Tuesday, January 22, 2008

German oddities

We have had heck of a time getting mail, especially when I first moved here. There are all kinds of hoops to jump through being an international couple. We had to get our marriage license translated, apostilled - which is basically a state level certification that it is indeed legit, and plenty meetings at the Kreisverwaltungsreferat.

While we were living in Frankfurt for two weeks, I had to pick up our translated copies near the train station. That was an experience. Train stations are typically not the best areas to be around, I've never felt unsafe, but they seem to draw unsavory characters that make me not want to linger too long. Or in Munich, they draw people like Gollum.

Frankfurt has a seedy train station, probably because it's so close to their red light district. A rather large red light district thanks to all of the business and banking that goes on there. Of course I had to venture through this area because our translations were waiting for me to pick them up. As I turned onto the street, there were 2 shady men – across from a school getting high. I really wouldn't be surprised if they were smoking crack. These are the efforts I had to go through to get these translations. The photo above is the more tourist friendly Römer in downtown Frankfurt.

Back to the mail situation - my mother had mailed our memory copy marriage license, which Stefan also paid to get translated. I left it behind because it wasn't official enough and I had loads of other copies, but he still thought we should have it. Over a year and a half later, it still has never arrived. Fortunately it wasn't necessary for me to be legal here, although I would still like to have it. The package also contained my expensive makeup brushes and some Oreos. I would love to know where it is. My family also sent a card for our one year anniversary, which was also sacrificed to the Deutsche Post.

I was reminded of this because we recently received a postcard stating our wedding photos were in - the same wedding photos that we ordered online around November 2006. We had stopped to get them several times and were told they didn't have them. It's really quite comical.

A couple more comical things. I noticed this at a grocery where Stefan purchased some meat. The meat counter had a rather offensive name (pictured on the actual receipt). English is widely spoken here or at least understood - this is a bit crazy for me to comprehend how they would name their deli something so offensive.

And finally... a great story about miscommunication. Many people are happy to speak English . However, people make small errors on occasion, such as my mother in law saying 'remember me' rather than 'remind me'. It's rather endearing and sweet. I am sure I make many more mistakes in German.

One of Stefan's co-workers fell into this trap, in a horrible place... at border and customs checking while entering the US. The passport control agent was looking at his passport and uncertain of what was going on the coworker said, 'Do you have a problem?' (this is how it would be said as a direct translation from German). The passport control man said, 'No, but now you do.' He was sent for a second screening and learned the hard way. Moments like those you never forget - or repeat!

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