Day Two is coming to a close and I'm happy to say it was a great day! It started early with Zach heading on base for another day of in-processing activity (there are 7 days of in-processing total...I do have to give credit to the Army for how well they're welcoming and informing incoming military members and their families). I, of course, went back to sleep...you know, jet lag and all that. I finally woke up at 11:30, which I rationalized by reminding myself that was actually 5:30 for my body. I plan on using this rationalization for a week to 10 days, at least.
I was then faced with the trial of showering and trying to do my hair without a hairdryer or straigthener. This was a distressing realization, as all of my appliances have US plugs, and surprise!, we're in Germany. I put my vanity aside and ventured out for food and coffee (since I had slept through breakfast at the hotel). It was a little rainy and it's definitely chilly here, but I battled the elements and made the two block trek to the bakery. Turns out there is a bakery next door to the hotel...and then another one block down the street...but I was out exploring so those later revelations weren't very upsetting.
I feel like maybe I should just have one entire blog post titled "THE BAKERY" and dedicate paragraphs to the wonder that is inside those display cases. Of course I can't pronounce or even read any of the names, but oh my...everything from cakes to pastries to giant soft pretzels to croissants...I can't even wait to try out another bakery tomorrow. Delightful. So anyways, I got my breakfast (really my lunch) and a latte and headed back to the hotel to enjoy my treats. I told Zach over dinner that I felt like today was a really good day for me to adjust and begin to process this "living in Germany" thing because I was alone and free from any pressure or deadlines. I felt like the hotel was my "home-base", my safe zone, and I could venture out as far as I wanted but retreat back to a familiar place as often as I wanted or needed. So after my initial trip to the bakery and fortified with food and coffee, I was ready to head out again...this time a little further. I spent a few hours simply walking around...I went into nearly every little shop I came across, just to see what it was (since I can't read any of the signs...yet). Sometimes it was awkward and I quickly left, sometimes I wandered up and down every aisle (I found two grocery stores and spent a lot of time checking those out...so fascinating!).
My favorite part of the day was stumbling across a little park a few blocks away from the hotel. There was a pond and a swingset and a LOT of ducks and seagulls and two very large, very beautiful, very intimidating swans. I plan to go back tomorrow with my camera just so I have proof that these swans are so huge. Anyways, I walked across the bridge that goes over the pond and stopped to take everything in. Turns out that was a sign for all of the waterfowl that I had food and I was very quickly surrounded by way more birds that I was comfortable with. They then proceeded to follow me around the lake as I walked through the park. They're obviously well-conditioned to people passing by and feeding them. What a disappointment I must have been. Plus, those swans...I'm sure I'll need to bring something for them tomorrow to pay my respects otherwise...who knows. I might not be so welcome to that park again.
After I was satisfied with my very brave and adventurous explorations of the day, I headed back to the hotel to wait for Zach. I read some German travel books and spent a lot of time using Google translator to determine what the instructions on the back of my German Drano said (we have a shower that doesn't drain and it's mostly gross to stand ankle-deep in backed up shower water). Zach came "home" and we filled each other in on our days...it was then that I realized I really only walked a few blocks in each direction and he laughed at how I described my day as if I had wandered miles away. His day was full paperwork and briefings and not being intimidated by a potentially hostile gang of birds led by burly swan overlords. Boring.
After recounting our days, we headed out to dinner at a local restaurant down the road from our hotel. It was a charming place with delicious food. I had an AMAZING salad topped with chicken (who knew that Germans make such good salads?) and Zach had a hearty meat and dumplings dish (very typical German fare). We found a little walking trail behind our hotel and decided that we'll explore it in full tomorrow. We both agreed that we are really loving the feel of this place so far. I wish I could bottle up the charm of this place. I'm finding that I need another word for "charming", but that's really the overwhelming description that comes to mind.
We're back in our hotel for the night (it's ten after 9 and still very much light out) and Zach's studying for his driving test that he'll take tomorrow. We hear the church bells when they toll and we look at each other like "how cute is that?". We'll start looking for houses tomorrow as well and I'm (of course) VERY excited about that. I can't even imagine what a treat it will be to finally sleep in our own bed...although I'm mentally prepared for weeks between now and then. Zach heads out early again tomorrow and I'm determined to get myself into more of a "German timezone" schedule. I plan on making it down to the hotel breakfast (sometime before 9am) and then my tasks for the day include buying Zach an alarm clock, researching cell phone plans, and paying homage to the swans. Oh also visiting a new bakery...I've got my sights set on a pretzel this time. So far, so good. We're taking things one day at a time and trying to soak it all in...