St. Louis Checking In

While Raul has been truly hard at work and getting settled in Germany, I am staying busy here at home, especially working on my dissertation, which I want to finish as quickly as possible. But now that I have more time for myself, I have done some things for pleasure as well. I took two Continuing Education classes through the local community college which were about Forest Ecology and Agronomy, subjects that interest me. I also visited one of our state parks south of Saint Louis, Mastodon Historical Site. They have a few trails that I traversed. I normally like to be in nature alone and in the peace and quiet, but on the last trail the morning of my visit, a middle-aged woman intercepted me, warning that there was a large snake across the path. Once she realized that I was not fazed by snakes (only spiders) and was going to begin the trail, she attached herself to me, and thus we walked the mile together. No snake was sighted. I tried to be an attentive listener, so I was unable to pay attention to any of the scenery around me, but I did learn all about the lady’s children, her workout routine, and her plastic surgery plans.

Another morning, I went to Forest Park on a whim, something that I probably would not have done if Raul were here. Now, the time in the mornings that I used to spend packing his lunch or making his breakfast I can employ for whatever I want. It is one of the benefits that have arisen from our situation, but I cannot say that I would trade Raul permanently for the time to myself.

An additional delight that has lifted my mood since Raul has been gone is sighting animals. That same morning at Forest Park, I saw a turtle (my third-favorite animal) hustling toward a tree. I went over to him, but he felt me approaching and drew up his little legs and head into his shell so that I couldn’t see him. I left him alone and watched him from a distance as he cautiously exposed himself again. I also watch for rabbits (my second-favorite animal) around our house, which gives me great pleasure. They are very energetic in the morning and are not too hard to find. Finally, I have also spotted the resident fox who lives in a wooded area a short distance behind my house. He is very beautiful and graceful. I watched him bound over a tall fence with ease. And of course, his red hair, like mine, is a beauteous sight to behold indeed.

The upcoming weekend will bring my move into the house of my gracious parents-in-law, and then the cleaning, preparation, and selling of the house will commence.

Since it is already May 23rd in Germany, Happy Anniversary, Raul!

Andechs Monastery


Biergarten victuals

I’ve been here two weeks now, and today was my first trip to a Bavarian Biergarten. I don’t actually like beer, but I hiked three miles uphill to get to the Andechs Monastery and I was quite famished. So I decided to brave the line and have one of everything, even a beer. The food consisted of fries, bratwurst, bread, and grilled corn. Upon the recommendation of the young barkeep, I ordered a Weißbier which is wheat beer.

The beer is in the tall glass in the photo, and the mug contains Apfelschorle, a concoction of apple juice and sparkling water which I have come to appreciate. Later I also got a Johannisbeerschorle, which is the same thing, only made from currants instead of apples. All of the potions are locally brewed at the monastery.

I had low expectations for the beer, but it was actually not terrible. I probably wouldn’t drink it again.

Monastery Grounds

The grounds at the Andechs Monastery

The monastery I visited on this gorgeous day is located in a small town called Andechs, and sits atop a hill several miles from the neighboring town of Herrsching. Herrsching is the south-western terminus on the S8 suburban train line from Munich. Here is another view of the church:

The church exterior

Andechs church exterior

The interior was magnificently ornate:

Andechs church altar

Andechs church altar

For 1€, one can climb the church tower, which I did at a relaxed pace, having just hiked up the hill to the town itself. The tower does not have large windows, but there was a cool breeze at just the right interval, and the views at the top were worth the climb.

Ammersee from the top of the church tower

Ammersee from the top of the church tower

Ammersee is one of the numerous lakes in the region. This was the view of the lake from the tower. After eating, I hiked down toward the lake. I meandered along the shore back to Herrsching, where I barely missed the train to Munich. Good thing there are three per hour.

Monday is another public holiday, my second one so far. However, I will be working, along with part of the team. We want to finish an important part of our project before William, the other developer, leaves for vacation to China on Friday. We will receive an extra day of leave in exchange for working on the holiday.

I have set up my mobile phone with a German prepaid plan. The data part isn’t working yet, but I am working on getting that to work as well. I am also working on getting a local bank account, though this depends on some government bureaucracy, so it may take another week or two. I also need to start obtaining materials for the driver’s license test, and study them so I can get my German license. I’ve heard I need to do that within three months.

Right now, though, my priority is finding a place to live. Last week I had my first apartment viewing, for a potential place to live. I did not end up liking it, so at this point, I am still looking for a place. Lauren is helping me with that, so I am optimistic.

The Perfect Season to Move


Church next to the office

My new job is quite demanding. I never would have imagined that I’d be productive on day two, but I was already getting stuff done on even the first day. Our CEO Helmut wants to get stuff done quickly, so I’m thrown in the deep end and expected to sink or swim. That leaves me with no downtime during work, and my evenings are spent fending for myself, trying to get all my affairs settled.

