American Spouses of GK Polish Pottery Bunco – Mon, Sept 7

Open to any Americans stationed at Geilenkirchen.

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International Spouses Club of GK Open House Night – Thurs, Sept 17

Open to all spouses stationed at Geilenkirchen.

Opening Night flyer3

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American Football Team – Maastricht Wildcats

Do you miss watching neighborhood football games at the local high school? There are some football entertainment options in the area for you. I’ve already posted some information about the American football teams in Cologne. There is also an adult team in Maastricht that you can follow.

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The Maastricht Wildcats is also recruiting new members for their team. You can sign up for a practice session on their website.  The new season should be starting in the fall, so follow their Facebook page to keep up to date with the details.

They regularly meet at Sportpark West in Maastricht at Negenputruwe 1-5, Maastricht, NL

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NL Train Ticket Sale at Albert Heijn – 17 euro

This sale is over, but tickets bought from this sale are valid until October 4. This post is for reference only.

Price: 17 euro

Can be used on Saturdays and Sundays all day or Monday-Friday after 0900.

Sale begins on August 10 and continues while supplies last or until August 23.

Tickets are valid until October 4.

Kids under 4 years old ride free.

The tickets is good for one adult.  If you have children between 4-11 years old, you can use a Railrunner day ticket, which are sold at kiosks for €2,50.

More information can be found here. You can buy tickets in stores (“AH to go” stores in train stations excluded).

What you buy in the store is the actual ticket. The ticket has a chip inside that you use to check-in and check out of the train system. The ticket is good for one day throughout the Netherlands for as many stops as you want until midnight.

First time using these tickets? Check out this post about the Dutch train system.

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Schinnen Trip Trout Fishing in NL – Sat, Sept 12

FAMILY DAY “TROUT FISHING”
PRICE: $35.00 per person

Included in tour price:
Transportation to and from fishing location, gutting & cleaning of the fish.

We depart Schinnen at 0730hrs,
arrival at fishing site 0800hrs,
depart fishing site 1300hrs,
arrival back in Schinnen at 1330hrs.

NO RODS & REELS INCLUDED !!!!!
ALL CAUGHT TROUTS WILL BE COLLECTED AND EVENLY DIVIDED
LIMITED SPACES AVAILABLE !!!!!!

Register with FULL payment per person at the Outdoor Recreation/Trips & Tours office located in building 46 in Schinnen.

Itineraries are subject to revision and improvement.

All arrival and return times are approximate.

ALL PRICES ARE IN US DOLLARS

THEY WILL ACCEPT CASH/CHECK/VISA/MASTERCARD CREDIT/DEBIT CARDS FOR PAYMENTS FOR ALL TRIPS.

IF YOU REQUIRE MORE INFO ON THIS TRIP PLEASE CONTACT OUTDOOR RECREATION.

USAG Schinnen Outdoor Recreation (Building 46)
Trips & Tours
DSN 360-7560
CIV 0031 (0)46 443 7560

(10) Trout fishing in th...therlands 12 Sep 15

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German Language Course for Children – Starts Sept 3

VOLKSHOCHSCHUL LANGUAGE TRAINING GERMAN FOR CHILDREN

The program is especially designed to integrate children from other countries into the German Kindergarten and Grundschule. Individual tuition in small groups for children aged 5 and up is in accordance with the curriculum of the German school system. Classes are held at the IYA on Thursdays, 1500 – 1630 or 1630 – 1800, under the experienced and certified instruction of Manuela Beck. Cost is € 45 for an eight-week course. Registration and further information at the IYA Office, x 4955 or 0049 2451 63 4955.

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IYA Mixed Martial Arts – Starts Aug 17

Open to all NATO ID card holders. Contact IYA at +49 (0)2451-63-4955 for more details.

IYA flyer

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IYA Swimming Courses – Sept 9 to Dec 9

Open to all NATO ID card holders. Contact IYA at +49 (0)2451-63-4955 for more details.

IYA flyer_001

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IYA Language Course Registration – Sept 9-11

Open to all NATO ID card holders. Contact IYA at +49 (0)2451-63-4955 for more details. Registration for Beginners courses must be done in advance at the IYA office in Building 95 from 9 to 11 September, 1000-1200. All other courses can be registered for on the first day of class.

A separate company offers evening language courses at the Brunssum ICC. More information on that should be out soon. (Dutch, German, English, French, Spanish and Italian)

Classes are held in Bldg 141 on NAB GK. Register in class.
GERMAN – the basic price is € 94 for 24 mornings/evenings:
A1.1 – Beginners, Schritte plus 1:
Tue & Thu, 0900 – 1030, Room 109.
Mon & Wed, 1900 – 2030, Room 118.
A1.2 – Advanced Beginners, Schritte plus 2:
Tue & Thu, 1030 – 1200, Room 109.
Mon & Wed, 1730 – 1900, Room 118, starting with Lesson 11.
A2.1 – Pre-Intermediate, Schritte plus 3:
Mon & Wed, 0900 – 1030, Room 109.
ENGLISH Tuesdays, Room 118, the basic price is € 47 for 12 mornings:
A1.1 – Beginners, New English File Beginner 1, 0900 – 1030.
A2.1 – Pre-Intermediate, New English File Pre-Intermediate, 1030 – 1200.

IYA flyer_002

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IYA Trip to Bruges – Sat, Sept 12

Open to all NATO ID card holders and their guests. Contact IYA at +49 (0)2451-63-4955 for more details.IYA flyer_004

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Dangerous and Poisonous Plants in Germany

Living in a different country also means encountering plants that you may have never seen before. Here are some plants to watch out for.

Don’t touch these plants

Stinging Nettle – You’ll find stinging nettle along paths, in gardens, in fields and pretty much everywhere else. They are generally between 3 to 7 feet tall in the summer and die off in the winter. This plant has tiny needle like hairs that will stick in your skin and inject several chemicals that will cause your skin to burn and itch. This effect can last from a few minutes to a few days.

Brennnessel_1

“Brennnessel 1”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brennnessel_1.JPG#/media/File:Brennnessel_1.JPG

Giant Hogweed – This plant can grow to be between 6 and 18 feet tall. The sap of this plant causes the skin to become hypersensitive to UV light (phytophotodermatitis). If you are spending the day outdoors, the amount of sunlight exposure can cause severe sunburns in affected areas, leading to blisters.

Herkulesstaude_fg01

“Herkulesstaude fg01” by Fritz Geller-Grimm – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Herkulesstaude_fg01.jpg#/media/File:Herkulesstaude_fg01.jpg

Poisonous Plants

The writers over at Living in Germany have a great listing of poisonous plants with pictures. This is especially important for those of you with children or pets that go outside.

 

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NL Train Ticket Sale – 19,90 euro for 2 people

This sale is over. This post is for reference only.

Note: These tickets can be purchased online at www.etos.nl. Tickets are not available at Etos station stores. They may be available at Etos stores not near a train station, but I have not verified this.

Price: 19,90 euro

Can be used on Saturdays and Sundays after 1100 and on weekdays after 1100.

Sale starts on July 6 and continues while supplies last or until July 27.

Tickets are valid between August 10 and November 1.

Only valid for 2 people travelling together, each with a valid ticket. Kids under 4 years old ride free. If you have additional kids between 4 and 11 years old you can use a Railrunner card (day pass), which are sold at kiosks for €2,50.

More information can be found here. You can’t buy tickets at Etos Station stores.

First time using these tickets? Check out this post about the Dutch train system.

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Cafe Bagett – Heinsberg

Cafe Bagett is just off of the main shopping street in Heinsberg. As you might expect from the name, the main fare here is sandwiches. Warm baguettes, cold baguettes, tosties, and salads are all on the menu, which you can view on their website. During the summer months, they have milkshakes available along with their drink and cafe menu. If you’re an early shopper, they also have a breakfast menu to choose from.

On my visit to Cafe Bagett, we tried one cold and one warm baguette. Both were delicious. The cafe is especially busy around lunchtime, so if they are full, expect to wait 20-30 minutes for your food. I think it was worth the wait.

Parking tip: There is a free parking lot on Schafhausener strasse that I have yet to see full. You can park there and cut across the paid parking lot just off of Ostpromenade to get to Cafe Baguette.

Patersgasse 19, Heinsberg
Mon – Fri 0900-1700
Sat 0900-1600
http://www.cafe-bagett.de/

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Happy Italy – Kerkrade

This restaurant suggestion was given by a fellow blog reader. Click here to find out how you can contribute to HereAtGK.

Happy Italy is a fast Italian restaurant located in the Leisure Dome complex in Kerkrade. It would make a great place to have a dinner and movie or have lunch with the kids, then have some fun at GlowGolf or Bowlo. Please note that the restaurant does not take cash. You must pay with a debit or credit card. The chip is not required in the card. See our reader’s review below.

Happy Italy
Open Daily at 1100
Roda JC Ring 2P
6466 NH Kerkrade
0031 (0)45-7440083

We were quite happy to discover Happy Italy.  It’s the kind of place that’s able to be family friendly but also is a great environment for all ages, and they have an amazing Pizza Nutella, so what’s not to love?

They have an English menu.  Yay!  They do mostly pasta and pizza, but there are several salads and paninis to choose too.  Everything is made fresh with fresh ingredients and comes out quickly.  The prices are great, and the portions are big.  The waiters are happy to put your leftovers in a pizza box or container to take away.  This is especially good because they offer yummy desserts, and you’ll want to make sure you have room.  On our first visit, the waitress recommended the Pollo con Extra pizza.  It has chicken and bell peppers and was a great recommendation.  My husband chose Pasta con Polpette, which comes with tomato sauce, meatballs, cherry tomatoes, and parmesan and was so delicious that he ordered it again when we went back. For dessert we have had the Pizza Nutella and the chocolate cake.  They’re both delicious, and we’ll be back to try the others.  We fed two adults plus a baby lunch and shared a desert, and we paid under 30 Euros and went home with leftovers.

There’s a nice bar area, but we haven’t checked that out.  It’s become our after church place, so we do sodas and a glass of milk for our little one.  There is a kids play area with a ball pit and things to climb on hidden away around the back corner.  There’s a changing table in the ladies room which can be tough to find around here and highchairs are available.

We saw what looked like a really fun kids birthday party happening on our last visit.  Every child got a pizza crust with sauce.  They brought bowls of topping and cheese to the tables for the kids to make their own pizzas.  Then they took them to the giant pizza ovens and cooked them for them.  It looked like everyone was having a great time.

Heads up, they DO NOT take cash.  However, we’ve had no issues using an American debit card without a chip.

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Oorlogsmuseum Overloon, NL – War Museum

Let me start by saying this is the biggest museum dedicated to World War 2 that I have ever seen. The amount of vehicles and history exhibits is huge. Oorlogsmuseum Overloon is between 1 and 1.5 hours away, depending on where you live around GK.

Overloon was the site of a major tank battle between the American and German troops in October 1944, which destroyed most of the town. The museum was originally set up to educate about the history of the battle, but has expanded to show the entire history of World War 2 from the Dutch perspective. Almost everything in the museum has an English explanation, though there are a few signs here and there only in Dutch and German. The museum also has a huge collection of both Allied and German vehicles, many of which were used at the Battle of Overloon.

The museum also hosts several events throughout the year, including Militracks in May and the Santa Fe event in June (In 2015 June 20 and 21). Militracks gives you the chance to ride in vehicles used in World War 2 for between 5 and 20 euro per ride. Jeeps, motorcycles, tanks and many other vehicles ride around the museum grounds on an exciting and bumpy route. The Santa Fe event will show what life was like behind the front lines. There will also be vehicles to ride in at this event and demonstrations of the Battle of Overloon.

Oorlogsmuseum Overloon
Museumpark 1, Overloon NL

Adults: 15 euro
Children (4-12 years old): 9 euro
3 and younger: Free
Museum Card Holders: Free

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American Football Games in Cologne – FREE!

There are three teams in the Cologne area that have teams for several age groups. Each team has their own website with the game schedule. Games are free to attend. There is also a team in Maastricht that I talk about in this post.

CrocodilesCologne Crocodiles (U11 to Adult Teams) – Adult Team Game Plan – Home Field at Merianstr. and Willi-Suth-Allee, 50769 Köln – Facebook Page

falcons_logoCologne Falcons (U14 to Adult Teams) – Adult Team Game Plan – Home Field at Ostkampfbahn, 50933 Köln – Facebook Page

falconetsCologne Falconets (Adult Women’s Team) – Adult Team Game Plan – Home Field at Ostkampfbahn, 50933 Köln – Facebook Page

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Classic Remise Dusseldorf – Classic Cars

There are plenty of benefits to living in Europe, but one of my favorites is being close to cars that we don’t get to see often back home. I like it even more when I can see these cars for free. We have one such opportunity in Dusseldorf at Classic Remise. The building, which was once used for trains, serves several functions. There are businesses along the outside perimeter relating to classic car sales, rentals and restorations. There are cars on display in the central area, most of which are for sale. The best part is, throughout the building are glass garages where people can store their cars where people can still enjoy looking at them. A restaurant is located in the center of it all.

There is free parking located on-site, so stop by next time you’re in the neighborhood.

Harffstraße 110a, Düsseldorf
Free Entry
Mon-Sat 0800-2000
Sun 1000-2000

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NL Train Ticket Sale at Kruidvat – 13.99 euro

This sale is over. The post is here for reference only.

Price: 13,99 euro for Train only or 16.49 euro for Train, Bus, Metro and Tram.

Can be used on Saturdays and Sundays only all day (until midnight).

Sale begins on May 12. Sale continues while supplies last or until May 24.

Tickets are valid May 16-July 12 or August 15-September 13.

This ticket is a chip card that must be scanned to check in and out of the train stations.

Kids under 4 years old ride free.

The ticket is good for one adult. If you have children between 4-11 years old, you can use a Railrunner day ticket, which is sold at kiosks for €2,50.

More information on this sale can be found here. You can buy tickets in store or online.

First time using these tickets? Check out this post about the Dutch train system.

