1 week in Germany

>> Thursday, June 2, 2011

I’ve been having problems with finding current info on Stuttgart so I thought I would share my experiences so far, 1 week in. OK so here's how it went. Dropping off the car was easy and took about an hour. You just have to have what they say on the website www.whereismypov.com or on the automated phone system and you'll be good there (you can get the numbers from the website). If you have a loan on your car, make sure you go ahead and get a letter stating that it’s ok to take it out of the country. We had no problem with Pentagon Federal letting us take it out of the country. They took forever getting the letter out to me and I had to request it twice. We rented a car for a week in DC and shipped our car on May 23rd, a few days before we shipped it out of Baltimore. It isn't due in Germany until July 5thish. It took us about an hour to get it shipped and it’s an hour drive to the Dulles airport. I would not suggest shipping your car the same day as you fly out. At least in Baltimore/DC.  If you are flying out of Dulles then get there extra early. We waited in line for 2 hours and barely made our flight. We got to the car rental return at 4pm and our flight left at 6:54. If we had had another hour then it would have been perfect. We did fly out close to Memorial day weekend so that may have been the problem. Also, an hour layover once you get overseas is NOT long enough. You have to go through passport checks and security again...I got patted down! Fun. I would suggest at least a 2 hour layover, we ran to the airplane and were the last ones on...the plane was already boarded. Give enough time for food and drink and running around. Maybe you are used to foreign airports but I was so lost, the airport in Frankfurt did not flow like an American airport and everything was confusing. At least everyone I encountered spoke English. Once we were on the plane they served us drinks and dinner. We ended up not using the CARES systems but with the car rental, those car seat vests came in handy http://www.amazon.com/RideSafer-Car-Seat-Travel-Vest/dp/B000KCV61U! We have 3 car seats and we shipped them with the car since we didn’t want to mess with them at the airport…and because 3 car seats just don’t fit in one backseat. The boys slept pretty well...until my 2 year old threw up all over everything within a 2 foot radius. It was horrid. BRING EXTRA CLOTHES FOR EVERYONE (and wipes)!! I actually packed some full sized kitchen garbage bags on a prompting thinking it was stupid to do. Now I'm glad I did. It holds vomitous clothing very well. Once that was all cleaned up we had about 3 hours and 45 minutes left. The flight didn't feel that long. Overall it was a good trip. I was stressed out and my husband probably didn't like me that much during our travels but we made it. Driving across the country was worth it, we drove from Fort Carson Colorado to Baltimore. Even though it took 3 weeks because we visited family all along the way, it was slow and relaxed and the boys did really well. Taking off a few hours of flying time was well worth the time in the car.  Staying in the Panzer hotel is cramped. We have a one bedroom and would have to have 7 people in our family to qualify for a 2 bedroom. You would be fine in here with just 2 or 3 people. I have heard that the hotel on Patch is better for families.  All we have is a convection microwave oven that is very German and I had to borrow the owners manual from the front desk to try and figure out how to use it. I think I figured out the dishwasher. The only thing I can think of that I am wishing I had sent in my fast shipment is something to put the baby in (bouncy seat). I REALLY wish that we had sent our fast shipment a whole lot earlier. It takes the same amount of time to ship your UAB and your HHG so they are only arriving one week apart. No one told us when to ship so we messed up there.  We still have 2 weeks until our fast stuff gets here and another 3 weeks until our slow stuff gets here.  We are trying to figure out how to get our iphones unlocked so we can use them. Take my advice, unlock them before you get here or wait to buy something once you get here. No one will unlock it here and the German internet is really weird....so far....atleast in the panzer hotel. All incoming calls and texts in Germany are free no matter what service you use. I bought a phone for 14 euros and am doing the prepaid thing here until I figure out my iphone. I am not going to do a contract, too much involved I hear and the prepaid thing has been great so far. If you go to TKS you can do prepaid or a contract. For unlimited data it is 10 euros a month. If you are just going to use the phones here then all you have to do is walk into a store and point out the phone you want and its active once you put in the number from the phone card. It ended up being about $115 after we bought 2 phones and 2 phone cards.

We found a house by looking on the bulletin board at the commissary on Patch. It wasn’t listed with housing and no realtors are involved so it’s allowed.  Housing seems to have a lot of drama so I’m glad that we found a house so quickly without using them. I have heard that once you find a house that you like you should jump on it. They don't last long. I would say the average size of a house here is about 1400 sqft. We like everything about the house except that it is a little far from work. 

I will let you know which service I like better, Vonage, Skype or magic jack. I have had all 3. My observations so far are that Magic Jack is the least reliable with the crappiest reception but the cheapest and calls to and from the states are free. Vonage only works if your internet is working (along with Magic jack) and so that is why Skype is my next option because even if your computer is down, it will still forward calls to whatever phone number you input. Skype is costing me around $60 a year for a stateside number and then you have to have Skype credit or a calling plan for Germany in order to forward your Skype number to your German home or cell phone. The down side to Skype is when you call out you have to use your computer. So my plan is that I'm going to get a home phone through TKS and they offer unlimited calls to the US. So people from the states will call you on your Skype number so its free for them and you will call them on your TKS home number so its free for you. Otherwise you would never get calls from the US.....maybe that’s not a bad thing though :) It's about 50 Euros a month for home phone and internet...another 20 Euros for Cable TV.


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Lauren Tree - (719)660-4106 - lauren.tree@yahoo.com

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