We made it and the trip was easier than expected! Check-in at Baltimore-Washington International was the worst part. We stood in line for 2 hours along with the over 400 others on our flight and all our luggage (carry on & checked) which weighed over 225 lbs. Brock, however, loved it! He had the time of his life checking out all the people, pets, and planes hanging overhead in the terminal.
Our flight was all military members & family members moving to Europe and a unit of soldiers deploying to Kuwait. The flight was operated by Atlas Air and was 6 ½ hours on a HUGE airplane. There was an upper level of about 20 rows of seats, and we were in row 47 of 60 something on the main level (7 seats per row with 2 aisles). Boarding was interesting. Colonels & higher boarded first, then families with small children, and then the rest (I guess since we were already on board). Thank God we got on early! It was so hard to carry Brock in the car seat along with our carry-on baggage, I swear the isles were more narrow than normal.
We struggled a bit but Brock was an angel—aside for one detail that I hoped to avoid. Before they were even done boarding we were changing a poopy diaper in our seat. We found a changing table to use in the bathroom once we got going for the other changes though. There were a handful of other babies on-board and Brock was the best of all of them! He didn’t cry or scream once, was super happy, and slept most of the flight, even during take-off and landing.
Two meals were served, the first around 2am (NY time) and the second about an hour before landing. The first was a hot meal: chicken with gravy, potatoes and broccoli, or pasta, both served with coleslaw, dinner role, Tillamook cheese 🙂 and cracker, and a slice of chocolate cake. The second meal was a sandwich with chips, candy, and a fruit cup. Twice during the flight hot towels were passed, and we had a good selection of movies & live video of outside the plane to watch. The first land we could see was Ireland.
We landed at Ramstein Air Force Base just after 1pm local time, got through customs (which was easier than we thought), picked up our luggage and met our ride to Baumholder. Getting off the plane was more interesting than boarding! Colonels & higher first, then all the soldiers headed to Kuwait could leave, and then everyone else. The soldiers could leave their stuff because the same plane was taking them the rest of the way.
Our sponsor had a meeting so he sent someone else to pick us up at Ramstein. The drive to Baumholder was about 30 minutes and was really nice. Fil thinks it looks like Pennsylvania, I think he is crazy. The countryside was rolling green hills broken up by densely packed, small villages. This was all we have seen of Germany so far because we cannot leave post yet. Once our ID’s are linked to the system, and we have someone to drive us off post we will see more. Fil asked our driver how fast we were going in mph and he shrugged it off as “about 90”and we weren’t even the fastest on the road!
I think we were both a little surprised at how small Baumholder really is. Everything is within walking distance, but there is a bus we can take from the hotel to get where we need to on post. The hotel on post will be our home for a while, and hopefully we can move into a suite/family room soon! Currently they didn’t have any available so we have a regular room which is so small we can’t fit all our luggage in it. The worst part is that we are on the 3rd floor and there is no elevator! Poor Fil had to carry everything up the stairs while I stayed with Brock. Down the hall is a kitchen we can use to cook/ wash bottles, and downstairs is a laundry room we can use for free which is nice. I was especially thankful for the posting on the wall in the kitchen that translated the oven temperatures from Celsius to Fahrenheit for us!
Today, Fil started to in-process which means he checks in to a bunch of different offices like housing, finance, medical, and a bunch more. He got our APO mailbox set up, but we still have quite a list of things to do including getting phones, a local bank, buying a car, and finding a new home. We made it to the commissary (grocery store on post) and got a few things to hold us over. I didn’t look for baby stuff there but I also didn’t see anything so I’m pretty glad I brought over about a months supply of formula and 2 weeks worth of diapers.
Brock seems a little confused about times, but he is such a happy baby he is just fine. Last night he wanted to stay up until I held him to the window and he saw it was night time, then he slept for a bit. He didn’t sleep through the night but I am sure he (and we) will adjust. I couldn’t sleep last night either, but hopefully soon we all will get straightened out.
It is finally starting to sink in that we have moved to Europe. Everything is different- even the dial tones on the telephone! Nothing is in English and until we get cell phones we really feel like we have stepped back in time. All the buildings are really old, but very detailed and picturesque. It snowed last night and really made it feel like Christmas time in Germany. Everyone we have met so far is friendly and eager to help so it is really helping this transition.
Wish us luck to find a house soon or at least get a bigger hotel room!