My first impression of the locals was made just after I got off the airplane in Frankfurt and headed toward Passport Security. Standing in a line, but still looking up at the signs thinking “Should I be in this line or that one?”, three people crowded around me. Before I knew what was happening one of those three slid into the non-existent space between me and the person I stood in line behind. That incident might not have phased me had it only happened once. It happened a few more times before I met up with Alan and we were about to get in line for the lift (elevator). That’s when he said, “You can’t hesitate to get in line anywhere. There’s no such thing as personal space when it comes to standing in line here.” OK, got it.
The next first impression of a local was on the tram–a.k.a. the Strassenbahn– back from Old Town. Coming off of 15 minutes of sleep in the prior 28 hours, I had just dozed for a few minutes on Alan’s shoulder when a very large man and his sidekick came up and asked for our tickets. Turns out we had purchased the wrong ticket and Mr. Gestapo–who identified himself as Polizei–was not going to let us get away with it. He asked us for 40 euros and then 60 euros and then “how much money do you have” and “where do you live” and “in America, you have to buy the right ticket”.
A lady ticket agent soon joined the two men and asked us about our situation while the “polizei” guy was asking for our ID and not listening to a word we were saying. At the next stop, they pulled us off the strassenbahn to question us further. My smart husband had money, but he wasn’t about to give it over for misunderstanding. Though I was rudely awakened, I could see this guy was clearly not the Police (no patches or badges to be had), that he had targeted us stupid Americans and he was doing his best to put the fear in us. Fortunately for us, the lady was sympathetic to my plight of just arriving that day, just moving to Leimen and not having our address memorized. She understood me when I said had we known how to do it the correct way, we would have and we would never do it again. Mr. Gestapo finally shewed us off with an angry wave of the hand. We walked to the next ticket kiosk and got the appropriate ticket, but waited for the train to pass with those 3 agents on it.
Willkommen in Deutchland! (Welcome to Germany!)
I wanted to laugh a little at the time, even though he made me mad. Now I think it’s hilarious.
So did I tell you how we came upon our apartment (name undecided)? It’s another miracle. Alan heard about our apartment from a couple in their 50s, Nancy and Tremmel from Texas, when he took a USO train tour to Frankfurt one Saturday. They had a dog with them and since he was interested in finding a place to live that accepted dogs Alan asked them where they live. They told him about the Engelhorn Hotel. There is an actual Hotel, but the owners also have several properties they rent out. They don’t require 3 months rent plus a deposit like most landlords do in Germany, no lease agreement, and they accept pets. It’s a locally, family owned business. When the apartment became available, Alan nabbed it.
I’ve been a little worried about whether it’s one of those too-good-to-be-true situations. Not according to the other Americans in our building.
Turns out our neighbors above us… Nancy and Tremmel. Yep. They invited us to the building 4th of July BBQ today where we met Bob the Director of University of Phoenix Europe and his girlfriend Flo, Speech Pathologist for military families; Wade, a married guy living here alone who works with Tremmel at NATO; Jenny from Baton Rouge and her 3 kids–her husband works on Black Hawks; and Shane, Gov’t Contractor (don’t remember what he does) whose wife is from Honduras and doesn’t feel comfortable enough with her English to join the party. Our landlord gal, Nadine, also joined the party. We had a great time getting to know them all. Nancy insisted we retell our Gestapo story to everyone. They all agree. That guy was a jerk.
Yesterday was a lovely day. We slept in and then went to church. I just have to say, I feel honored to be with this group of Saints already. It’s a huge thing to walk in and feel that spirit of fellowship and comradery when you’re in a foreign land!
Later in the evening we took a walk around our neighborhood. Here is a photo from our walk.
And oh, by the way, the larger apartments…definitely worth it.