Friday, May 13, 2022

Unpacked....the official Wohnung tour!

So I'm way past due for this one....in keeping with tradition now that we are on post four, it seems only common courtesy to give a tour of our housing like I did in Doha, Suva, and Tbilisi. So in Frankfurt, 80%+ of the community gets put into an apartment housing compound. So can I can at least give one an idea of what a three bedroom apartment looks like (apartments range from studios to 5 bedrooms). So what's in a name? Wohnung is the German word for flat or apartment. So it seemed perfect for the title....

So the housing compound is an assortment of buildings looking like this. Having gone to coffees in some other units, it is interesting to see how they are all slightly different. There's probably 50+ building like this and each one is slightly designed different....I wonder which one was built last and is "perfect"...lol. So the consulate Richard works at used to be an old hospital. Previously a German hospital and then a US military hospital (fun fact: G.I. Elvis Presley had his appendix removed there!). Needless to say, I have no desire to walk the halls of the consulate by myself at night! The apartments were built after WWII when the hospital was converted to a US military hospital and are old military housing. The interiors remind of us our grandparents house (ex. circa 1950s style doors, shelves, ledges, etc). 

Standard apartment entrance...the length of entry varies between apartments, some have a cut out where we have the mirror. We've seen some kitchens that have been remodeled...ours is not of them. I do love the gas stove! Lovely view of the cookie cutter building behind us...lol.


The washer and dryer being in the kitchen is apparently a German thing....I've since made a curtain to hide them (and our recycling on top) when not in use. It makes the room a bit smaller but looks nicer. Some units have the washer and dryer behind closet doors. I've also seen a unit with a cut out between the kitchen and the dining room. That one is really open and nice.


The dining room has the same table we have had at all the posts. There are few families in a trial program that is renting furniture from a local company and have completely different furniture. That would be exciting if that becomes the norm! We rotated the table 90° and it made the room bigger. We made a little coffee/beverage station to the left under all our Starbucks mugs. We might ended up needing a third rack while we are here! 


The cat loves the cat hammock on the window. On the opposite side of the house, we put up her cat tree. So then she can get morning and afternoon sun for nap times...


So the main room is much more of multipurpose room. We have the den using the main portion of it, in a little window alcove is Richard's "office" on work from home days, and then to the side is my little office/craft area.


While not ideal, it works for the most part (except when both Richard and I have work calls at the same time...then someone has to go in another room).


Through the lovely glass door in the den is the bedrooms. In theory, the door could be closed to make the bedrooms quieter in the evening. Only problem is the door is older and sticks so when you open and close it is quite loud and would wake anyone sleeping...lol. The room sizing is quite odd. Two rooms that are nearly identical in size and then a tiny room. 


Still lugging around our king size bed, BEST DECISION EVER!! The wall opposite the window is built closet/drawers. So not much to see. 


We think the teen actually took the "Master bedroom" as it might be a foot bigger on one side, but the placement of the closet/windows wouldn't work with our king size bed. So we let the teen have the extra room.


Poor little Clarissa got the tiniest of rooms. 


She wanted the queen size bed that was originally in our bedroom, so she literally has a BEDroom and a tiny walking space.


We have two neighboring bathrooms that are quite popular and in high demand while everyone gets ready in the mornings.


The bath and bedrooms did not have any good space for hampers, so I got these to place in the hallway between the bed/bathrooms. It was funny the "complaints" of the hampers was they were too small....but for our small European washer, they are the perfect size. A full bag is a full load. 


We do have a storage unit in the basement to store the holiday decorations and luggage. Richard was working from home for delivery/unloading of all our things. Given we weren't guaranteed they would come back for empty boxes, we had the movers unpack the boxes. Richard had a little panic attack with all our things just piled up all over the place. Once things got tucked away into closets, drawers, and cabinets it all worked out. A majority of the furniture in our home stays with the apartment for the next family, so that helps in we don't have to find a place for all that (though there is still too much furniture). That wraps up what is the shortest housing tour yet! 

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Burg Eltz

In the beginning of November, I took another CLO trip to Burg Eltz..a.k.a Eltz Castle. (fun fact: Schloss, Burg, Festung, Kastell, and Turm are all German words for Castle). Burg Eltz is about a two hour drive from our place.

Burg Eltz is located in Eltz forest. You park near a little chapel and then can either take a shuttle (for a couple €) or walk DOWN to the castle. 


