Update from Germany, TEIL ZWEI

Karlsruhe Travel Blog

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'll try to remember all the fun stuff I've done since we last spoke. I'll start with the co-ed naked baths that I went to. You heard me right! This won't be a shock or surprise to anyone who has lived in Germany for a while, but for those that don't the public baths here are "roman" style, aka everyone is in the buff. One thing that I really miss about New York is that there are seemingly limitless options for pampering yourself. I miss the massages, pedis, manis, scrubs, etc, etc. People don't really do that stuff very often here. So in searching for an outlet for relaxation and mellowing out, I came across the baths in Baden-Baden (which is German for baths-baths, go figure).

There are 3 different facilities you can choose from in Baden-Baden for bathing (which includes sauna, thermal baths, cold showers, naps, hot-air rooms). There is Friedrichsbad, which both Queen Victoria and Mark Twain have visited and is in a beautiful building with tile murals inside and boasts a pool with a domed ceiling. There are the Caracalla baths, which is newer and a little more family-oriented, from my understanding. There is also Arenavita, which is more like an American-style spa and fitness studio. You can read more about them here: http://www.carasana.de/home/en/roemisch.html, http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/destinations/germany/baden.htm.

So I psych myself into going. I choose a Sunday morning, even though I know that Sunday is the only day that the baths are fully co-ed from start to finish. There's little chance of me seeing anyone I know, I figure, so why not! There's no line to buy a ticket when I arrive, and the lady behind the counter tells me to take the stairs and at the top to the left I'll find the women's changing rooms. Fine. I walk up, enter the locker room and try to be extra-careful that I am walking into the right door. I do this because in nearly every foreign country I've visited, I've somehow managed to wander accidentally into a men's room at least once (I even did this at work in Karlsruhe- twice). So, what's the first thing I see when I look for a free locker? Two totally naked dudes. I freak out and hand over my ticket and go all the way out and back downstairs to the lady behind the counter.

I ask her if the women's locker room is indeed up the stairs to the left. Oh no, she says, today it doesn't matter. So, she gives me another ticket and up I head to the co-ed locker rooms of doom. I get changed and walk into the spa without a stitch on. If you try to wear something, you will get turned away. At first it was weird, then it was funny, then I was so relaxed that I just didn't care. I stayed for almost the entire 3 hours allotted per visit. The only downside were the snoring men in the nap room at the end of the bath sequence. Too bad there's nowhere to stash earplugs.

I'm lucky enough to have a company car to use while I'm here. It's a VW minivan, but I'm not complaining because it has automatic transmission and hey, it's wheels. However, if I don't get a German license to drive I will have to turn it in. Which is easier said that done. In order for me to get a German license, I have to just complete these simple steps: get an 'official' translation of my NY license into German, take driving lessons, take a first aid course (in German, natch), take a test, submit hair samples and submit to a full body cavity search. OK, not the last 2, but still.

I've also found some German pop music that I like. There is a group called Fettes Brot (Fat Bread) that is like a German version of the Beastie Boys. Their song "Bettina" rocks. There are also 2 German drinking songs that I am quite fond of: "Finger im Po, Mexiko", which means "Finger up my butt, Mexico", and "Ich bin ein Doener", which means "I am a tasty Turkish sandwich". Google all of them - you won't be sorry that you did.

OK, I've run out of steam. I promise more stories to come. Holla at me sometime!
themouse says:
I remember having an almost identical experience, I was staying at a hotel in Germany and could not speak but a handful of words in German. I remember walking into a locker that I thought was the men's locker room for the pool and then I saw two women partially undressed. I quickly left .. thinking I was going to be arrested and wound up finding the sauna. In the sauna area was a nude couple and then I noticed, another woman saw me there and she just casually continued to get undressed. At that point, I did the same. It was a bit uncomfortable at first - my first real experience with mixed sex nudity - but after a few minutes it was a relaxed sureal experience.
Posted on: Mar 19, 2008
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Hey there people!
I hope everyone is having a good 2008 so far. For those of you are wondering what the heck I'm doing in a far-out country called GERMANY, I'll explain. For those of you who do know why I'm here, I'll tell you what I've been up to once I've caught everyone up. My goal is to regularly send updates chronicling my adventures here. I'll apologize up-front for any typos, because my keyboard at work is the German standard and my Mac keyboard is US-standard. So I may occasionally reverse y's and z's, or forget how to spell simple English words. I may also begin to speak English the way that Germans speak English. This is my greatest fear.

