it as we made our way home.  We did encounter one traffic accident, so we detoured through some cute towns near Pforzheim and Karlsruhe.  I was thinking about how much I am going to miss BW.  As pretty as Mainz and Wiesbaden are, I enjoy Baden-Württemberg’s country charm.  I won’t be surprised if we wind up living here again at some point.

Anyway, after a few hours of hemming, hawing, adding and subtracting, Bill finally realized that we can afford the house.  He didn’t need to tell me that, since I knew we could.  He just didn’t want to spend so much, for which I really can’t blame him.  He sent a note to Tanja, the real estate agent, who immediately got back to the owners.  They said they’d love to have us, so now we have a home right next to theirs.  Wish us luck.

The simple fact is, free standing houses are apparently in short supply in Wiesbaden.  Most people are paying a lot for apartments and duplexes.  I saw more than one apartment offered at over 3000 euros a month and plenty of duplexes were going for at least 2500 euros or more.  The house we toured yesterday had almost everything we needed and a lot of what we wanted.  Although I will definitely miss living in dog heaven and the beautiful views we’ve enjoyed in Unterjettingen, I think this house in Breckenheim will be alright.  I don’t know how long we’ll live in Wiesbaden, but it’s good to know we’ve found a place to hang our hats.  And a bonus is that the new house is within walking distance of a grocery store, bar, bus stop, and bakery.  So if I get depressed, it’ll be easy to drown my sorrows.

But I will admit, I’m going to miss the best part of living in Unterjettingen, pictured below…

Sigh…  I will truly miss this.

 

I will also add that in spite of all my bitching about this house in Unterjettingen, this process of looking for a new house in Germany has taught me that we were lucky to find our current place.  Not only was it very reasonably priced, it also accommodated our bulky American furniture without too much trouble.  Although we were also lucky during our first Germany tour, I am now realizing that finding German houses that work with American tastes can be difficult.  And finding really affordable houses that also work with American furniture can be almost impossible.  So thanks very much to our current landlords for that.

We should be getting the contract sometime today.  If everything checks out, we’ll officially have our new home and will probably already be in residence as soon as a month from today.

Standard
Uncategorized

Wiesbaden, take two… the dog friendly housing quest continues. Part five

Saturday morning, we woke up ready to view our third house, another Bookoo listing with no pictures included.  This one was in Walluf, a community close to the Rhein.  Once again, it was to be a tenant showing, by a guy who called himself Fatboy 55.  We later discovered his name is Jim, and he’d lived in the humongous house near the Rhein for several years.  He and his wife bought a house in southern Portugal and he’s going to go there to fix it up while she works in the States for awhile.

Jim’s house was in a rather congested neighborhood.  Although the house had a double garage, it looked like parking could be a challenge there.  We parked a couple of streets over, because it looked like we wouldn’t have been able to park near the house.

Another couple had just viewed the house and had to direct us to where to find the front door, since it was kind of confusing looking for it.  This house was priced at 2600 euros.  Like Big Al’s, it was a huge mess, since Jim and his wife plan to move out next month.  Things were in disarray as they were sorting what to pack and what to keep.

Our tour got off to an interesting start as Jim showed us around the place.  He said things like, “Here’s a room where you can just throw your shit.”, “We have the whole house wired for AFN” (which I really only like to watch for the crappy PSAs), and “This is the dining room, bla, bla, bla…”  I have to admit, he kind of made me laugh.  The house was huge, but he had it filled with stuff.  In one room, I counted four sets of golf clubs.  He also had lots of bikes, skis, and other stuff, some of which he mentioned might be for sale.

Then Jim asked Bill about our “kids”, which I suppose is a natural topic for some people.  Some people don’t realize that the subject of children can be unintentionally uncomfortable.  Jim happily told us about his son and daughter, who are now young adults and on their own.

I expect many of the travel blog readers don’t know that Bill has two daughters, but they have been extremely estranged from him since he divorced his first wife.  I have only met them once and Bill last saw them in person about fourteen years ago.  The whole sad story has been repeatedly chronicled in my main blog, so I won’t rehash it here.  Suffice to say, it’s been very painful.

