Its like the RAGBRAI of Germany just broke out in front of our house, sorta.


By no planning of our own we came to live on the Deutsch Weinstraße (German Wine Route). We didn't even know there was a Deutsch Weinstraße when we found this house, but it turns out this Weinstraße thing is a pretty big deal.  The Weinstraße runs north and south through Germany and is dotted by small and medium sized cities and hamlets alike that are a big tourist attraction for all of the scenery, castles, restraunts, and of course wineries.

When I say  "we live on the Weinstraße", I don't mean it in the sense that we live in a town that the Weinstraße runs through (although we do, the name of our town is Neusadt an der Weinstraße, and that by itself is a privilege). What I mean specifically is that street outside our door is the actual Weinstraße. Our street address is Weinstraße 35, our neighbors are a wineries....We live on the Weinstraße.   Most days out of the year it seems like the Weinstraße is just like any other street, cars, bikes, walkers, etc.  But what we're learning is that the Weinstraße and the towns along it frequently host festivals & events centered around the wine culture. 

I learned about one just last week was visiting our neighbors (Hans and Eva Nickel, Weingut Kaiserstuhl).   They were mentioning all of the parties and festivals throughout the year, especially one coming up the next week.  I was having a hard time keeping up with the conversation in German but I caught one part that stood out. "Did you say kein auto? No cars allowed on the street?".  Yup, 85km of the street closed all day for Erlebnistag Deutsche Weinstraße.  No exit, no entry, except by foot or bike.  Its like a mini RAGBRAI except they have wine and cheese instead of Bud Light and hotdogs.

[caption id="attachment_132" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Weinstraßse at noon today"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_131" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="On an average day. "][/caption]

The picture on the left is our street, I took for our movers last week. This is our street on a "normal" day. The  picture on the right is our street this afternoon. What you can't see in the picture is the live music, smell of flammkuchen and wurst and associated jubilee.

Sadly, our stuff has arrived.

On the plus side, our air shipment was delivered this week.  Most of our stuff is shipped by sea and won't get here for a couple more weeks, but the air shipment (about 4x4x6 ft crate) is supposed to be for necessities, things you "can't live without".  We were under the impression, then, that the air shipment would get here about the same time we did (after all, we got here by air too) so we packed a lot we counted on having- including all of Aaron's business clothes - into it.  Then, as the movers were pulling out of our driveway in Ankeny we got a call from our relocation agent who just called to tell us that everythings all set and "it should be there as soon as 2 weeks from now, but maybe 4."  Oh.  OH!  Necessities? It was a good thing I didn't air ship my pacemaker. 

So in the mean time, we bought all new clothes for Aaron (score!) and bought long sleave shirts, pants and jackets for the kids since all we had for them was summer stuff (and of course, it was unseasonably cold).

Nevertheless, some our stuff is here and the kids opened the packaging like it was Christmas morning.  On the down side, suddenly we have stuff again and I have learned that the secret to keeping a clean and orderly house with 5 kids is to not actually have anything.  Now that we have stuff, the nightly rightual of picking all of our stuff up off the floor and cramming it somewhere so it can be redistributed onto the floor again the the next day has restarted.

First day at Hogwarts

Monday the 16th the kids all had their first school day at the International School Neustadt.  The school meets in a well cared for but definitely repurposed building on the other side of town.  The exterior has an old world feel with a cobblestone parking lot and brick facade.   Its by all accounts a great school, but "International School Neustadt" just does not roll off the togue like "Hogwarts."

The cone shaped things for the little kids are called schuletütes.  I'd explain that in more detail but I wasted all my energy trying to figure out how to type a ' ü '.

Airing our garbage

This is our garbage can. We don't get to use the whole can, there is an insert in it that makes it so you can only use about a third of it.  It  officially is a "40 Liter" bin, which means it it holds about one smaller sized kitchen garbage bag.   And no, they won´t pick up extra bags just lying on top or by the has to fit in the can. And oh yeah, they only come once every two weeks.  And oh yeah, we have five kids and one that´s not potty trained.  I think Jazzy just filled her diaper with more than 40 Liters.

No Toys? No problem.

[caption id="attachment_44" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Jazz entertains herself on the iPad."][/caption]

Anna's Pet...And we shall call him Squishy.

All of our stuff - including the kids toys - are somewhere in a container on top of the ocean. We have no TV or games, few books, and with school still a week away they have a lot of time. So the kids have to find other ways to entertain themselves.

[caption id="attachment_35" align="alignleft" width="199" caption="Chase scales the living room."][/caption]

What do you get when you cross a toilet and a vending machine?

Answer: Public restrooms in Germany.  You put a Euro in, and the door opens.  But instead of it vending something to you, you're encouraged to...err...leave a deposit.

Mikey likes it.

Our oldest daughter Anna is our picky one, and she was also the most resitive to moving to Germany. There had been a few tears along the way from her, even as recently as waiting to deboard the plane in Frankfurt.  So it's a nice indicator of our adjustment so far when a few minutes ago I asked her what she thought of our adjustment to Germany and  she gave me a smile and a thumbs up.  Even thought we haven't hardly a posession of our own here (the cars and furniture, dishes, silverware, and house itself are rental, and all we have is what we packed in our luggage) the kids haven't lacked for anything. They explored the house, quickly discovered the idyllic backyard, walked to the store and stadtplatz for icecream, and today toured the neighborhood castle.   Four days in, its a kid paradise.   School starts next Friday, however, so in the words of our settling-in agent..."Lets ask again in 4-6 weeks".

[caption id="attachment_16" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Kids posing in front of Hambacher Schloss. Anna calls it "Hamburger Schlop"."][/caption]

We made it.

It was a long full day of travel from Bettendorf, Iowa, to Neustadt an der Weinstrasse in Germany, but we made it all in one peice.  And there are signs that der familie might actually like it. But more on that - much more - later.