Tuesday, 18 August 2009

D-Day minus one...

All in all a most pleasant way to spend the last day before I begin my employment proper. I tidied up the last few bits of necessary admin this morning. And goodness, some of the things you think are going to be quite straightforward, such as opening a bog-standard bank account, turn out to be somewhat different here in Germany. I had no idea, coming from England, that such things as local banks still existed. Well, they do. I was 90% of the way to signing up with the Sparkasse on the corner before they proudly announced (took me a few minutes to catch up, mind, but got there in the end) that their bank cards could get money out of more than a hundred holes-in-the-wall!!! I thought for a second. "More than a hundred?". "Yes! We have them all over the region!" (Said in tones of great pride.) However I'm hoping I'm going to be doing a bit of travelling all over Germany, and it would be useful to be able to, say, eat, in some of the towns. So I eventually took my business to a nationwide bank (I checked on the internet), where an extremely helpful lady helped me overcome all the computer's misgivings about dealing with a foreigner. ("Place of issue of passport?" "Erm, there isn't one, we don't do it like that in England." "Hmm, well how about we put London?" - How fabulous! Was not expecting that degree of helpfulness). Anyway, I have collected enough bits of paper, long numbers, and even-longer German names for said bits of paper etc, and thought I deserved a day at the outdoor pool.

These outdoor pools are wonderful. €3 a day for an adult, less if you bowl up after teatime, plenty of room to actually swim (please take note, English lidos) and huge amounts of grass to lounge around on and read books until you turn slightly pink. Jolly interesting to note the number of pallid Germans who roasted all day, seemingly without suncream, without burning. They are made of stern stuff! Despite my Tuscan holiday, a few hours' sun was enough for me, and after several final lengths of the pool, I retired gracefully. (Well, I say I retired gracefully.
It would probably have been slightly more graceful without the interlude where I accidentally bought a locker for the season instead of a season ticket, and had to weasel my way out of that one, but hey, who's to know?).

After scrubbing up a touch I headed for town to meet one of my colleagues-to-be, who had generously agreed to a glass of wine and a few pointers. She was generous, hugely funny and enjoyed the odd glass of wine - the perfect colleague? One of the great advantages of the 21st century, I think, being able to get in touch with friends of friends so easily; I felt very reassured after having met her.

As may be obvious, I did justice to a few glasses, then headed home for dinner (hooray! chanterelle mushrooms on sale!) before retiring to what hopefully, given last night's apocalyptic visions (the very very least of which was the absolute conviction my bike had been stolen; I crept down at dawn to see, only to find it guarded by a red squirrel - what a good omen!), will be a restful night's sleep before the dawn of this fresh adventure.

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