Friday, June 5, 2015

5 Easy Day Trips for those living in Bavaria *Kid Friendly*

Living in Bavaria has several benefits. One of which is the vast amount of day trips available to Military families in the area. Most are within 2 hours driving max and include everything from castles to amusement parks!

 
Number 5: Lake Constance (Germany/Switzerland) Camping and Fun
 

Lake Constance is a huge lake which sits directly on top of the Germany and Switzerland border in Southern Bavaria. Although my family has yet to be there, we have a camping trip planned this summer since we have heard nothing but good things from the area, and well we share the same name of course! In case you don't want to camp, take a day trip into the southern side of the lake and enjoy horseback riding in Switzerland followed by a nice dinner.

 
Number 4: Garmisch and the Alps
 
The Garmisch are is filled with family fun and adventure. Not to mention this is where the US Army Europe Resort and Hotel, Edelweiss, is located. Which means you can spend a fun day traveling to the top of the largest mountain in Germany and zip lining back down on there numerous ropes courses. OR, you could stay for a couple nights at Edelweiss and pay Military friendly rates for an excellent hotel with great amenities.
 
 
Number 3: Legoland
 
Legoland is located in Günzburg, Germany which is only a couple hour drive from all three major Military posts in USAG Bavaria. Legoland is...well...Legoland. What else needs to be said. If you have younger children or maybe a husband who is still a kid on the inside then this is the place for you. TONS of hands on full size and miniature lego replicas await you and your family for a day filled with laughter and amazement!
 
 
Number 2: Munich - Museums and Olympia Park
 
Munich is a huge metropolitan area and includes great museums such as the BMW Museum as well as my favorite, the Deutsches Museum which has it's own planes for you to explore in as well as a children's area downstairs with great hands on museum goodies. While your there, check out the Olympia park area which was home to the 1972 summer Olympics. Now days this area sports great summer and winter activities. Be warned this park is huge, trust me I ran a Spartan Race all throughout it :)
 
 
Number 1: Regensburg and city exploration
 
Regensburg is a city in south central Bavaria right off of Autobahn 3. This city has been dated back to the stone ages, with early settlement remains still visible from the Roman empire in 90 AD at which time they built a fort here. If that does not entice you that there is crazy history in the area, just take a look at the Cathedral above (Hint: Inside there is small museum with gold pieces valued in the Billions $$ ). Not only history but modern day conveniences like American style shopping malls exist to fill your day with fun. Don't forget to bring a love lock and place it on the bridge for ever lasting romance or family tradition and memories!
 
 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What? You thought Europeans didn't roll in luxury?

   There have been countless times since living in Germany where I was caught off guard by something I didn't expect to see. Some of these times are just due to our extensive travel around most of Europe, Greece, Turkey, and some Eastern European Countries as well. Yet, some occurred right here in Germany.


  It is remarkable how during just a simple drive to the local Military post you can see old castle ruins on top of a mountain, and then the most modern looking Big Rig on the same stretch of road. sometimes, Germany can be like a looking glass into the past and others a sneak peak of the future. As I am sure most of you are aware, some of the cars we consider luxurious in the United States, such as: BMW, Audi, Volkswagen, and Mercedes, are just every day commuter cars to the Germans.

 Did you know the most common car used for basic Taxi service in Germany is the Mercedes. They are not old cars with rust and scratches either, the majority of them being models I would love to own myself. In a different color of course :)

Also, our children ride luxury tour buses to school here. No more yellow school bus rolling down the street. They ride in 4 and 5 star tour buses used by celebrities and bands on tour in the United States....to SCHOOL!

What are some of the strangest things you have heard about Germany? Seen?

~ C

Friday, April 3, 2015

Groceries in Germany. Where to shop...and When!!


To be quite honest, and after cooking for a family of 5 the majority of days in the last 2 1/2 years, I will tell you this: Most food is cheaper, more fresh, and taste better if bought off-post. However, as many of you might miss some good ol fashion American candies or brands, the Commissary can come in handy.....sometimes.....maybe.

It is no easy task to replace ingredients you have probably been using for many years with foreign brands or equivalents. But it can be most rewarding for many reasons if you do. For example, replacing sour cream or mayonnaise with a Greek yogurt (low fat) bought off post can:

o lower calories by half or more
o virtually eliminate the fat grams you are using
o add healthy by products of natural fresh yogurt
o save you money
o and probably make it taste even better!

Not all items will be less expensive off post though, but a lot are. Here is a list of many common grocery items which can be found off post for cheaper. These are normally more fresh as well.

o Breads (There are so many varieties here, it will blow your mind!)
o Meat ( Of course your normal Oscar Meyer, etc. brands will not be available)
o Vegetables ( Most grocery stores such as Netto, Rewe, etc. will have tons of vegetables for cheaper than on post and are normally super fresh)

So, where do you go to get your groceries off post? As mentioned above, there are normally grocery chain's in most decent size towns and include: Netto, Rewe, Lidl, Aldi, etc. Some even take American debit cards with a straight exchange rate ( No mark up) like the Rewe.

Also, there are certain stores which specialize in specific items such as:
Bäckerei ( Bakery) These can normally be found inside the major grocery chains as well.

o Metzgerie (Butcher) For your discount ad fresh meats like Brauts and such.


Remember: Bring your own bags, or you will have to buy them at the store!

I hope this has helped some. If you have questions about specific products or areas please message me on the Military Life in Germany Facebook Page or comment below.