So, I was sent here on assignment by my company, Pfizer (or Pfiyer as I might on occasion tzpe). Right now, our Germany HQ is based in Karlsruhe, which is apparently not sexy enough for the company that makes Viagra. Sometime this summer, we're supposed to drag-and-drop our operations to the poor but sexy city of Berlin. We'll be located right in the middle of all the action in Potsdamer Platz. While it's pretty sad that a lot of people from Pfizer Karlsruhe won't be relocating to Berlin (because Germans aren't that mobile and it's kind like asking people to move from Omaha to Manhattan), I couldn't be more excited to go there. Ever since I visited Berlin for the first time 6 years ago, I have wanted to go back and live there. My role at work is to assist with the relocation from an HR perspective. I'm also working on a few projects.

But that's not the interesting stuff! Living in Germany is kind of fascinating. They're not too unlike us but it's the subtle differences that make things interesting. Such as! Apparently there are only a few German rock bands that matter. They are: Die Artze, Die Toten Hosen, Tokio Hotel and Nena. They all kind of suck. Nena has more recently been re-discovered and Tokio Hotel is the latest big thing. They're like a hybrid emo/hair band/glam rock band. All of the worst music trends of the last 30 years rolled into one. I listen to German pop radio on the way to work, and it seems that they've just discovered "Gangster's Paradise", because I hear it every day.

Then there's the recycling. I have FOUR garbage bins. One for biodegradable trash, one for paper, one for plastic and one for anything else that doesn't fit into one of those 3 categories. You are expected to recycle anything that can possibly be recycled. While I appreciate the earnest effort to conserve, I can't help but wonder if most of this stuff winds up on a barge circling South Korea.

Yesterday I joined a gym, or "fitness club" as they're called here. It's actually really nice. It will be interesting to take classes there. In New York I had joined the Church Street Boxing Gym, which I loved. I looked for a boxing gym here in Karlsruhe, but the city is probably too small to have a gym dedicated solely to boxing. I'll have better luck when I get to Berlin.

Getting yourself situated you were in your home country is a slow and evolving process. My phone and internet took 2 months to get set up. That really stunk. I would stay late at work to use the connectivity there, but I found out the hard way that my building closes at 7:30PM. In Germany there are laws that regulate how many hours should pass between the time that you leave work and the time that you start the next day. In order to ensure that we don't violate that time, we close our buildings. So, one night at 9:15, I found myself locked in at work. I didn't know the number to security to call someone to release me, and I didn't really want to call the fire department or the police. So I went to the front entrance, pushed as hard as I could, and liberated myself. I really didn't want to spend the night there, but the thought did cross my mind.

It's been a great experience so far. The people are really the nicest and the folks at work have been extremely helpful. I'm also getting German lessons 3x/week so hopefully I'll be semi-fluent soon. So, have a good start to the year, and if you're ever in this corner of the world just let me know!!!

mit freundlichen Gruessen aus Karlsruhe,
Linda
global2008 says:
Please also contact me at shelley05@gmail.com
Posted on: May 07, 2008
global2008 says:
Linda,

I will move to Karlsruhe December 2008. I was hoping you could give me some suggestions on finding a job in Karlsruhe or around the area. Most of my work experience is carpentry, care taker and project administrator. I just graduated with a degree in Economics/ Business minor. Thanks for your help.
Posted on: May 07, 2008
976 km (606 miles) traveled
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