Friday, March 31, 2006

Like a cool breeze blowing over a still lake...

And just like that, Belinda has her work permit, and everything is good in the world again.

Well, not quite just like that, but close enough. We did have one moment of panic, when the guy at the Ausländerbehörde seemed to be indicating that he needed my passport, but I hadn't brought it with me. A quick flurry of German back and forth, and the problem seemed to go away. Now only if I could have understood what I said, I might know what fixed the problem... :)

Anyway, alles gut in the neighbourhood. :)


Thursday, March 30, 2006

Work close!

So, yesterday we received an email to say that Belinda's work permit has finally come through, and we can go to the Rathaus and pick it up. :)

So, this morning we get up at 06:00, have breakfast and stuff, and head to the Rathaus at 07:00. Firstly, we cannot remember which floor the Ausländerbehörde is on, so we search level 2, level 3, and finally remember that it is on level 1. We have only been here what, 3 or 4 times in the last 6 months - surely we should be able to do this with our eyes closed by now!

As I said, we locate the Ausländerbehörde on level 1, and as we are walking down the corridor, somebody says to us (in German, but translated...) "We are closed today, unless you have an appointment". YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME, RIGHT?!?!

I should have known that something would just wouldn't be a Brush and Bel experience otherwise. Oh well, guess we try again tomorrow...and hopefully the stars will align for us. :)


Monday, March 27, 2006

Stoopid license questions

As promised, here are a selection of stoopid German license questions:

Q: Immediately before setting off you have felt very angry and you are furious. What is right?
  1. You should not drive when you are furious.
  2. You set off and get rid of your anger while driving.

Q: You had to follow a car travelling rather slowly on a country road for some time. This annoyed you and you can finally overtake. What do you do?
  1. You reprimand the dawdling driver by cutting in front of him after overtaking.
  2. You control your annoyance and overtake. You keep a sufficient distance, also when changing back into the right-hand lane.

Q: What do you think of drivers who travel too fast under pressure of time and do not observe speed regulations?
  1. One should be indulgent towards them since they are in a hurry.
  2. Pressure of time is no justification for ignoring traffic regulations.

Q: You are overtaking a queue of cars on the autobahn. A car approaching very fast is pushing you. The driver flashes his headlights and uses his direction indicator to show that you should clear his way. What do you do?
  1. You teach the jostling driver a lesson and intentionally reduce your speed.
  2. ...
  3. ...

Q: Your vehicle loses oil. How much drinking water can be polluted by a single drop of oil? Up to:
  1. 600 litres
  2. 50 litres
  3. 1 litre

Q: A car with a young driver has stopped next to you at a red traffic light. He is playing with his accelerator and obviously intends to start first and shake you off when the lights change. How do you react?
  1. You take up the challenge and try to do the same.
  2. You ignore the challenge, remain cool and let the other car drive off.

Q: What should you avoid for reasons of environmental protection?
  1. Letting the engine warm up when the vehicle is stationary.
  2. Unnecessary trips.
  3. Loud music with windows open.
(PS: The last option is one of the correct ones!)

Q: What must you reckon with when elderly people are crossing the roadway?
  1. The do not always pay attention to vehicle traffic.
  2. The often stop abruptly on the roadway.
  3. The often turn back in the middle of the roadway.

Q: Driving at night to the next discotheque by car, a group of young men and women wants to keep spirits high during the journey. They thus sing exuberantly, laugh and turn up the volume on the car radio. How should the driver of the car react in such a situation?
  1. Join in to avoid being a spoilsport.
  2. The driver responsible for safety must distance himself from the group in such a case and ask his passengers not to divert his attention.
  3. Further heat up the high spirits of the group by driving risky manoeuvres.

That's enough for now. There are many more, but I think you get the picture. :)


Day light savings

FYI Daylight saving time has started here so we are now have a 9 hour time difference between here and home. In a week or so when Aus changes it will be 8 hours. This note is especially for those who call and text message us - we love you, but not at 2am :-)

I am quite tired today because we turned our clocks the wrong way, so we thought we had a lot more time and accidently stayed up too late... So make sure you go the right way next weekend


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Getting warmer...