Last year, the younger daughter started emailing and Skyping with Bill, while the older one remains completely estranged.  He still hasn’t seen her in person since Christmas 2004, but he has seen her on camera, and “met” her husband and their baby, Bill’s grandson, Levi.  He’s loved getting to know his long lost daughter again and, so far, it’s been going well.  Still, while Bill was easily answering the questions about his daughters, I couldn’t help but think it was kind of an awkward topic.  But then, most people aren’t in extreme parental alienation situations like Bill has been.  To be honest, it kind of put me off a little, although I realized that we weren’t going to be renting from Jim and he clearly meant no harm.  Assuming someone has children is a little like assuming a woman is pregnant, though.  It can lead to disaster.  I’m glad I kept my mouth shut and let Bill handle it.

Anyway, Jim’s house had old carpeting and loud wallpaper, which was also a turnoff.  It also had a whole lot of rooms on at least three levels, which I figured would be difficult to keep clean.  Jim’s house had a fenced yard, which I liked, but it was surrounded by tall hedges, which he said he was maintaining.  The hedges were taller than I am.  I usually do the yard work when we’ve lived in places where it wasn’t included, so the hedges were a problem.  One plus to Jim’s house, though, was the awesome gas stove and oven.  Bill liked that a lot.  Also, Jim showed us a room on the bottom level where he said he liked to sleep during the summer, since it stayed really cool.  I could believe it.

Apparently, the neighborhood is great, as are the neighbors, although again… very congested.  It’s very close to the Rhein River and there’s a cute little area for shopping.  But it occurred to us that if we went for Jim’s house, we’d probably still need to meet the landlord before we’d be approved.  That would mean another trip to Wiesbaden.  So we left there feeling kind of dejected, although we did have a good time talking to Jim, who invited us to come to Portugal.  Of course, I noticed he didn’t give us his address…

On the way out of Walluf, we stopped at a Rewe to try to buy a wine glass.  The night before, Bill had a slight mishap with the glass he was using at GL Suites.  He picked it up by the bowl instead of the stem and it slipped out of his hand and shattered.  Rather than take a chance on a steep replacement charge, we went looking for a replacement.  Rewe didn’t have any wine glasses, so we headed back to GL Suites and stopped at the Edeka wine store, which DID have single wine glasses available for purchase.  We bought a glass and went back to the dogs, who were being very good.

While we were waiting for our last planned appointment at 2:00pm, I noticed a new ad on Bookoo.  Actually, I had noticed it the day it was posted.  It was for a single family house and there were pictures that made it look somewhat inviting, although the price was quite a bit higher than what Bill was hoping to pay (although secretly, I had a feeling we’d end up paying that much for what we wanted).  I pointed it out to Bill, who reluctantly sent an email to the real estate agent who had posted the ad.  She quickly wrote back that she couldn’t show the house on Saturday because she was completely booked with showings.  She also wanted to know about Zane and Arran, so we sent a picture.

Then we went off to see a house Bill and I had both hoped we’d like.  This house was posted on AHRN, and included a photo of the backyard.  It wasn’t quite as magical as our current view, but the backyard was entirely fenced and backed up to a grassy field.  The kitchen also looked promising, with all new appliances.  The potential landlord, a guy named Carsten, had asked to see pictures of our dogs, since he had just replaced the floors.  We sent him a picture of Zane and Arran and he said they weren’t too big.

Let me just say… I did like the neighborhood Carsten’s house was in.  It was right next to a nature trail, which would have been great for the dogs.  However, Carsten’s house is even weirder than the one we’re in right now.

First off, it’s a duplex.  The neighbors are French, which probably would have been a great selling point.  Carsten said they’re really nice and like to drink wine, as do we!  They had a big French flag in their front yard and “Bienvenue” signs.  I liked that already, although I don’t love duplexes.

Next, we walked inside to the ground floor.  This was where two rooms were.  There was a huge foyer and two smallish rooms on the bottom floor, along with a bathroom done in hideous 70s era tiles.  Carsten agreed the tiles were very 70s.  It brought back nightmare flashbacks of Armenian bathrooms circa 1995.  On the plus side, the bathroom had a shower and tub and his and hers sinks.

One bedroom was near that one full bathroom, but it appeared to be too small for our furniture.  There was another room next to it which could have served as an office or another bedroom, but again, it was too small.  And yet there was a huge foyer.  A spiral staircase led to the first floor, where there was a big great room opening to a balcony that overlooked the neighborhood.  To the back was the access to the backyard.  The kitchen was in an enclosed room and, I think, lacked a refrigerator.  However, it did have new appliances, cupboards, and counters.  There was a guest toilet half bathroom next to the kitchen.

