Saturday, May 30, 2009

Driver's License Process

Mike asks:

Is it difficult to get a German drivers license?

German licenses look something like this:

If you are coming from the U.S., the first question is:

1) Does your state have driver's license reciprocity with Germany?

Some states have full reciprocity (no written or practical test needed), some have partial (written only test needed) and some have none. Guess which state NJ falls into?

Right! No reciprocity.

2) The next step is to take a First Aid Course. If someone has an accident, you are required to help out with first aid. I have already taken that course. Before I went to the course, somebody said it will be in German but there will be an english-language pamphlet. Not true! I took the course and thankfully there was a person or two who translated the highlights for us. We also did practical work on Resusci Annie (is that Resusci Heidi in Germany?). So if you get into an accident on your motorcycle I now know how to take off your helmet without breaking your neck further. You get a certificate that said you attended the course.

3) After that you take an eye test at your local optemetrist. I am about ready for a new batch of contacts but I squeaked through. You get a certificate that said you passed.

4) Next is the translation of your exisiting driver's license. It helps if you have your previous expired driver's license to show you have been driving for some period of time (otherwise you need to have a probation period). Currently they have my license and I have a photo copy and a letter stating that it is being translated. Our relocation company is taking care of those details for us. You also give them a picture which will be used..unfortunately we had our pictures taken to be used for various permits, etc. and it says "Don't Smile" for these pictures so my picture looks very depressing.

5) In 3-4 weeks I will take the written exam. We have aquired a packet of sixty 35 question tests from which the actual test questions will come from. This test will be in English. The problem is that I have no book that tells you the kind of have to reverse-engineer them from the test questions. I would say that 75% of the questions are logical to answer, but the other ones you need to know the law. For example, how many meters do you have to park from a Bus or Tram stop? (15m).

6) Next you take some lessons from a driving school. This is really just for the instructor to see what you are doing and point out things you need to make sure you do for the test. Hubby took three of these lessons before his test.

7) Then you take the practical test. I hear it is about 30 minutes long and you drive in different situations.

8) If you pass, you don't get your license at the TUV (like DMV) where you took your test, you go to town hall and get your license.

9) They may or may not take your U.S. license from you...Hubby got to keep his because "he is going back and forth for business trips". Let's see if that will work for me!

10) Once you have a German driver's license, you have it for life. No renewing every 4 years!

Bonus question: Why don't all states have reciprocity?
Theories on the internet:

1. One theory is that the full-reciprocity criteria had something to do with where most US military personnel historically came from. This doesn't appear to hold much water.

2. Note the big states (CA, NY, NJ) are not on the list, but other little ones are. This is either because of accident statistics or (conspiracy theory) they figure these are big immigrant states with lower standards.

3. German precision was truly applied, and they actually sent people over to obtain drivers licenses in each state and evaluated which were easy and which were tough.

4. People in the U.S. may not be used to driving in all weather conditions (snow, etc.)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Quick Sheep Update

I hadn't seen the sheep lately and I was wondering if they (literally) had gone off to better pastures. But today I was riding my bicycle into Erlangen (the eldest had our bus pass and the car needs gas and being a true Jersey girl I know that "Real Women Don't Pump Gas" so I am avoiding that as long as possible)...besides it was a beautiful day and it was an excuse to get exercise while I was going to the library (did I mention I got my library card)? Anyway, I was riding along and sniff! sniff! What was that? Sheep!
Here they are:

It looks like they don't have heads! (Photo courtesy of my Blackberry)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Screens (and the lack thereof)

The Germans have the most technologically advanced windows...they have a three-position handle that when up allows the window to tilt in, when sideways allows the window to open like a door, and when down allows the window to be closed.

But they don't do screens, those Germans. Which is ironic given the amount of time the windows are opened to "let in the fresh air".

I personally do not care for flies. So off we went to OBI (our local hardware store) to remedy the situation.

This kit basically consists of velcro tape that you afix to the borders of the window, and screen "fabric" that you stick onto the velcro. Voila! Instant Screens. Note carefully the screen in the below window.