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Park and Sell – Second Saturdays Apr-Oct

The park and sell is located on base at the US dental clinic on the second Saturday of the month and is open to all NATO ID card holders. It starts at 10am and can be used to buy or sell 220v items and other used items. For $5 (non-refundable) fee, you can park and sell all of your items to spring clean or PCS. If you are just moving here and need some new-to-you stuff, you can take a look around and find some great deals! This event usually runs from Apr-Oct time and is advertised by a sign on the right hand side as you enter base. Have fun treasure hunting!11149281_952226924807915_5961257611485810326_n(1)

Posted in Appliances, Businesses of GK families, Craft/Home decor, Furniture, Upcoming Events, Used items | 1 Comment

What to Buy and What to Leave Before Moving to Germany

Moving to a European country adds some complication when deciding what to bring with you on your PCS. Here are some guidelines. Of course, if you’re not sure, bring it with.

Things to Bring

Bed frames/Matresses/Sheets – German bed sizes are different from American sizes and AAFES selection for these items is limited. Size of items can also limit what you buy online.

Lamps – Your 110V American lamps can work over here with the addition of a plug adapter and a new 220V light bulb.

Duel Voltage Items – Check your TV, desktop computer, printer and other big ticket items for the text”100-240V and 50-60Hz”. Items may have a switch on the back to change voltages or the power cord might have a transformer box connected that allows you to use the item on European power. You may also be able to buy a new compatible power cord for some items, like a Wii. If your item is not duel voltage, you can still use it with a transformer, but it’s better to limit transformer use if you can.

Lawn mower/Yard tools – Most Europeans use electric lawn mowers, so if you have a good gas mower, bring it with.

Rugs – Most houses here are wood or tile flooring throughout. Carpet is rare. You can buy rugs here too if needed.

Grill – Grills can be expensive in Germany. If you already have one, bring it with. You can buy propane at several locations in the area.

All-Season Tires – Germany requires that cars have winter or all-season tires during winter weather. If you have summer tires, you will have to change to winter tires and back every year. Buying and installing will be cheaper in the States.

GSM Cell Phone – If your phone is GSM compatible, you should be able to get it unlocked by your current cell phone company or another service. You can then just switch to a new SIM card when you choose your new phone plan.

Specialty Food Items – Your favorite nonperishable rubs, spices, and sauces that you probably can’t get over here.

Things to Leave

110V Microwave/Toaster/Coffee Pot – It is better to buy 220V kitchen items that you use regularly. Transformers suck up the maximum wattage they are rated for while they are on, plus they take up valuable counter space. You can buy these items second hand for cheap or at a local store easily. If you’re not sure if you’ll use the item often, you can bring these items along and replace with 220 as needed.

Those Boxes in the Attic – The ones you haven’t seen since you moved into your last house. While most German houses in this area are big enough to store those items, don’t waste space and PCS weight on things you haven’t looked at in 3 years if you can avoid it.

Washer/Dryer – You will be issued a European washer and dryer to use for the duration of your tour. You also get an American sized fridge,  a closet sized wardrobe (1 per family member plus 1 extra for uniforms), and a kitchen cabinet/microwave shelf.

Plug-in Clocks – 110 clocks will run slow on European voltage.

Things to Bring on the Plane or Mail to Yourself

You can sign up for your APO Box 30 days prior to your PCS date. Your sponsor will need a copy of your orders to set this up.

Sheets/Towels/Pillows/Blankets – To use between moving out of temporary housing and receiving your household goods (HHG) shipment. You can get loaner furniture for this in-between time instead of using inflatable mattresses, but they don’t provide sheets.

Toys for the Kids – I think this is self explanatory.

Important Documents – Keep them on your person during the PCS. It’s good to have a digital back up copy too.

Clothes for the German Weather – The temperature in this area can vary widely. Check online weather sites prior to your arrival and pack accordingly. If you’re coming in the summer, it is still wise to pack a sweater or fleece, just in case. Raincoats are nice to have on drizzly days too.

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Schinnen NFL Trip to London – Lions vs. Chiefs – Oct 31-Nov1

USAG SCHINNEN TRIPS & TOURS OFFERS A WEEKEND TRIP TO THE REGULAR SEASON NFL GAME

Detroit LIONS vs. Kansas City CHIEFS @ Wembley Stadium in London.
Sat 31 Oct – Mon 2 Nov 2015

Total package price $549.00 per person in double/twin room
Single room $699.00 per person (Only 4 available)

Included in the package:
Round trip Coach Transportation
2 nights Bed & Breakfast in (Ramada London Ruislip)
Transportation to and from Wembley Stadium on Game Day
and Game Ticket
(Seats are located in the Club Wembley area)
(End zone block 240) http://www.wembleystadium.com

Register with DOWN payment $199.00 per person at the Trips & Tours office in Schinnen.

Final payment due before 17 July 2015.

NO LOOSE TICKETS WILL BE SOLD!!!!!

Assigned bus seating on first come & pay basis

PS:   A pick-up is also scheduled for the following location:   SHAPE HQ, Time TBA

Trip departs Schinnen on 31 Oct at 0800hrs
Arrives back in Schinnen on 2 Nov 2000hrs

ALL PRICES ARE IN US DOLLARS

THEY WILL ACCEPT CASH/CHECK/VISA/MASTERCARD CREDIT/DEBIT CARDS FOR PAYMENTS FOR ALL TRIPS.

IF YOU REQUIRE MORE INFO ON THIS TRIP PLEASE CONTACT OUTDOOR RECREATION.

USAG Schinnen Outdoor Recreation (Building 46)
Trips & Tours
DSN 360-7560
CIV 0031 (0)46 443 7560

The NFL will return to London on  Sun 1 Nov 2015 Detroit LIONS vs. Kansas City CHIEFS

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Schinnen NFL Trip to London – Bills vs. Jaguars – Oct 24-26

USAG SCHINNEN TRIPS & TOURS OFFERS A WEEKEND TRIP TO THE REGULAR SEASON NFL GAME

Buffalo BILLS vs. Jacksonville JAGUARS @ Wembley Stadium in London.
Sat 24 – Mon 26 Oct 2015

Total package price $549.00 per person in double/twin room
Single room $699.00 per person (Only 4 available)

Included in the package:
Round trip Coach Transportation
2 nights Bed & Breakfast in (Jurys Inn Watford)
Transportation to and from Wembley Stadium on Game Day
and Game Ticket
(Seats are located in the Club Wembley area)
(End zone block 240) http://www.wembleystadium.com

Register with DOWN payment $199.00 per person at the Trips & Tours office in Schinnen.

Final payment due before 17 July 2015.

NO LOOSE TICKETS WILL BE SOLD!!!!!

Assigned bus seating on first come & pay basis

PS:   A pick-up is also scheduled for the following location:   SHAPE HQ, Time TBA

Trip departs Schinnen on 24 Oct at 0800hrs
Arrives back in Schinnen on 26 Oct 2000hrs

ALL PRICES ARE IN US DOLLARS

THEY WILL ACCEPT CASH/CHECK/VISA/MASTERCARD CREDIT/DEBIT CARDS FOR PAYMENTS FOR ALL TRIPS.

IF YOU REQUIRE MORE INFO ON THIS TRIP PLEASE CONTACT OUTDOOR RECREATION.

USAG Schinnen Outdoor Recreation (Building 46)
Trips & Tours
DSN 360-7560
CIV 0031 (0)46 443 7560

The NFL will return to London on  Sun 25 Oct 2015 Buffalo BILLS vs Jacksonville JAGUARS

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Schinnen NFL Trip to London – Jets vs. Dolphins – Oct 3-5

USAG SCHINNEN TRIPS & TOURS OFFERS A WEEKEND TRIP TO A REGULAR SEASON NFL GAME

New York JETS vs. Miami DOLPHINS @ Wembley Stadium in London.
Sat 3 – Mon 5 Oct 2015

Total package price $549.00 per person in double/twin room
Single room $699.00 per person (Only 4 available)

Included in the package:
Round trip Coach Transportation
2 nights Bed & Breakfast in (Holiday Inn Elstree)
Transportation to and from Wembley Stadium on Game Day
and Game Ticket
(Seats are located in the Club Wembley area)
(End zone block 240) http://www.wembleystadium.com

Register with DOWN payment $199.00 per person at the Trips & Tours office in Schinnen.

Final payment due before 17 July 2015.

NO LOOSE TICKETS WILL BE SOLD!!!!!

Assigned bus seating on first come & pay basis

PS:   A pick-up is also scheduled for the following location:   SHAPE HQ, Time TBA

Trip departs Schinnen on 3 Oct at 0800hrs
Arrives back in Schinnen on 5 Oct 2000hrs

ALL PRICES ARE IN US DOLLARS

THEY WILL ACCEPT CASH/CHECK/VISA/MASTERCARD CREDIT/DEBIT CARDS FOR PAYMENTS FOR ALL TRIPS.

IF YOU REQUIRE MORE INFO ON THIS TRIP PLEASE CONTACT OUTDOOR RECREATION.

USAG Schinnen Outdoor Recreation (Building 46)
Trips & Tours
DSN 360-7560
CIV 0031 (0)46 443 7560

The NFL will return to London on  Sun 4 Oct 2015 New York JETS vs Miami DOLPHINS

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Peter’s Irish Pub – Maastricht, NL

Tucked in the corner of Maastricht’s Markt square is Peter’s Irish Pub, a cozy restaurant and bar with plenty of character. I’ll admit that my main reason for going was their advertized weekly trivia night, which happens every Monday, 8pm-11pm.  A taste of Irish fare was also a draw and did not disappoint. The staff is friendly and attentive. Menus are in English and are also available on their website. We tried the Cottage Pie and the Steak and Guinness Pie, which were both delicious and filling. There are also burgers, soups and salads on the menu for those not so interested in the Irish food. The beer menu includes, Belgian, Dutch, and Irish beers (including Guinness) and cider. For the unconverted, there is Corona and Budweiser.

Trivia night is a series of several rounds, which is why it takes about 3 hours. The questions were in English, although the host would also give the Dutch words for certain clues when necessary. You can work in teams, so bring your friends for a night of fun. We will be back to try some more of the menu and hopefully improve our trivia rankings in the near future.

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Local Thrift Store Summary

There are plenty of second hand stores in this area. The trick is knowing where they are. This is a listing of some of your options. If you know of others that you would like to share, let me know in the comments or through email (hereatgk@gmail.com).

Werk aan de Winkel Sittard (Mostly clothes)
Putstraat 30, Sittard (Close to Bagels and Beans)
Tues-Fri 1000-1700
Saturday 1100-160

Kunterbunt Second Hand Kinder Boutique (All things related to children)
An der Burg 8, Gillrath
Mon 0830 – 1230 & 1400 -1800
Tues, Wed, Fri 0830 – 1230
Sat 0930 – 1300
Closed Thursdays

Lupalums (Children clothes, books, toys)
Sittarder Str. 8, Gangelt
Mon-Fri 0930-1130
Mon, Wed, Thurs 1430-1800

De Goeden Doelen Winkel (Furniture)
Nusterweg 88-C, 6136KV Sittard
Tues – Sat 1000-1700

Meubel Depot (Furniture)
Dr. Nolenslaan 151, Sittard
Mon – Sat 1000-1700

Bis-Bis (Furniture, clothes and everything else)
Milieuparkweg 13, Sittard
Mon 1300 – 1700
Tues-Fri 1000 – 1700
Sat 1000 – 1600

RD4 (Furniture, clothes and everything else – two stores)
In de Cramer 9, Heerlen and Spekhofstraat 4, Kerkrade
Mon – Sat 0900-1700

 

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Schinnen Trip to National Liberation Museum – Sat, Sept 26

SATURDAY 26 SEPTEMBER 2015

DAY TRIP TO THE NATIONAL LIBERATION MUSEUM 1944-1945 AND BATTLE OF ARNHEM: Dropping in on a “Bridge too Far”

PRICE: $69.00 per person

Included in Tour Price:
Round trip Coach Transportation
Entrance into Liberation Museum
Lunch
Battlefield Tour with English speaking guide

Not-Included:
Expenses of personal nature

Coach departs Schinnen at 0800hrs
Approximate arrival at the Liberation museum 1000hrs
Coach departs 1800hrs
Approximate arrival back in Schinnen at 2000hrs.

Register with FULL payment at the Outdoor Recreation/Trips & Tours office located in building 46 in Schinnen

Itineraries are subject to revision and improvement.

All arrival and return times are approximate.

ALL PRICES ARE IN US DOLLARS

THEY WILL ACCEPT CASH/CHECK/VISA/MASTERCARD CREDIT/DEBIT CARDS FOR PAYMENTS FOR ALL TRIPS.

IF YOU REQUIRE MORE INFO ON THIS TRIP PLEASE CONTACT OUTDOOR RECREATION.

USAG Schinnen Outdoor Recreation (Building 46)
Trips & Tours
DSN 360-7560
CIV 0031 (0)46 443 7560

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Schinnen Trip to Wine Festival in Bernkastel-Kues – Sat, Sept 5

SATURDAY 5 SEPTEMBER 2015

DAY TRIP TO THE WINE FESTIVAL IN BERNKASTEL-KUES AND WATCH THE FIREWORKS DISPLAY ON THE BANKS OF THE MOSELLE RIVER

PRICE: $55.00 per person

Included in Tour Price:
Round trip Coach Transportation

Not-Included:
Expenses of personal nature

Coach departs Schinnen at 1100hrs
Approximate arrival in Bernkastel-Kues 1400hrs
Depart Bernkastel-Kues after the Fireworks at approx 2300hrs
Approximate arrival back in Schinnen at 0200hrs.

Register with FULL payment at the Outdoor Recreation/Trips & Tours office located in building 46 in Schinnen

Itineraries are subject to revision and improvement.

All arrival and return times are approximate.

ALL PRICES ARE IN US DOLLARS

THEY WILL ACCEPT CASH/CHECK/VISA/MASTERCARD CREDIT/DEBIT CARDS FOR PAYMENTS FOR ALL TRIPS.

IF YOU REQUIRE MORE INFO ON THIS TRIP PLEASE CONTACT OUTDOOR RECREATION.

