Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Everybody’s Working for the Weekend

One thing you quickly learn here in Germany is that work and the pursuit of living rarely intersect. My American work ethic of in at 8 and out after…well whenever the work is done, is not commonplace here in Germany or the rest of Europe. In the Intel Munich office, people roll in “around” 9 each morning. Morning work is halted at once at Noon, where the entire office complex stops for a minimum of an hour to enjoy a leisurely lunch. I have never seen anyone eat lunch at their cube. The Munich office sports an outdoor, almost beer garden feel, eating area. Although most Americans visiting the office are disappointed when the rumors of a beer tap down in the café turn out to be false, the facilities are pleasant nonetheless.

After lunch, people move back to their work areas, and then when 5 o’clock hits, people are sprinting for the exits like Fred Flintstone hearing the “all finished” siren down in the rock quarry. And on a Friday afternoon, with that glorious weekend tantalizingly tempting each office staffer, you might as well forget about it. I went down to get my laptop worked on by the IT support guy at 2:15pm. When I got there, his cube was empty, and his work mate said that he had already left for the weekend. “Are you freaking kidding me”, I said as I hiked back up the stairwell to my cube located on the 3rd floor in disbelief. As I increased my blood pressure thinking about how the IT guy works about 6 hours a week, and when would I ever get my laptop configured for DSL, good ole Karl-Heinz was motoring down some stretch of autobahn ambivalent to the wants and needs of some workaholic American. His focus was on fun and relaxation, not work. My fun would soon come, but only after a full day.

Friday night was spent with Frank, as Keith was off to Sweden for the weekend to see his girlfriend. After another healthy dose of Bavarian food, Frank and I found a bar in the Schwabing neighborhood with a Brazilian flag hanging out front. That was all Frank and I needed to see, since we had each been to Brazil. Frank had been there for work/pleasure and I had celebrated my 30th birthday there back in March of this year. With the memories of Rio de Janeiro still salient in my mind, I quickened my gate towards the door. Could this be some magical time portal that would take me back to my 10 glorious days in Brazil? No, it was just a doorway with a typical behemoth guarding the front entrance. He had no beef with us and we walked inside to find the room in constant motion from all the people dancing around the bar. It must have had something to do with the intoxicating Brazilian music that was being piped over the bar’s speakers, but most likely it had more to do with the intoxicating Caipraihinas (National drink of Brazil) that were continuously being crafted and served to the bar’s patrons. Frank and I ordered up and smiled the all knowing smile that said, “Mmm, mmm, good!”

The drinks, the music, and the people were great. I forgot I was in Germany. There were even several Brazilians there enjoying themselves, so the place was legit after all. It is common knowledge, and most guys will admit, that girls love to dance. And then you have Brazilian Women. These ladies take it to a whole new level, and the same was true at our new favorite bar of the moment. These ladies were swaying and rocking in perpetual motion and all it was doing was spreading like a virus to the rest of the girls around the bar. Germans, Italians, Spaniards, and yes one lame American guy (one guess who that was) ended up dancing around the bar. Frank and I decided to call it a night around 3AM, which was a decent effort by European standards.

The next morning Frank looked at some more apartments, as he is slowly trying to narrow his search. I slept in until about 10AM, which was the first morning I was able to sleep in since arriving. I got up and headed out my front door to Hohonzollernplatz, which is my little neighborhood square. The place was already a bustle. The sidewalk cafes were populated with folks beginning their day with a coffee or bite to eat. I joined one such café and had a salami and lettuce sandwich on a toasted hoagie roll, along with a coke. Food prices are really high here in Germany, as the US Dollar is taking a beating to the Euro. That little snack I just described cost me the equivalent of $10.

