Thursday, January 20, 2011

Alte Bruecke


We had a nice clear sunset a few days ago! This looks like one of those fakey doctored-up photos, but I didn't touch it (except to crop).

Heidelberg is pretty awesome.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Postage to the US reduced!!!

The Merleys in Germany were the bearers of good news on my blog feed today - the Deutsche Post actually reduced the rate to send postcards and letters to the US! The reduction is so major (from 1,70 for a letter and 1,00 for a postcard to 0,75 for either) that I had to double-check the Deutsche Post website to believe it, but it is true.

If only it had been before Christmas, but I'll take a price decrease any day! Here's the full list. I guess I'm a little late to the game on the change but was away at New Year's and haven't mailed anything since coming back.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Slight Battening Down of the Hatches

My Facebook feed is full of snow-related commentary from the US, but there's just rain here.

Quite a lot of rain, actually.

And a lot of water coming from upstream.

Is this literally what it means to batten down? This is on the Obere Neckarstrasse.

There's a metal wall up between the Neckarmuenzplatz and the river.

I think it's only predicted to come up another half meter. That might affect this street.

Good work, orange guys. :)

Info auf Deutsch.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dangerous Kinder Egg Seized at US Border!

Here's the full story!

So if I ever brought you one of these, consider yourself lucky it waltzed right through the border. ;)

I wonder if those giant Italian chocolate eggs we used to buy in Boston at Easter were also illegal - they had a surprise necklace or watch or other goodie inside. I did notice our local bakery stopped carrying them one year...

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Wherein we meet the federal police...Also: flood again!

On Friday morning at 5:45am our flight landed in Frankfurt. Since it was such an early departure from Chicago we didn't get much sleep so we were pretty tired. There's nothing you want more upon the end of a trans-Atlantic flight than to be home right away, but all these annoying little things are in the way - taxiing to the gate, passport control, baggage claim, two trains and a cab...

Normally passport control does not gum up this chain of events. Normally they don't even ask us a question, just look in there quickly and nod us through like old pals. But this time, she looked for a good long time at Damon's passport and the computer screen, then asked him for his driver's license. She was kind of mumbly and we were very tired and out of practice with our German for two weeks, so we heard that she wanted to see his plane ticket. She was not amused. He produced his driver's license and she kept looking at things. Another cop showed up in the booth to take over her spot, and she told us there was an issue with the driver's license, then led us away...down a hallway, out the door to some rainy airport alley and back in to a little outpost full of about a zillion German federal police. WTF mate - we still had no idea what could be wrong with the license. He used it to rent a car when we were in the US but never had any problems...could the rental company have screwed something up?

They called us up to the desk after a bit and said his license was reported stolen. Say what? Well, it WAS reported stolen...two and a half years ago, when he was pickpocketed by staff at Lydo Tissus in Lyon, France. (Yeah, I spelled that out for you, Google...) The wallet was returned to the Heidelberg police before the new license was issued and he had the new one cancelled. Since then we've been in and out of the country multiple times with no problem! But, something happened over the last two weeks to make it pop up again. Thankfully they believed Damon was really himself and not someone identity thief and let us carry on, but we have to go see what is up with the alert at the Heidelberg police office. Which is convenient enough since we are renewing our visas next door to there this week! Hopefully there really is nothing more to it than a little mistake...

Also: the Neckar was pretty high again yesterday! This time I got a couple of photos:

It was sloshing right over the sandbags here. The road is normally below where that fence is.

This is the other side of the bridge. I think this is definitely lower than last time.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Christmas Away from Home

We just returned from Christmas in the US this morning. Funded by my in-laws who really wanted to get us home, it was the first time in at least six years that we spent Christmas there. There were many reasons we had stopped travelling there for the holidays, but after we agreed to go home this year we realized we had a new one - we have our own Christmas traditions now, involving Gluehwein, true and utter relaxation, little foreigner parties, and trips to the Karlsplatz post-Christmas Christmas market stands. Going home didn't feel like going home at all!

So, I was interested to see this blog post today as I'm catching up:

It includes a bonus mention of American consumerism! Luckily on our trip we mostly avoided anything involving shopping.