USAG Schinnen Outdoor Recreation (Building 46)
Trips & Tours
DSN 360-7560
CIV 0031 (0)46 443 7560

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GK CDC Parents’ Day Out Schedule

The Geilenkirchen CDC will be offering childcare on the dates listed below. These are all Saturday offerings between 0900-1400. Open to all US ID cardholders. Dates are subject to change. Please contact the CDC or A&FRC for confirmation of dates.

Air Force families, stop by the A&FRC to sign up for an Air Force Aid voucher to cover the cost of Parent’s Day Out.

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Spielplatz de Gitsap (Playground Gitsap)

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This playground is on the property of the restaurants Aan de Hoeve and de Huifkar Hoeve, so there is a fee to play on the playground (and you’re NOT allowed to bring your own food, since there are 2 restaurants on site).

Prices:
Children = 2.50 Euro
Adults = 2 Euro

Package Deals:
1. Access to playground, ‘happy meal’, and ice cream for 8.25 Euro
2. Access to playground, ‘happy meal’, ice cream, and mini golf for 10.75 Euro

Address: Gitstappermolenweg 1 6063 NT Vlodrop NL
Free parking

Playground is open from March to November.
Opening hours: daily from 10:00 – 19:30.

Winter Hours:
Saturday & Sunday from 10:00 – 1700

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 If you find that some of this information is incorrect or if you feel that something important should be added, please leave a comment! I have yet to go here so I’m not 100% sure on all the information, but it is all from the website. Thanks!

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Kinderspieldorf Pee Wee – Posterholt NL

pee wee NLI saw an article in a German newspaper, so I clipped it and decided to do some research so I could share another indoor/outdoor play area and petting zoo with you.

This place goes by a few names….Pee Wee Posterholt (since it’s in Posterholt, NL), Kinderspielparadies Pee Wee or Kinderspieldorf Pee Wee.

Prices:
Under the age of 1 = FREE
Kids over the age of 2 = 8.50 Euro
Adults = 5 Euro
Adults over the age of 65 = 3 Euro

According to the website, they are open all year round. However, they are closed on December 5th (St. Nicholas), December 24th, 25th, and 26th for Christmas, December 31st and January 1st (New Years), and Carnival Sundays & Mondays.

Hours of Operation:

Wednesday & Thursday              1200 – 18:30
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday   10:00 – 18:30

Easter Vacation 2015:
Friday April 3 – Tuesday April 7               10:00 – 18:30
Wednesday April 8 – Thursday April 9   12:00 – 18:30

For some reason, 2 addresses are given. Not sure which is the right one:

Heinsbergerweg 65 6065 AH Posterholt     or                                                              Berresheimring 65 Posterholt 6061AH

If you find that any of this information is incorrect or you feel that something important should be added, please comment so we can update the listing!

The website is:
http://www.peewee.nl

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Hallerbos – Bluebell Forest near Brussels

Have you heard about the beautiful Bluebell Forest in Belgium? It’s not a far drive from us and it’s FREE to see. Hallerbos is a sizable forest where the bluebells cover the forest floor each year, usually in April or May. I went last year with a friend after visiting the Royal Greenhouses in Laeken (Brussels). I’ve written the address for the main parking, but it’s best to follow the route given on the website or you might end up on the opposite end of the forest thanks to your GPS, like I did. Thanks to our proximity to this forest, you can time your visit for the peak blooming season. The website posts regular updates on the progress and growth of the forest with beautiful pictures to get you excited for your visit.

You can download a digital map of the area, just in case you end up parking away from an information point where you can pick up a free map. Each trail is well marked, just follow the colored arrows and stay off paths that are only for bikes or horses. It’s important to remember that this is a forest, and there are no toilet facilities or water spigots within the forest. We did run into an ice cream truck near the main parking lot though. If you are bringing a stroller, you will probably have to stick to the open barrier paths (openbare on the legend). Dogs are welcome if they are kept on a leash. If you like a quiet walk with beautiful views, this is not to be missed.

Hallerbos/ Bois de Hal

Vlasmarktdreef 4, Halle, BE

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Ice Skating (Indoor and Outdoor) in Geleen

Do you miss being able to skate on ice that sees a Zamboni from time to time, or where the threat of rain won’t stop your plans? You can find such a place in Geleen just off of the main drag (Rijksweg). Laco Glanerbrook is a large fitness center that also houses a gym, restaurant, basketball and other various sport facilities, but the main draw for me was the full sized indoor ice rink. They also have an outdoor ice track during the winter months.

The parking lot is large and free. The first stop for us was the skate rental, which has a window just before you go into the building.  They have sizes between 24-52 (European) available for hockey and figure skates. You will have to provide an ID to the shop to ensure you return the skates and the shop assistant will give you a ticket for you to present to get your ID back. The next stop is the skating rink inside. You pay the entrance fee here, then walk down the stairs to a large area where you can change into your skates. Large lockers are available for 50 cents to lock away your shoes and coats. The rink is just a short walk from here. Remember to bring your gloves, which are required for safety while skating.

I joined some friends on a Friday evening for Laco’s weekly Disco Skating night. The dance music and lights make for a fun party atmosphere. The majority of those on the ice were of middle and high school age, but we older patrons had a good time and benefited from a good workout too. If you’re going with younger kids, I recommend going earlier in the day or going on the weekend as Disco Skating proved to be a popular and loud event. If you need a break off of the ice, there are drinks and some snacks available just outside the rink and bleachers with padding so you can walk up the stairs and sit without taking off your skates.

Laco also provides ice skating lessons for young and old. There are also local hockey teams you or your kids can join that practice throughout the week. The outdoor ice track will close in the spring, but the fitness center has decided this year to keep the indoor ice rink open year round, so it will be a nice way to cool down if it gets too hot outside.

Laco Glanerbrook
Kummenaedestraat 45 , Geleen

Open Skate Hours (Ice Rink)
Mon – Fri 1400-1600
Friday (Disco Skating) 2000-2200
Sat – Sun 1400-1700

Open Skate Hours ( Ice Track – Outside)
Mon – Sun 0900-1700
Mon & Wed 2045-2200
Tues & Thurs 2015-2200
Friday 1945-2200

Entry Price
Disco Skate € 5,50 per person
Open Skate € 4,50 per person
12xVisit Card € 55,00 per person
Skate Rental € 5,50 (For Disco Skate Rental is € 4,50)

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Boerderij Daalhoeve (Maastricht Petting Farm)

Boerderij Daalhoeve (referred to as Farm D) is FREE. They just ask that you be respectful and gentle with the animals. Sounds fair to me! There are many types of farm animals to visit with, as well as a barefoot path, large playground, a farm shop (which offers items produced on the farm as well as local items for purchase), and a small café and terrace.

play area at Boerderij Daalhoeve (Farm D)

play area at Boerderij Daalhoeve (Farm D)

Farm D Cafe

Hours of Operation:
Monday – closed
Tuesday – 1000-1700
Wednesday – 1000-1700
Thursday – 1000-1700
Friday – 1000-1700
Saturday – 1200-1700
Sunday – 1200-1700

Address:
Romeinsebaan 200
6215 SK Maastricht

Website for more information: http://www.daalhoeve.nl/

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Kasteelpark Born

Kasteelpark Born (http://www.kasteelparkborn.nl/)

Address: Kasteelpark, Born,  NL

Admission is as follows:
Adults: € 7.50
Children from 2 to 12 years: € 6.00
Children under 2 years: free
Free parking

Summer Hours of Operation (1 March 2015 – 1 November 2015)
Open daily from 10: 00 to 18: 00 (See below for holiday and winter hours)

An animal park situated in the gardens of a former castle (Castle Born). There are a wide variety of animals, to include alpacas, water fowl (geese, ducks, swans), deer, turtles, monkeys, as well as goats and sheep in the petting zoo. There is also a Tickle House (closed in the winter months) that house tropical frogs, spiders, iguanas, and insects.

In the middle of the park there is a large playground. The playground is next to the terrace (parents can enjoy a beverage or snacks while children play).

Winter Hours of Operation (3 November 2014 until 28 February 2015)
Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday: 10 am to 5 pm.

During the holidays for the elementary schools in South Limburg, the park is open daily in winter.

Christmas holidays: open every day from 10 am till 5 pm.

We are closed on:
1st and 2nd day and New Year’s Day
On 31 December the gate closes at 2 pm.

Carnival: closed from Sunday 15 to Tuesday 17 February 2015.

Summer Hours of Operation (1 March 2015 – 1 November 2015)
Open daily from 10: 00 to 18: 00.
Due to a special evening activity is the castle park closed at 4 pm on Friday 5 June 2015.

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Fitness Classes on GK

GK Sports Department: +49(0) 245 163 4946

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The Sports department now has a Facebook page! They will be posting their classes and events on their page so be sure to “Like” them.
Spin classes change weekly so it’s best to call the office or have someone with access to the GK Intranet forward the spin schedule to you. The spin classes are usually around lunch time.

Independent Instructors Schedule (Different from the attachment above)
Thursday
1:15pm-2:15pm Belly Dancing  in New Gym Building 206, Multi-Purpose Room
4:30pm-5:30pm Yoga with Veerle at the IYA Building 95, Free

As always, if you know of any other classes going on, let us know in the comments!

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Belly Dance

Posted in Geilenkirchen NATO Base - Info, Health Resources, Sports Clubs and Classes | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Studio 54 Bar and Burgers – Sittard, NL

We have another American style burger place in town, and it’s a good one. Studio 54 (full website is in the works) is located down the street from the Markt on Putstraat. There is plenty of room inside to have dinner with a group of friends. The atmosphere is fun and lively and the servers were friendly and attentive during our visit.

But, let’s be honest, you want to know about the burgers. We visited Studio 54 during carnival weekend, which meant a limited menu but quick service. Even so, the burgers we chose, a classic cheeseburger and a burger with cooked onions, bacon and barbeque sauce, were both delicious with flavorful patties of local beef. We were able to eat both burgers without having to use a fork and knife, which is a rarity in the burger world in this area and a plus in my opinion.

Their full menu is filled with classic and inventive combinations that I’m sure we will be trying in the future. I have my eye on the burger with goat cheese, eggplant and a balsamic sauce. If you’re not a fan of beef, there are lamb, chicken, salmon and portobello burger options and a few salads too. Mini burgers are also available for the kids or a set of three for the grown up appetite.

In the spirit of carnival, we also tried one of their desserts, the lemon cheesecake, which was a tasty way to end our visit. I’m already looking forward to visiting this restaurant again in the near future.

Studio 54 Bar and Burgers Website and Facebook
Putstraat 31, Sittard
Mon – Tues Closed
Wed – Sat 1700 – 2200
Sun 1600 – 2200

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Hello Fresh – Food Delivery Service in Germany

Convenience and variety of meals is the name of the game for Hello Fresh. The company is located in several countries now, including the U.S., Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. If you just want to get a feel for what the service is, I suggest you start at the U.S. version of the site, then move to your current country to see specifics on shipping, prices and meals.

Hello Fresh provides your fresh ingredients and recipes to make a new meal every day at home. The German site offers boxes with either 3 or 5 meals and provide enough food for either 2 or 4 people. You have the option between the original box (for omnivores) or the veggie box (for vegetarians). There is also an option to add a fruit (obst) box in addition to the regular meal box. If you would like to just try out the service, there is a trial box (Probierbox) that will send you one shipment.

I found the website easy to use. Each countries website mirrors the others, so you can use one to help guide you through the other. Most of the text translated well using Chrome as well. Adding my information to make an account and purchase the box was also a simple affair.

I live further out from a major city so I had three options available to me for delivery (Wednesday, Thursday or Friday between 0900-1200). If you live closer to one of their warehouses, you also have the option of an evening delivery (Tuesday 1730-2230). I chose the trial box because of the huge time window. Once you find out when your delivery time is, you can expect delivery within the same hour every time, barring weather and traffic problems.

Subscriptions are at least 2 deliveries, you can cancel anytime after those first two deliveries. Cancellation has to occur before Wednesday, or you’ll receive the next week’s shipment. It is also possible to put your subscription on hold when you go on holiday. There is an option to have to box delivered to your work, have UPS drop it off at a neighbors house, leave it on your doorstep or take it to the nearest UPS shop to you. You specify which delivery choice you would like when you order your box. My box was delivered at about 1130.

I was sent an email a few days prior to the delivery with information on what the meals would be for the week. This also included information on what pantry staples I would need on hand, like vegetable broth, olive oil, mustard, and vinegar.

The box was a reasonable size. My cat can serve as a size reference in the pictures. Most items were loose, but packed well in the box. the plastic bag held the cool pack and wool insulation for the cheese (I selected the Veggie box, so there was no meat). If you do sign up for the service, you will be provided with a shipping label to return the cooling packs and insulation that surrounds some of the ingredients every fifth delivery. The rest of the material can be recycled with paper or gelb.

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The pictures show everything I received except for the cheeses. There was mozzarella, marscapone, white cheddar and feta. We also had a few spice packs for the fajitas and pasta. There were a few promotional coupons included with the three recipe cards. The cards also tell you the estimated amount of time to make the meal and relative difficulty. All of the vegetables were fresh at the time of delivery.

Don’t know German? The recipes are also on the Hello Fresh website in PDF format and can be copy-pasted into Google Translate. Anyone can see these recipes, so feel free to look in every week and get a feel for what the meals will be like before purchasing. We found cooking the meals and following the translated instructions fairly easy. There were a few places where words don’t translate directly so a little guess work is required. We did learn a few things, like making our own salad dressing and cooking lentils, but the meals were not difficult to make. Meals don’t repeat very often so the below pictures are just to show you what your box might be like. Excuse my terrible photography skills. A food blogger, I am not.

Pasta with tomato cream sauce and mozzarella

Pasta with tomato cream sauce and mozzarella

Spinach salad with roasted sweet potato, onions, lentils and feta

Spinach salad with roasted sweet potato, onions, lentils and feta

Veggie Fajitas with carrots, corn, onion, rice and cheese

Veggie Fajitas with carrots, corn, onion, rice and cheese

We enjoyed the opportunity to try the Hello Fresh service. The food was good and pretty easy to make and I didn’t have to decide what was for dinner for three nights (plus a few lunches for leftovers). If you are interested in this concept, I highly suggest trying the Probierbox (trial box) to see how you like it.