I had brought a Yahoo Map which I had printed out back at work that showed me how to navigate from my apartment to the post office, where I had a mysterious package waiting. I studied the map all through lunch and felt like I was ready. Each simplistic task takes precise analysis and planning when you don’t know where the heck you are going, or where you are coming from. I made the journey, in what turned out to be a whopping six blocks, with no problem. I had my little notification card regarding my package and handed it to the clerk. She brought me back a DSL splitter from Deutsche Telecom (T-Mobile). It wasn’t a care package of homemade cookies, but it was nice nonetheless to get a package.

Met up with Frank for lunch at the hip urban Café Schwabing, which is just down the street from me. It is highly noted by locals as an excellent venue for people watching. Frank was starving and tore into a salami sandwich, while I cast my glances at passersby and enjoyed a Radler beer. Those who know me well recall that I am not much of a beer drinker, but the Radler is the perfect brew for someone with my inability to acquire the taste. Radler is ½ beer and ½ lemonade. It looks just like any other beer, but if you are trying to be cool, don’t let anyone sip from your glass. If they do, they will be met with a slightly sweet taste with a smooth finish, which will surely draw smirks from your buddies.

Frank and I left Café Schwabing and window shopped for a spell to get more familiar with the offerings in the neighborhood. We were quite happy to see a bike shop in case we needed any parts or components. We continued walking to the apartment that Frank had just been shown that morning. It was on a nice little street, just two blocks from Leopoldstrasse, which is the “main drag” to see and be seen in Schwabing and probably all of Munich. His place was right above a Thai restaurant as well, so of course the place got my quick endorsement. The apartment was also very close to the entrance to the English Garden, Munich’s version of Central Park, except that it is about four times larger. As we walked to the park, we happened to pass right by the Brazilian bar from the previous night. Frank smiled and mentioned that the location of this apartment could be dangerous.

The English Garden was fantastic. People were out walking, riding their bikes, relaxing in the sun (some wore nothing more than their birthday suits), while others were playing soccer, or even enjoying a picnic. Frank and I headed straight for the Seehaus, which is one of three beer gardens within the park’s confines. Frank grabbed a dunkleweiss (dark beer) while I wussed out and had a Sprite. We both retreated to a pole-position seat right on the lake. From there we could watch geese, people in paddleboats, and sidewalk dwellers pass by. Mainly we just made fun of the typical German’s bizarre sense of fashion. What is it about dark socks and sandals anyway?

On Sunday, Frank came over in his rental car and picked me up. We were headed to Schloss Neuschwanstein, which was the castle home of Bavarian King Ludwig the II located high amongst the Alps in southern Germany. The drive there was fantastically scenic. Rolling hills of emerald green grassland, large fir trees, and the amazing Alps that seemed to appear out of nowhere and swallow up one’s entire line of sight. We stopped at a small Bavarian town, of who’s name escapes me. It was basically a re-fueling stop, as Frank and I were hungry again, but the cobblestone streets, flower boxes, and charming church steeple with clock tower, made it all worthwhile.

After lunch it was onto Fussen, which was the major town at the base of this castle that was built between the years of 1869 and 1886. Poor King Ludwig II only got to live in his dream home for approximately 130 days, before he was told that a commission in Munich had found him mentally unstable and therefore unfit to rule. He was taken to Munich for “mental examination”, whereby the next day he and his psychiatrist were found in a nearby lake both drowned.

The castle was marvelous and is the basis for Disneyland’s famous castle at all of their theme parks. The location of the castle is exquisite as it sits high above the rolling hills and large mountain lakes of Fussen below. The Alps rise up around it and complete the postcard that only King Ludwig could have conceived back at the turn of the century. Now you tell me if King Ludwig was crazy.

