Sunday, 11 July 2010

Nach Berlin

Please forgive us as it has been ages since our last posting on this blog. We have been moving and getting settled into our new home in Berlin, Germany. Those who read this blog or know us personally may say that we are no strangers to moving. This is true. Since 2003 Mel and I have moved a lot. It started with a move from upstate NY to Scotland. Since then we have moved 7 times. An average of once a year. "How do you manage it?" our friends say. "Isn't it stressful? "Moving is easy we say, we are used to it" But, I have to be honest, this last move to Berlin (the NY to Scotland move is the exception) has been the most stressful and difficult yet. Moving to another country always poses more problems especially if you plan on taking all your belongings and pets (4 cats 1 dog) with you. There are logistical pains of organizing movers and boarding and shipping pets. Also, we don't speak German. But, we were prepared. We would cope.

Our first night spent in our new house was spent sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags as our furniture and belongings wouldn't be arriving until the next day. No big deal. It was kinda like camping given that we also had no kitchen or stove to cook on and no lights hooked up yet. It was romantic. We ate out that night and used flashlights to navigate our many stairs.

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The next morning was all action. We hired the help of an English guy called Simon to help us with installing some essentials. We had him hire a van and off he and I went to buy a sink, lights, fence materials in order to dog proof the garden etc etc. Meanwhile, Mel stayed home and dealt with movers and distributing our stuff. All was going relatively groovy so that by the end of the day we were sat in a house full of boxes, a working kitchen sink, some crude lighting and a Sila safe garden. Next day the pets were due to arrive so we wanted to get as much done as possible before their arrival. We decided not to fly the pets but to have them driven over as thought this to be less stressful. They would be in an air-conditioned transporter truck, the dog would be walked and the cats would be all together with access to water, food and litter trays. However, we had heard nothing from the Pet Transporter who was meant to call us with his estimated arrival time. The following day we called him. He informed us that the transporter vehicle had broken down and that the pets were now staying at his kennels. They were fine. His vehicle was not. He offered us our money back. "Eh no, we want our pets" we exclaimed. He offered us alternative of having his friend drive them across the next day in a hired van. Not ideal but the only viable solution. We agreed. In hindsight we realized that it gave us more time to prepare the house for the animals. They would be confused and slightly stressed Im sure so securing as much of a serene new home environment for them was crucial.
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Two days later the pets arrived none the worse for their experience. "I love your dog" shrilled the pets stand in driver. "He sat up beside me for all the journey" she revealed. "He loved it!" Erm not actual behavior we allow our dog of in our own car but OK. He is safe, he is here. Sila immediately explored the garden and began marking his territory. The cats explored much more tentatively. Fine, done. The pets had arrived.
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Mel was beginning her new job for Nokia on Monday so it was left to me to unpack, unwrap and set up. It's fun to a point.
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Other challenges faced were dealing with internet set up which proved to be difficult as the small pocket where we live appears to be in an internet black hole. After about six weeks we finally settled on satellite broadband which isn't the fastest but at least it works. Obviously not speaking German will hamper our progress but so far we have managed with the help of Google translator and have only once hired an official translator. This was to help us deal with the truly disastrous process of finding, buying, registering (painfully archaic) and eventual disposal or our VW van. We almost considered hiring a lawyer at one point as we were knowingly ripped off left right and centre by the seller but in the end (to mostly avoid even more stress) we decided to put it down to experience and a very hard learnt lesson. Learning German has been stop/start, this has in part been due to visiting family and friends who all speak English. However, I'm happy to be patient and allow the language to come at its own pace.
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So, we have had our ups and downs but by in large we are enjoying our new city. In the last couple of weeks the weather has turned really hot and we lament our lost VW van from time to time as it would have been a good way to reach the many cooling lakes for swimming. Taking our dog on mostly non air conditioned public transport isn't ideal or welcomed.

My family from Scotland arrive tomorrow and I am looking forward to seeing them. I am also really looking forward to the DVD box set of the latest Dr Who series and some oat cakes and Jacobs crackers that my mum is bringing me. For some reason the Germans don't really do crackers!! Which is ok as there are so many other delicious treats for us to enjoy here. Tonight Spain play in the world cup final and my Spanish flag is proudly hanging from my office window. All passing Germans love seeing it I am sure!!

Hopefully, we will be back with some more food posting soon. In the meantime, check out some more house photos here:
Take care
K and M.

3 comments:

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Melanie Seasons said...

I didn't know you had moved! Best of luck in Germany. I'm sure it won't be long till you're Qyping it up in Berlin :)

kwpang said...

my aunt has been staying in Berlin for more than 30 years, every time she come visit us she'll say it a place you'll never regret living.