The title fits for two reasons:

1. I think that Spring is kinda trying to break through.
Last week it was still around 3C every day, but Monday this week brought an 11C day. Sure, today it snowed a little, and reached a top of about 5C, but I think it won't be long. I even saw a pair of crows humping outside my window at work today...frisky crows must be a sign of Spring, right?

2. We expect to have a warmer Christmas this year.
That's right, today we booked our flights home for Xmas. We will be leaving Germany on 15th December, and flying back on 13th January. So, break out the BBQs, the backyard cricket sets, and the tickets to a Boxing Day Test (if there is one), because BRUSHY'S COMIN' HOME! (Oh yeah, and Bel is coming too...)

But, of course, nothing could happen without an incident, so here are the incidents surrounding the Xmas home-coming:

1. Bel was able to arrange with her company to take 3 weeks of leave, and then work out of the Australian office for 1 week(hopefully). I tried this on with my boss, and he said that I work in Germany, and not in Australia, so I have to take it all as leave. Um...ok then...I will!

2. An unnamed airline, that my unnamed company might like to fly, has this weird thing with their frequent flier miles. I can transfer upto 60,000 miles from my account to other people each year, but I am limited to transfering a maximum of 15,000 to any one person. This means that I can't transfer enough miles over to Bel to make her flight free (though we have enough between us), so I am flying for free, and we are paying for Bel. You guys will accept that as your only form of Xmas present, right?

Finally, when we are home for Xmas - we have an assignment for the Evil lady from number 11. Your mission, if you chose to accept it - and you will - is to keep our German up to scratch. This means fun fun fun! Deal?


Monday, March 20, 2006

We are legal!

This morning, all of the stress, all of the bureaucracy, and most importantly, all of the wannabe Paris Hiltons in the Rathaus couldn't stand in our way - we passed our German Driver's License tests! :)

The driving instructor picked us up at 10:00 and drove us to the TüV for the test. There was another Chinese guy with us who was doing his test too, and he was actually the one behind the wheel.
When we got there, the instructor asked us if we had our passports...which luckily we did...but the other guy didn't. Turns out that you can't do your test without your passport, so he had to put in some urgent calls back home, and then meet a friend at the Bus Stop to pick it up.

Belinda went first, and passed with flying colours. I went second, and despite feeling like I was going to shit myself and throw-up from the nerves, managed to pass as well.

I just want to put it out there, that this is the 5th driving test that I have sat, across a total of 3 countries, AND I HAVE STILL NEVER HAD TO PARALLEL PARK IN A DRIVING TEST!!! :)

Coolest thing about the test is that they already have your license printed and ready to go, so if you pass, you get your own little plastic piece of 200km/h+ freedom to take with you there and then. It was soooo cool!

Oh yeah, and Belinda wanted me to mention that in the practise lesson on Saturday, the instructor got us to practise stopping by jumping as hard as we could on the brakes in a parking lot. It was cool fun. :)


Sunday, March 19, 2006


Every year in Germany there is a big Carnival on - kind of like in Rio but its freezing and there is Lederhosen.

We unfortunately didn't manage to get to any of the big parades but we did go to a nearby kids’ parade that our German teacher’s kids were in.

It was heaps of fun and luckily the weather was only freezing. The day of the adults’ parade it rained all day and night. During the parade the kids were throwing lollies into the crowd so we got to try a few German lollies - we felt ill by the end :-)

The plan for the day was that we would meet our teachers house and go with them, we didn't realise that part of their plan was also that we would dress up... Brett initially declined the offer, but I was nagged into it so I was given the first costume, then we all finally convinced Brett to also dress up (I couldn't be dressed up alone) so he got the second costume...

So I am a devil (Teufel), and Brett is a Scarecrow (Vogelscheuche). We had our faces painted largely by a 7 year old and the costume used to belong the the 7 and 4 year old...

