Thursday, August 26, 2010


One thing that I really enjoy about living in Germany is that every weekend there is a festival. It seems that people in Germany just look for a reason to celebrate life. This weekends festival is a little different than the others. This weekend was the start of two week long flea market in the city square. Local businesses, restaurants and craftsman set up booths to sell their goods. The market is open to anyone which can lead to some very interesting displays. I was riding my bike around the festival and had to snap a picture of my favorite display.

Thousands of socks!
Apparently this gentleman sets up every year and is known for carrying a great selection of high quality socks that the locals look forward to every year.

I should also add that the best part of the festival is the night time entertainment. The concerts each night are a lot of fun and attract huge crowds. I have heard some of the most impressive 80's and 90's cover bands since living in Erlangen.

Birthdays in Berlin

Last weekend we traveled to Berlin to celebrate August birthdays. It just so happens that two fellow expats and I all have birthdays that fall within 10 days of each other. We had decided to celebrate together and flew to Berlin for a long weekend. We stayed in an incredible hotel (thank you husband) right in the middle of West Berlin.

One of the sites that I was excited to see was the wall. We took a 20 minute train ride to Muhlenstrasse, which is where we found the longest preserved part of the Berlin wall. It is located in East Berlin, runs just over a half a mile long and is covered in grafitti. Once we arrived at the wall we found out that Berlin had spent over a million dollars last year by bringing in artists from all over the world to repaint the existing wall. It is amazing that it was only 20 years ago that the wall came down.

I even found my name on the wall....

After the wall we took a train to Checkpoint Charlie.

Then it was on to Brandenburg Gate.

The next day we decided to check out the Berlin Zoo. I had heard that it was one of the largest zoos in Europe.
We had a great time and spent the whole afternoon walking around and enjoying the gorgeous weather.
I think he knows he is having his picture taken...

Time to feed the polar bear..

Before I end this post I want to share one last picture with you all. The night before we left for Berlin I scratched my cornea while taking out a contact. My eye was then extremely sensitive to the sun for the next couple of days. We did, however, find one thing that helped on Saturday.

It only stayed on for a few hours but definitely provided some laughs....mostly from other tourists.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The studying is over!

Yesterday was the big day....test day. We had been warned since arriving in Germany that passing the German driving test (written) was not an easy task. Being from the state of North Carolina we were only required to take the theoretical exam and were able to bypass the road test. Other friends of ours were handed a German license as soon as they arrived because they happened to be coming from a "fully reciprocal" state. Believe it or not South Carolina is one of those States. This still amazes both of us since so many of the rules of the road are so different over here than in the U.S. We don't plan on buying a car at this point. Between public transportation and our bikes we are able to get around easily. We need our European license so that we can rent cars for travel.

We began studying about 4 weeks ago and spent a lot of our free time taking practice tests and memorizing road signs. To give you an idea of some of the differences I will share some of the test questions.

1. Who is not allowed to drink alcohol while driving?

a. All drivers under the age of 21

b. All drivers

c. All drivers during their probation period

Answer: A and C. The dirver as well as everyone else in the car is allowed to drink while driving as long as the driver is over the age of 21. The driver must be under the legal limit in Germany at all times. Yikes!

2. What is the maximun speed you can drive a truck with a permissable total mass of 3.0 t on roads with one marked lane for each direction in outside built up areas?

Answer: 100km

There were several questions about driving trucks and the type of dangerous goods that I am allowed to transport on the autobahn in my big rig. I guess we should be prepared for anything and everything.

3. When driving an automatic vehicle in heavy traffic and in a built up area how can you save gas and protect the environment?

a. Drive in the gear "p" if possible

b. drive in the lowest gear possible for as long as possible

c. utilize the "kick down" mechanism, if possible.

This was a particularly hard one for me because I would assume that there was no correct answer. The answer is c although I am still not yet sure what a "kick down" mechanism is.

I wish that I could have found some examples of road signs as well, they can be pretty funny.

We had over 1700 questions to study while the test itself only consistsed of 30 questions. What makes it difficult to pass is that all of the questions are multiple choice and all can have more than one answer. On top of this if you miss more than two question you automatically fail, have to wait two weeks, pay 21 euros and try again. Now we can put all of our attention back on studying the German language as we attempt to talk with the locals.

It is so nice to be done studying road signs. After the test we both rode off on our bikes with big smiles on our faces. It is great to know that we can now drive in the EU for life since you are not required to renew your drivers license at any time.