Mineral Baths to Driver License and EVERYTHING in Between
So another month in which I have neglected my weekly updates on what’s happening here in Germany. Last month it was due to a having been a slow month, but I’m happy to report that this past month has been anything but slow. Before I knew it, I was staring at the calendar thinking “where has the time gone?!”
I started out July by experiencing the mineral baths, which is every bit relaxing as its reputation suggests. I was cautious about going since I didn’t want to find myself on a “no clothing” day. I mean how awkward would that have been, especially since I was with friends? Once I discovered we were safe, it became an adventure to see what each pool provided as far as R&R. The main pool was a nice neutral temperature. Then there were two other pools in the general area, one on each opposite side of the main pool. One provided a cooler bath, while the other was a much more warmer temperature (think of a hot tub but slightly cooler). Once we lingered around up top, we went downstairs where you were only allowed to have a towel on, or nothing at all. Our intention was to find the sauna room, however we came across the sweat box first. Ah, the sweat box a place where the only people who had anything on were the Americans.
I didn’t quite know what to expect, but when I entered the tiny room my first impression was the density of the air and the nakedness of everyone else. What’s unique is the room is designed in such a way that no matter where you sit, you’re looking towards a wall. At first I didn’t know how long I was willing to stay in, but with time I found myself liberated with the idea of possible joining the natives. Too much information? Let me assure you I didn’t, after all I had my neighbors with me. But something about the environment and the attitude…well…there seems to be a lack of judgment and to be frank an I-don’t-care attitude. While I was sitting there, sweating, a family of three came in: father, mother, and what looked like a 5-7 year old little girl. At first the parents were covered up while the girl was fully naked. However, during the duration of their relaxing moments in the room, the parents became fully naked themselves. I have to admit, it caught me off guard. My American thought process kicked into gear, and before I knew it I was thinking to myself “I’m glad I’ve never seen my parents naked like that. Talk about awkwardness.” Once I was able to tame my cultural perspective, I realized it was just that…my cultural way of thinking about things. This situation was in no way perverse or unnatural, and it was such an eye opener on how where you live can greatly affect how you think about things.
Once we left the sweat box, we then wandered back up top. There was a small restaurant located within, so we decided to order something to eat. I chose, for a lack of better words, pancake soup. I didn’t know what to expect but it was just that, pancake strips in some sort of broth. It was really good too. I was surprised that the strips weren’t soggy at all. Next time I go back, I want to try something different. After we ate, we hung out for a tad bit longer and then left due to the time constraint. You pay 10 Euros for 3 1/2 hours.
4TH OF JULY/ INDEPENDENCE DAY (just for you Tina)
This year for the 4th of July we enjoyed a BBQ party hosted by Jake and Danielle (our across the hall neighbors) and then we got to watch the fireworkS display while on base.
The BBQ was very nice, and it was a great way for us to meet other coupleS who live on base. There was a ton of food, which was cooked traditionally for the holiday on the grill. It also provided an opportunity to try local beverages including the beer. Michael and I were introduced to Hornsby’s, which is actually very tasty and light.
Once we finished eating, we all walked down to where we would be able to set up and view the fireworks display. I’m not going to lie, Michael and I were very upset with the show. It lasted for only 10 minutes, and it was pitiful. I’m not even sure there’s a better word. Perhaps I was expecting more since it was an American installation, but I guess not. I think they did enough to pay respect to the holiday, but past that there was nothing to write home to. Enough said about that.
However, over all the day was not a total lost. As a result we made new friends, which continue to keep us company while we’re temporary away from our family and friends back home.
SWIMMING IN GERMANY ::splash splash::
Michael and I were invited by our same group of friends (Frank, Jake, Danielle, and Crystal) to join them for the afternoon at the local German pool. (Now keep in mind there is a big difference between mineral baths and pools.) Where we went was huge! You only pay 3.50 Euro to get in, and can stay as long as you want. I was hesitant at first since the temperature never seems to peak past 80 degrees, and this day was no different. Now that I’m looking back it started out pretty sunny, but by the end it turner over cast, and eventually rained on us. No worries though because we were still able to soak in the experience. (Like my pun.)
When you get done paying, you walk down this path that leads to several different pools. On your way though, you see a sea of people just laying out all over the grassy nulls. Once we reach the pool, located in the valley, we set our stuff down and began wondering the surrounding area. Here, they don’t use life guards, but they do have people who sit in booths who use a fog horn to blow their whistle. It’s like the fog horn is the whistle. Also there are paved sidewalks everywhere, and they have the pools situated in such a fashion where your forced to walk into these shallow feet baths to make sure your feet are cleaned before entering the pool area. I was amazed to see that despite the fact there was dirt and grass everywhere, the pools were clear of all debris. The park also had 3 slides which you could go on, and pools which had diving boards, high diving boards. How high? Well let’s just say, any higher and you could be jumping out of a plane. Ok, I’m exaggerating but you get the idea. But for real, there were at least 2 stories high. The guys went on one of them, but it wasn’t the high, high one but it was higher then what I would have done.
Once it started to rain, we moved back towards the main entertain where there is a huge room which houses more pools but indoors. We were going to stay, however, since it was raining at this point everyone else decided to move in too. We didn’t stay.