~ C

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Passports


Passports!
Passports are a necessity to come to Germany and if you plan to travel while stationed in Germany. When you get official orders to Germany, every person listed on the orders will get a no-fee passport. This is a government issued passport and can only be used for official travel. Which means, you can't use that passport for personal travel!! However, anytime you travel you should bring it with you!!
To get your no-fee passport you will have to provide one of these certificates, Certified U.S. Birth Certificate, Consular Birth Abroad Certificate, or Certificate of Naturalization/Citizenship. These must be Certified!! Copies of these certificates are not accepted!!! There is also paperwork that must be filled out, not too much. Just a few pages per-person. Usually everything will be done on post without fees, but sometimes you will have to go off-post for your passport photos and there will be a fee. If you do have to pay for the photos for your no-fee passports, remember that you can claim that on your taxes!! So keep your receipts. It usually takes 4-8 weeks to get your no-fee passport, so get it done early!!! You must have your no-fee passport before you leave!



If you are like me and my family and want to see as much as you can while stationed in Germany, make sure to get your travel passport! With out a travel passport you will be stuck in beautiful Germany! Even though it is beautiful you don't want to be stuck here!! You want to go and explore!! To get your travel passport, you will need to provide one of the certificates I mentioned above, or a previous passport. If you are using a previous passport it can be expired but it can not be damaged. And of course more paperwork and photo! Make sure to check out the photo requirements as they may change. Unlike the no-fee passports, there will be fees for your travel passport. It usually costs about $135 for adult passport. Passports for children are a little cheaper and will run about $110. It usually takes about 6 weeks to get your passport once you have submitted all documents needed. If you plan on getting your travel passport before you leave the United States, make sure you give yourself enough time to receive it and all of your documents back, before your PCS!! Make sure to check processing times at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports.html. If you don't have enough time, no worries!! You can apply for your passport here!!




Once you get your travel passport you can be on your way to exploring Europe!!! Make sure when traveling that you bring both passports with you. And for extra measure we always bring a copy of my husbands orders with us. Keep them in a safe place!! Never in your car!! Before you travel make sure to check out warnings that might be issued for certain countries or areas! You can find the latest, up-to-date information on travel warnings here http://www.state.gov/travel/.

Enjoy Europe and stay safe!!


~C

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Driving in Germany

For some of us the thought of driving in Germany is scary, while for the rest can't wait to drive where there is NO Speed Limit!! Either way one of the first things you are going to want to do when you arrive in Germany is to get your USAREUR drivers licenses.





If you have a valid U.S. Drivers licenses this shouldn't be much of a problem. You will take a test and once you pass you will be issued a USAREUR drivers licenses. Sounds pretty easy right? It is as long as you study. If you do not study for the test, there is a big possibility that you WILL NOT pass the test. Don't worry while it is a hard test as long as you study it will be fine. You will probably want to study before you get here and thanks to the internet that is possible. There are website such as USAREUR Practice Test, that will help you prepare. This website not only has a study guide but also have a practice test. If you can pass the practice test you will most likely pass the real test.




Once you have passed the practice test it is a good idea to keep studying, you never know what questions are going to be on the actual test! After you get your drivers licenses you are ready to start exploring Germany!! Well once you get a car that is.



~ C

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Traveling

So many families come to Germany for a 3 year tour with dreams of traveling Europe. However, I will tell you from experience only about 25% of them actual do it. The main reason I have found for this is their fear of: Booking rooms, using the train, getting a passport, etc...

My family has visited 7 Countries since we moved here in 2013, and that does not include traveling around Germany! Let me guide you and help ease your fears with lessons learned from a Military family abroad.

Some examples are:

o How to book a whole apartment instead of a hotel, FOR CHEAPER!
o Where to take the car, when to take the train, and when to fly.
o Tricks of traveling on the Autobahns.
o Many, many, more!!!

~ C

Shopping

This label will be used to identify my blog and Vlog posts related to shopping in Germany. More specifically, I will start a shopping series which outlines what everyone Military Spouse and Mom needs to know to save money and get the best deals on local food. Some of these topics will include:

o Where to shop for the best prices
o What foods can be used in situations where you can't get your normal ingredients
o When it is best to buy groceries at the Commissary or Exchange
o Great recipes for cheap on the Germany Economy
o Reviews on local restaurants and businesses

These lessons will save your meals, trust me! these are learned from experience!

~ C

Housing

This label will be used for my advice and information regarding overseas housing. Of course, I can only show examples of local housing in the Hohenfels Military Training area (JMRC), Germany. BUT, this should be a good way for you to get a basic understanding of how the housing system works here for Soldiers and their Families.

There are multiple types of housing available:

o On-Post Government Quarters ( Both Stairwell, and Duplexes)
o Off-Post Government leased Quarters
o Off-Post private rental
o And with enough know how Off-Post purchase

I will explain these types and show some pictures as well as videos in my next "Housing" related post.

~ C

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Welcome to my Blog

This blog is designed to help Military families who are moving or recently moved to Germany. The thought of living in a Foreign Country with different values and culture (not to mention Language) can be scary.

Don't fear though! You are not alone, as many families have made this transition before. We are here to help you. I will post articles covering all the basics:

o Housing
o Shopping
o Entertainment
o Traveling
o Saving $
o And much more...

The idea behind this page is to create Video Logs, or VLOGS as the kids are calling them these days. These VLOGS will be posted on here and accompanied by an article detailing additional information, contacts, etc. Then the VLOG will also be posted on Youtube for easy viewing as well as an addtional platform for conversations between others who are experiencing your questions.

So, please subscribe to this blog via the Social Media links at the top right and leave me comments and questions if you have any!

Thanks,

Constance