On the second floor was another room with carpeting.  Carsten’s father’s enormous train set was there.  We were reminded of our first German landlord, who had a similarly impressive train set that he kept in the house.  Carsten said he would move the train set.  The second story room was somewhat charming.  I could see using it as an office, although I imagine it gets hot in there in the summer.  There was also a little nook that Carsten was turning into closet space.  He said he’d grown up in that house, built in 1976.  I believe it.

Bill and I wanted to love Carsten’s house because it did have a couple of rare things we were seeking and I absolutely loved the area where the house was located.  It’s even near a train station that could get us to Frankfurt easily.  Also, the price was right at just 1900 euros a month.  But… one of my main complaints about our current house is that it’s really meant to be two apartments, and has a weird layout and a couple of tiny rooms with limited usefulness.  And again, the rooms in Carsten’s house couldn’t accommodate our bedroom furniture.  We liked Carsten, though, and he probably would have been a good landlord.  We probably would have enjoyed having French neighbors, too… maybe.

We went back to GL Suites feeling kind of defeated.  I think this is the first time in our marriage that we’ve done extensive house hunting.  We have a tendency to settle for houses somewhat quickly.  Bill was concerned because we only have a month left in our current house.  I mean, we’re paying rent until December 31st, but we have to be in Wiesbaden by December 3rd.  And our anniversary is coming up and we didn’t want to spend it house hunting, especially since Bill managed to get the dogs booked with Max.  We still have to get this house cleaned up and our stuff sorted and it was beginning to look like we might spend Christmas in temporary lodging.  And who wants to house hunt at Christmas time?  I certainly don’t!

We were going to try to have dinner at a well regarded Mediterranean restaurant  (which we later tried in July 2019), but when we got there, it was totally booked.  I wasn’t feeling well anyway, so we picked up another pizza at the Pizzeria da Divya, along with some super spicy chicken samosas.  Bill loved the samosas, but they were way too spicy for me.  I was reminded of when I used to cook at a summer camp and one of my “dishwashers” was a hilarious British guy who complained that I’d made the spaghetti sauce too spicy for him.  I normally don’t make really spicy food, but our boss liked a lot of spices, so I had added more to appease him, since he didn’t like onions or bell peppers and pretty much forbade me to cook with them.  My dishwasher said, “Jenny, I’m ENGLISH.  I can’t take anything hotter than Colman’s Mustard.” (which actually is pretty damned hot!).  Anyway, I am also very English and Irish and I can’t take spicy food.

So there we were, eating pizza again… and Tanja, the real estate lady came back and said that we could see the other house at 2:00pm on Sunday.  We needed to be out of GL Suites by 11:00am, so Bill asked if we could do an earlier showing.  A couple of hours later, she offered us a showing at 11:30am.  Perfect…

This is the inside of Divya’s pizzeria.  It smelled great, although the pizza was your garden variety German style.

And the outside…  I would have liked to have tried the restaurant a couple of doors down, but they were totally booked.  We’ll have to visit them once we get established.

Zane made himself comfortable in the apartment.

And so did Arran.  We bought him a new monkey toy at the Edeka drink market, not realizing that the monkey was “musical” and would shriek when his belly was squeezed.  Zane had silenced the monkey within an hour of playing with it.  I had to extract the voice box.

Standard
Uncategorized

Wiesbaden, take two… the dog friendly housing quest continues. Part three

Thursday night, we were too tired to try the German restaurant across the street.  Bill walked down the hill and picked up a pizza from Pizzeria da Divya.  Yep… this was an Indian owned pizzeria that also served Indian food and had wine, candy, and chips for sale, along with other beverages.  I was particularly happy to hear they had wine.  Bill brought back a Hawaiian pizza and a nice bottle of red.

Originally, Bill had planned to visit the housing office at Wiesbaden, since they won’t help you unless you attend their housing briefing.  Bill says he suspects this is a requirement mostly to help justify keeping staff around.  Wiesbaden seems to have a lot of on post housing, some of which looks pretty decent.  I don’t know how many servicemembers are able to rent off post housing, but I do know that the Wiesbaden housing office will assist contractors, while the Stuttgart housing office will not.  In Stuttgart, contractors are on their own to find a place to live, while G.S. and military folks get help, such as it is.

When we lived in Stuttgart the first time, we did manage to find a great house using the housing office.  We found our current home on our own, with help from Bookoo.  If we take the house we ultimately accepted, we will have found that one through Bookoo, too.  Other sources of housing come from AHRN (Automated Housing Referral Network, which we used three times in the U.S.) and Immobilien Scout 24.  A lot of real estate brokers also have Web sites where they offer homes to rent, some of which also appear on the other sites.

