Little town, it’s a quiet village
Every day like the one before….
Our new town isn’t exactly little…according to Wikipedia, it’s the fourth largest city in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia state. Population is around 589,000 which is small in comparison to Chicago’s 2,716, 450 the USA’s third most populous city. Our new town is charming, especially our neighborhood. It reminds me, a little, of our former Lakeview, Lakeshore East and Ukrainian Village neighborhoods in Chicago. We are within walking distance to a plethora of little specialty shops, delicious cafes & restaurants, a variety of grocery stores and the gym. This is extremely helpful as we are a one car household and Jeff uses it to get to work. There is also an amazing transit system (trains, buses, and trams) that gets us to the hauptbahnhof (main train station) quickly and fairly easily.
Since moving, my career title has changed from teacher to stay-at-home mom. There were times that I thought teaching was difficult but I at least got weeknights, weekends, and even holidays off. The job of stay-at-home mom is intense, as I’m sure many can attest to, as sometimes my boss can be a bit mercurial.
Each morning after Jeff leaves for work, I casually start my day with coffee and quietly tiptoe around the house as not to wake Sleeping Beauty. After some alone time, I get the baby up, fed and we head to the gym. The gym is absolutely wonderful! There is a kinder care room, classes, and even a coffee bar! The classes are mostly taught in German but I’m great at monkey see, monkey do. The best part of the whole experience is that Carson loves the kinder care teachers and watching/playing with all the kids.
After the gym, we head to a nearby cafe for some lattes and a bite to eat. I luckily met other English speakers at the gym and sometimes they, as well as our Pilates instructor, join us for coffee and conversation.
There goes the baker with his tray, like always
The same old bread and rolls to sell…
Living in Germany is like living in a Hallmark Christmas movie…or the 90s. I hang out at the mall regularly and the entire town is decked out in holiday lights, greenery, and I walk through the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) regularly. Nobody has a gluten allergy and everything has full-fat! In fact there is at least one, if not two, bakeries on each block (not an exaggeration). All items are freshly baked each day and are so delicious that I forget daily that I pledged the night before to go gluten free (not the best option with all of the deliciousness surrounding me). If it weren’t for me walking everywhere I need to go, even IKEA, I would have gained weight in the two months we’ve been here.
Our grocery stores are small, about a quarter of the size of grocery stores in the states, but still seem to have everything we need. The difference is that instead of having a multitude of choices for one product, you only get two or three. We also shop at least three times a week as opposed to our usual one time per week in the states. There are no “organic” signs on any produce because its ALL organic, not to mention extremely reasonably priced, but that also means it goes bad quickly. We’ve learned quickly that you need to use what you buy within a few days. We’ve also learned quickly that spices don’t exactly taste the same. I never knew I would be so happy to see my American spices while unpacking.
There are a few downsides to living back in the 90’s like people smoking everywhere, paying for most things with cash, tanning bed salons (including the free bed at the gym), everything is mailed through the Deutsche Post (cash card in one envelope, bank pin in another, telephone pin in another, and online pin in yet another), and almost everything outside the Hauptbanhof is closed on Sundays.
Look there she goes, that girl is strange no question…
I didn’t realize this until my Mother In-Law pointed it out but I get stared at…a lot…and unfortunately its not because I’m the most beautiful person in the room. I get stared at because another stay-at-home mommy and I are booking our way through the pedestrian walkway, taking the train with ease, doing mom things and speaking English loudly to each other (yeah, loud Americans…its a thing!). It is not that we are getting disapproving stares, more so stares out of curiosity. In fact, we’ve had people stop us so they could introduce themselves practice speaking English (more on that in another post).