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Brunssum Playgroup – Thursdays

The Thursday morning Play Group that was held at the CYS on JFC Brunssum has been relocated to the JFC Brunssum West Chapel. This is now a parent lead playgroup open to all NATO parents with children from birth to pre-school age. The time and date will remain the same, Thursdays from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Please direct all New Parent Support Program questions to Schinnen Family Advocacy at DSN: 360-7453 or civilian +31 (0)46-4437453.

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Posted in JFC Brunssum- Info, Kids, NO COST | 1 Comment

Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings in Brunssum – English Speaking

There is a weekly AA meeting on Wednesdays in Brunssum. See flyer below for details.

If you prefer other options for meetins, you can search for locations in Germany or the Netherlands on the AA website. The listings are for English speaking meetings. Aachen and Cologne have meetings, as well as Maastricht. Ubach-Palenberg has them every last Thursday of the month.

AA flyer

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JFC Brunssum Gym Fitness Class Schedule (current July 2015)

Here is a scan of the most recent fitness class schedule for Brunssum. For more information on the facilities, check this post.


brunssum gym jul 1
brunssum gym jul 2
 

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Posted in JFC Brunssum- Info, Sports Clubs and Classes | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Unwanted paper/ads in your German mailbox

This information is if you are receiving unwanted newspaper, ads, etc.

Post on the box:

Bitte keine Zeitung oder Reklame. Danke

(We used a label maker, but you may need to be more creative!)

This will help lower the amount of paper you are clogging up the recycling bin with.

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A Guide for Nearby Airports

While flights can be found for low prices with airlines like Ryanair, make sure you know what airport you are beginning and ending your journey with. Many big cities have one big international airport and a smaller one (sometimes with a similar name) that is located further away from the city. An example is Düsseldorf International (DUS) and Düsseldorf-Weeze (NRN), which are 1 hour away from each other. Your best bet is to verify using the international airport code, which I have put in parentheses after each airport name here. I hope this will keep you from missing a flight or having a stressful dash to a different airport.

Tip: If you plan on parking at the airport, look into it well ahead of your planned flight. You can often get discounted parking by booking in advance. Rail and Fly is another option that allows you to take the train to the airport on a combination ticket. There are parking companies surrounding most airports, similar to “The Park Spot”, you can search for these lots at most airports at Parkplatzvergleigh.de.

In the following list I’ve provided: Airport Name (IATA code) Distance from GK NATO AB, Estimated travel time

Germany

Dusseldorf International (DUS) 85km, 1:00

Cologne Bonn (CGN) 100km, 1:10

Dusseldorf-Weeze (NRN) 109km, 1:28

Dortmund (DTM) 153 km, 1:53

Frankfurt-Hahn (HHN) 240km, 2:22

Frankfurt International (FRA) 266km, 2:42

Netherlands

Maastricht-Aachen (MST) 42km, 0:37

Eindhoven (EIN)  98km, 1:13

Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS) 218km, 2:28

Belgium

Liege (LGG) 100km, 1:11

Brussels International – Zaventem (BRU) 137km, 1:59

Brussels South – Charleroi (CRL) 175km, 1:55

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La Place Cafe

You’ve probably seen people enjoying coffee and cakes inside the Dutch department store, V&D. This is actually a separate company that is linked with V&D called La Place and it is one of my favorite places to eat. The cafeteria style cafe has sandwiches, soups, desserts, freshly made juices and, of course, coffee, hot chocolate and fresh mint tea. The larger versions of La Place found in big cities, like Maastricht and Amsterdam, have bakeries making cakes, breads, pies, pizzas and more. The bigger stores also have a chocolate/sweets section where you can buy any variety of chocolate, including chocolate letters and sweets like marzipan pigs around St. Nicolaasdag.

If you live in the Netherlands, you’ve probably received coupons for this restaurant in the mail, so take advantage of the deals. You can also download the current set of coupons and print them out for yourself.

La Place has locations all around the Netherlands, which you can search here. You’ll also find small kiosks at many of the train stations. I’ve listed the addresses and opening times of the closest restaurants below.

Dautzenbergstraat 47, Heerlen
Monday 12:00 – 18:00
Tuesday 10:00 – 18:00
Wednesday 10:00 – 18:00
Thursday 10:00 – 21:00
Friday 10:00 – 18:00
Saturday 10:00 – 17:30

Grote Staat 5-15, Maastricht (Ground level and top floor)
Monday 11:00 – 18:00
Tuesday 09:00 – 18:00
Wednesday 09:00 – 18:00
Thursday 09:00 – 21:00
Friday 09:00 – 18:00
Saturday 09:00 – 18:00
Sunday   12:00 – 18:00

Munsterplein 9, Roermond (2 also located in Roermond Outlet Center)
Monday 11:00 – 18:00
Tuesday 09:30 – 18:00
Wednesday 09:30 – 18:00
Thursday 09:30 – 21:00
Friday 09:30 – 18:00
Saturday 09:00 – 17:30
Sunday 12:00 – 17:00

Markt 1, Sittard
Monday 11:00 – 18:00
Tuesday 09:30 – 18:00
Wednesday 09:30 – 18:00
Thursday 09:00 – 21:00
Friday 09:30 – 18:00
Saturday 09:00 – 17:30

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Kommern Living Museum Christmas Market -1st Weekend of Advent

About 1.5 hours from the Tri-Border area is an open air museum near the town of Kommern called LVR-Freilichtmuseum Kommern. There are open air museums scattered throughout Europe. The main goal of these museums is to educate people about the old way of life in particular regions. The Kommern Museum has rescued buildings from the local region between Monchengladbach down to Koblenz and through the Eifel region. These buildings have plaques outside that show where the building came from and what it was used for. There are three “towns” that you can explore, with each town representing a particular region of our corner of Germany. You are welcome to explore inside each building. Some have museum like exhibitions showing a particular aspect of the buildings, like roof making, or a local craftsman might be making brooms or handmade baskets inside. There are even a few sheep and chickens among other livestock to complete the perfect picture.

During the first weekend of Advent each year, the entire museum turns into a Christmas market and it is not to be missed. There are a good number of stands near the entrance to get you started, but the real charm comes from finding the stands inside these old buildings. Most of the wares for sale are unique handmade items that I have not seen at any other markets. Food stands were scattered throughout the museum grounds as well. Chestnuts were actually roasting on an open fire in one building while another had lentil stew warming over the fireplace. Of course Glüwein and other hot beverages were available throughout the grounds. Saint Nicholas was there too with his donkey handing out apples to the children. If you are looking for a uniquely European Christmas experience, this is your place. If you missed the market, you can still come see the museum 365 days a year or visit during one of the several events scattered through the calendar.

Here are a few practical notes:
-The parking lot is large. You will need to buy an exit coin from the main ticket office to get out after your visit. (€2,50)
-There is a steep (paved) hill that you must walk up to get to the museum from the parking lot. There is a van that will transport you up the hill for free. You may need to call for the service at the nearby covered area.
-The majority of the trails throughout the museum are level gravel/dirt. There are steps to get into most of the houses, so plan accordingly.
-Audio guides (in English) are available at the ticket desk for a small fee. There are numbers for the guide scattered throughout the museum.
-WCs are strategically located around the museum grounds. You shouldn’t have to walk too far to find one.
-There is a nearby rodelbahn that offers a combination ticket.

Address (Very close to the A1 and Burg Satzvey):
Eickser Straße, Mechernich-Kommern

Adult Price: €6,50
Children under 18 are free.
Audio Guide: €2,50

Opening Times: (365 Days per Year)
Summer March 29 to October 31, 2014: 0900 – 1900
Winter November 1 to March 30, 2015: 1000 – 1700
Last entry 1 hour before closing.

Special Hours
24 and 31 December: 1000 – 1400
25 and 26 December and 1 January: 1100 – 1700

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Stolberg Christmas Market

The first Christmas Market of the season for me was in the town of Stolberg, just on the outskirts of Aachen. The majority of the market was surrounding the large castle, Burg Stolberg. I was too close to get a picture of all of it, but the Stolberg city website has a good picture on their homepage. The market surrounding the castle (Burg) and just below in the Altstadt (Alter Markt) are open on Saturdays and Sundays while the Kaiserplatz market is open daily.

I showed up too early because a few stands were still setting up. It seems to be a pretty small market even if you add all of the stands together from the three markets. If you don’t go for the shopping, the ambiance is still excellent. The city is beautiful and old. We walked down many one lane streets surrounded by old houses with the sound of the stream just on the other side. Business will probably pick up next week with the start of advent, but the city was not crowded at all, which was quite nice.

There were a few shopping and food stands in Alter Markt. Kaiserplatz only had food and a few stands when I was there, but they do have the largest Advent calendar in the area, with a window opening everyday (starting in December) at 1730. We spent most of our time at the Burg market. There are stands surrounding the castle and quite a few inside. There is also a restaurant to enjoy inside the castle. We stopped for some red and white Glüwein (warm mulled wine) and enjoyed the ambiance. There were also crepes, hot chocolate, reibekuchen (potato pancakes) and sausages available in the stands surrounding the castle.

While the shopping choices are small, I think Stolberg is worth a visit to just walk around the city and castle and enjoy some Christmas market food and drink. You can find out more about the market at the city website.

Kaiserplatz Market (mostly food) open daily 12-20
Alter Markt and Burg Market open Sat-Sun 12-20

Parking available near the castle and at Stolberg-Aldstadt train station.

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BEEF – Burgers and Butchers – Sittard, NL

Sometimes you just need a good burger and BEEF is just the place to fill that need. This restaurant opened in October 2014, the butcher side of the business will be opening in a few months. You can eat-in or take-out. BEEF also takes to-go orders over the phone. The restaurant is located in a residential area, but is easy to find. Parking on the street was available in front of and close to the restaurant.

The restaurant seats between 14 and 16 comfortably. The decor is simple but fun. We enjoyed the music that was playing. The chef was singing along from time to time too. The kitchen is somewhat open to the eating area and although the vents are going at all times, it did get smokey a few times.

BEEF has a simple menu, Angus beef burgers, rib burgers, spareribs (smoked in house), two vegetarian burger options (grilled apple or eggplant)  and some sides. The current menu can be seen in the picture below. I like the simplicity of the available options. They don’t use too many ingredients or sauces so you should be able to eat the burgers without the help of a fork and knife.

I had the BEEF Burger Bacon, but I added cheese for a little extra. The other toppings were homemade mayo, ketchup, tomato, pickle and lettuce; the classic combination. The beef itself was well done, but tender and seasoned just the way I like it. I also had a bite of the Rib Burger BBQ, which starts with pulled meat from the spareribs, mixed with barbeque sauce, then topped with lettuce and tomato. The rib meat was smoky and tender. The barbeque sauce was a little more ketchup than bbq but still good. We also tried the Jacked Potato, which was a baked potatoe with a garlic sour cream sauce that was quite good. They had onion rings and calamari listed on their chalkboard too, which I saw too late. I’m definitely interested in ordering some rings next time.

The staff is friendly and can help you with the menu if you need it. I really enjoyed our meal here and I plan to go back next time I need a good simple burger.

BEEF Burgers and Butchers (Website under construction)
Broeksittarderweg 168, Sittard
Wed – Sun 1600-2100
Fri & Sat 1600-2200

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Local Christmas Markets and Bazaars

This post was for 2014 markets, but many of these markets will return for 2015. Dates will change of course.

There are a bunch of local Christmas markets and church bazaars going on the next few weeks. Here’s a summary.

Tuddern Adventbasar: Nov 23 at 1400 at zur Turnhalle

Geilenkirchen Christmas Market: Nov 28-30

geilenkirchen-weihnachtsmarkt

Adventbasar in Breberen : Nov 29 in the Festhalle

Gangelt Nikolausmarkt: Nov 30 at 1000-1900 around village center

Huckelhoven Christmas Market: December 5-7 around Breteuilplatz, Rathauszuwegung, Rathaus and Hartlepooler Platz in Huckelhoven

The Waldfeucht Christmas market will be December 7, 1000-1900. Here’s an article on last year’s market.

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2014 Christmas Bucket List

The dates listed on this post are for 2014, many of these events will return, but the dates will be updated closer to the holiday season.

Here list of a few unique Christmas experiences that aren’t centered around shopping.  Thanks to Susu for contributing to the list and for the idea.

Advent at Kommern – Nov 29-30
(From the website) The traditional museum event lets the big and small plunge deep into history and conveys much of how farm families once prepared for the Christmas. Thus, performing at the farmhouse parlors of the museum houses pre-Christmas house music is sung together with the guests and told stories. Children to make Christmas decorations and gifts at a craft room and the adults to practice the old village school in ancient calligraphy for Christmas post.

For the classical Advent fragrances baked apples, spiced biscuits and gingerbread are made in the museum ovens. In the Lower Rhine farms of the museum housekeepers ready to roast chestnuts, honey cake and brandy punch. Besenbinder, mousetrap maker, weavers, wood carvers and many other craftsmen demonstrate their traditional skills. Lantern tours offer each at 16.30 the opportunity to see the historical museum villages in a very different light. Inside and outside the historic ballroom from Pingsdorf there is a small Christmas market with handpicked deals: leather workers, bookbinding, hand knitted, Adventskranzbinderei and much more.

Looking at the flyer, it appears that each house will have something special inside to see, some have food and drinks while others show handy crafts.

Candlelight festival and carols, Gouda, NL – Dec 12
(From the website) Candle Night, or Kaarsjesavond in Dutch, is a famous annual Christmas event in the city of Gouda in western Netherlands. This nighttime tradition is marked by countless lit candles, singing, and festivities. Thousands flock to Gouda each year to attend Candle Night, including important national and international guests. The event is held on a Tuesday night ahead of Christmas at the central market square in front of the Gothic town hall. Street and electric lights are turned off, and instead the night is lit by candles placed in windows facing and around the square. The Mayor gives a speech and lights a towering Christmas tree adorned with thousands of light bulbs to create a truly magical experience. Choirs gather to sing Christmas carols with audiences enthusiastically joining in. Attendees visit nearby churches and museums following the celebration. Gouda became known for producing quality candles around the mid-19th century, although it is probably most famous for its other waxy product—Gouda cheese. Gouda candles are made from a natural wax that burns steadily for hours and can be purchased around the city as souvenirs. The city of Gouda is not only magical during Candle Night. Pretty canals, historic churches, and Dutch architecture make a great setting for a city that is also known for its breweries, smoking pipes, and stroopwafels. Gouda is easily accessible by two train stations.