Our first appointment was at a huge duplex rented by a guy who called himself “Big Al”.  Bill wasn’t able to attend the housing briefing, because Big Al said he was only available to show the house at the time when the briefing would be occurring.  Ultimately, we decided it would be better to see Al’s house than try to attend a briefing consisting of stuff we probably already know.  I don’t know why they don’t make the briefing an online module like they do so many other things in the government and military.  It would be so much more convenient and save time…  but again, they probably do it to justify their staffing levels.

I wanted to stay away from duplexes, mainly because I’m sensitive to noise and I have noisy dogs and like to make music.  I don’t like sharing walls with people, although we currently live in a duplex and have great neighbors.  The trouble is, you don’t always know who your neighbors are going to be.  I don’t want to deal with noise or neighbor issues.  The best way to combat that is to find a free standing house.  Unfortunately, free standing houses in Wiesbaden are in short supply and they are very expensive.

Big Al’s house was relatively inexpensive at 2650 euros (plus other costs) per month (bearing in mind that we currently pay 1600 plus “other costs”).  Al and his wife, a lovely Kenyan lady, had a young son and would be moving back to the States.  They lived in their home for seven years.  Their original landlord sold it and they really liked the guy who was their second landlord.  I actually kind of like Big Al’s house, although it was a bit trashed when we walked through, because they were in the midst of moving out of it.  The walls were dirty and there was crayon on the wall, as well as a Hello Kitty placard on the door of the fireplace, which they said they didn’t use.  I could tell the landlord was not going to be a stickler about neatness.

Al’s house had a cute kitchen, a pantry, a walk in closet in the master bedroom, and four bathrooms, one of which had an enormous tub.  My favorite part was on the fourth floor, where there were two large wood paneled rooms.  I could see myself using one as a studio/office and the other perhaps as a bedroom.

However, the house had a little yard with no grass in it and a tree that had shed a lot of unraked leaves.  I could almost let the dogs roam in the yard, except there was a part that wasn’t fenced securely.  Having had to chase Zane and Arran before, I’m not wanting to risk letting them loose in any area that isn’t really secure.  I would have had a nice view of the Autobahn, which isn’t exactly inspiring.  It looked like a lot of houses were being built there, too.

But then it dawned on me… that house had four fucking floors!  I pictured myself dragging the vacuum around, cursing the steps.  I pictured us trying to heat the house, although Al told us the heating system was recently replaced.  He said their bills were high, but that might have been because of his wife, whom he said liked things warm owing to her African heritage.  I was glad to see there was no carpeting, but I just felt like we’d be swallowed there.

I did basically like the house, though, even if it reminded me ever so slightly of Converse, Texas, which isn’t a super happy memory.  I didn’t think parking would be too much of an issue, although I wasn’t too wild about the neighborhood.  Also… and this is a BIG thing.  It would accommodate our bulky American furniture.

After we visited Big Al’s house, we went back to GL Suites, where the dogs were waiting for us.  On the way there, we stopped at the big Edeka for some food and wine.  At the end of this post are a few photos of that excursion.  I love Edeka.  I think it’s my favorite of all the German grocery stores so far.

At 2:00pm, we had an appointment at a much newer house in a different area.  I had high hopes for this house, which was being managed by an American guy who is married to a German, works on Clay Kaserne, and runs a side business managing properties.  He said the house was owned by his German friend, who is a police officer.  It was a pretty nice place– immaculately clean and modernized, with under floor heating, and a super modern kitchen with a huge double sided fridge offering crushed ice and an induction stove.  The kitchen was open to the living area, which had a little fireplace.  It was on a corner lot with a view of trees and a little creek, as well as a large lot being rented by the landlord and available for use by tenants.  I think the rent was about 2500 euros or so.  It had two bathrooms, three bedrooms, and an office and storage room in the basement.  There was no vent for my dryer, but we probably could have gotten it equipped.  Also, there was plenty of parking.  There were two outside spaces and a single car garage, and a couple of spots out front.

To be honest, we probably would have taken that house if not for one major issue.  The house would NOT accommodate our furniture.  Bill and I have two king sized beds.  We have most of our bedroom suite, with only a TV hutch being kept in storage.  Only one of the rooms in the police officer’s house would potentially accommodate our beds.  All three rooms had ceilings with sloping ceilings, which don’t go with tall headboards.  Also, I have an Eckbank Gruppe, and there was only one corner in the living room that would accommodate it… and it was not in the area that was obviously meant for a dining room table.

