I like to try and keep all posts on this site beneficial to others, like how-to posts, tutorials, etc. However, I have had so many requests from family and friends for updates I thought I’d do something new and write a life update of sorts!
Our big adventure officially started one week ago today (Saturday). With eight pieces of luggage and two dogs in our super sexy minivan, we headed off on a fourteen-hour drive from St. Louis to Baltimore Washington International Airport. The dogs were super well-behaved for the car ride and for their first nights stay in a hotel. Hazel was a little freaked out by the elevators and HATED the maid’s cleaning carts (silly girl). Sunday we slept in and set out to walk the dogs as much as possible. We walked to a nearby Dunkin Donuts for breakfast and spent about an hour walking at a park.
Around 2 pm we headed over to the airport. Pulling up to our terminal we were both so nervous! It took awhile to find a cart big enough for all our luggage, but finally, we got the van emptied. I waited inside with the dogs and luggage while Daniel returned the rental van.
We took an AMC (Air Mobility Control) flight which was basically a military chartered flight. There was an extremely long line of families PCSing, and soldiers deploying. Luckily we didn’t have to wait in that line because they had a special line for families with either children or pets. There were only three people ahead of us, but we still waited in that line about two hours. Once we got our bags checked in we were not allowed to go through security to our gate because of the dogs. Until 7:30 we hung out in the airport entrance and took the dogs out to the pet relief area several times.
When flying pets you are not supposed to give them sedatives because there haven’t been studies done on their ability to breath while sedated at high altitudes. The vet at Fort Leonardwood did give us some anxiety medication though and it worked wonders!
They were so quiet the whole time! Finally, at 7:30 we along with the other pet owners got inline to have the dogs and crates inspected. They took us into a back room, closed the door and had us get the pups out. They felt them up, took everything out of their crates and said we were golden! Here we said our goodbyes, zip-tied the crate doors and watched the airline workers roll them off. They were so sweet to the puppies and talked to them through the crate holes.Next, we high tailed it to security. Lucky we got to skip the lines, but one of our carry-ons had to be searched because the system couldn’t figure out what our bag of dog food was. They had to do a chemical explosives test on it, but of course, it was all good!
Our flight was delayed about an hour because catering was having an issue…..we were just happy it wasn’t delayed due to something more serious like mechanical!
Finally, we were off the ground at around 11 pm! We flew on a Boeing 747, and it was crazy big! Two stories, and 10 seats across. There were over 400 military and family members on this flight. Unfortunately, Daniel and I were smack dab in the middle of those 10 seats 🙁 It was a long flight and we weren’t really able to sleep, but we finally landed on Monday at Ramstein Air Force Base in Kaiserslautern at 12:30 pm.
Ramstein Air Terminal
After getting off the plane Daniel and I were separated so that they could brief him. Then we waited in a huge line to have our passports checked at customs. The whole time we could hear all the dogs barking their heads off from the next room. Finally, we were reunited with the dogs! They weren’t the ones barking, but man were they happy to see us. We had to have them seen by a German vet and have their puppy passports approved. The vet and baggage claim was all in one room so um…can you say hectic?
After the vet, we picked up our baggage and Daniel was briefed again. Finally, we were released and we were able to let the pups do their business. We then hitched a ride from a lady with a truck to our temporary living facility. They put people with pets in one building which we call the “dog house” because it isn’t the newest or shiniest pad, but it works!
Getting Down to Business
I’ll save you the play by play of the first two days and just say they were tough! We both had colds and jet lag. We needed to get some very basic and important things done, but it is really hard to do anything without a car or a phone to get ahold of anyone for a ride. Let’s just say we did a lot of walking! We were supposed to have a sponsor which is just someone from your unit who is assigned to helping you transition and settle, but our sponsor wasn’t really helpful. Our first three days we focused on
- Passing our drivers test online
- Getting a PO box- you have to have this to do really anything else
- Getting phone service
- Getting a German bank account
- Getting our actual driving certificates
Everything we tried to do was frustrating because we would arrive only to be told we didn’t have papers XYZ….nothing was a simple walk in, walk out event. However, I am happy to say we eventually got everything done!
So we really wanted to live off post (on the economy) because we wanted to feel like we were apart of the culture here. We had also been told that we would only be offered a two bedroom apartment on post and off we could get a huge house with German character. Sweet right…..nah…here is how it really works:
Once you get here you are supposed to have a housing brief within the first five days. Once you have the brief you are offered on post housing. You have 24 hours to accept or decline the offer. If you decline they will stop paying for your temporary housing facility. So, unfortunately, we had our housing brief on the second day we were here and were offered on post housing the next day. This meant we didn’t even have the weekend to look for housing off post. We were able to look at two off post on Thursday but we really didn’t love them. Dragging our feet we went to see the on post housing that was offered. Guys…we got super lucky! The house they offered us is really meant to be offered to officers who have at least two kids, but it was all they had available so they had to offer it to us. It is a huge two story townhome with four bedrooms and a fenced yard. It even backs up to the woods so it is super private. Compared to what we had seen off post and what else was available online we decided the townhome was too good an offer to pass up, plus we really didn’t want to pay out of pocket for our temporary housing until we finally found something. $100 a day really adds up!
Breath of Fresh Air
Friday we emerged from our stressful, exhausting and crazy week and went to a local festival. We tried some German food- yuck and beer-yum! It was very interesting to watch the locals and listen to them speak.
The past two days we have been working on finding a car to buy. We are super picky so we haven’t had any luck. The lots around post all have English speaking salesmen, but the farther out you go the less English you get. We have realized we really need to put some serious effort into learning basic German. Saturday we went to Ikea and a Pizza Hut- both were super awkward experiences due to the language barrier.
It is crazy to think we have been here only a week tomorrow! It seems like a month with how exhausted we are! Sorry, if you thought this post would have cool and exciting accounts of travel and sightseeing, but moving to a new country is totally different than vacationing to a new country. We are able to move into our new home tomorrow, and hopefully, our furniture will be here within a couple weeks. Once we get settled into our new home, find a car, and Daniel gets situated at work we will start venturing out! We totally plan on following Ariel’s Do’s and Don’ts of Living Overseas!
Thank you to everyone who has sent us well wishes! If you want to call or text feel free, but remember to do it on the WhatsApp to avoid international roaming charges! The app is free and super easy to use! I’ve also listed our mailing address below!
Hopefully, I can get some juicy travel post up soon!
Daniel and Lindsey (let’s be honest…..Daniel didn’t write this)
CMR 469 Box #921
APO AE 09227