I got these three photos up - there are more to come of the parade but blogger is misbehaving again


Eine neue Jacke und einen Haarschnitt für Belinda

Gestern hat Belinda einen Haarschnitt bekommen. Es war das Erstes Mal, seit wir nach Deutschland gekommen sind. Auch hat sie eine neue Skijacke gekauft, aber ich denke, daß sie die bevor nächstes Jahr nicht benutzen wird, weil ich denke, daß Frühling schließlich angekommen hat.

Sorry about that, but I feel that I am out of practise, so I thought I would pound the first bit out in German. Well, here it is in English:
Yesterday Belinda got a haircut. It was the first time since we came to Germany. She also bought a new ski jacket, but I think that she won't use it before next year, because I think that spring has finally arrived.


Skiing in the Alps

Last weekend Belinda, Anita, and I piled into the car and headed to the Fellhornbahn, on the border with Austria, to do a little skiing.

The drive on the way down was full of fun and challenges because the water in the windscreen wiper washers had completely frozen (it was around -8C). This meant that we couldn't clear the windscreen of all the snow and salt that was being thrown up off the road.
One solution that did work for a while, was driving quite close to the car in front before overtaking it. This way the car would flick up water onto our windscreen, and we could then use it to clear the windows. Inventive, huh?

Apparently we weren't the only ones that this was happening too. When we stopped at a roadhouse on the autobahn, there were heaps of cars there cleaning their windscreens, adding anti-freeze stuff to the washer reservoir, etc. Problem is, once the water is frozen, the anti-freeze doesn't actually acheive anything, so we all kept on driving essentially blind. It wasn't any better on the way back either, with us stopping every now and then to pour water onto the windscreen to clear it.

Anyway, Fellhornbahn was kick-arse! Lift lines were basically non-existant, the snow was in awesome condition, and the runs also weren't too crowded. If there was one complaint, it was that there was too much snow, so the runs did chop up into bumps later in the day - oh well, it's a nice problem to have. :)

At one point in the morning, I missed a turn on a run, and ended up leaving the piste. This was cool for a while - while the snow was only knee deep - but kinda sucked when it got waist deep and I didn't have enough speed to keep going. It took me about 10min to dig myself out and hike back down to the trail. :)

In the afternoon, we were a little late getting off the mountain. Last run is at 16:30, and the last Gondolla down was at 17:00. We were coming down our final run when we heard a constant beeping, and looked up to see the groomers coming up the trail. We had to bail off the trail, and Belinda ended up chest-deep in snow. It took her and Anita about 10min to dig and drag her out, and we only just made it down in time for the last Gondolla.

Here are some pics:


Thursday, March 02, 2006

The License saga continues...

Greetings, loyal readers!

So, remember a while back we informed you about registering for our license, doing the eye test, the first aid course, etc? Well, yesterday was the first part of the actual testing for the license - the theory test.


*** Warning! This is a long one!!! ***

Firstly, we thought that we were doing the theory test on Monday night at our Driving School. So, we studied all weekend, I worried myself nearly sick about the thing, and then we turned up on Monday night, only to find out that this was the Pre-test Test. The Driving School likes to test you before you go and do the real test, so that they are sure that you know your stuff, and won't make them look stupid by getting everything wrong.

So, Wednesday morning at 07:00 we turn up at the TüV to do our written test. First we wait outside for ages, in below 0C weather, until the Driving Instructor turns up. He lets us into the test room, and we wait, with around another 8 people, for the examiner to turn up.

While we were waiting, the Instructor informs us that when we registered, we didn't give the Town Hall our Australian Drivers Licenses, so they have registered us as normal Germans going for a license. This means that they expect us to have 20hrs of supervised driving training, in the city, in the country, and at night. The Driving Instructor says that it's not a problem - we will just go to the Town Hall and fix it after the test.

Finally the examiner turns up, nearly 1hr late. Well, I should say "another examiner" turned up, as the original one turned out to be sick - is it a coincidense that this was the day after Karnival (a big arsed piss up and parade)?
Belinda and I get out papers, sit down, and do the test. There were a couple of questions that I was to-ing and fro-ing with, but mainly it was pretty easy.