Bill was kind of crushed.  He liked the house a lot.  If I’m honest, I found it a little too modern looking and sterile, although I also appreciated that it was very updated and even had a security system.  I kind of liked the neighborhood, since it offered some views of nature.  It wasn’t super crowded, like all of the other neighborhoods we visited were.  However, it was located right by a bus stop and had huge windows requiring custom made drapes that wouldn’t translate in the United States.

And… I just didn’t want to have a situation in which we had our beds in rooms with dressers and the like in another room.  Also, I didn’t find the ground floor office very inspiring.  If I’m going to write, I need to be in a space that is kind of inspirational, rather than subterranean.  Not that anyone but me really cares if I write… I mainly do it to stay sane.

Pictures from our Edeka excursion…

Sonnenberg is nice!

Wine store!  This is separate from the supermarket and offers all kinds of beverages and other assorted items, like wine glasses and pet supplies.  We got Zane and Arran a new toy there.

I think they might even offer tastings!

But it’s just drinks, really… and candy and ice cream and such.  If you want to shop for food, go next door.

Meat market!

Frozen foods.

And your fall wreaths…

I could explore Sonnenberg more.

 
Standard
Uncategorized

Wiesbaden, take two… the dog friendly housing quest continues. Part one

A couple of weeks ago, Bill and I made our first ever trip to Wiesbaden to check out the area and look for a new place to live.  On that trip, we visited two houses.  One was too small.  The other wasn’t too small, but was in a neighborhood that I had a feeling would drive me nuts.  Also, the layout of the house was a bit odd.  The “odd” house was quickly snatched by someone else, while the too small house is still up for grabs.

The week after we took our trip, a few more ads showed up on Bookoo.  Two of the three that interested me had no pictures associated with them, but they sounded like they might be a good fit for Bill and me.  We also found a house on AHRN that looked somewhat promising and was priced fairly reasonably.  We decided to go up to Wiesbaden again for more house hunting.  Originally, we were going to do it last weekend, but decided not to, because I was having trouble finding pet friendly lodging.  I managed to book three nights at GL Suites for these past Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.  I definitely need to write about GL Suites, especially for those who need self catering accommodations.  More on that in a forthcoming post.

We arrived home a couple of hours ago.  I think we might have found our place, but I won’t know for certain until the potential new landlords agree.  Bill has been pacing and deliberating for the past couple of hours because the new place is going to be a whole lot more expensive than what we’re paying now.  Whether or not we take the house we saw today, our rent is about to skyrocket.  I thought Stuttgart and its environs was expensive.  Wiesbaden has Stuttgart beat.  Fortunately, Bill does get a slight bump in his housing allowance, I’ve paid off my credit cards, and my student loans are a thing of the past.

So… with that established, here’s my trip report starting with Thursday.  

Bill had requested to work a half day so we could get up to Wiesbaden.  We had three appointments scheduled before we left and a fourth was scheduled as we sat in a traffic jam near Heidelberg.  We set our fifth appointment yesterday, after I looked at yet another new ad on Bookoo.

Bill was late getting getting home, thanks to a massive accident that occurred in the Schönbuchtunnel  on Thursday morning involving an overturned asphalt truck.  It actually happened in the wee hours of the day and was backing up traffic even when Bill was on his way to work at about 6:00am.  By 11:30am, when Bill left Kelley Barracks, it still hadn’t been completely cleaned up.  Consequently, it took him three hours to get home.  I started to worry when he still hadn’t arrived by 1:00pm, because I wasn’t sure how we were going to access our apartment at GL Suites.  Also, I somehow didn’t get their welcome email, so I had to email them twice.  The lady who responded sent it in the Booking.com messenger app, which helped.

I’m going to miss this view near our current home sooooo much.  We will have nothing like it where we’re going.  There are a lot more houses near Wiesbaden.

I occupied the extra time waiting by getting everything together and cleaning the nasty carpeting in our house.  I recently discovered a wonder drug for cleaning, mixing Dawn dish detergent with hydrogen peroxide.  I don’t know how, but it cleans the hell out of carpet stains.  Also, I managed to descale the lime off of the taps in the bathrooms.  I never claimed to be a great housekeeper, but when I get in the mood to clean, I tend to be pretty thorough.  This is a good thing, especially since our search for a deep PCS cleaner continues.

