Tuesday, 25. September 2007: Our Last Full Day in America
All day, we took care of a few final tasks: shutting off the utilities and Mediacom, packing the last few items, and throwing away the last few items. We finally finished everything we needed to do by about 4:45. In the process, we came across a gift card to Wehrenberg Theater. So we used it! We saw Dane Cook’s Good Luck Chuck! It was H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S!!! (If you go see it, be sure to wait after the credits start to roll.)
Our luggage, all of it, was eagerly waiting by the door:
When Dad and Traci arrived, it was time to load our baggage in the back of Dad’s truck. How funny that was! Thank goodness Dad brought the bed extender! We had eight 29” rolling suitcases, two duffle bags, two small carry-ons, a backpack, and smaller carry-on. Check out the back of the truck:Because of the forecast of rain, we took about 30 minutes to cover the luggage with a tarp, then we hit the road. On our way to St. Louis, we had our last Big Macs and White Castles. It was a sad trip. And there was no rain.
26. Sep 2007
Man am I glad our flight left at 1! During breakfast, Dad was watching the report on the highway congestion, and between 9 and 10, it went from congested to completely clear. We repacked the back of the truck, and then had a quick and easy trip to the airport.
You know how airport trips are: hurry up, then wait. Then hurry up some more, then wait some more. Same story for us. As we arrived, a very wonderful curbside attendant helped us.
I think he was pretty excited because apparently we tripled the bags he’d handled so far that morning. He was SO helpful! As the lady at the check-in counter was giving us a hard time for bringing excess and heavy baggage, the skycap was weighing our luggage, helping us put address tags on all the pieces, and just being friendly. He really made that experience better. After we paid our excess baggage fee and the overweight baggage fee, it was time to Wait.
And that’s something I’d like to highlight for anyone who might have to move overseas. We read, re-read, and double-checked our airline’s website, and all we saw was that we’d have to pay for overweight baggage. You know, it sounds kind of silly now that I’m typing it out, but I guess I just didn’t realize we have to pay for both having extra luggage and then for the luggage we knew would be over the weight limit. So remember that: When you’re moving overseas and you realize that taking your whole life in suitcases instead of shipping it in boxes is going to be cheaper, remember that you’ll have to pay two separate fees. It still ended up being cheaper than USPS, but we didn’t save as much as we’d hoped we would have.
So we were waiting. We found the place where we’d have to go through security, then back-tracked a little bit to a little place where we could sit down and wait for noon to roll around. It was our final hour with Dad and Traci, and it was pretty nice. They both wrote in my memory book and we took some pictures. I hadn’t cried during this whole leaving process really (except on my last run), but as I walked up to the security line, I lost it. When the TSA lady was checking my passport and ticket, I was bawling. Embarrassing. :)
But if anything makes you forget that you’re leaving your homeland, it’ll be going through a security checkpoint. Some jerk-o thought we were stupid not to realize that only ONE piece of electronic equipment (for example, a bathroom scale and a DVD player–weird, I know, but we are re-locating across the big pond, and if you think about it, the scale, to weigh luggage, and the DVD player, to stave off boredom, are the last few things we used, so they were the last few things to be packed) goes in each plastic container. Alas, even though we learned that lesson the Rude Employee way, we learned our next lesson the Pleasant Employee way.
The man who had to search our baggage because we didn’t realize that we should have taken the hard drives, router, and power strips out of the suitcase. I actually got patted down, since I claimed the carry-on as mine. We were really glad for Nice Employee because he made the search (Hurry Up) not-so-weird. Despite being held back a little bit, we still had plenty of time to find our gate (Hurry Up), and then Wait.