Dickens Fest, Deventer, NL – Dec 20-21
The historic center of the city of Deventer provides the backdrop for the Dickens Festival. Well over 900 characters that feature in the famous books by the 19th-century British writer Charles Dickens come to life. Come and meet Scrooge, Oliver Twist, Mr. Pickwick, Christmas carolers, orphans, drunks, office clerks, and the upper class. Enjoy the aromas of English punch and roasted chestnuts, thousands of fairy lights, and tall Christmas trees. The Dickens Festival fills the whole center of Deventer with the heartwarming ambience of Christmas. Every year, there’s a market on the main square with 200 stands. The Christmas ambience continues in the churches in the city center with a cultural program. Different choirs, orchestra and vocal ensembles perform Christmas music. Not only in the street, but also behind the windows, in the houses and in the little shops and galleries the romantic time of Dickens will revive. During the Dickens Festival in December the shops are open on Saturday and Sunday. Well over 160,000 people come to this festival annually. Admission is free, so be prepared for queues at the entrance.
More info: http://www.dickensfestijn.nl

Dickens Days, Bilzen, BE – Dec 20-21
(From their website) The center of Bilzen is transformed into a cozy English Christmas town from the Victorian era. On every street corner, the visitors collide in characters from the stories of Charles Dickens, there is music and you can enjoy delicacies. The visitor in various cozy Dickens cottages enjoy delicious winterkos’: pancakes, meat skewers, pea soup, muffins, heartwarming gin, hot chocolate, mulled wine, tartiflette, and grilled snacks. In a large beer tent, the lovers taste a wide range of special Christmas beers. Especially for children there are workshops and they go back in time with a special photo-booth.

During the Dickens’Dagen on Sunday the stores open the doors so that the visitors can do Christmas shopping.

World’s Largest Advent Calendar, Gengerbach, DE – Nov 30 – Dec 23
For 16 years, the town hall of Gengenbach has been turned into a magical attraction every year at Advent: its 24 windows turn it into the largest Advent calendar in the world. Come and marvel at the beauty: around 100,000 visitors came from far and wide to see the Advent calendar last year. About 5 hours away from Tri-Border area. More info:
http://www.stadt-gengenbach.de/en/tourism/adventcalendar/

Winter Evenings at Bokrijk – Dec 26-30
(From their website) From 26 to December 30 you can enjoy various nostalgic fairground rides in Bokrijk. Grandparents get nice memories from their childhood, while parents and children enjoy ancient, unknown, but no less spectacular acts and play.

A nostalgic fairground like this took place in Flanders, with activities and attractions from the beginning to the middle of the 20th century. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the time. Because now there’s trump atmosphere, with lots of music, freak voostel men and all kinds of goodies. So you and the whole family can have fun on the Grand Carousel, the carousel, the cakewalk or have driving fun along with the old subway train. Typical winter snacks make it extra fun on this trip. Your visit ends with the fireworks at 20:30.

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Nearby Christmas Markets

The Christmas Market season is upon us. Here is some information on ones close to GK.

Aachen – November 21 – December 23 – Surrounding the Dom and Rathaus, this market is always fun. There are plenty of parking garages or you can take the train. If you have a group going, you might be able to save money by buying a group ticket for the train. If you go into the ticket office at the train station, 5 people can ride to Aachen and back for about 24 euro. Ask for the “open ticket”.

Bonn – November 21 – December 23 – Bonn has one large market that covers several squares. We went last year after an outing to Augustusburg Palace.

Burg Satzvey – Sat & Sun – November 29 – December 21 – A Christmas market complete with a medieval nativity play.

Cologne (Köln) – November 24 – December 23 – There are 5 main markets spread throughout the shopping areas of Cologne. Each market has it’s own collectable mug. A map of their locations is on page 11 of this flyer. If the long walks won’t work for your family, there is a Hop-on Hop-off train that will take you between the markets for €8.

Dusseldorf – November 20 – December 23 – There are several markets located throughout the city. A brochure on the website lists the locations.

Schloss Merode – November 27 – December 21 – This market surrounds the castle. Parking is ample and free in a local field. There is an entry fee that varies depending on the day, listed on this flyer.

Monschau – Fri, Sat and Sundays November 28 – December 21 – Monschau becomes particularly picturesque when dusted with snow and filled with the Christmas market huts. You’ll have to park on the outskirts of town, but they have buses running.

Münster – November 24 – December 23 – This city is a little further away, but the small and walkable city center boasts 5 Christmas markets.

Schloss Rheydt – December 6-7 – This market was recommended by a local. Entry is 4 euro, but this market will have handmade crafts for sale. There are flyers showing previous vendor’s work on the website.

Stolberg/Kupferstädter Weihnachtstage – November 21 – December 21 – Stolberg is a town on the outskirts of Aachen with a big castle in the backdrop. This market occurs daily on Kaiserplatz and at the castle and old town on weekends. Here is a flyer for the event.

Valkenburg – November 14 – December 23 – There are two markets, located in two different parts of the sandstone mines. Entry is 5 euro into one market. This market is nice to do on a day with bad weather because you spend the whole time underground. There is also a Christmas parade every Wednesday at 1900 and Saturday at 1930 starting on November 15.

Close to Home

Gangelt – November 30 – Held along the B56, this market is smaller, but there are unique items that you won’t find at the bigger markets.

Geilenkirchen – November 28-30 – Another small market, but the food vendors are worth the trip.

Further Out

Stuttgart – November 26 – December 23 – Stuttgart is a big city and their market sprawls across the whole shopping district.

Esslingen – November 25 – December 21 – This medieval market is just a short train ride out of Stuttgart.

Nuremburg – November 29 – December 24 – One of the most well known Christmas markets in Germany.

Of course there are many more markets to choose from. Check out this post for a list of websites to help you find markets in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and France.

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QR Codes for A&FRC Guides

Did you know that you can access all of the A&FRC’s brochures and guides online? They are all linked to on the eBrochure rack on MilitaryOneSource. If you need something quickly, this QR code summary sheet can be handy.

GK Newcomer Relocation Services and eBrochure Rack 2014 New 1 Nov 2014

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Pompoen Regatta – Pumpkin Boat Racing in Kasterlee, BE

About an hour away from the Tri-Border area is the small town of Kasterlee. Most people visit the nearby attraction of Bobbejaanland, but during the month of October, pumpkins become the center of attention. This article from Flanders Today does a good job of summing up all of the festivities, but the one that is the most unique is the highly anticipated Pumpkin Regatta. Thanks to HereatGK contributor, Susu, letting us know about this event, we were able to visit the event and enjoy the spectacle. This year, the event occurred on Sunday, October 26.

The pumpkin boat races were fun to watch. Teams of four take turns kayaking the hollowed out pumpkins around a gate in the middle of the pond. Most teams dress up in silly costumes for additional fun. There are many heats, including mixed, women only and kids only races, so no matter what time you arrive at the event, you’ll be sure to see at least a few races. If you get hungry or thirsty, there is food on sight, including homemade pumpkin soup and pumpkin beer. For the kids, there is a large playground along with additional games to play involving some of the smaller gourds. I saw ring toss, bowling and some sort of croquet among others. You could also pay a small fee to carve your own pumpkin to take home with you.

If you’re interested in participating in the races next year, you can register online. This year there was a team that came all the way from Spain specifically for this event and the commentators were surprised and thrilled. I’m sure they would be happy to welcome a few from our area as well.

Ark Van Noë
Arkstraat 6, Lichtaart

GPS : 51.210147 , 4.938325

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Horse Riding Lessons

There are quite a few options in the area for horse riding lessons. I have compiled this list from fellow readers, but I have not used their services myself. I hope this helps you find a location that works for you.

Jan Vingerhoets (marjo-jan@hotmail.com)
Sandkoul 6, Selfkant-Havert, Germany

Manege Galop
Tunnelweg 1 Landgraaf, Netherlands
Lessons are given in Dutch and English. Prices are at the bottom of the website.

Manege Klipper
Michiels van Kessenichstraat 75, Limbricht, Netherlands

Manege Ten Eijsden
Ten Eysden 1, Geleen, Netherlands

Ruitercentrum Daalderhof
Douvenderweg 27-A, Oirsbeek, Netherlands
I couldn’t find a website, but here’s a link to their Facebook page.

 

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Balloons

Updated August 2015

I have found a few options for balloon shops in the area that have been recommended by others in the various Facebook groups. Consult their websites for opening times.

Balloon Shop Sittard
Steenweg 72, Sittard

Ballon Romazen
Rodebachstr. 129, Gangelt

Drop Inn Geleen
Groenstraat 6a, Geleen

Limballon Brunssum
Winkelcentrum ‘De Parel’ 7, Brunssum

Luftballonshop Cremers
Marienstrasse 22, Übach-Palenberg

Toys R Us sells unfilled balloons and helium tanks.
Schumanstraße 4, Wurselen

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iClean Car (and Dog) Wash – Brunssum, NL

Photos and article idea courtesy of a fellow blog reader.

The iClean car wash is located in Brunssum, not far out of the way from the GK back gate or JFC Brunssum. iClean has three main services; an automatic car wash, a self-service car wash and a dog wash. The automatic car wash prices are between 7,50 and 13,50 euro, all of which come with complimentary vacuuming. There are also 4 self-service stations for you to spray down and wash you car, which also include vacuuming.

The special service that I haven’t seen anywhere else is the temperature controlled indoor dog wash, which can come in handy if you have a big dog and a tiny bathroom, especially in the winter. This video shows the dog wash in use. It costs 7,50 euro for 10 minutes of use and includes special shampoos, conditioner and a dryer with a low and high speed option. The machine takes bills and coins, but it does not give change back. You are able to deposit 50 cent, 1 euro and 2 euro coins to add to the original 10 minutes of time as well.  There is a door on the front of the washing station that opens to allow easy access to your dog. There is also a chain where you can clip your dog in for safety and to keep them still during the wash. After you are finished, you have to disinfect the tub for the next customer. There is also a dog treat vending machine, where you can treat your dog after the bath for 1 euro.

This video shows all of the iClean systems available in Brunssum.

Molenvaart, Brunssum, NL

Mon – Fri 0800-1900
Sat 0800-1800
Sun 1000-1700

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Museumkaart – The Dutch Museum Card

If you like to spend time in museums and historical attractions in the Netherlands, I have a deal for you. The Museumkaart can be purchased at most of the attractions where it is accepted and it will get you in to these places for FREE for 365 days. In some of the more popular attractions, like the Van Gogh museum, you get to join the people in the “skip the line” line too. The price is worth it in my opinion. You can do the math for the attractions you’re most interested in.

The website is easy to navigate, click Zoeken to pull up the search bar. You can search by province, or by a nearby city (in de buurt van). There are check boxes for the type of attraction. You can also choose to only see where the card gets you in free, where it offers a discount, or where you can actually buy the card (verkooppunt). Search around the local area and big cities, you might be surprised by what the card offers. I’ve compiled a list below of some of my favorites, along with the usual adult price without a discount.

Museumkaart Price
Adults: 54,95 euro
Children (18 years and younger): 27,50 euro

Free with Museumkaart
Underlined names sell the card on site

Nearby
Continuum, Kerkrade (Closed until Oct 2015)
Schunck, Heerlen €5
Thermenmuseum, Heerlen €6,75
Kasteel Hoensbroek, Hoensbroek €8,25
Romeinse Katakombien, Valkenburg an de Geul €7,50
Museum Abdijkerk, Thorn €3
Natuurhistorisch Museum Maastricht €6
Limburgs Museum, Venlo €11

Amsterdam
Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam (Royal Palace) €10
Amsterdam Museum €11
Rijksmuseum €15
Museum het Rembranthuis €12.50
Hermitage Amsterdam €15
Van Gogh Museum €15
Science Center NEMO €15
Anne Frank Huis €9
Ons’ Lieve Heer Op Solder (Hidden church in a canal house) €8

Den Haag
Mauritshuis €14
Botanische Tuin (Garden) Tu Delft €2
Gemeentemuseum Den Haag €14,50
Louwman Museum (Cars) €14

Others
Museum Bevrijdende Vleugels (Planes from WW2), Best €6,50
Nederlands Openluchtmuseum (Open air museum), Arnhem €15,70
Kasteel de Haar, Haarzuilens €14

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Tips for House Hunting

Everyone’s preference will be different on this subject, but I hope this list will help you when deciding on a house.

Available housing lists – There are several locations to get housing lists. They are the US housing office, the NATO housing office (in the Italian NSU), Brunssum (NL) housing and Schinnen (NL) housing.

If you are stationed in the Netherlands, you must live in the Netherlands. If you are stationed in Germany, you can live in Germany or, with commander permission, in the Netherlands. Note that you do not get the same tax benefits if you choose to live in the Netherlands when stationed in Germany and your housing allowance stays at the German rate. Also, in general, houses are bigger and less expensive in Germany. If the choices on these lists don’t work, you can go on the economy, but you may have to pay a “finders fee” to a realtor and the house may or may not have a kitchen included. A good place to start is http://www.immobilienscout24.de. Look at the “Meitwohnungen“for apartments for rent and “Haus meiten” for houses for rent. Kreis Heinsberg includes all of the nearby towns in the Geilenkirchen area.

Keep in mind that the housing office has a “black list” of landlords who cannot rent to military stationed over here due to prior problems. Even if you do go find a house on your own, you may want to ask the housing office if they know anything about the property.

“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” – Many of the houses in the area are more than what they appear in the first photos you see of them. Many of these houses can’t even be judged from the road. Try to get appointments to walk through these houses. They might surprise you.

School bus ride time – Depending on where your town is on the bus route, the ride length for your kids may be quite different from the time it would take you to drive to or from school.

Distance from Esso – You can find the addresses of the nearest gas stations on Esso Fuel Finder. Remember that the stations on the Dutch side of the border do not take the ration card.