There are easy to follow signs directing you in the right direction. Normally you think of castles as towering high up on the tallest hill and being seen from miles away. Burg Eltz is tucked away and hidden in the forest.


As you walk down, there are several look out points to enjoy the view of the castle. Here you can see the small river that runs around the base of the castle.


With C-19, they were limiting the number of visitors and had entry times. So we loitered around on the bridge until it was our entry time. 


So naturally, one wanders around and takes some pictures...lol.


The stone bridge was built by hand, very cool that for something ~865 years old it looks this good. Rudolf von Eltz signed the deed in 1157 and ever since then that family has been continuously inhabiting the castle!


So the castle's location, in a valley (and on a rock....you'll see soon), has allowed it to remain unscathed through many wars in the area.


The foundation was built right into the rock. Apparently some windows and such are at odd angles to maximize winds.


A colorful turret.


At some point during the tour inside, we could look into a similiar little room jutting out the side. It is a chapel attached to a bedroom. The purpose for it being 'outside' the house is that nothing can be above God and so you could not build another floor above the chapel, but since it has its own roof nothing is above God.


Seemingly random accent piece.


Going into the castle courtyard, I may or may not have been picturing knights of yesteryear (Hollywood style) charging at it. 


Sometime before 1268, the castle was divided between three brothers. Their respective families and heirs lived in essentially their own castles. So Burg Eltz is three castles in one! Each castle had its own crests and color palette. We saw two of the three (the other is still being lived in). At some point, two of the lines ran out of heirs/the other line bought them out. So only one family now owns the castle.


Obviously, being privately own, I couldn't take any photos on the inside. They had all kinds of historical things you always wonder was that real or just a made up Hollywood thing from movies of the middle ages. The kitchen was pretty interesting, surprisingly modern for an ancient building - even had water taps over the stone sinks bringing water from the river surrounding it. I learned that heating a stone castle was quite expensive and most castles were quite cold in the winter with only a room or two used. Therefore, the more fireplaces a castle had the more wealth a family had......there was a lot of wealth!!

Afterwards, we had lunch at one of the two cafes on site. Then had some time to explore the grounds and hike/enjoy the last bit of the fall leaves.


The castle was closing for winter at the beginning of November and just reopened at the start of April. So if you are in the area during the warmer months of the year, I recommend checking it out!

Friday, April 8, 2022

Some fall escapades...

Sadly with C-19 number still all over the place, most Oktoberfest celebrations around the country were canceled. The Consulate was able to hold a small event with registered guests (for contact tracing of course) that was outdoors. We stopped in for a little bit, Clarissa got her hair braided, pretzels and beer were consumed, and the need to pick up our own dirndl and lederhosen was discovered.  

Clarissa actually did a wardrobe change when we got home and wanted to take some photos of her styled hair. Problem is to get the cute face you can't see the braid. So here's a little video of her braid.

The following weekend was Halloween/Richard's birthday. Friday evening was the compound door decorating contest. We and two of our other neighbors went all out. We dug out the old gravestones we had made a few years back...and used our little LED lights on them. We gathered up leaves to make it look likely freshly buried graves..lol. The door also had spider webs, spooky witches that talked to you and jumped, fog machine (I managed to not take a picture of it). We won most cool initially, then after checking out all entries we won first place!


The next day we had our friends from Doha, who are now posted in Frankfurt! Over for a little pumpkin carving party. It had been a while since we had one of these with pumpkins being so pricey in Qatar and Fiji!


It was chilly carving outside, so we took a break and came in for some hot drinks and Richard's birthday cake (again, somehow no pictures of the cake. Clarissa did the baking and decorating this year, so I'll use that as my excuse. I typically take a picture when I finish).


Clarissa dressed up as Enola Holmes and the teen as a character from Bob's Burgers (I've never watched that show, so IDK).

I took a couple day trips (more on those later). The teen turned 17! Can you believe it! 

My birthday came and went. We all went out to eat one Friday evening at a little Italian place up the street to celebrate everyone's birthdays. We celebrated Thanksgiving. We invited a friend of ours from the hood over....we knew her back when we lived in Tbilisi......(start singing "It's a small world after all......")


As you can see, already putting some of that Polish pottery to use! Then it was time for Christmas and Christmas markets.....so stayed tuned :)