The castle was the destination Sunday, but I think Frank and I enjoyed the journey there and back even more. The small villages we encountered along the way were almost storybook in nature, and the rolling grasslands, trees, and mountains made the perfect setting for our little trip into the real Bavaria. The weekend made it almost worth enduring the weeklong series of frustrations, mishaps, and cultural adjustments. Things feel like they are starting to get a little easier. If I start coming in on Mondays at 9AM, you’ll know I’ve passed the point of no return.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Stupid is as Stupid Does

I am sitting here on my balcony on a warm afternoon day in Munich, reflecting upon my first week in Germany. These days have been filled with mostly ups and a few downs, and a steady stream of adjustments on my part. If anything, living in another country tests your patience, but it also has been an opportunity to re-learn ways of thinking and your approach to doing the most mundane of tasks that help you navigate through your day. I have found that if I can only minimize my own stupid actions, things generally tend to work themselves out in the end.

Case in point: Frustrations multiply by a given percentage to the stupidity that precedes them. In this example, the irony began when I was presented with three sets of apartment keys upon moving in. “Wow, that’s a lot of keys”, I quipped to my agent. “Yeah, I’m not sure why there are so many”, she responded.

Fast forward to Wednesday evening, when I am having dinner with a new fellow American transplant, Frank Martinez, who will be working in Germany for the next two years. We were right in the middle of a Bavarian feast consisting of sausage, pork steak, potatoes, sauerkraut, dumplings, and Weiss bier (white (light colored) beer). Frank had just got done telling me one of his poignant stories, which I always look forward to and enjoy. Frank is very spiritual, but not in a religious manner. His spirituality draws more upon his Native American upbringing, and is often focused around finding balance with one’s thoughts, body, and actions. This story was about his brother and how he had learned to not let things that were beyond his control or had already taken place bother him. Frank said his brother rolls through life with passion and doesn’t let things get him down. He is not plagued by frustrations because he knows in the end things will work out.

So I realized right in the middle of dinner, and after just hearing Frank’s story, that I had failed to bring my keys with me to the restaurant. All three sets of keys were locked up in my room. Trying hard to practice the wisdom I was just bestowed, I calmly informed Frank that I had locked myself out of my apartment. An apartment I had lived in for less than three days, and one in which I was given three sets of keys. I quickly followed up my deadpan delivery with the phrase, “That’s OK, things will work out”.

I was very calm as I finished off my last bite of potatoes. Each bite had me running scenarios through my head. Even though I had forgot the apartment keys, I did still have the keys to the BMW. I could just sleep in the car I thought. Or I could drive out to the office and sleep under my desk. Oh yeah, I was being really rational now. I figured I would wake up from under my desk and call my apartment agent who surely would have a locksmith friend who could let me in.

I finally reckoned with myself that I really needed to sleep in my own bed and was quite tired from travel and adjustment. The only way was a locksmith. But do they even work at nights over here, I pondered. Our waiter at the restaurant spoke fairly good English, so I admitted to him about what had happened and my dilemma. His first reaction was to ask if I could climb up the balcony. Good thought, and one that I had considered myself earlier in the meal, but one that would not work as I live on the 3rd floor. I told him that I needed a locksmith. The waiter scratched his head and said that those guys are very expensive at around 200 Euros. Wow that was a lot, but I figured it was my own stupid fault and I so much wanted to sleep in a bed that night. I asked if he could call and he agreed. He came back to the table and told Frank and me that the locksmith would be there in 20 minutes.

Frank and I waited 20 minutes, then 30 minutes, than 40 minutes with no sign of my salvation. Frank went back to the restaurant, and the waiter told him to give it a few more minutes. 40 minutes became an hour, and this time I went back to the restaurant. The waiter said, “Oh, you know these mechanical type guys. They are always slow. But I will call one more time for you.”

He came back with a proud look on his face and said that he had told the dispatcher that if the guy did not come in the next 5 minutes, that he would call one of their competitors. So I went back and joined Frank in front of my place. Passers by must have wondered what the heck two strange guys were doing loitering out in front of an apartment for so long, but there was nothing else for us to do. We waited another 20 minutes, and just as I was about to take another trip to the restaurant, a huge burly German man got out of his tiny car and grunted at Frank about someone needing a lock service. Frank pointed at me and the guy approached the door. Within literally 5 seconds he had the front building door unlocked. All three of us squeezed into the tiny elevator, and Frank told me later that he was wondering if we were going to make it up with all of our combined weight, which was mostly our locksmith.

