Last Tuesday afternoon Martin and I took the famed LCZ 15-passenger van on a short road trip to Germany. After making the 4-6 week trek via USPS parcel post, the rest of our boxes had arrived at Martin’s sister’s house, in scenic Otterberg, near the Ramstein Air Base.
It was about a 4.5 hours drive up to the outskirts of Basel and then through the Rhine Valley. As our drive North was primarily at dusk, we missed many of the scenic sights announced by the well-drawn historic signs along the way. Each sign had a custom line drawing outlining the historic sights off the nearby exits–ruins, thermal baths, and churches (even an “Autobahn Kirche”). Unfortunately we were driving by at such speed, and I was too busy checking out the signs, to photograph one. Next time.
Most of the drive was at autobahn speeds so we made good time despite the frequent narrowing of lanes for construction. And, as you’ll see in this video, even German construction signage is creative. While most of the construction left two lanes open, the left lane was very, very narrow and fit the smaller cars best. Occasionally we felt small enough to pass with just a few inches between our side mirror and a semi, but most of the time we stuck the comfort of the slow lane in construction zones.
Martin observed that the view from the autobahn at night seemed very American, as we drove past several industrial areas and big box stores. At least until a car blew by us in fast lane, or we drove by a random castle. Martin says he took the van up to about 145 km/hr (about 90mph) in some of the no-speed-limit zones, and we were still passed like we were driving 60mph. We stopped for gas, snacks, and McDonald’s (they actually have very good veggie burgers in Germany) and made it to Otterberg by about 9:30.
The next morning we loaded all the boxes in the van, ate breakfast, and then caught up on a few episodes of Jeopardy on AFN. Later, Martin’s sister, Amy, took us onto the Ramstein Air Base so we could stock on some American grocery staples (mostly baking supplies, molasses, and salsa) and some well-priced extras like Rubbermaid food containers, magazines, and power transformers so we could use my stereo, Kitchen Aid, and waffle iron over here without fear of any more power-related disasters. Amy and her husband, Brandon, deserve extra special thanks for all their trips to the post office, box storage, and errand running. They really have been more than generous in helping us get settled over here!
We made it back to Zürich by about 6:30pm Wednesday evening and, thankfully, didn’t even get stopped at customs. We unloaded all the boxes and now you know what I’ve been doing the last few days.
Surrounded in cardboard and dust, I’ve uncovered Christmas presents, clothes, and other essentials I’ve been missing for two months. It is nice to have all our stuff at home. And our casualty count as far as breakables was pretty low in the end. In total, we lost two glasses, 6 small bowls, two large bowls, three large plates, four pasta bowls, two casserole dishes, the back of one remote control (I have no idea how this happened), one favorite mug, and the copper pot arrived with 2 small dents.
Now that I’ve unpacked, and we’ve flattened and tied all the boxes for recycling, it is about time for house tour part 2. Our couch was delivered last Thursday morning and now all we’re missing are the little pieces of furniture that will make things complete–hanging pictures and buying rugs, lamps, end tables, and nightstands. We’ll also be getting a TV and probably a desk in the next few months, but our apartment has come a long way since the aerobed and camp chairs. Stay tuned. I hope you’ll see how ready we are for guests and start planning your visit!