We both took our papers up to the examiner and returned to our seats. The other ppl
were still doing their tests, but the instructor still announced very loudly that I had passed mine with no failure points (Questions are worth different numbers of points between 2 and 5, and you can get up to 9 points wrong - there are 30 questions on the paper). The examiner also said that I could go, but I waited in my seat for Belinda's to be marked. And I waited. And I waited. And I waited.

Belinda started worrying when she heard the examiner counting failure points, because when we took our papers up, we were the only two papers submitted so far. While he was marking mine though, other ppl had put theirs on top of Belinda's. So, the examiner marked a few other papers, failing a couple of people along the way.
Eventually our Instructor came back into the room (he had gone outside for some reason), and asked if we were finished. I told him that mine had been marked, but we were waiting for Belinda's. He went up to the examiner and asked him about our tests, and I heard him say (in German), that he had already marked them and told both of us that we had passed, and that we could leave! *cough* BULLSHIT *cough* The worst part of it though, was that he added "but they mustn't understand German!". GGF MoFo! I understood you perfectly, but YOU NEVER TOLD BELINDA IF SHE PASSED OR NOT! DU BIST EIN ARSCHLOCH!

So, then we leave with the Instructor, and we go to the Town Hall. We go into one of the offices and talk (or the Instructor does) with a lady there about the whole situation. She asks if we have our registration papers, but they were at home (who would carry them with them??), so we had to go home and get them.

We then drove to our house, and the Instructor waited at his driving school for us to return. He photocopied our licenses in the meantime, so that we could give the copy to the Town Hall so that they could check on our driving record etc.

When we returned, the Instructor told us that he couldn't come back to the Town Hall with us, but all we had to do was take the copies into the girls in the License Registration-room-thingy and it would be we did....BUT!...

When we entered the room (and all this happened in German), they said "You are the Australians, right?". We said that we were, and their boss said "There are a few problems. Do you understand me?" I said "Yes, we understand a little German", to which he replied "It is best that you come back with somebody who speaks German." WTF??? So I call the Instructor and he talks with the boss on the phone. The boss then says (now in English) "Go and drink a coffee, and come back at 11:30." It was 10:15. So we left.

At 11:30 we returned, and went back into the processing room. The girls did the initial work on re-processing our registration for the license, and then asked for our Australian license. I gave the girl (who looked like she was trying to be Paris Hilton) the copy of mine, and the original...she gave me the copy back. I was a little confused, and asked "Can I have the original back?"... (the following conversation was mainly in English)

Paris: "No, we keep it."
Me: "Why?"
Paris: "Because that's what we do. You will be getting a German license instead."
Me: "But what if I return to Australia?"
Paris: "You can drive there on an international license."
Me: "But you can only drive for a few months on an international license in Australia! What if we go back for good?"
Paris: "You come back here and give us your German license, and we give your Australian license back."
Me: "And if I return to Germany?"
Paris: "Then you give us the Australian one, and you get your German one back."
Me: "But, if you take our Australian license, and we haven't got our German one yet, how can we drive? We won't have a license!"
Paris: "You can show the police the photocopy."

So, kinda confused, and kinda worried, we leave the processing room - Australian License-less. First thing that I did was call our relocation consultant and ask what was going on. She said that this is "normal" in Germany, but that the Town Hall should have given us a letter saying that our Australian licenses are at the Town Hall, in case the Police pull us over...but they didn't. Luckily I still have my Californian license, but now Belinda has nothing.

Today I received a call from our relocation consultant to say that she had spoken with the Instructor and he is pissed at the Town Hall. He is fairly pissed at them because they are claiming that we never gave them our licenses the first time we registered, and hence it is our fault. Of course, this is a load of bollocks, as I know I gave it to Paris (she processed me the first time too), and she said that they didn't need it. BITCH!

Now, to make matters worse, it apparently takes the Town Hall 3 weeks to do the background-check-thingy...and we only have 4 weeks left before we are no longer allowed to drive in Germany on an internation license. Tic toc....tic toc....tic toc... Hopefully they will be faster than usual with the processing, and hopefully everything else goes smoothly, or I won't be able to do my job anymore. An AE without a car is like...well, something really bad.