The flight from St. Louis to Charlotte was quick and uneventful. Sadly, the flight using our plane before our flight was late, so we left late. When we arrived in Charlotte, the clock said we had 20 minutes to take off. We RAN from gate E17 to gate D3 (thank goodness for all those early morning runs. Too bad I hadn’t been running with a 20-pound backpack and a 20-pound carry-on!) and made it just in time. I’m telling you, we booked it! But we made it. It was great, just like the movies! Dashing across the airport, arriving at the gate, out of breath and exhausted, squeezing through all the people who were on time and looking at us like we were late (not our fault!), then collapsing into our seats, right before we take off.
The flight was okay—pretty much like any long flight: airplane food, crying babies, and difficulty sleeping. But I like this flight much better than the ones to and from Germany for my interview; trans-atlantic flights are better with my Robbie!
Here’s the surprise of the trip: we didn’t lose one single piece of luggage! I was sure we were going to be out at least one or two suitcases, but they all (all ten of them!) made it to Frankfurt at the same time we did. Amazing, huh?! We put them all onto two of those airport carts somehow, and as soon as we walked out of the luggage area, there was Rob’s mom (Kerstin, or “Mutti”) and her boyfriend, Gert, waiting for us! They went to get Gert’s VW Sharan, and then we had another fun time with the luggage: fitting eight 29″ rolling suitcases and the two large duffles in the back. We got most of it to fit just fine in the back, but one of the seats had to be folded down. It BARELY fit, but it fit. *shew* I was pretty sure that I took a picture of the Sharan STUFFED FULL, but—and I’m sure you’re sad that you don’t get to see another picture of our luggage—I seem to have forgotten to.
Once we arrived in Giessen, we got the keys to our apartment and checked it out. We are very happy with it, but I’ll post specifics in the next couple days.
Next, we had to register with the local city government, so they know we live here, and then it was off to the bank to set up a German account. At both places, we had some really nice, friendly, and helpful people to work with, and I am very greatful for that! Next we went to T-com (T-mobile) and set up a land line and internet, but we have to wait to use it until the middle of October . :( Finally, it was Döner time, then bedtime.
28. Sep 2007
Before we went to sleep last night, we both took two sleeping pills. I think we fell asleep around 21:30 (subtract 12 from the hours: 21-12 = 9, so 9:30 p.m.). Rob woke me up at 4 and asked me what time it was and I promptly fell back asleep. Apparently, he did not. :(
We had traditional German breakfast at the hotel with Mutti and Gert: brötchen (“broit-chen,” or rolls); deli meats (like salami); käse (“kay-zuh,” cheese); jellies, jams, and marmalades; soft-boiled eggs; yogurt; and coffee or tea. I think I’m going to miss omelettes, waffles, pancakes, and bacon, but deutsche Früstuck (“doi-chuh frew-shtuhk,” German breakfast) is still pretty good!
Today was utilities, mobile phones, and bedding day! First, we put the utilities in our name. Here, you choose a set amount to pay each month, then at the end of the year, they will have a technician check how much you used. If you use more than you paid for, you pay the difference. If you used less than what you paid for, they pay you the difference.
Next, we picked out some cheap pay-as-you-go phones because we really hate getting ourselves into contracts, and then it was time to search for a bed. We stopped by two places in Giessen, but they were very expensive. A bed frame, a very simple one, was at least 400 EUR, but usually cost about 1,000 EUR. Mattresses were at least 200 EUR. But luckily we had received an IKEA catalog in our mailbox, and we had already seen a really nice wood frame for only 149 EUR and mattresses that cost only 100 EUR for a single bed. So it was off to Frankfurt to find a place to sleep.
Three hours and several hundred dollars later, we had a mattress, a bed frame, and a cool medicine cabinet, plus a few random items, like drinking glasses and entryway rugs. And once again, we got to play with the puzzle of getting a lot to fit in a little space. A truck would have been nice this weekend! (Not that I’m complaining at all! I’m so glad they were here to help us. I’m just saying.) Everything we bought fit, with me sitting on the floor:
Thus ends our first full day in Deutschland: partially settled in our apartment and registered with the German government!