I have "screened" selected windows in each of the rooms to allow for cross breezes.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Christi Himmelfahrt

May 21 was "Christi Himmelfahrt"...Literally translated means Christ's Sky Drive, or better known as "The Ascension" (after Jesus was resurrected and then he went up to Heaven). I was determined that me and the girls would Get Outside and do something Outdoorsy. I got an idea from the school Newsletter.

We went to Pottenstein in the "Franconian Switzerland" area and visited two places: Sommerrodelbahn and the Teufelhöhle cave.

On our way out we saw a steam engine which apparently is run on Sundays and Holidays.

Hallo, Leute! (Hello, people!)

Even cooler with the Neideck Castle (I think) ruins in the back ground.

We drive by Tüchersfeld ...

Burg Pottenstein:
And finally arrive at our first destination, Sommerrodelbahn... the Summer Toboggan.

(aside to NJ Natives: remember Action Park? Remember the Alpine Slide (of death)? Same thing, but without the drunk New Yorkers).
There are two rides: one is more like a toboggan on wheels, and the other is more like a roller coaster car. You are in control of the brakes so you go as fast or as slow as you want (or as fast as the person in front of you)
This is the "roller coaster" ride.
The information I had said that the cave was in walking distance, but it took us a while to figure out which direction to go in. We finally found a nice walking path that went past the lake...
and the baby ducks...
and more baby ducks (who can resist!)
But we found Teufelshöhle (Devil's Hole).
(Aside to Mets fans...this means Tim Teufel was really Tim Devil. Who knew?)
The cave entrance:

Inside we took a group tour that was in German. All I could make out was Blah Blah Thousand Year Blah Blah. So evidently this cave is old...and has cool lighting.
All about Stalagmites
FYI: Stalactites go down from the Ceiling, Stalagmites go up from the Ground.
Cave Bears used to make this home...this was reconstructed out of the bones found in the cave.

Drippy-looking Stalactites:
"Curtain" stalactites:
When we emerge from the cave:

On the way back we passed through Gößweinstein and saw another castle on a hill (Burg on a Berg) which typifies Germany: Old Castle with New Technology (Note the cell tower!)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Nuremberg Volksfest

A couple of weeks ago we went to the Nüremberg Volksfest...sort of like a Country Fair.

The girls were anxious to go on the rides. It was fun because they were not the standard fair rides we might see in the U.S.
We paid per ride, but they seemed to last a little longer than a typical fair ride.

Nice views from the Ferris Wheel.

Corn anyone?

The stadium looking thing is the Documentation Centre/Nazi Party Rally Grounds.

The girls are on there somewhere!

Fish on a stick?

Daddy, win me a prize!

Time to go!

Monday, May 11, 2009


t's warm enough for the construction to continue on the outside of the house. They started putting up the balcony off the master bedroom.

View from the back of the house:

View from the side of the balcony:

I suppose this will give us a shady area under the balcony...I hope the back patio extends a bit beyond it.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

House Update

Beth asks: "So, how is your house coming along?"

Fairly well!

Living Room:

Note that we had to put the sofa in on a diagonal as it would have blocked traffic otherwise.

The other end of the Living Room:

The younger one's room:

The window on the left is sort of a sky light. We still need to hang up her pictures.

Close up of "wall stickers" on the slanted wall.

The older one's room:

Some "spot" rugs she got:

Close up of art we got last year at her school's Art Auction...the colors go quite nicely with her room!

Master Bedroom:

We are told that the balcony (which would be accessed from the left of the bed) will start construction on Monday the 11th. The rest of the landscaping/yard/driveway is supposed to be done by the end of May.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A couple of Random Erlangen Pictures

Hugenot church

The Huguenot Church was the first Huguenot place of worship built outside France. It was a gift from Margrave Christian Ernst and was built in 1686 - 93. key. The loggia, pulpit and priceless baroque organ are particularly remarkable.