Bill finally got home at a little after two o’clock.  He took a raging piss that lasted several minutes, thanks to his high blood pressure meds.  Then, while he changed out of his work clothes, I loaded up the trusty RAV 4 and got the dogs situated.  We were soon on our way and were making good progress until we reached Heidelberg.  Just a few cars ahead of us, there was a pretty bad accident.  I think a car was trying to merge onto the Autobahn and a truck didn’t want to yield.  The car got clipped and spun out, shutting down traffic for about a half an hour.  I amused myself by taking the following photos.

We were sitting in traffic and I noticed the familiar helicopter…

Then I saw this guy peeking out of the top of his parents’ SUV…  They had plates from the Netherlands.

He remained standing like this as the car coasted forward.  I wish Bill would let me do that.

I looked to my right and noticed a comically irate German guy getting out of his car.  He had brown hair that curled under gently, giving him kind of a 70s look.  He was cussing loudly enough to be heard, despite the 80s era adult contemporary music blaring in our car.  I heard him say “Sheisse” at least twice, watched him stamp his feet angrily, then he apparently decided to use his time wisely by removing the floor mat from the driver’s side of his car and shaking it out on the pavement.  Other guys decided to take the opportunity to relieve themselves.  Yes… there’s never a dull moment on the Autobahn, even in a Stau.

The helicopter approaches with the doctor, dropped him off, then they speedily got the accident victims out of the way.  I’d say we were delayed about 30 minutes, during which time an American property manager called us.  We used our time wisely, too.

I had been planning to arrive at GL Suites between four and five o’clock, but the traffic jams conspired to fuck up our plans.  Fortunately, to enter GL Suites, all you have to do is use the electronic codes.  There’s no staff, so you can come and go as you please.  The building is also monitored by cameras, which I’m sure helps the staff to know whether or not people leave when they’re supposed to.  More on GL Suites in the next post.

Standard
Uncategorized

Whirlwind trip to Wiesbaden– our quest to find new dog friendly digs… Part five

I woke up on Sunday morning with bruises.  Apparently, at some point during the night, I did a little sleepwalking and wound up falling down in the bathroom.  Bill told me this happened at about 1:00am, but I have no memory of it whatsoever.  I will admit that we enjoyed some wine on Saturday night and I was pretty tired when we went to bed.  I also have a history of sleepwalking that dates to childhood, although thankfully, I don’t do it very often anymore.  Anyway, I’m sitting here typing away with purple bruises under my arms and on one of my legs from the spill I took and don’t remember.

Bill says I spoke to him when this happened.  I let out a huge fart and started giggling, then told him not to inhale.  Apparently, I have a sense of humor even when I’m technically asleep.  I read up on sleepwalking.  It usually happens when a person is not in a dream state, and is either very tired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

I remember when I used to show horses, for several years, I competed at the 4H State Fair horse show in Virginia.  I always got really tired at that show, as fun as it was, and as well as my pony, Rusty, and I always did.  Rusty was a fan of the big exciting shows and would usually perform well.  One year during that annual show in Richmond, I shared a bed with my riding coach.  I was so tired, but while I was sleeping, I apparently thought I was on my horse.  I sat up and started wavering back and forth, as if I was riding.  My teacher described it as “doing the Watusi”.

I also remember falling out of the bunkbed in my room when I was a kid, and, more than once, getting up in the middle of the night while still asleep, thinking it was time for school.  One time, I even got dressed in a hideous outfit while still sleeping.

Despite my little Unfall early Sunday morning, I woke up feeling relatively well rested.  We decided to use Sunday morning to drive around the area and see if there were any other towns that would be attractive places to live.  I also got my first look at Clay Kaserne, which is where Bill will be working.  Below are some pictures from our drive, which took us all the way to Wöllstein.  One house we keep seeing advertised on Bookoo is located in that town.  We didn’t see the house, since Bookoo is closed on Sundays and we couldn’t access the address.  Also, it appears to be too much like the house we’re already in.  However, I will say that Wöllstein appears to be the kind of town I’d like to find, even if it is a bit too far for Bill’s new commute, and the house is very reasonably priced.

This is wine country…  and I noticed a lot of little wine tasting places just south of Wiesbaden.  I think this is where I want to live.

I have to admit, the mountains in that area are pretty puny… 

 

We also drove through Mainz, which is in Rhineland-Palatinate, just over the river from Wiesbaden, which is in Hesse.  I didn’t get the chance to take any pictures of Mainz, but I am sure there will soon be many pictures in this blog of both places.  Mainz has some jaw dropping architecture and I have read that if you’re looking for nightlife, it’s better than Wiesbaden is.  Bill and I are boring middle aged people who no longer hang out in bars, so Wiesbaden is probably more our speed.  But I do look forward to getting to know both cities.