It took the man less than 2 seconds to pop my apartment door open. Finally, I was home. What a feeling. Then I prepared myself for the financial blow for my stupidity. The man asked to see my passport and jotted down numbers onto his official looking form. He gave me a copy and said it will be 87 Euros. It was better than 200, but expensive nonetheless. He took the cash and said in broken and grunted English, “See you later”, to which I retorted under my breath, “I sure hope not.”

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

A Little Run Down

I have spent the past few entries telling detailed stories. Some people have asked what have I seen, done, or experienced beyond the humorous stories. So this is an attempt to bring everyone up to date with a little run down.

Monday morning, I met my apartment agent who took me to my new place. The apartment is located in an adorable neighborhood surrounded by little shops and restaurants with a small fountain in the middle of the square. Its on a quiet little street that does not get much traffic. It is also a whopping one-minute walk from my doorstep to the subway (U-Bahn) station. The apartment is fully furnished and is ready to simply move in and live. It is quite spacious for European standards and has several decks that either overlook a peaceful courtyard or the quiet street described above.

The nicest thing that occurred during the move in process, was that the last tenant made it so easy for me. Angela is an American and her husband was working for Siebel Systems over here for the past year. She and I were put in-touch via email thanks to my apartment agent. Upon walking into the apartment, I discovered a spiral bound notebook with over 5 pages of hand-drawn maps and details about how to navigate and survive life in Munich. Talk about a Start-up Manual. This was it! Homemade restaurant guide that would have made Zaggits jealous, detailed maps scrawled out within the pages illustrating key points of interest and ways to make life more comfortable. Angela also detailed in the notebook exactly how to use the apartment's appliances, since they are quite different then home. For example, occasionally you must add salt to the dishwasher since the water in Munich is so hard with natural minerals. Also, a special tray in the dryer that collects moisture from your damp clothes during the drying process must be dumped out. Angela even labeled all the cleaning supplies in English so I could determine which product went with what and when. The clincher was when I opened the refrigerator. There in front of me stood two bottles of beer, with a little sticky note that said, "Welcome to Munich". I was overwhelmed and impressed at how comfortable a stranger, who I had never physically had met, had made me feel.

The agent and I signed my lease contract and executed my local work permit. She instructed me on how to take the proper subway and trains to get to work, which is located to the East of Munich in a small and quiet agricultural suburb. So off I went on my journey to work.

I bought my ticket and took off to find the right train. I found it, thanks to the agent's help and made a smooth transfer to my next train. Things seem so efficient, which is not always an expectation that we have with public transit back home. I made it into the office and was greeted by numerous co-workers.

Another American transplant, Keith, who will be living in Munich for the next two years, joined me for dinner on the first day. Keith is a newbie like me, so we are having fun struggling together. We took the train from work and got off at the Marienplatz (City Central in Munich) home to the famous Glockenspeil clock tower. Keith and I had met this past June when we were both here at the same series of meetings. We decided to hit an open-air beer garden we had enjoyed back in June. The food was great. Lots of pork and beef and I had sauerkraut as well. We both acknowledged that we will need to keep our exercise levels up if we hope to still fit into our jeans after all of this.

Keith and I said our goodbyes and we each struck out to get home. When we saw each other the next day, we found that we had similar adventures in trying to get home. I had found the right train, but had mistakenly chose the one that was going in the opposite direction of where I needed to go. Keith on the other hand, had boarded an "out of service" train that was headed back to the depot. He was saved by a friendly older lady who told him he really needed to get off because the train was "closed". Keith said he must have looked totally helpless as he twisted his city map in numerous directions trying to find which way was which. Even though the lady could not speak English that well, she was able to help Keith out and send him down the right path.

