A view down the Hauptstraße in downtown Heidelberg. A lot of people
out and about for the middle of a Monday!
Friday: I started the 4 day holiday still working. I had to finish up my staff duty shift until 0900. The good news is that I was able to sleep for short periods from time to time. I put in my headphones and listened to music drifting in and out of sleep either in my chair, on a very hard couch, and also on the floor at one point. Staff duty has to be one of the stupidest things we do. Why they can't just assign a cell phone to an NCO for a week or so instead is beyond me. No, two people have to sit and waste time for 24 hours doing nothing. It also takes two people out of the office for that next day's shift when they get staff duty on a weekday. The office is down people and our sleep pattern is all messed up.
After we got off shift, I headed home and slept some more, I didn't get up until a bit after 1400. So with the day pretty much over, I didn't do much. I still felt a little off for the rest of the day. My wife came home from work and we watched some shows together, but that is about it. Hurray for the first day of this holiday weekend.
Saturday: Today we headed off to downtown Heidelberg to grab some Starbucks coffee. Nothing like having some coffee while looking out at the rain, reminds me of being back home in the Seattle area. We also picked up a couple of sweatshirts from the Heidelberg University. This is one thing we wanted to make sure we got for ourselves before we leave. A souvenir we can wear and remember our time here in this cool city.
We then headed off to Ramstein air base to do some shopping at their large PX. We started our Christmas shopping and have to try and get it all done this month so we can ship it all back to everyone. We got a few people crossed off the list. Unfortunately the weather has been kind of wet lately. If it wasn't raining we had planned to check out a city we haven't been to yet, but I think those trips may be few and far between this fall and winter because of the weather.
By the time we got back we were both pooped and just watched some shows on TV.
Sunday: This was a day of cleaning. We cleaned pretty much the entire house most of the day. A good time to catch up on laundry and everything else that seemed to be falling behind. At the end of the day we sat down to eat and watch a show when all of a sudden the fire alarm in our stairwell went off…again. It goes off every now and then and is too loud to keep watching TV, so we paused our show and just ate. There have been so many false alarms, we don't even get up and go outside anymore. Normally the fire truck comes pretty quick and the firemen check out the building and turn off the alarm. Tonight I think they wanted to finish dinner before they came out, because it took over 40 minutes for them to arrive and turn off the alarm…talk about annoying. If there would have been a fire, the entire building would have been only ashes by the time they arrived. I guess that is government efficiency at its best.
Today was also Veteran's Day. It's a little different serving in the military in another country. I think at the best of times the relationships between the U.S. military and the host country it is occupying is cordial. There are always going to be a percentage of the population that thinks of the U.S. presence in their country as everything from a hassle or nuisance to an actual occupying force that is not welcome. Here in Germany the relations are OK, but there are still a lot of people that do not want us here. We are encouraged to not wear our uniform outside of the post. We are also encouraged to blend in as much as possible. With that said, Veteran's Day here in Germany is basically a non-event. We do get a four day weekend out of the deal, but that is about it. There are the posts on Facebook, but that is pretty much the extent of the holiday here. In the states there are parades, free food at participating restaurants, and a grateful nation. I'm not complaining that I'm here in Europe, just noting the differences.
Monday: Today I was going to meet a guy I went to high school with for lunch. It turns out that he lives here in Heidelberg and is not in the military. I was planning on finding out the rest of his story during lunch, but right before he was about to come his wife went into labor…LOL. I guess I'll have to wait on having lunch with him for a while now.
My wife and I instead decided to try a Chinese restaurant called "China Town Restaurant" we heard about downtown. The place was actually pretty decent, which has been hard to find here in Germany. We then spent the rest of the day walking around downtown and doing some Christmas shopping.
I'm going to miss Heidelberg once we do get moved. The downtown is always fun to visit, the architecture is awesome, there are plenty of stores for all tastes, and there are enough restaurants to keep you busy all day and then some.
The weekend in general was pretty laid back. A lot of Christmas shopping was done, but that was about it. We have big plans for the Thanksgiving day holiday and we also plan to visit a lot of the Christmas markets that we have heard so much about. So I'm hoping I have a little more to write about in these upcoming weekends!