In the first week of November I had my first German guests over for dinner; my neighbor across the hall and a couple on the floor below. They have been great help in taking care of electrical fixtures and in helping me with a German resume (CV). This past Sunday it was the Sisters’ turn plus one of their residents, who is fast becoming a friend. We decided on dessert and coffee instead of dinner. As in any country or city where one starts afresh, building friendships takes time. No different here and it’ll take a number months before any relationships become friendships.
The Long Awaited Renault Twingo
The red Princess finally arrived on the last Monday of October. It was a totally personalised experience… My car was waiting for me at the dealership with my name and with a lot of fanfare. The tachometer showed 3 kilometres! I can’t remember the last time I had a car with no kilometres…! It was in the early 80s I believe. Anyway, the pictures show Princess with her personalised license plate. Because of the number of vehicles, the plates now have four numbers instead of two or three. Hence the four sevens and not the 777! Because I couldn’t get the letters I requested, the dealer went ahead and chose the initials of my last name. Easy to remember when I need to give it out. UL, in case you wonder, stands for Ulm.
Mr. Rogg Jr.- Jr. did the honours and took me for a spin to ensure all was well. The dealership is family owned and grandfather still works at the dealership with his son and grandson.
Ms. N. looked after all the documents and formalities.
“A warm welcome to your delivery. I’m waiting for … (my name)”
Cash, Debit or Credit
There are still a number of things I’m getting used to. For one, paying with cash for most things. Debit cards are accepted in the large chain stores but local stores and mid-sized family-owned business expect cash. Credit cards are rarely used, except for gasoline purchases or online services. I haven’t quite figured out how much cash to take out at one time so that I don’t run out. Since I keep track of expenditures this will become clearer in another month or so. It’s actually refreshing. It’s a reminder that one cannot assume that paying by debit is an international habit.
When it came to applying for a credit card, it was interesting to discover it was readily provided. All one needs is a regular income – not necessarily work-related. The bank however, makes automatic transfers from one’s account to the credit company once a month. No, not for a minimum amount due but for the entire amount on the credit card statement over a period of 30 days. One better have the amount in the account! It is so opposite to the North American system where one can keep using the credit card until one has reached the credit limit, and then – if one cannot pay the balance – pay small amounts over time. No wonder there is so much personal debt in North America and so little here in Germany (I can’t speak for the rest of Europe). It requires much more discipline and foresight. It’s probably why most people seem to be doing well financially. Not a bad system at all.
Making a doctor’s visit was also an interesting experience. Before suggesting any kind of remedy, the doctor wanted a full examination so that a history was created. Pretty standard. Fees for those treatments not covered by medical insurance are quite reasonable and I usually get some sarcastic comment when I show surprise. North America is viewed as over the top in what doctors charge their patients.
A really nice aspect was the fact that all the various medical tests were done right at the doctors’ office. Different people performed the tests and the analysis was done in conjunction with the pharmacy on the main floor. No running around to different parts of town or of the city. Only when one gets referred to a specialist travel might be involved.
First Pangs of Winter
A couple of days after I posted my October blog we had our first snow. It started late afternoon and by next morning everything was covered. Because many trees still had their leaves, branches were hanging heavily under the weight of wet snow. The scenery was beautiful especially in the country.
Afterwards it was back to autumn colours and over a period of two weeks woods and roadside trees turned to yellows and reds.
Now, on the last day of November, everything is covered in snow again. We had serious flurries and more are promised for this week-end. The temperature has dipped from 10C to -10C… brrr!
Enjoy the pictures!
See you in December – probably before the holidays.