Michael and I did go back a second time to the pools on another day, but this time we explored the indoor swimming pool area and came across these tubs, which pretty much resemble a bath tub. What you do is place 2 Euros in the slot, the tub fills up in water, and it’s like a hot tub. The only big main difference is there are no side jets, just bottom jets. It was still nice and relaxing.
GRAMMIE RETURNS HOME TO GOD
I can’t recap my month without acknowledging what I lost and what heaven has gained, my Grammie. Tuesday, July 12 my Grammie went home to be with God, and while I miss her terribly… I’m glad she’s in the arms of a Man who loves her unconditionally and she feels no pain.
The last time I saw her was on my anniversary of this year, January 27. We ate at IHOP and she dropped me off at the airport with Grandpa. The last words she ever said to me was “I love you” as she passed the phone off to my mother. I still remember her smile, and our many conversations we had at her kitchen table. There’s a comfort knowing she was ready to go, and felt extremely blessed by the life she had lead. I also remember her telling me to enjoy my time over here in Germany, and to make sure to journal my adventures “because by the time you get to be my age, you’ll want to look back and read them.” I write mostly on that advice, and to share my life just as she shared her life with me.
I love and miss you Grammie, but I know I will see you soon. <3
MICHAEL, OUR FIREMAN & HERO
While I was in the kitchen preparing homemade potato salad for an importune dinner gathering, Michael and I hear this man nonchalant from one of the windows “Hey I think something’s on fire.” At first we thought they were being stupid, due to drinking, so I asked Michael to look out the front windows to see if he saw anything. Next thing I know we’re hearing the alarm and he’s telling me “We have to get out now.” As we’re leaving the house and going down the stairwell, we noticed smoke coming from our downstairs neighbor’s apartment. We go in, and sure enough there is a fire over the stove, which was later discovered to be the product of faulty electric lines.
As soon as I see the fire, I come back to the house and attempt to try and catch our cats to take them out of the building. While I was doing that, Michael comes back into the apartment and grabs our flour. He later told me he used it to put out the grease fire, and was the only one who thought to do so. You see, we are not supplied fire extinguishers and while everyone else was trying to track one down, he had already put out the fire. To eliminate the rest of the flame which started from the grease pan, Michael then took water from the dog bowl, designed to have an upright container full of water, after his friend removed the top and began to splash water up towards the top and eventually put the whole fire out. If that wasn’t enough, he and his friend also made sure to grab their dog which was in his crate. We also made sure to grab Jake and Danielle’s dog, just in case.
It was an adventure for sure, and what made it more fun was the fact that it was raining outside. So here we are waiting for the firemen to come, which took 15 minutes so thank goodness it wasn’t a true emergency, outside in the rain. By the time our friends got back from McDonald’s, they were curious as to what happened but at least I able to sit in the vehicle and enjoy my ice coffee, and Michael his McFlurry.
JENY GETS HER LICENSE- FINALLY
And last, but not least…I finally got my driver’s license Friday, July 22. I was so scared I was going to fail, but I didn’t. Before the test I had been studying for 2 days, especially on my signs (which I didn’t miss any of). It felt soooooo good to finally get behind the wheel and drive my own car. The last time I drove was in February when I dropped the car off in Orlando. I can’t tell you how much I missed driving. Although I have to admit driving over here is a tad bit more challenging, but I know with time I’ll get better.
Just yesterday I drove on the autobahn for the first time, and it felt great. I wasn’t able to go on a stretch without a speed limit so it was basically like driving on the interstate, but I can at least check that off my to do list while I’m over here.
WRAPPING UP JULY
I think that pretty much highlights all the main points for the month. Scattered in between are other activities that we’ve done to keep ourselves busy such as:
· Going out to dinner with friends. I tried another Thai restaurant and I’m thinking I’m going to leave here enjoying that cuisine more than the local stuff. I guess I should adventure out and try some German foods.
· Michael and I had our first dinner party after purchasing our kitchen table (it was the same day I got my license). I served pot roast which cooked in the crock pot all day, and of course it was moist and fell apart. Michael made brownies which were a huge hit. We also taught our guests (Jake, Danielle, Alisha, and Donel) how to play the card game Hand and Foot.
· I had a Girl’s Night with my two neighbors (Danielle, Crystal, and Alisha) which was a lot of fun, while the guys were having a Guy’s Night. Michael wasn’t able to join though due to work.
· While Michael is at work, I’ve been entertaining myself by attending the local baseball games on base, mostly those by the medic team since Jake is their team captain. The players/teams play on Unit teams (i.e. those who work in the clinic are on a team, those from the 52nd Unit are on a team).
· Michael and I also got our passports which means we can start to travel outside of Germany. We will have to research the rules on driving in other countries, and at least one of us will need to get our international driver’s license. I think France is in the near future.
But for right now, I think that about covers everything. For the month of August, I’m hoping to work on self discipline including updating my blog weekly, going to the gym at least 3 times a week, and teaching myself healthy recipes to make. I’m hoping with the pressure of maintaining my blog will give me the extra motivation to reach my goal. We shall see…