Yesterday (Tuesday) the highlight of the day was when Keith and I each received the keys to our cars that we would drive while in Munich. We each received dark blue 3-series BMWs. We were such little kids. After work we raced out to the parking lot to attempt to indulge in the "Ultimate Driving Experience". But then we each came to a miserable conclusion: Neither of us knew how to get back home to Munich using the local roads! All the road signs are in German, so one wrong turn and you could wind up in Poland I think. Undeterred, we decided we would just cruise around in the company parking lot to get a feel for our cars. Luckily it was late and almost everyone had gone home. However Tillman, the local security chief, had not. He must have been having a good laugh at our expense watching the security cameras around the perimeter of the building. Keith and I never got out of 2nd gear, but were tearing up the corners of the lot. After we parked, Tillman came running out and said, "You guys can just go through the gate if you want to drive home." Well of course we could, but we explained that we didn't know the way and just wanted to test out the cars. He must have thought we were idiots because a 3-series BMW to a German is like a Ford Taurus to Americans. I'm sure Ole Tillman had some hearty laughs over beers with his buddies at the expense of a couple of Yanks who were racing around a parking lot in their "Tauruses". They might of well have given us go-karts with the way we were acting. Oh well, it was fun.

Maybe today I will try my luck on the Autobahn. We will see if I can get home. Making it out of the parking lot will be the first giant step. We are pathetic!

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

American: Ugly as You Want to Be

Jet lag is well in place at this time. I knew taking an afternoon nap upon my day of arrival was bad news. Jet lag is one thing to battle, but I succumbed to a much greater temptation late at night on my first day in Germany. The temptation was being an Ugly American.

It all started out innocent enough. I was fully awake at 10:00PM at night and bored silly. I decided to take a walk through the platz (neighborhood square). I encountered a beautiful illuminated fountain in the center of the platz with three levels of bubbling water cascading down. I stood and looked at this relaxing site transfixed on the thought that this must be so "European", to be taking an evening stroll and pondering my thoughts at the side of a beautiful fountain. Then it struck me as hard as one has to hit the break peddle on HWY 26 during morning, evening, afternoon, mid-morning, early-afternoon, mid-day, well anytime driving on HWY 26. Just pass the shimmering glow of the fountain, I saw a magical site that transfixed my eyes. What possibly could snap me out of this European wonder-moment I was experiencing, but the image of the Golden Arches.

My mind was initially disgusted. I had sworn off Mickey D's for this trip and felt confident that I could resist. I was better than that I thought. But as an American in a strange new land, one feels a certain comfort that is involved when seeing a little piece of home. It has nothing to do with the caloric value, the taste, or that stupid clown; but more so to do with security, warmth, and that ever-present American pension for convenience. Here it was, 10:30PM, and all of Munich was seemingly locked up tight as a button. You couldn't find a place that would accept your money this time of night. Ah, but the Capitalistic American Pigs new a good business proposition when they saw one.

I walked in through the door to find the place swarming with German teenagers and twenty-somethings. The kitchen was a buzz as fresh fries hit the hot oil. I could literally close my eyes and the smells were exactly the same as any other McDonalds. I sheepishly approached the counter and ordered "Ein Big Mac". You can all see that my 8 lessons of German before I left were really paying off. To my delight, as a marketing flunky, the friendly counterperson asked if he could get me a Coke with that. Ah yes, the "up-sell". It was poetry to my ears. A universal truth in marketing, but one that caused me pause considering I was in another country. I politely declined the offer and quickly received my trophy: a simmering hot Big Mac.