Internet speed and if Fiber is installed – You can ask the landlord if Fiber (cable modem speed internet) is installed in the house. If not, your town may have cables installed in the street already, which would mean you still have to schedule workers to get the cable from the street to your house. Call the company to see how long that would take. If not, most people get internet through T-mobile. You can ask someone at the T-mobile office to check the speeds for specific houses.

Cell phone network connectivity – It is possible to have no reception in parts of this area. At the bottom of this blog post, you will find a listing of the main German networks. You can then go to their respective websites to see a map of coverage in your area.

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Pet Shipping or PCSing with your Pet

Moving overseas with your pet and getting their paperwork in order can seem overwhelming at first. But I hope this listing will help answer some of your questions about getting your pet to this side of the Atlantic.

Summary of requirements for shipping a pet – This link lists all of the paperwork and actions you must take to make sure your pet is ready to be moved. The last item on this list is specific to the Pet Relocation company, but the rest of the requirements are universal.

Note: Some of these requirements are time sensitive. For example, rabies vaccine must be administered after your pet has received a Europe accepted microchip and must be between 1 year and 3 weeks old at time of travel. You will also need a health certificate completed no earlier than 10 days before travel.

Operation Military Pet Assistance Application – If the price of shipping your pet or transporting them on the same plane as you is too much, the SPCA is here to help. You need to submit a quote from the airline to submit this application. The rest of the requirements are listed at the link.

Ramstein Fact Sheet for Pets – This fact sheet is full of useful information.

Pet Examination Fee: Pet owners arriving at the Ramstein Passenger Terminal or Frankfurt airport will be assessed a 55 Euro veterinarian examination fee in accordance with European Union Ordinance #998/2003. The fee will be charged per pet. The fee is not reimbursable on travelers orders and will be payable by credit card only. Please note that if you arrive on a weekend or holiday, you may have to pay an extra fee for the Vet to come outside normal working hours.

My Top Tips:

Start researching early. Some airlines don’t ship pets during specific date ranges or when the temperature is too hot or cold. Some airlines don’t have jets equipped to ship pets on certain routes. Check different airport choices and code share flights.

When you go to book your flight with TMO, be sure to tell them that you are bringing a pet. They will help make sure you get on a flight that will allow your pet.

As soon as you have a flight booked with TMO, call the airline to reserve a spot for your pet. This includes pets that will be in the cabin under the seat in front of you. Space is limited and the airline must know that your pet is coming as soon as possible.

If your first flight choice doesn’t work, try again. I changed my flight 2 times to ensure my pet was on the same plane as I was.

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B.U.F.F. Strength Training for Women with Free Childcare

There is a new class in town at the Brunssum gym that includes free childcare, courtesy of the JFC Brunssum Chapel. Classes are free and held on Mondays 0930-1030 in the main floor gym. The class will follow the AFNorth schedule. If AFNorth is closed to students on Monday, there will be no class. Check the link above for information on all classes at Brunssum, including a Pilates class with free childcare on Thursdays.

BUFF Flyer

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How to watch American TV Programming Online in Europe

Are you a fan of Netflix, Hulu, or On Demand type programming from your favorite channels? The good news is that it’s still possible to access most of this programming, but it will cost you a small amount depending on which service you go with.

This service is either called VPN or Smart DNS. You can click on the links to find out exactly how each process works. A good comparison of the two is given in this article. You can decide which service will work best for you.

I am not an expert in this subject, but this post will point you in the right direction. Here are the pros and cons that I’ve observed through my use of both types of services. There are also services out there that combine Smart DNS and VPN as well if you want to compromise between the two. You can use C-Net to compare companies that you are interested in.

VPN

Pro: Works on every website. While it’s turned on all websites will act as though you are in the country you designate.

Con: Slows down internet speed. Set up on non-computer type devices is difficult.

Smart DNS

Pro: Works on all devises easily, including game consoles and smart TVs. Does not slow down Internet connection. You can change your country IP for one site while using a different country for another site.

Con: Only works on certain websites, like ABC, Netflix, BBC etc. Does not work for Youtube.

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Where to Buy Propane

There are two main places to buy propane in this area. Both of these locations will work for your American propane tank and cost around 20 euro to fill.

NATEX Garage (Tank Exchange)

Phone: 0049 (0)2451-6207-252
Mon – Thu: 0800 – 1700
Fri: 0800 – 1500
Sat – Sun: CLOSED

Van Dooren

In de Cramer 17, Heerlen
Mon – Fri: 0730-1730
Sat: 0900-1300
May 1 – Sept 1, 2015: Saturdays open until 1600
Closed Sunday

The benefit of Van Dooren is that you can fill up your own tank so you are guaranteed to walk away with a tank of propane. Just drive to the back from the front gate, fill up your tank, then pay inside the store. It’s also around the corner from IKEA and the RD4 thrift shop, so you can make the trip more “productive” if you like. Thanks to the spouses who shared this information on Facebook!

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IYA Yoga Course – Thursdays (Free)

Starting on October 2nd.

Contact IYA at +49 (0)2451 63 4955 for more information. Building 95.

GK Yoga flyer

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Dutch Market Search Engine

Do you need a market other than Sittard, Eygelshoven or Heerlen? I’ve found a database that lists all of the markets across the Netherlands, to include specialty markets of cheese, books, or antiques.

The home page has a description of Dutch markets, but the real lifesaver is the search engine. You can search by municipal region (Brunssum, Heerlen, Landgraaf, Kerkrade and Sittard-Geleen are examples) or by day of the week. The entries will include specific location of each market and it’s opening hours.

Search to your hearts content, you might even learn something new about your usual stomping grounds. Example: They list an organic market in Sittard on Steenweg which takes place on Saturdays 1000-1700.

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IYA Swimming Course – Begins Sept 10

Open to children 5 years old and up. Contact the IYA office for more information. 0049 (0)2451 63 4955

IMG_0005

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IYA Afternoon Club

Open to children 5 years old and up. Contact the IYA office for more information.

0049 (0)2451 63 4955IMG_0004

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E-3A Component Softball Club – Wednesdays

The E-3A Component Softball Club has opened up a “League Night”.  The Club is open to anyone in the Tri-Border area that enjoys playing softball regardless of skill level.
The goal is to bring softball back to GK. Come out every Wednesday from 1715-1900 @ the Softball fields near the NATO Gym.
POCs are listed on the flyer.

E-3A Component Softball Club

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SCUBA Diving at Brunssum

The NATO SCUBA Diving Club is holding free introductory diving experiences at the JFCBS Pool every Monday in September starting at 1900hrs. They also hold instruction classes that will lead to diving certification. You can learn more at their website or contact them through their email.

Posted in JFC Brunssum- Info, Sports Clubs and Classes | 1 Comment

Schinnen Bowling Leagues – Kids, Mixed Adults, and Women Leagues

Contact the Schinnen Bowling Center for more information at 0031 (0)46-443-7207 or DSN 360-7207. There will also be a daytime Womens’ League at 1000 – 1230 every Thursday, which will compete with the evening Womens’ League.

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Trends in the Tri-Border Area

Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but here are some guidelines to help you navigate life in the Tri-Border area. Thanks to the HereatGK Facebook community for helping add to this post. If anyone else has epiphanies that I should add, feel free to let us know in the comments!

General Tips

Always have change on you. Between restrooms, shopping cart deposits, parking ticket machines, restaurant service tips, and bus rides, you’ll be using it all the time.

A coin purse is helpful for all of the loose change. A light colored interior will help when you need to locate the correct change. The picture below shows a convenient and organized way to carry change. Similar items may be sold in stores

469874800_880Research stores, restaurants, and attractions before you go. Opening hours may also include a lunch break or be limited on certain days, so check ahead of time. Some attractions close or have limited hours during the winter.

Self-service ticketing machines (at train/bus stations, in parking garages, etc.) generally only accept local bank cards, chipped credit cards, pre-issued parking tokens and/or Euro coins. Don’t expect your US credit card to work.

Restaurants

Restaurants are usually closed on Mondays (sometimes Tuesdays too).

The universal signal to let the waiter know you’re ready to order is to close your menu. If this doesn’t work, you’ll have to wave him/her down. The same goes for when you would like the check. Hand signals work really well.

Know tipping conventions for the country that you’re in. In this area, the general rule is to round up to the next euro or two.

Shopping

Stores are closed on Sundays. Exceptions are called Koopzondag in the Netherlands. German cities sometimes open stores on Sunday too, but it’s more rare. Touristy towns like Valkenburg and Monchau are open on Sundays, along with big cities like Maastricht, Roermond and Eindhoven.

Stores are open later (usually to 8pm) on Thursdays in the Netherlands. For a full listing of participating cities click here.

You will have to pay for plastic bags in most stores, so it’s nice to have a lightweight bag that doesn’t take up too much space to keep in a purse or pocket. I keep a heavy duty one in the car too.

Fresh produce that is loose should be bagged prior to checkout. There should be a scale nearby that you can put the items on, press the corresponding item’s button, and a label will be printed to be affixed to your bag. Some grocery stores will weigh your produce, but they are the exception.

Parking

Most parking must be paid for or has a time limit. Check out this post for more information. Also, beware of blue lines in the Netherlands, which denote parking areas for permit holders.

Miscellaneous

Ever hear something like a tornado/air raid siren? It’s the notification for the volunteer fire department.

Has a car driven slowly down your road while ringing a bell and carrying a trailer of junk? They’ll take your scrap metal.

Download apps to your smartphone for services you plan on using, especially for public transportation. We have a listing of useful apps here.

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Val Dieu Abbey and Brewery – Aubel, BE

I was first inspired to visit the Abbey of Val Dieu by this article on CheeseWeb, an expat blog based in Belgium. The abbey is about one hour away from the Tri-Border area, and entrance into the grounds, gardens, and church is free. We visited on a Saturday so we could join the weekly tour of the abbey for 5 euro which takes place at 1330. The tour was in French, but we did get to see parts of the abbey that are closed off otherwise. It is possible to organize a group tour in English with prior coordination.

I’m sure the main draw for some people will be the brewery that is located here. It is possible to set up a group tour of the brewery, which can include beer tastings as well. There are two restaurants located here. The first, Casse-Croûte, is a cafeteria style restaurant, which has a few big meal items, lots of snacks and, of course, beer. Across the street is Moulin de Val Dieu, which is the usual bistro/restaurant and also has delicious beer. We took CheeseWeb’s recommendation and went to Moulin for lunch and ordered the same dishes, which were exceptional. I only wish my stomach was bigger, so I could have finished the meal. FYI, there is a small playground next to the terrace of Moulin and the water wheel for the mill still turns.

All in all, a visit to the Abbey of Val Dieu is a worthwhile way to spend a few hours in Belgium. Good food, good beer, and a bit of culture, all in a beautiful setting.

Val-Dieu 227, Aubel, Belgium

Gardens:
Open Everyday 0900-1800

Abbey Store:
Sunday, Monday and holidays: 1130-1800
Tuesday-Saturday: 1000-1800

Casse-Croûte:
Open Everyday except Tuesday: 0930-1830

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IYA Dance Sensation – Starts Sept 2

For more information, contact the IYA office in Building 95 at 0049 (0)2451 63 4955.

DanceSensation

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Massage Therapy at IYA

For more information, contact the IYA office in Building 95 at 0049 (0)2451 63 4955.

IYA Massage Therapy

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IYA Mixed Martial Arts Classes for Kids and Adults – Starts 15 Sept

For more information, contact the IYA office in Building 95 at 0049 (0)2451 63 4955.

Mixed Martial Arts Fall 14

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Burg Rheinfels – St. Goar, DE

Just north of the famed Lorelei on the Rhein river sits the small town of Sankt Goar and the largest castle on the Rhein, Burg Rheinfels. The ruins that remain of this castle are impressive and you have free reign on your self-guided tour. The website even recommends to wear sturdy shoes and bring a flashlight so you can explore all of the nooks, crannies, and tunnels of the Burg. It’s also because of this that I don’t recommend bringing young and mobile children. There are quite a few areas that a small child could fall or squeeze through. There is also a small museum within the castle that explains the history of Burg Rheinfels and why this part of the river was so important. I think between 1-2 hours is a good amount of time to spend at Burg Rheinfels. It’s hard not to put the camera down while you’re exploring.

Sankt Goar is a bit touristy during the summer months, but is still worth a stroll down the main street. There are plenty of souvenir shops to see, including a Stein store with a huge selection. Remember to bring a VAT form if you plan on any purchases.

St. Goar is about 2 hours away from the Tri-Border area by car. There is a parking lot located right next to the castle. The town also has a train station along the beautiful route of the MittelrheinBahn about 30 minutes from Koblenz and 1 hour north of Mainz. If you take the train, you will have to walk up the hill to the castle, which is about a 15-20 minute walk.

If you still have time left after all of your fun in Sankt Goar, I highly recommend stopping in Bacharach. It’s just a few train stations south of Sankt Goar and there are a ton of wineries to have tastings at and cute houses to take pictures of.

Opening Hours
March 15-Oct 25, 2014: 0900-1800
Oct 26 – Nov 9, 2014: 0900-1700
Closed after Nov 9.

Admission
Adults: 4 euro
Children 6-14: 2 euro
Children under 6: Free
Family (2 adults and up to 4 children): 10 euro

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Amsterdam Park and Ride

When traveling to Amsterdam, I am a big fan of using the NS train day-tickets that go on sale about once a month, but sometimes this isn’t the most practical way of traveling in the Netherlands. I’ve compiled a list of tips for some of the P+R lots around the city that will hopefully help you get parked and into the city as quickly as possible.

First, if you have never done P+R in Amsterdam, look through the overview on their tourism website. It will give you the basics, a list of lots you can use, and the rates for parking and getting the P+R ticket. If this page is missing any information about the parking lot you’re interested in, just use a search engine, all of the parking lot information should be on the company’s website.

The website does an good job of explaining the steps, here are some of my additional notes.

NOTE: You must use a credit card with a chip (a debit card might work) to purchase the P+R tickets. The tickets are not included in your parking fee.

Your transit into and out of city center using the P+R tickets must be used within an hour of arriving and leaving the parking garage respectively.

For the parking lots at RAI, Olympic Stadium and Arena, check their event calendar before you go. Park and Ride is closed during major events.