Without a car or bicycle, I’m left with walking around the city, searching for essentials like grocery stores, house goods, and other such mundane necessities which no one needs to think about when one is settled. The area around my office is a joy to stroll around. With temperatures in the 60s and 70s, and plenty of sunshine, I am fortunate that I don’t have to contend with the freezing temperatures and copious snowfall Munich receives in winter, during this time of transition.

There is a lovely path next to a river which flows parallel to the main road leading to the Pasing train station:

Walk between train station and office

Walk between train station and office

The tracks coming from the station, which is roughly 200m to the left, pass above the river on the bridge in the photograph above. Most of the architecture I have seen around Munich so far is bland, other than the major buildings and churches. The homes and apartments look quite plain from the outside, compared to cities such as Vienna and Budapest. However, there are some pleasant surprises, such as this one, also from Pasing, the area where I work:

Stately home in Pasing

Stately home in Pasing

After work today, I scouted a laundromat in the area. It is 1.6km away on foot, which may explain why my predecessor in the office guest room just did his laundry in the sink here at the office. Or maybe he just wanted to save money.

Every day I try to get one essential settlement task done. Today, my goal is to research banking options and hopefully open an account on Friday, or early next week. Not tomorrow, because tomorrow is my first public holiday, and everything will be closed. I work three days, and I already have a day off.

Park and ride

Park and ride

I am looking forward to getting a bicycle. Munich is relatively flat, and it will make grocery shopping a lot easier. There are cyclists everywhere you look, on paths as well as on the roads, where drivers are courteous and pay attention to them.

The Rapture Hasn’t Occurred, but I Am Left Behind (for now)

As Raul commences his adventure in Germany, life still goes on back in Saint Louis but with an acute emptiness that was not present before.

We both have had to take responsibility for tasks that were the other’s before. In our marriage, it has generally been more efficient to divide up the labor. I do the cooking, for example, and Raul is in charge of our investments. Now we both have to do some things that we either did not desire to do in the past or that we are not accustomed to. Raul is now forced to cook for himself, and I had to retrieve some items from deep in the closet, a place I’m scared to go! We are both making sacrifices.

In the end though, despite the utter sorrow and profound pain of separation, in addition to those more trivial matters, we believe it will be worth it, in order to take advantage of this opportunity that will help us to effect our long-held dream of living abroad.

Munich will not make a perfect home, nor do I believe such a place exists, but it is one part of a fascinating world that we are eager to know.

Day One

My first day at the office was exciting. I met Radu, Diane, and William. I met Helmut yesterday after his wife Erika picked me up from the airport. Björn was also in the office today, and he cooked lunch for everyone. It was sausage with bread and a sauce/topping of diced tomatoes and maybe curry?

The office

The office

Tomorrow morning, Björn and I are going to the Kreisverwaltungsreferat to register my residence (Abmeldung), and get a work permit.

Here are my temporary accommodations, in the room adjacent to the workstations:

Guest room

Guest room

Guest room - desk

Guest room – desk

One Way Ticket

Today, I depart my home in St Louis, Missouri, United States, to settle in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. The last fortnight has been been a hustle of packing, moving, and goodbyes with friends and family.

My cubicle at my former job is cleaned out and ready to welcome its next vassal. No personal traces remain, other than the two portrait-oriented monitors I let stay turned.

I will arrive in Munich on Sunday morning, to be welcomed by the wife of one of my future coworkers, and I will be taken to my temporary guest room to get settled in. I start work the next day.

There are countless final, irrevocable crossroads. Even though I plan to visit the US at least yearly, I can scarcely imagine when I will see all of my wonderful friends again. Their lives will continue, just as mine, only now we will be separated by an ocean. I will miss my dear parents, brother, sisters-in-law, and mother- and father-in-law.

Most precious to me are the last days, hours, moments with my wife, until we see each other again in July. She will travel to Madrid, Spain in June, to do research for two weeks, then spend a month in Munich with me. I can’t wait!

Chocolate Train & Lausanne Photos

We spent one day on an excursion called the Chocolate Train. It included a train ride at sitting at the front of the train, getting the front-row view the conductor normally sees, a visit to a Gruyere cheese factory, and a Cailler chocolate factory. Click the photo below for the full album.

The weather was perfect for lunch outdoors in the town of Gruyères. Yum, Orangina!

Zermatt Photos

The photos from our stay in Zermatt are ready. Unfortunately, the Glacier Paradise lifts were closed for maintenance while we were there, but we did take the Gornergrat train, and photos from that journey are included. Click the image below to see the full album.


The impressive Matterhorn behind equally impressive Swiss engineering.