Feeling the shame of violating my personal pact to not eat at McDonalds after only being on German soil for about 8 hours, I headed out the door, Big Mac in tow, to see how I might "European-ize" the experience. I decided to head back to the glorious fountain that had first caught my imagination before I was spellbound by those angelic arches. I sat on a bench that was placed amongst other benches in a circle around the fountain. I looked around and saw people having nice conversations and sharing laughs and even kisses. On my bench, it was just me and my love at the moment. I chomped away and enjoyed the view and sounds of the water. My guilt of being another Ugly American infatuated with speed, convenience, preservative-infused foods, and commercialized ways melted away as nicely as the fresh cheese had done on my "all beef patty special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun". It was sweet bliss knowing that I was blending together elements of both sides of the pond to enjoy a quiet and comfortable moment to myself. There will be plenty of days for bratwurst & sauerkraut I thought. Just not tonight.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

I'm Finally Here

It was a long time in the making. I've been talking with (hounding) my boss for this opportunity since the beginning of the year. The "green light" didn't come until late May. Once approved, then there were all the smaller tasks of planning and company procedure. While my mind was on accomplishing each one of these micro-tasks, they seemingly distracted me from the overarching event, which was actually flying to Germany so that I could get this opportunity kick-started. Well, the date indeed arrived and here I am, sitting in a Hilton Hotel room wondering what my new life will look like tomorrow.

Getting here today was pretty painless, that is if you have become accustomed to post-9/11 security protocol. After being dropped off at the airport, the actual ticket line at Lufthansa moved smoothly. However, after being checked in, I was asked to usher my two checked bags over to another line, where I was to stand so that I could drop them off with a security team that runs each checked bag through a massive X-ray machine. I was dreadfully worried what my little clip-on fan, which was buried deep within one of my bags, might look like under the intense focus of the X-ray machine. Would it look like a cleverly designed bomb with its spiral electric cord, easily mistaken for a timing device? Or would it simply look like a fan wedged between clothes of some American who was apprehensive of his ability to cope with the current European heat wave? My money was on the latter and I'm sure the crack security unit could tell the difference. Truth be told, I have been too lazy to open my bag to see if it still there.

I was so happy to take my aisle seat onboard the Lufthansa Airbus. Airbus is a great name by the way. I felt like I was on a bus, not because of the roughness of the flight (it was pretty smooth), but rather my fellow passengers by which I found myself surrounded. First there was the chorus of wails that was emanating from behind me from the "Mile-high Kindergarten Class" that was surely in-session at the rear of the plane. These kids screamed 85% of the way to Germany. Surely it should be within bounds for the airline, parents, or fellow travelers to tranquilize screeching brats once a comfortable cruising altitude of 35,000 feet has been attained. I'm thinking that this new job role should be incorporated into the training guidelines for our Federal Air Marshals. Wouldn't it be great to see a plain-clothes man stand up from his row and spin around on a dime to register a direct-hit on a brazenly bawling brat in row 24E. We'd have to work out the details to make sure this tranquilizer gun wasn't painful or anything. I'm not an advocate for hurting babies, but I am also not a supporter of smiling, do-nothing parents, who grin with delight as their little devil-child erupts into a continuous chorus of shrills. OK, I think I made my point there: I don't like screaming kids, and I was unfortunately surrounded by them on this flight. So, onto the next freak that I was sitting next to...

Sitting two seats next to me on my row was a grizzly-bear-of-a-man and his wife. They seemed non-volatile enough until I and the entire rear 1/3 of the aircraft noticed that "Grizzly Adams" was snoring after only pulling away from the jet way for approximately 2 minutes at PDX. This guy was a champ too! Head back, mouth gaping open, and a full diaphragm of wind to seemingly make the windows shake on the old Airbus. People in front of him swiveled their heads in disbelief. I'm not sure if they were amazed at his lung capacity or the fact that we hadn't even reached the approach on the runway before this guy started in? I'm a big fan of Mrs. Grizzly Adams, because she got so embarrassed that she would periodically throw an elbow check, that would make any lover of the movie Slap Shot proud, directly into the ribs of her old man to stop his gurgurling guttural sounds. I'm sure old Griz probably landed in Frankfurt with a sore throat and some bruised ribs.