For RAI and Arena, the P1 parking lot is designated for Park and Ride.

RAI can only be used for 24 hours as Park and Ride.

P+R Amsterdam Flyer

 

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Kids Self Defense Class on Brunssum

Starting on Wednesday, July 23.

There is a fee associated with this class. For more information, contact info is below. The younger age group class is the early class while the older age group is the later class. You can also Like their page.

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JFC Brunssum Bike Shop

Contributed by AFNorth Alpha SFRG

Highly recommended: Bike shop on JFC Brunssum. My husband dropped off his dirty, abused mountain bike for a tune up. For only 30 Euros, his bike was overhauled and rides like new. Great service! They take pride in their work. It’s very convenient and you will receive such a great value! They also sell accessories and bikes. Located in between the library and the pool. Check it out. Two thumbs up! FYI – They also consign bikes. If you would like to sell your bike, you can drop it off there. If you are in the market for a bike: stop by and speak to them. They sell new and used bikes. We purchased a great bike there as well. The store will be extended. If you are looking for something, they can probably get it. This shop is part of Bikeservice Sittard (Pastoor Jacobsstraat 16A, Sittard).

Mon 1000-1700
Tues – Thurs 0900-1700
Fri 0900-1500
Lower level of Brunssum Arts & Crafts Center

Price List (current as of June 2014) is below.

BIKE

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Gangelt Pool

While there is an indoor pool at Brunssum and an outdoor one at GK NATO Base, sometimes it’s nice to try something new. Last summer, I spent several days poolside in Gangelt. The pool is located right next to Haus Hamacher and is HUGE! With places to rest, tan or watch the kids, you can bring your own small cooler or buy ice cream from their vendor. As for the pool itself, it is sectioned off into three areas. One for diving, one for the huge slide, and one for free swim. Prices are reasonable and they offer a card for the season if you really like to spend your days by the pool.

Click on the links for info on any of the pools. This will include prices and times of opening.

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Eisparadies Penners- Ice Cream in Tuddern

This ice cream cafe is a staple for many of us residing in the Selfkant region, but remember, Tüddern is just across the border from Sittard, so don’t let the distance be a deterrent from visiting at least once.  Eisparadies has indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a covered balcony for those days when the weather isn’t as nice.

If you plan on having just a scoop or three, walk into the building and order with one of people at the counter. If it’s a busy day, they’ll have a second counter open in the garden area. If you plan on having drinks and sundaes, take a seat and one of the waiters will be over to take your order. The selection and the portion size are both generous. There are 9 types of spaghetti eis alone and plenty of other options are available. Most sundaes have 5 or more scoops of ice cream. I usually just ask for “ein Löffel” or one spoon so I can share with someone. You can view the menu on their website.

There is a huge playground for the kids to play on in the backyard (I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves). Parking is available just past the cafe. If you can’t find a spot, the street is always an option. There is plenty of room for bikes as well.

Eisparadies Penners
Millener Weg 25, Tüddern
Summer Hours Open Daily 1300-2100
Winter Hours Open Daily 1300-1900
Facebook Page

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Cafe Rekko – Maastricht

Along the row of restaurants in Vrijthof square in Maastricht is a cafe that we go out of our way to visit. We usually visit on Sundays for their Ontbijt (breakfast). For € 8.50, you get croissants, bread, baguettes, (along with butter, jam and chocolate sprinkles) ham, cheese, salami, a hard boild egg, orange juice and your choice of coffee or tea. After all of that food, you are ready to tackle Maastricht’s city center, which is open on Sundays too.

After trying several other selections on their menu, we can say that the portions are large and well priced and everything has been delicious. There is ample seating both inside and outside and the waiters have always been helpful.

Cafe Rekko Website
Open Daily 0900-2230
Vrijthof 10, Maastricht

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Royal Greenhouses of Laeken (Brussels), BE

The Royal Greenhouses are only open to the public for a short period of time each year. This year, they are open April 17-May 8, 2015 and admission is 2,50 per person over 18 years old. Children admission is free.

The first third of the tour is outside through the grounds. You will get to see the manicured landscape and the exteriors of the impressive greenhouses. The rest of the tour is inside the huge greenhouses, which are all connected to each other. The way the trail is set up, there is only one direction you can go so you won’t get lost. There are some stairs, but if you have two people, a stroller works well through the buildings. The entire visit for us took about 1.5 hours and was about 4km of walking.

Find more information on opening hours and directions here.

Parking is free across the street from the palace garden gates.

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Geyser Andernach

Andernach is a small city situated along the Rhein river just north of Koblenz, about a 2 hour drive from GK. The city has an expansive park along the bank of the Rhein with a large playground and even a beach. There are quite a few historical buildings to see in the park and around the city, including an old crane, the city walls and a huge round tower.

The real draw of Andernach for me was the largest cold water geyser in the world. Unlike most geysers that are powered by thermal energy, this geyser is propelled by the carbon dioxide in the water. To visit the geyser, you first stop by their Discovery Center to buy your tickets. The center suggests allowing 1.5 hours to visit the center, an interactive science museum all about geysers. After spending your time at the center, you cross the street to the boat that will take you to the geyser. The boat ride is about a 15 minute and has a few drinks, snacks and cakes available on board. The walk to the geyser is an easy one, which is wheelchair accessible. There is ample time from when the boat docks to when the geyser erupts so feel free to take your time walking up. Because the water is cold, you are allowed to get extremely close to the geyser during the eruption, but be ready with an umbrella if you don’t want to get wet, or you can stand further away. After the geyser finishes it’s show, the boat will take you back to where you started and you can explore the rest of the city. The whole visit, from buying tickets, to arriving back on the boat, takes about 3 hours.

Geyser Andernach
End of March to October 31
Monday-Sunday 9:00 am – 5:30 pm
Our Boat leaves at 11:15 am, 1:05 pm, 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm

Tickets and Prices
Driving Directions
There is free parking behind the Round Tower on Hochstrasse.

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Buying bikes at low cost

There are a few places to buy bikes that have some low cost options. So far I’ve only experimented on the NL side, but I hope to add some German stores soon!

Halfords – Sittard (Next to Xenos near the centrum)

Tempelplein 7, Sittard

http://www.halfords.nl/?gclid=CKbdhqX5-70CFaoewwodtkUAHw#

(They had a few 300€ touring bikes for guys and some adorable ladies bikes for 230€)

 

Decathlon We wrote about this “sports authority” here

Decathlon Kerkrade
Wiebachstraat 75, Kerkrade, NL

 

Bike Arena Next to Decathlon….

They sell expensive bikes but their used ones are well priced! They also do bike repairs.

http://www.bikearenaparkstad.nl/

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Funville Speellounge – Maastricht

Unfortunately, Funville closed on June 1, 2014.

While walking along the river in Maastricht, close to Mosae Forum, we discovered a play place hidden inside an old church. While we didn’t have time to test out the facilities, it looks like a nice place to let the kids run around during a break from shopping or sight seeing. You can even have a Dutch pancake for a mid-day snack at their restaurant. For more information and a video of the facilities, head to their website.

Kesselskade 43, Maastricht

Wed and Sun: 1100-1800
Fri and Sat: 1100-1900
Mon, Tues, Thurs: Closed

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Taste of India and Grenzenlos Restaurants, Tüddern

After much anticipation, the owner of Romas has opened the doors to his new restaurant. The building is located in the Tuddern shopping center just past the car wash. There are about 4 parking spots in the front of the building and a big gravel parking lot behind the restaurant.

The building is split into two halves. The front half is a modern cafe or bistro called Grenzenlos. The cafe has a daily breakfast buffet from 8 to noon and a few dishes that include hamburgers and curry wurst.

The back half of the building is Taste of India, an Indian restaurant with all the decorations, music and good food that you could hope for. The menu has a huge selection, to include tandoori, 10 types of naan bread, 6 types of rice and briyani and more Indian dishes than I’ve seen in a long time. Chicken, lamb, fish and vegetarian dishes are available. For those new to this type a food, the back of the menu lists a variety of Thalis, which are like a mix between a sample platter and a 3 course menu item.

The prices are a little higher than some of the other restaurants in the area. Vegetarian dishes are around 10 euro, while meat dishes are around 15 euro. They have menus available to take home if you want to stop by just to peruse. All in all, we enjoyed trying Taste of India and will be returning soon.

In der Fummer 18, Tüddern
0245 6508 7280/1

Grenzenlos: Open Daily 0800 – 2200
Taste of India: Open Daily 1600 – 2300

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Abbaye de Villers, Belgium

Located between Brussels and Charleroi is the quiet village Villers-la-Ville, which is home to the Villers Abbey ruins. While I could describe how relaxing my trip was and how beautiful every angle of this abbey is, I think the story is better told in pictures. You can see many aspects of the abbey on their website (you’ll see more on the French site than on the English site). The area is extremely well taken care off. The grass is short and a perfect location for a picnic. Walkways are well maintained, but the stairways and some areas of the abbey are in the middle of improvements. We wandered around the area, read the informative signs (in English) that were scattered about the area and spent some time relaxing on a park bench. All told, we spent about 2 hours here, but I am sure an avid photographer could easily spend all day expanding their portfolio. The abbey is about 25 minutes from Waterloo, so a trip up there could round out your day.

Rue de l’Abbaye, 55
1495 Villers-la-Ville
Belgium

1st November – 31st March: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (closed on Tuesdays)
1st April – 31st October: 10:00 am – 6 pm (open everyday)

Annual closing: December 24, December 25, December 31 and January 1.

  • Adults: € 6
  • Children (aged 6 to 12):  € 2,50
  • Children (<6 years): Free
  • Audioguide: € 1,50

Dogs are allowed on a leash.

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Nazi Dokumentations Zentrum – Cologne

If you are interested in history (especially WWII), this is an informative and compelling place to visit. Located in Cologne, this center still has the cells that held those waiting for documentation. There are stories throughout and lots of information. Some of it is written in English, but most is not. Audio guides are available for a small fee. This museum is a real experience and look at what conditions were like and what processing entailed. I really hope you take a moment to check it out. It’s well worth the 4,50€.

NS Dokumentationzentrum Website

Tue to Fri 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sat and Sun 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Every 1st Thu of each month: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
closed on Mondays and during carnival

Adults: 4,50 €

Children up to 6 years old: Free

It is possible for individual visitors to visit the exhibition with audio guides (2 €) , which are available in six languages (English, French, Spanish, Polish, Russian and German) and run for more than 3 ¼ hours.

Cologne National Socialism Documentation Center

Appellhofplatz 23-25 (EL-DE building)
50667 Cologne
Germany

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Masseur Aan De Deur – At Home Massage Therapist

masseur aan de deur 3

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Primark Clothing Store

Located in various cities in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, this store is like a big version of H&M. I saw 3-10 euro shirts, 10 euro pants, 1 euro for 2 pairs of cozy socks, 12 euro for cardigans and much more. I went to the store in Eindhoven, which is 4 floors. The basement is accessories, home products and sleepwear. The first and second floors are for women and the top is for men and children. This store is big and really popular with the locals. It was very busy on a Saturday afternoon. To get an idea of the types of clothes they sell, look here. If you’re looking for fashionable clothes on the cheap, this is definitely your store.

Closest Primark Locations:
Liege, BE
Eindhoven, NL
Dusseldorf, DE
Cologne, DE
Essen, DE
Gelsenkirchen, DE
Dortmund, DE

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JFC Brunssum Car Wash

Did you know that there is a car wash on JFC Brunssum? It is similar to most car washes in the area, where you park and the brushes move around your car. There are three programs to choose from, listed below. To use the car wash, stop by the Auto Hobby Shop or one of the restaurants on Brunssum and buy a token. The token is used to start the machine. The car wash is located next to the gas station (Building 301), which has directional signs pointing towards it.
New Doc 1_1

brunssum car wash

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Helpful Smartphone Apps

Smartphones can be a tremendous tool in navigating life in Europe. Here are some apps that we and contributing readers have found helpful. If you have any awesome apps you would like to share, please let us know in the comments.

AFN Europe – Android and Apple – Get AFN schedules, news and weather.

MüllAlarm – Android and Apple – Have the trash schedule for your town right on your phone! The iPhone version seems to have more capability than the Android version right now.

Visit Europe – Apple – Audio guide/walking tours of big cities

Communication

Skype – Android and Apple – Make calls over wifi.

Viber – Android and Apple – Similar service to Skype.

KakaoTalk – Android and Apple – Make calls or text with other users. Low speed internet still works well.

Conversion Calculators

Convert – Apple – Easily convert from Metric to English units.

Currency Converter – Android and Apple – A helpful tool, especially with big purchases.

Metric Conversion – Android and Apple – Calculator for converting units.

Deals/Sales

Groupon – Android and Apple – Find travel, dining and fun deals for cities in Germany and the Netherlands.

VarageSale – Android and Apple – Join the local “GK/Schinnen/JFC For Sale/Wanted, Germany” group

Social Deal (Netherlands)

Language

Fast Talk –  Apple – Learn important phrases in common languages.

Google Translate – Android and Apple – Translate just like you would on the website. No internet connection needed.

Word Lens – Android and Apple – Translations of pictures available in German and other main European languages. Purchase of language packages is required.

Public Transportation

DB Navigator – Android and Apple – Buy tickets or look at current rail schedules on German trains. You can save itineraries for reference while you’re out and about.

NS Reisplanner – Android and Apple – Plan your trip and check for rail work on Dutch trains. Unfortunately, you must have an internet connection to run this app, but most NS trains have free Wi-Fi.

SNCB/NMBS – Android and Apple – Plan your trip and check timetables for Belgian trains. Certain features are available offline.

Veolia – Android and Apple – Dutch bus information at your fingertips.

9292 – Android and Apple – Another Dutch transportation coordination app. This one contains all Dutch transportation systems.

Travel and Traffic

Komoot – Android and Apple – Use your phone as a GPS for your bike. This app give you your first offline maps for free. They contain the bike trail network and will give you voice directions as your ride.

Esso Fuel Finder – Android and Apple – Find Esso gas stations no matter where you are. Great for road trips.

Flitsmeister – Android and Apple – This app tells you where all traffic cameras are in the Netherlands.

