It’s already been a year since we moved to Germany from Bangkok. Here are some thoughts I put down in our first week, not realising it would take me another year to set this blog up!
After a long, sad flight leaving our beloved Bangkok behind us and a quick pit stop in the UK, we finally arrived in Germany. It took us forever to get out of the airport, negotiating trains and stupid lifts that would only fit in two suitcases – we were four people and six cases. It was not fun. Getting told off (in German, obviously) was the last straw after a very tiring two days and the refrain in the car on the way to the temporary flat went along the lines of ‘We don’t like Germany’, ‘People are mean in Germany’, ‘Germany is not fun AT all’…and that was just me. The smiling and the head bowing which had worked so well in Thailand just weren’t gonna cut it here. I got told off by one daughter for speaking to someone in Thai – ok, it was only ‘Thank you’ but it seems whenever someone speaks in any language to me other than English, my automatic response is to try to speak Thai. Which, considering I could only manage to direct a taxi and order noodles in Thailand was not going to get me very far in Germany. Perhaps ditching the smiles and offering Bratwurst might be a better option…
But the views out of the car window were beautiful and kept getting better and better and the air was fresh and clean. And do you know what? It has been absolutely fine. More than fine, really. The husband took a week off work, the sun shone and we enjoyed being tourists. I have been surprised by just how gorgeous it is here – rivers and green rolling hills, castles and vineyards.
And then this week I have been on my own with the kids. Which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but we are in a flat in the middle of nowhere and have no friends. So we have taken it easy (thank god I put a box of craft stuff in the air shipment), the girls have been learning to ride their new bikes (they never got the chance to learn in Bangkok, so another positive about moving here) and we had a full day out at the museums in Frankfurt which was brilliant. We looked bonkers as I hadn’t checked the weather forecast – we were in sundresses, flip-flops (must buy some ‘real’ shoes…) and sun hats. The rest of the world was wearing jeans and jackets. I need to re-learn European weather – scorching one day (it has been hotter than in Bangkok…but with no air con) and chilly the next. But we did manage a quick trip to the shops to buy ourselves jumpers…every cloud and all that. Daughter no1, teeth chattering, said, ‘Mum, how long could people survive in this temperature?’ (It was a breezy 22 degrees). You can tell these girls have grown up in the tropics…So, despite the lack of friends, we are doing OK. The local Rieslings are delicious and CHEAP and there are wine festivals on every weekend until September. So much for our first impressions at the airport – everyone we have met here has been very friendly and has spoken perfect English in response to my one badly-accented German phrase: ‘Guten Tag’. The English-speaking exception was the old lady who was watching the girls practise bike riding from her window. She leaned out and shouted something to us in German. I couldn’t tell whether she was telling us off or offering sage words of advice (everyone cycles here, maybe she had some tips…or maybe she was fed up of hearing me shout ‘pedalpedalpedalpedalpedalpedaaaaal’!) so I just smiled, shouted ‘Danke shoen’ and threw in an Asian head bob for good measure (unfortunately I didn’t have a bratwurst to offer her). She shut the window and, maybe it was the fear factor, but both girls were soon cycling by themselves.
We can’t wait to get into our house (still waiting on the shipment) and are desperately looking forward to seeing our family when we go back to the UK next week. But honestly, I have been really pleasantly surprised by things here. Beautiful places to explore, fresh air, and a husband who seems to have some semblance of a work-life balance. And did I mention the wine?? Not wanting to tempt fate, but always wanting to quote ‘Annie’….’I think we’re gonna like it here.’