I'd now like to shamefully add myself to the Freak Show lineup for this flight. I don't know what came over me. It started out like any other process I go through on my flight: Earplugs in, blindfold secure, pillow in place. For those of you who get accosted on flights by the vicious "talkativetoomuchus" fellow traveler, my protocol above ensures numerous visual cues that tells this dweller of the deep that you are not interested in him/her, their job, their kids, or any of the other random thoughts that they might wish to share or get your input.

So why did I ad myself to the list of Freaks? Because at approximately 10,000 feet (I know, because the bell went off at exactly that moment over the plane's PA system to wake me up) I felt it. What I felt was disgusting and even more embarrassing. It was a waterfall of Drool that was cascading out of my mouth and onto my T-shirt. Good Lord! Did anyone see, I thought to myself in a panic. Was I moments away from getting a Hanson Brother type check to the ribs by Mrs. Grizzly Adams? All I did know was that there was a Crater Lake size pool of my saliva on my shirt. How long had it been there? Was it one gigantic flow, or a steady drip? At this point there was no time for pondering. I grabbed my extra blanket and sponged up the reservoir on my shirt. So you can see, not even I was immune from disgusting and/or annoying behavior on this flight.

I slept probably 90% of the flight to Frankfurt, which helped me escape seeing "Catch Me if You Can" for the 9th time this year. We did a double-bounce landing in Frankfurt that was fun. It was enough to jostle old Grizzly out of his last chorus of snores and enrage the kiddies at the back of the plane who were suffering from their inability to clear their ears from the pressure. Frankfurt International Airport is huge, but I was able to zip through German Customs without incidence. The Agent took all of 3 seconds to size me up and stamp my passport. I guess I didn't look too dangerous. Maybe he should have seen me earlier in the day when I had a pool of drool on my shirt. I'm sure the once-over would have taken longer!

The flight from Frankfurt to Munich was painless. Think of a flight from Portland to Seattle and you have the approximate flight time. The crew has just enough time to hose everyone down with drinks and then its time to buckle in and prepare for landing. I found baggage claim easy enough, but was wondering if I would be able to find my bags just as easy. It was a seemingly long 35-minute wait for the bags, considering I have such high standards for German engineering and process. Even the German passengers were looking at their watches. Lucky enough my two bags arrived and I was off. The taxi left the airport and quickly reached speeds of 140 KM per hour on the Autobahn. I am really going to love driving here!

I checked into my hotel and took a long nap, which was a bad mistake. Now I am up writing this entry and will surely sleep very little tonight and be totally worthless tomorrow. Oh well, I think the entire country of Germany is on vacation currently, so no one will probably notice. I meet the rental agent tomorrow morning at 9:30AM. She will take me to my new home for the next 4 months and will help me with the lease papers. She'll also help with my work permit application as well. So if you made it to the end of this entry without crying, snoring, or drooling on yourself, Congratulations. Hopefully you'll check back in later on.

Friday, August 15, 2003

So it's the day before I leave and I have had more errands to run than one person should legally be allowed to perform. It has been fun however catching up with friends as I approach my departure date tomorrow. Lots of warm wishes and the occasional, "Don't do anything that I wouldn't do....he he he". I received an email today from the old tenant of my place I will be staying at in Munich. She said the heat wave continues, so bring plenty of fans, so it will be interesting to see if it will be Hot or Not. I am having dinner with the folks tonight, so I better get ready. Next post may come from "across the pond". It has been a long time coming, but now it is becoming a reality. I can't wait.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

OK, random thought of the moment: I am tired and hungry from all this packing. When will it be done already!!! As Popeye once said, "I can't stands no more!". So with that, I am off to refuel and recharge. Thanks again to Matt for his online tech support and real-time assistance. This should be great while I am abroad.


Matt and I are trying to learn this new Blogger application. Hope it works!