Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Travelogue Begins

I am going to do a series of posts about my recent trip but for today, I am going to back up a bit to talk about how this trip was different than a normal holiday.  As my husband is on a long term work assignment, lodging and travel is quite different than how we typically would do things had we gone to Germany as tourists.

Thought Number One:  Work is the Opposite of Vacation

On our last trip to Germany, we went as tourists.  Yes, an adventure strictly for fun and seeing the sites. Easy-peasy plan for 15 days based in Munich.  We had a good travel agent that booked out rooms at the Marriott, made rental car reservations and lined out some guided bus tours to Switzerland and Austria.  On that trip we went with a group of friends as well, so we had our own built in group of English speaking people.  In fact, one of our group had German parents and claimed she had a working knowledge of the German language.  Monica, as it turned out, didn't have it working enough to keep us from getting on  the wrong train out of Dachau.  Which brought about a language lesson that was pretty self explanatory i.e. "dumme Amerikaner"

BUT in preparation for this trip...not so easy-peasy.  If one is going to a foreign country to work, there are things to be reckoned with.  Housing, car insurance, medical insurance that will cover you in a foreign country, foreign currency, a charge card that doesn't pick your pocket on conversion fees, getting a Euro-based cell phone (or unlocking your U.S. phone and finding a carrier that will not send you to the poor house on media, text, and Internet roaming charges) and last but not least having the proper Visa to be in a foreign country. 

As far as Visas go.... I timed my visit to see my husband near the end of his Schengen Visa.
As a non-German, hubby is allowed to stay in Germany for 90 days within an 180 day time period. There are a number of visa rules in Europe,  but when people talk about the “90 day limit”, they are talking about restrictions of the Schengen Visa, which is the visa rule that governs 26 countries in Europe. It includes all the European Union except Ireland and the United Kingdom as well as a few non-EU countries.

So...if you plan on visiting Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria,  Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, better keep the three month rule in mind. (gasping for breath)

As I was saying, my husband's 90 days were coming to an end and his job wasn't.  I needed to get my trip in before he was asked (do you suppose it is a request?)  to leave the country.  As it turned out he was not booted out on his keister but that is another story for another day.  (I will cover what Hubby had to do to stay past the 90 day mark in a later post but here is a link to give you a bit of how to ward off deportation if you are camped out in Europe illegally..How to Stay in Europe Legally After 90 Days. )

Mr. Germany is a little fussy about his 90 days "get out of here" rule.

Thought Number Two:  Making A Home Away from Home

As my husband's company (OK to be clear...his company is just him with me handling the day to day boring crap that comes across my desk) tends to work in rather small towns, it might not surprise you to know there aren't major hotel chains built just to accommodate him.  There is a web-site www.booking.com   that covers all the little hotels and German Guest Houses available.  As my husband was working primarily in the area of Andernach, Germany, he found a small hotel/guest house in Weissenthurm. (Sorry, my computer doesn't type German, so that isn't exactly right.)

So begins the list of plus and minuses.  The Rhein Hotel is a 10 room house that is kind of a cross between a very small hotel or a very large Bed and Breakfast. The family that lives there consists of Mama and Papa, their daughter and son-in-law, and 2 grandsons. Since none of them speak a lick of English, we aren't sure of anyone's name but it all worked out with smiles, hugs and nods. 

The same family has owned the little hotel for over 75 years.  One of the reasons, we booked a room in this particular hotel is that Mama, was very accommodating. They installed a DSL line so Hubby would have access to a computer while living there. A lot of the hotels in these less populated areas, either don't have Internet or you have to go to a common room to use it.

Rhein Hotel is a bit like going back in time in a quaint charming sort of way.  It sits right on the Rhein.  AND I MEAN right ON the Rhein.  Occasionally IN the Rhein.

In both 1993 and 1995 Mama and Papa had the river come in for a visit.

The walking trail along the Rhein from hotel room. The river is being good about keeping itself
out of the hotel today.

barges and passenger ships are constantly going by
So that is where, hubby was calling home for the first 90 days.  Crabby Pants will be taking you on a tour of the the small and not-so-small towns along the Rhein, the German Christmas Markets and Amsterdam, Netherlands in upcoming posts.

Next time, I will start with the local food and have more information and pictures from the area around Weissenthurm and Andernach .

To be continued.....

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Trina said...

I've never been to Germany, but it's one of the places I'd really like to visit. I think having basic German knowledge would be helpful.. phrases like "Where's the bathroom" or "one more beer please" worked out really well for me in Spanish when we visited Mexico.
The simple hotel looks like a fabulous place to stay :)

Wolfbernz said...

Hi Cheryl,
Great pictures! The hotel looks like a nice place to stay! I look forward to your travelogue :)

Kathe W. said...

whew.....have a good time- and Merry Christmas!