We went back to the hotel at about 1:00pm, hoping to let the dogs nap while we had lunch at the Thai restaurant right next door to Town Hotel.  Unfortunately, the housekeeper was just about to clean our room, so it wasn’t a good time to let the dogs have their alone time.  We took them with us to Chookdee, the very beautifully decorated eatery next door.  Since Zane and Arran aren’t exactly the most relaxed dogs when there’s food around, we decided to eat at the restaurant’s one outdoor table.

This was our view.  I took a picture of this sign because it looks like something I might want to attend.  We will be in town that day, too.

Obligatory Bill shot…

I had delicious crispy duck with garlic sauce, green beans, cilantro, and lemongrass.  This drove Zane crazy, although he was basically well-behaved for most of lunch.  The waiter, who seemed to enjoy Zane and Arran, had just poured the garlic sauce over the duck and made it steam!

Bill had chicken with coconut milk, peanut sauce, and peanuts.  It was a bit spicy, thanks to the peppers.  I loved Bill’s dish.  Both came with rice, of course.  I saw some really good looking appetizers in their huge menu, but I decided that would be too much food.

Zane was more vocal than Arran was, until some lady brought a little dog past them that made them react.  It took a couple of minutes for them to calm down and one of the cooks at Karim’s came out and gave me a dirty look, which I was happy to return.  He started laughing and went away.  

Arran is turning into quite the little gent.  

I didn’t go inside the restaurant, but Bill said it’s really beautiful inside.  We’ll have to go back so I can eat more stuff with peanut sauce and coconut milk.  

 

I can’t eat as much as I once did, but you’d definitely never know it to look at me.  However, I have to admit the temptation to eat more was there at this restaurant.  I really had trouble deciding what I wanted because there were so many appealing choices.

By the time we finished lunch, the room was ready.  We had a little rest and talked more about how we’re going to make this move happen.  I wish I enjoyed the relocation process more.

Standard
Uncategorized

Whirlwind trip to Wiesbaden– our quest to find new dog friendly digs… Part three

I actually got ahead of myself with part two, since we arrived at the hotel after visiting our first house.  The first place we looked at was located in a cute little town called Hofheim-Lorsbach.  We had an appointment with a guy who is advertising a number of properties on Wiesbaden Bookoo.  Because of Zane and Arran and my music hobbies, we’re hoping to find a free standing house, even though it’s clear that it’s going to cost a lot more than what we’re paying for our current duplex.

The first house we looked at is, indeed, a free standing house.  However, it consists of just two bedrooms and, once we got a look at it, we realized we literally wouldn’t be able to fit all of our stuff in the house.  Hofheim-Lorsbach appears to be a pleasant area, although it’s very built up.  The house we looked at had a shared driveway that would require backing into a busy street.  At 1500 euros a month, the rent was affordable for us and the house itself was very clean and nice.  It was just too small.

The landlord has several other houses for rent, though most of them are duplexes.  He has one free standing house that goes for over 3600 euros a month and is huge– too big for just the two of us.  But we may call him about one of the duplexes if we can’t find something closer to what we really want.

So we headed to Wiesbaden and checked into the hotel, rested for a few minutes, then headed to downtown Wiesbaden, where we had an appointment to see a free standing house that was built in 1908.  We were both pretty excited about this house, since the landlord is doing a lot of renovations that will make it very comfortable and unusual.  The house has a separate guest apartment, also being renovated, and equipped with a kitchenette and a bathroom.  It has a large backyard, a garage located behind a gate, and the landlord even said he’d fence in an area for the dogs.

The most exciting thing about this house is the kitchen, which is brand new, and has a huge refrigerator with an ice crusher, an island for food prepping, and all new appliances.  The next most exciting thing about the house is the air conditioning being installed on the second and third floors.  And the next most exciting thing is the rainfall shower and high speed toilet…  It’s the kind of toilet where you push a button and it washes your ass for you.  There’s even an English speaking veterinarian within walking distance of the house AND he takes VAT forms!

This sounds like it should be a no brainer, right?  When I saw the ad for this place, I thought it was too good to be true.  Once we visited it, I realized that there would be a few drawbacks to living there.  For one thing, the house is in a very congested neighborhood.  I noticed on a Saturday afternoon that it was a bit noisy and parking was scarce, although if we take this house, we can park behind the gate.  Bill and I are not really city people.  We like peace and quiet.  I stood on the sidewalk and could easily hear some guy in his house on the phone.

