Today we got up and started going right away. Finishing packing, eating breakfast, taking one last shower, and cleaning up our room. We also squeezed as much internet time in as we could.
As a thank you gift for taking care of us and helping us so much for three weeks, William gave our hosts a wire wrapped pendant that he had made. Then we gathered up all our things (which felt like a lot!), hugged H goodbye, and headed into Kaufbeuren.
At our apartment, we quickly dumped everything in our room and headed out to do errands. We did pause long enough, however, to notice that there was no toilet. Ummm…
This is basically town hall (literlly means “advice house”), and wow is it huge! We went in the front doors of the building that says, “I have been the Rathaus for hundreds of years!” We found the bathrooms on the second floor (and note that in Germany it goes ground floor, first floor, second floor) at the top of a gorgeous main stairwell. But after deciphering some signs, we learned that the office we wanted, the Burgerbüro (citizen office), was in the Neubau – new construction. There was a door at the back of the old Rathaus leading to the new building.
It was huge! Afterwards we looked at a map and realized that the Rathaus is basically three large buildings. And we had entered on the opposite side from the Burgerbüro. Good news at least: while following all the signs, we found the immigration office. Eventually we found the Burgerbüro at the front door of the other side of the Rathaus. Which happens to be super close to our apartment. Oops. Good to know for the future.
At the Burgerbüro, we registered with the city. This is required for everyone in Germany, foreign or native. Even if you move from one part of a city to another, you still have to go and register within a couple weeks of signing the lease. We need to be registered before we apply for our visa, so this happened right away.
It was a simple process, and I’m sure William speaking German helped. The woman helping us took most of the information off of our lease and passports. We just had to tell her our previous American address, when and where we got married, and our religion. Lutherans and Catholics in Germany pay a church tax, so that actually is important information. (And no, you can’t lie about it to get out of the tax if you want to be a member of the local church.) I also had to figure out what exactly she was asking and remember that my birth name is not the same as my maiden name. Thanks, mom and dad, for changing my name when I was 2!
Then we went over to the Volkhochschule, or the VHS. It has a lot of night and community classes on all sorts of topics. It is where I will be taking my Integrationskurs 5 days a week. We were told to come back tomorrow to talk with the woman who runs and teaches the program.
Next was lunch and checking out the offerings at the V-Markt (pronounced Fau-Markt). It is basically a Super Target – it has two stories of clothing, shoes, home goods, alcohol, and groceries. We picked up some meat, carrots and 4 types of dairy to get us started on lunches and breakfasts.
Dropped that off and went to go buy a mattress at Matratzen Concord, the cheaper of the two places in town. Germans do this weird thing where they buy two twin mattresses and put them on the same bed frame. Well, we couldn’t afford two mattresses, so we bought one of the rare 120×200 mattresses, as well as two giant pillows, a 4-season duvet, and a fitted sheet. Instead of having it delivered for 20€, we carried all that home. Yes. That happened.
But first, to the Aldi Süd near the mattress store. For those of you who don’t know, Aldi is actually a German company, and they are everywhere here. There is Aldi and Aldi Süd. Aldi Süd is what is in the area where we are, and apparently it is better than plain Aldi.
There are 4 groceries stores about the same distance from out apartment, so we have been doing a lot of price comparison. The Aldi doesn’t have the selection of dairy that V-Markt does, but its prices are insane – in a good way. A lot of stuff is much cheaper than similar quality back home. They have a wide variety of organic products, and lots of meat and produce. Also clothing and home goods – we picked up the most awesome pillow case and duvet cover. Unfortunately, I need to drop my avocado habit and William needs to drop his mango habit – neither are anywhere near as cheap as at the Aldi back home. We picked up bread and müsli. Feeling good about our ability to stick to our grocery budget.
Next we checked out banks. The VR Bank is just around the corner, and the people there were super friendly. But they don’t have the type of account that we need for our visa. Detusche Bank does, but we were confused by everything they need. We are going to check with the immigration office before we make any decisions. As much as it would be nice to stop paying foreign transaction fees at the ATM.
Our last planned stop for the day was Aufwind. This is similar to Goodwill. It is run by a Catholic social justice group. They take in furniture and home goods, and I think they have a bookstore, too. They hire handicapped and disadvantaged workers to repair the furniture and run the store. A lot of the stuff is super cheap, too. We will definitely be going back to pick up some furniture this weekend. Today we just settled for a set of 6 soup mugs ans saucers, 3 large plates, 6 small plates, 1 large bowl, 1 serving plate, and a gravy boat – all for just 9€!
Finally, dinner! Although really it was only 6pm. But it was a long day. By the end of it, we had walked over 11 miles. Dinner was two giant bowls of creamy pasta. We went to this place last year as well. It sells döner, pizza, and pasta, and it is so good. We even had some leftovers. Which is good, because we can’t afford to eat out anymore and I’m not sure when we are going to be able to start preparing actual meals! During the meal we took the chance to relax and look through all the catalogs we had picked up from the various places we went. I totally want to take Spanish classes from the VHS when I am done with my integration course, and there are some great trips for very cheap offered buy Aldi Reise (yes, both Aldi and Lidl offer vacation packages).
And because we hadn’t walked quite enough yet, we went through the beautiful Jordan Park right next to our apartment and visited Lidl, the third grocery store close to our place (the 4th is an organic market near the Aufwind, which we will visit tomorrow). Prices were comparable to Aldi, so we will be frequenting this as well. Here we just picked up some chocolate and a 99 cent basil plant. And we ran into our landlord, who is a very sweet woman that wants to help us get the place set up however she can. Talked to her for awhile, and she even offered to let us use her place if we needed anything before the apartment is finished.
But luckily, when we returned, there was a toilet. Hallelujah! The stove had been connected, too! We still have no shower, washing machine, internet, bedroom lights, or furniture, and we only have about half the equipment we need for a functional kitchen, but with the toilet I would call the apartment itself functional.
Also, I apologize for the lack of pictures today. It was raining most of the day, so we didn’t bring the camera.