Wendy said...

I am amazed the hotels did not have internet access in the rooms. I just assumed that would be true everywhere in the world. If you keep wanting to go there, perhaps German lessons are in order for a Christmas present? Although much of English has German derivatives, my son commented that he found it challenging. To which my ''her first language is German" friend replied, "Well ,all the German children seem to learn it just fine". Ouch.
Oooh, I SO look forward to a Crabby Pants tour. I just know that she will show us all the more intriguing sights of Germany on "the road less traveled". With her continually expanding wardrobe with hat accessories, she hardly has any need for the language to entertain!

Iluvbeingagrandpa said...

You know, I've been to that motel...its nice, and no musty or river smell at all. It appears as tho on one of you pictures, that crabby pants has a boyfriend. handsome young German? Merry Christmas...did you get hat BMW that was shipped to you?

Riot Kitty said...

I am fascinated. What kind of business do you guys run? Fingers crossed that he is not "in the Rhine" this winter!

Jo-Anne said...

Now this was interesting the hotel looks so nice, I never thought of a hotel being that small but hell here in Australia a hotel is a pup...............I wouldn't want to be there if the hotel was in the Rhein and not on the Rhein

oldereyes said...

I'm not much of a traveler so I'm sure I'd find the travel arrangements overwhelming. But I love the pictures and look forward to the rest of your travelogue.

Pickleope said...

What side of the road do they drive on? And I know there's a lot in this post, the 90 days rule, all those countries you visited (that's a lot), flooding hotels, but the one thing that sticks with me is: There are still travel agents!?!

Cheryl P. said...

I hope you get the chance at some point, Trina. With all your knowledge of architecture and building, you would be amazed at how buildings are put together there. Here we see obsolescence in building of hundred years old. There you might not see it in buildings that are 600 years old.

My husband has gained a working knowledge of German.I am a total loser with speaking foreign languages.

Cheryl P. said...

Yes, it turned out to be a nice place. Mama and Papa were very friendly and took good care of hubby.

Cheryl P. said...

It was a fun trip but I am glad to be back among the English speaking.

Have a very Merry Christmas at your house as well.

Cheryl P. said...

One of the aspects of this trip that was so interesting was to see the difference between the major cities and the smaller towns. Our prior trip to Munich seemed very Americanized (or Canadianized, as it were) compared to the more rural areas. Even in some of the American chain hotels the Internet is a common room. Europe in general is more about the "Internet cafe, mentality over the "hot spot, WiFI, you can connect anywhere" mentality.

German is a tricky language. There is such a guttural sound to it. My cat hocking up a hairball has the same sound. I can't reproduce the hacking ggguuukkkkk, needed to sound German.

Yes, that Crabby Pants is going to take us on an adventure. Fasten your seatbelt. She isn't kidding about her driving skills.

Cheryl P. said...

Interestingly enough, the Rhein doesn't have that fishy, rank smell that other rivers have. Having spend a lot of time on rivers in the U.S. especially the Mississippi, there is a smell that is easily detected in river towns but not along the Rhein. I looked through a book that Mama had showing the hotel being repaired. It looks like they ripped everything down to the original brick and rebuilt it from the outside in. BUT as to your point....no musty or moldy smell as all.

Cheryl P. said...

It's a hotel...potato..patato ...Yes, as the sock puppet for Pets.com used to say..."he's a good lookin' fella."

Cheryl P. said...

He works with retailers to fix problems of various sorts. There are a couple of chains stores in Europe that are having some issues.

I think he should be returning to the U.S. in February so hopefully, all will be uneventful.

Cheryl P. said...

It did turn out to be a good choice for him. Friendly people, clean rooms etc.

He has since moved to another town so I hope that goes as well.

I am totally, with you on that, Jo-Anne. I wouldn't want to be that close to a river during a major flood.

Cheryl P. said...

If you ever decide to take a trip, I will be your travel agent, Bud. I have more experience than one should have without getting to call it a profession.
I can't help but think about your post "Easily Amazed". Europe is just one enormous "awesome, jaw-dropping, historical, quaint, beautiful" experience. I am glad to live in the U.S. but seeing, up-front and personal, how other people live is pretty fascinating.

Cheryl P. said...

I was expecting that to be "on the wrong side" but no...they drive on the same side as the U.S. (are you in the U.S or Canada or Australia??)

I haven't visited all of the Schengan Visa countries but maybe some others will come into play if husband keeps getting work over there.

Yes, there are travel agents that will hunt down these remote areas and work to get all the arrangements made but hubby and I have been doing enough trip planning on our own that I haven't used a travel agent in years. Now if we screw up we know who to blame...each other.