For another thing, accessing the laundry room will require going outside.  That probably isn’t a dealbreaker most of the year, but it could be a real bummer in the winter months.

And finally, the one room that I’m sure could handle our two king sized beds is on the top floor.  However, there is no bathroom on the top floor and Bill and I usually have to get up to pee during the night.  Accessing the bathroom would require going downstairs, unless we put one of the beds on the second floor.  I think that would get really old.  It could also be potentially dangerous.

I haven’t yet said no to this house yet, though…  We may end up taking it, because it does tick off a lot of boxes.  The landlord isn’t a neat freak, which is a huge plus in my book.  I noticed that he genuinely seemed to welcome my dogs, which I prefer to a landlord who simply tolerates them.  I also got the sense that the landlord really wants us to take the house, which is a good thing.

Still, I have gotten used to living in a smaller town near places where I can see nature easily.  There is a trail behind the house in Wiesbaden, but it’s definitely a busier area than I’m used to and may make me even bitchier than usual.  A large fridge, rainfall shower, air conditioning, and all of the other cool stuff is are all well and good, but I’m not sure if they’re enough to overcome the drawbacks to living in a very congested area.  Also, even though I love the idea of a luxury toilet, especially since I’ve been tolerating a very low grade one for four years, there’s always the chance a luxury toilet will break.  The more gizmos and gadgets a thing has, the more things that can go wrong and cause inconvenience.

So we’ll see what happens…  I think I’m going to try to find something a bit further south, where all the vineyards are.

On the way to the second house… 

Wiesbaden is very swanky!

If only the house we looked at had this wide boulevard next to it.

Standard
anecdotes, international moves

Texas or Germany?

I have a feeling that once Bill retires, we’ll end up staying in Texas.  But really, we could end up anywhere.  For the first time in our marriage, our next station will largely be our choice.  Well, it’ll be our choice to the point that we can go wherever there is appropriate work available.

Bill has contacts in several places.  We could conceivably end up in North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, or even Germany.  Bill found a job in Stuttgart that he’s a very good fit for.  He hesitates to apply for jobs now because retirement is a few months off.  I say he needs to circulate his resume now.  It takes time to find work.  That was true even in the dark ages when I was looking.

I don’t really want to go back to Virginia because I have spent most of my life trying to get out of there. It is my home, though, and living there would put me close to friends and family.  On the other hand, I kind of like not living so close to family.  North Carolina would be okay, though we would probably choose a different area than where we were living before.

Texas is okay except there are so damn many people here.  Just driving around this city, you see so many houses on zero lots, packed in so tightly.  Yes, there’s work here, but it’s not a place that feels like home to me.  Nevertheless, we’re looking for a place that might be a good place to settle.  Texas offers some really nice benefits to Texas veterans, including home loans.  Given that Bill’s ex wife screwed him out of his VA benefits, this is a great opportunity for us.

So we’ll see…  But given my ‘druthers, we’d move back to Germany for a few years and save up some money so we can buy a house.  I don’t feel ready to buy a home now, even though it’s supposedly a good time to do so.

Standard
Uncategorized

Halfway through our trip…

We’re having a good time in San Antonio and it looks like we may have found a suitable house.  I have lots of photos and this trip will spawn several new posts which I will write when we get home.  I am on my mother-in-law’s computer right now.  We’re spending the day with her… and will probably hang out with her over the weekend before we go home on Monday.

My husband’s birthday is Sunday.  I haven’t decided how we should celebrate it.  Last night, we did go to the CIA’s campus restaurant (CIA meaning the Culinary Institute of America).  I will post more about the meal later.  For now, I will say it was a nice experience and I think we will love being so close to a campus.  I can see Bill signing up for a class or two…  if we can afford it, that is.  Our new home is liable to be a lot more expensive than the house we’ve been in.

San Antonio is absolutely overrun with teenagers this week.  There are about 30,000 of them… and they’re all Lutherans.

Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday!

Standard
Uncategorized

Next trip is a week from today…

It still seems so surreal that we’re moving again and will be in Texas next week to find a new place to live.  When we get back from Texas, we’ll start packing and cleaning.  Once that’s all done, the road trip begins.

But the journey really begins next week, when we start the ball rolling.  Two years ago, we drove to North Carolina from Georgia to find a new house.  It didn’t take much time at all and we came home a day early.  Our time in Texas is likely to be more like an actual vacation, since Bill’s mom is there and it’ll be time for his birthday.

I hate househunting, though.  Hopefully, we’ll find something good as soon as possible.

Standard