All my 2009 Germany pictures can be seen at:
http://www4.rdstokes.com/Resources/2009%20Germany

First day navigating the Germans

Once we got to Frankford, we made our way to the area where the rental cars were. I had a booking for "Holiday Autos"; it was a 9 passenger van to carry us and Serena's Brother's family. As went when through the list of rental companies, it became apparent that Holiday Autos was not a car company. No Holiday "anything" was mentioned anywhere. As I asked the different car companies about Holiday Autos, they ran my name through the system to see if I was on their list. Hertz, Budget, Thrifty, Eurocar, Sitx, none of them had a resurvation for me! By this time, I am DOG TIRED as it is the equalivent of 4 am in the morning with only a couple of hours of sleep on the plane.

To make matters worse, I got Euros out of a Deutschland Bank ATM machine. It asked me how much did I want but it didn't specify the currency, so I chose 100. I got 70 Euros from the ATM and no receipt was provided. That's about right for exchange so I guess it meant 100 USD. Later, when I logged into my bank account, it says that I withdrew $143.57! First of all, my account should not have allowed for the withdrawl of that much money; second, I'm upset that I don't have proof of my withdrawal in the form of a receipt; third, I'm in another country where I can't make phone calls to complain about this easily! Grrr!!!

Fortunately, I did make a backup reservation with Avis. Avis is the only car company that allows me to reserve a car without giving my credit card. Easy! Done! and covers for unknown issues! So we couldn't find "Holiday Autos," we signed up with Avis. The Avis representative was great! He understood that we were running on little sleep and he put up with me not understanding his instructions as well as Serena asking to use his computer for Internet access (to check her Facebook account... so I joked) to find our first destination, Badem. Unfortunately, that name was all we knew of our destination. It took the Avis guy a while but found our destination, 2 hours away. I think he pulled some deals for us because the car (really a big van) was originally priced at $1250 for a week and a GPS was $8 per day. The costs is coming out to be less than a $1000, including $4 per day for GPS and the addition of extra drivers! He gave us some energy bars and sent us on our way.

As I mentioned, we got a BIG van because we planned to carry Serena's family around with us too. It's a 9 seater! All white! And covered with Avis advertisements! I call it a moving billboard but if that's what it takes to reduce the weekly cost, so be it! Later on, everyone will refer to it as the Griswalds Family Bus!

Serena specifically asked the Avis rep if we had to worry about speed limits in this thing. (Sometimes, rental cars have a GPS that track the speed and then issue their own tickets for excessive speed.) The guy said, "This is a van not a little sports car!" We all laughed... and Serena took that to be a "No, we won't ticket you." So she started out the trip by driving on the Autobahn. Serena was very disappointed that she couldn't get this thing going more than 100 mph on flat ground and 107 on a downhill! We will definately get to our destination quickly!

Around 1 pm, we are getting hungry so we pull of the Autobahn and into a sleepy little town looking for food. Ordering food is going to be our first German interaction barrier so we are a bit apprehensive. As if we don’t now any German, we make it harder by not having studied any German, choosing a little out of the way city to eat in, AND choosing a chinese food restaurant. Of course they didn’t understand us and we didn’t understand them but we did get some delicious food!

We were meeting some people with the running group we hang with. We missed the actual run but hung around for circle, then burgers, and then we ended up staying with the host for the day, S&M and M. He was military and all his running friends and personal friends were too. It was interesting to see how they survived in a foreign land. How they watched only the US military TV channnel and how it only had military commercials! Of course, everyone was drinking so they all crashed at his house because the blood alchole limit here in Germany is .04 and on base it's .02! Even after one beer these guys don't drive!