Chubby Chatterbox said...

I love travel stories and pictures, and can't wait for the rest.

Cheryl P. said...

As you have taken some really interesting trips in the past, some of our meanderings might be a little bland. It was interesting to see this part of Germany that is a bit off the typical tourist path.

lisleman said...

We really came to enjoy B&B's while we were in Ireland many years back. I think the smaller locally owned places can be a much nicer time if you are staying for multiple nights. Of course, we experienced both the nice and the worst. Some of the surprise disaster places at least offer you a good story if you survive.

Cheryl P. said...

We used to enjoy staying in B & B's in the U.S. (never tried on in Europe) but somewhere along the line, we started acquiring "points" in hotel chains and as silly as it sounds we always stayed places to get more points. I think about every electronic in my house has been purchased with points.

Yes, I can see where disasters can happen. I am sure that the fun of telling the story might come far after the actual disaster.

lisleman said...

Funny - our B&B adventures started in Europe. We scored bad ones in the states (Tacoma WA) and Europe (Italy). I know of a range of travel approaches just within my extended family. What's your approach on advance reservations?

Cheryl P. said...

That's interesting that you have had bad experience in the states and not Internationally. Usually, I have met people that have had the opposite experience. They have gotten to Europe to found the facility outdated...esp. with no air conditiioning available.
Do you mean advanced reservations into B & Bs or travel reservations in general regarding travel? In the "old days" I used to buy the annual AAA guide to B & Bs but now with the Internet available things have changed. When we need to book lodging of any type (hotels, condos, executive apartments, B & Bs) I read both the ratings and the reviews and try to find one with rave reviews for the dates we need. I still prefer to call all lodging venues direct. Even chain hotels...the person at the desk will usually give a better rate and tell you specifics that you can't get from the 800 # .

Robyn Engel said...

This is fun, Cheryl. I'm glad hubby wasn't booted out, and that the river behaved itself. I've never been to Germany, so I'm enjoying your tour and haven't even noticed your driving skills or lack thereof.


lisleman said...

travel reservations in general. We have done at least three (off top of my head) international trips with the first and last night reserved in advance. The other nights were open since we were unsure of how long we would stay at each location. Sometimes we were not even sure what locations we would visit. On two trips we had a few other nights booked but not all. Now this means spending a bit of time during the trip figuring out what to book next. It's a bit of a trade off. My brother has traveled with even less advance booking. The internet has made all this easier. However we had a few places that looked much much better on the internet than in real life. We have a travel-crazed daughter who just sleeps on the train between cities.

Cheryl P. said...

Thankfully we are both strong swimmers and his room was on the top floor.

I sure hope you get a chance to make use of your ability to speak German. I think it sounds incredibly difficult. My cat hocking up hairballs sounds pretty much the same as some of the German words and yet I think my cat is Persian...not German. You can be thankful that I didn't have your telephone number and that my phone didn't work over there or I would of had you helping me with some translation issues.My texts worked fine though.

Although, if Google Translate is right...and I am not saying it is...I am not sure how helpful acknowledging your belly button would be in getting me around Germany.

Cheryl P. said...

You are far more comfortable with traveling than we are, I think. We come up with a day to day internerary, research the hell out of where we will stay and stick to the plan for fear that we will get stranded somewhere.It did happen early in our marriage that we got somewhere and couldn't find a room to save our soul. So today.... On all of our trips we know where we will be each night. But you are right...we have booked rooms that looked different on-line than in person. I can only remember one hotel in my adult life that I really considered walking out of and trying for something else. That was in Houston, TX though and I was afraid to venture out by myself in search of a different hotel. I was there on a work trip and the chain hotel that I was booked into was in a neighborhood that didn't make me confident that I would live to a ripe old age.
That's neat that your daughter likes to travel and can cat-nap between cities. I can sleep on a plane but a train would be hard for me.

meleahrebeccah said...

"The Rhein Hotel is a 10 room house that is kind of a cross between a very small hotel or a very large Bed and Breakfast. The family that lives there consists of Mama and Papa, their daughter and son-in-law, and 2 grandsons. Since none of them speak a lick of English, we aren't sure of anyone's name but it all worked out with smiles, hugs and nods. "

Okay - good! But that photo? OMG! That's literally under water!

I'm happy to hear they were so accommodating and gave you private access to the internet too. YAY!

Can't wait to hear more!

Cheryl P. said...

1993 must of just been a hell of a year. We lived in St. Louis and the Mississippi flooded that year as well and homes had water past the second floor. What a mess.
They were very sweet people. Hubby has moved on to another town where is is staying in an American owned hotel so I imagine the "feel" of it will be far less warm and fuzzy.

meleahrebeccah said...

Major Mess!!