NavFree  – Android and Apple (Benelux and Germany) – Data free GPS for your phone.

Parkopedia – Android and Apple – Find parking options by searching a city or using GPS. Parking price, address and sometimes even real-time capacity are listed.

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Space Available (Space A) Tips

I recently returned from my first space available flight back to the U.S., here are some tips that I hope will help any of you who might use this service while living overseas.

First, head to www.spacea.net. This website is a tremendous resource. You can find information about all of the passenger terminals, the planes that allow passengers, and how to sign up for these flights. All of my information leading up to my flight came from their website.

NOTE: Not everyone is eligible for space available flights, check here to see if you are.

The following tips are observations that were not mentioned on the website so I am letting you know here.

  • Everyone who is traveling with you must be listed on the required command sponsorship letter. There was a person trying to check in the morning of the flight at Ramstein who was flying with her baby. Her name was on the command sponsorship letter, but her baby’s was not. Luckily, she was based on Ramstein, so she was able to obtain a new letter that morning before the flight, but it was a very close call.  This letter is good for one round trip flight to the US and back within 90 days of the date on the letter. Also note that your sign up date can be no earlier than the date that this letter is signed.
  • Hold onto your passport during the entire trip. It should be second nature, but any important documents, especially your passport/orders/ID card, should stay on your person during the entire trip. There was someone on my flight who put their passport into their checked bags. They showed up at customs gate to find out that they would have to go get them to proceed any further. Remember, you will go through customs on the other end of your flight before you get your checked bags.
  • Sign up by email early. You can sign up at any base up to 60 days before you plan to fly. If you are going without an active duty member, sign up early so you will have a higher priority in your category. If you are going with an active duty member, you will have to wait to sign up when his/her leave starts.  Also, print the email. This will ensure that your initial request date will be honored, even if the system is down or they lost the email somehow.
  • Check in early. You can check in/be marked present for a flight up to 24 hours prior to a flight. If you are flying out of Ramstein, avoid the lines and check in the day ahead if it’s an early morning flight. Just stop by the passenger service desk with your letter, passport and the dated email of your space a request. You don’t have to stay in the terminal after being marked present, however, if your name is called during roll call and you are not there, you risk being pulled off of the flight.
  • Space-A is not always free. Flights on military aircraft are free, but chartered flights from Patriot Express are the following prices: OCONUS to CONUS flights are $35, while CONUS to OCONUS flights are $17.50. You should be able to pay with credit/debit card, but it’s a good idea to have some cash just in case. (This tip was on the website)
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Yellow bag recycling in Germany

If you aren’t sure exactly what can and can’t go into the yellow bin or yellow bags for recycling, well here is the translation of the items that they have listed on the bags themselves.

For proper recycle bags, you can go to the town hall (Rathaus) or simply pick up some at the GK A&FRC. For English directions on how the entire trash system works, you can download the Geilenkirchen Trash Calendar and Information Booklet PDF.

Translation of info on bag:

Here only empty into disposable the packaging made of plastic, metal and composite.

This will include for example:

Shopping bags, bags, wrapping films, milk bags, cereal bags, etc.

Food cans and beverage cans, closures, aluminum trays, aluminum lid, aluminum foil, etc.

Bottles of rinse detergents and personal care products, etc.

Margarine tubs, cups from buttermilk, curd, sour cream, yogurt,  etc.

Drinks and milk cartons, vacuum packaging, etc.

Fruits and vegetables containers and foam, etc.

This is not a general value cloth bag! No filling of other products made from plastic, metal, and plastic (such as electronics and batteries. They must be disposed of properly). No filling of residual waste or household waste, paper and glass! Otherwise, there is no pickup of your recycle can!

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JFC Brunssum Auto Hobby Shop

The Brunssum Auto Hobby Shop is located in the first building you see at the top of the hill. They have 5 bays with 4 lifts available for use.

You can rent a bay/lift by the hour to do your own maintenance. The rate is currently €5/hour for a bay or €6/hour for a lift. They have specialized tools that you can borrow when needed, but bring your own generic tools to use. The employees working there gave us tips when we needed help.

Also worth noting. If you like to do oil changes at home, you can drop off up to 4L of used oil at the shop for free.

You can also drop your car off to have maintenance done by the hobby shop employees. The price is being updated right now, but feel free to call them to get a quote. Here are some of the services available. Please note that all transactions are cash only.

  • Tire Change
  • Tire Repair
  • Tire Balance
  • Resurface Disc
  • Resurface Drum
  • Oil Change
  • Winter Check
  • Winter Tire Change
  • ABS Brake Bleeding
  • Battery Charging
  • Welding

Brunssum Auto Hobby Shop
+31 (0)45-526-3173
Sunday-Monday Closed
Tues 0800-1600
Wed 0900-1700
Thurs 1200-2000
Fri – Sat 0830-1600

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CYSS – Child and Youth Services on JFC Brunssum

The Brunssum CYSS is a large program the encompasses a variety of services. Here’s a quick summary of what they have available. All programs are located on JFC Brunssum, Building 602. The CDC and SAC are on the far left of the building, Parent Central Services is located in the center door and the Youth Center is located on the far right side of the building.

Childhood Development Center (CDC) – Ages 6 weeks-6 years – Open 7am-6pm

  • Full Time slots are available for all age groups
  • Part Day Preschool – Ages 3-6 – 9am-12pm – 2 Day (Tu&Th), 3 Day (M,W,F) and 5 Day options available
  • Strong Beginnings – Ages 4 by Sept 1 and older – 5 Day program 830am-1130am (Full Day or Part Day program)
  • Before and After school care available for children in IY1 and IY2 at AFNorth.
  • Hourly/Drop-In Care – Once children are fully registered with CYSS, you can request hourly care up to 30 days in advance of reservation. Hourly slots are filled depending on space available in the center. The rate is $4/hour.

School Age Center (SAC) – Children that have entered the 1st Grade -5th Grade.

  • Before and After Care available (full time care is given during school breaks except summer)
  • Summer camp is available on a weekly basis. Usually 2 or 3 field trips are planned for each week.
  • Hourly/Drop-In Care – Your child must be fully registered with CYSS before using hourly care. The same reservation process applies with SAC and CDC.  Children not registered in before or after care are allowed up to 4 hours of FREE hourly care per month. The usual rate of $4/hour applies afterwards.

SAC SmartGirls

Youth Center – Children who have entered 6th Grade – 12 Grade.

  • Open after school. On school out days, open from 12pm.

YC_Flyer

Sports Program – Open to children registered with CYSS. Age requirements are posted on flyers for the sports programs.

For more information, contact Parent Central Services
DSN 364-3121
Commercial 0031-(0)45-526-3121

The CDC/SAC now opens at 0700. All other times listed below are correct.

CYSS New operating hours

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ADAC and Travel Sales – GK NATO Base

Located in the middle of the building that houses the T-mobile and Commerz bank, is a door leading to the travel agency DER. Simone Peltzer is one of their agents and she is able to assist you with quoting, booking, or insuring your next vacation. DER is also your stop for ADAC, the AAA of Germany. Their service is famously known as the Yellow Angels by locals and they are the people to call when your car gives you trouble while on the road.

+49 2451 1256 x4088

geilenkirchen1@der.com

http://www.der.com/reisebuero/Geilenkirchen-NATO-Airbase-Postbox-7000

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Events in 2014

While the calendar is the most complete listing of events, I’ve compiled this list with some of the highlights. I’ll be adding events as I find them. Of course, if you would like to add something, let us know in the comments. I’ll leave this up for future reference for next year too.

Feb 7-16 – Brussels Chocolate Week

March 3 – Rosenmontag (Rose Monday) – One of the craziest days of Carnival. Many towns host parades on this holiday. Cologne has an enormous parade that starts at 1030am.

April 19 – May 5 – Ocher Bend in Aachen – This fun fair is held in Bendplatz, Aachen, right next to the Aachen West train station. They have all sorts of rides for young and old.

May-Sept – Rhine in Flames – See the link for dates. This firework show travels up and down the Rhine throughout the summer.

20-29 June – Pilgrimage to Aachen Dom – The relics are on display during this time and will not be opened again for 7 years.

28 June – Extra Shift – Night of industrial culture in the Ruhr river valley.

11-20 July – Dusseldorf Fun Fair – This huge fair claims to be the biggest on the Rhine.

11-20 July – CHIO in Aachen – A must for any horse enthusiast.

19 July – Kolner Lichter – By far the best fireworks show I have ever seen. Reserve a seat on one of the participating river cruise boats or watch for free on the banks for the Rhine.

August 2-3 – Amsterdam Pride – Sure to be one crazy weekend in Amsterdam.

August 8-18 – Ocher Bend in Aachen

August 21-24 – Weinsommer in Aachen – A compact wine fest next to the Aachen Dom.

Sept 13-14 – NL Open Monument Day – visit some monuments that are closed to visitors during the rest of the year.

Nov 21-Dec 24 – Christmas Market Season

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Boom Chicago – Chicago Style Improv in Amsterdam

Located on Rozengracht in the Rozentheater in Amsterdam is an unlikely show that I never expected to find in Europe. The sketch and improv based comedy group Boom Chicago is mostly comprised of Americans.  Several shows are available for you to enjoy Wednesday – Saturday. While the group was initially set up to attract tourists, the majority of the crowd is Dutch, which doesn’t keep Boom Chicago from making fun of certain Dutch qualities. They recently had a show named “Delete Zwarte Piet Niet!” and another called “The 7 Deadly Dutch Sins”. All in all, the show was a blast and a great way to spend a night in Amsterdam.

Side note: We went on a Saturday to their first show of the night “Baby I Like it Raw”. The next show, “Shot of Improv” was not sold out, so they were selling tickets for €5 each to stay for that show, which was almost as long and even more fun. It’s possible that this is something they do whenever they have more tickets to sell. I highly recommend staying for this show.

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Tiger and Turtle – Magic Mountain in Duisburg, DE

I found this curiosity on Pinterest before I moved here. We eventually went to see it on our way to Extra Schicht (Extra Shift) for a day and night of German Industry exploration (We visited Zollverein later in the day). Tiger and Turtle – Magic Mountain is a walkable roller coaster. It’s not the usual thing you go sight seeing, but it is a fun (and free) place to visit and burn some calories.  The loop is blocked off from climbing, but you can walk the rest of the structure.

The sculpture is also featured on Atlas Obscura, a website full of unique sightseeing opportunities. Just put in your location and it will list items by distance away from the starting point.

Parking is available along the street Ehringer Strasse.
Use Ehringer Strasse with the cross street Richard-Seiffer-Strasse for the GPS.

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Tasso – Pet Registration

We all hope that our pets will not escape the back yard or get lost somehow, but what happens if they do? The microchip required for your pets in Europe is a good step in the right direction, but their microchip needs to be registered with your contact information to ensure that they are returned to you. The German non-profit company Tasso is available for you to register your pets. The registration process takes less than 10 minutes. All you need is the microchip number and your contact information. Once you are registered, the company will send you some information in the mail, plus a tag to add to your pet’s collar. They will send a letter asking for a donation, but this is completely voluntary, the service itself is free.

If your pet ever goes missing, come back to this website and report them missing with any helpful information, like where they were last seen. Hopefully, someone will find your pet (there are volunteers linked to the website that will help in the search),take them to a vet to get screened for the microchip and you will be quickly reunited.

There are a few animal shelters where your pet may be taken.
Tierheim Heinsberg – Tierschutzverein f.d. Kreis Heinsberg e.V.
Stapperstr. 85, 52525 Heinsberg
Tel: 02452-7773
Their Facebook page will post missing animals when they are not registered with Tasso.

Dierenbescherming Limburg
Langereweg 9 Born, NL

The Dutch also have a similar pet finding service available at Amivedi or Mijndieriszoek. You can register your pet through Chipnummer.nl.

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Q-Park Website- Parking in The Netherlands

http://www.q-park.nl/

Use the website to search cities in which a Q-Park is located. The prices do not fluctuate much from the typical 2.30 euros an hour. Q-Parks are located all over the Netherlands.

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Where to Park in Maasticht

There are quite a few options for parking in Maastricht, all of which can be reviewed on their handy website.

Here is my opinion on some of the options available.

Park and Walk
Cabergerweg – Cabergerweg, Maastricht
€1,50/hour up to €6/day
About a 10 minute walk from Vrijthof for Markt Square. You don’t drive into the city, so you avoid all of the traffic. There are 3 Park and Walk lots available, but this one seems to be the closest to city center.

Parking Garages
Vrijthof – Vrijthof 100, Maastricht
€3,53/hour or €35/day
It’s an easy drive to get to this lot in the morning, but the lot fills up fast once stores open. It’s also extremely expensive, so I wouldn’t use this lot if you plan on staying for a long time.

De Griend – Griend 4, Maastricht
€2,14/hour or €12/day
This parking garage is on the opposite side of the river from city center, near the train station. This means a lot lower chance of traffic. It is located right next to a bridge that takes you to Mosae Forum and Markt square. There are stairs that you must climb to get onto the bridge, but that is the only down side.

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Bisschopsmolen – Flour Mill and Bakery – Maastricht

Located close to the Vrijthof Square is this original flour mill and restaurant. Although it can be much simpler to grind wheat in a more advanced setting, this company prefers to use its centuries old water mill to grind the product that is used in it’s pastries and breads.

The bakery offers a tour, although it can be much simpler to just go into the private entrance of the mill and take a look yourself. The entirety of the mill can be enjoyed in a matter of minutes, but is interesting to look at before you enter into the bakery or the restaurant. You can purchase flour, bread, and pastries to take home as well.

Address:Stenenbrug 1-3
6211 HP, Maastricht

Tel.:+31(0)43-3270613

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Taart – High Tea in Maastricht

Recommended by a German friend, I set up a tea date with two friends. If you have never had high tea let me explain the basics. Although once a working persons “Afternoon Tea” it has since been adapted to mean a tea time accompanied by more substantial foods than just crumpets or cakes. Less technical, it’s an event where you and your friends dress up and have tea and quiche.

Taart offers high tea with a reservation. Call and reserve with one of the friendly staff members who speak English. They offer delicious tea, three tiers of savory and sweet snacks, a piece of quiche, and a tart to top it all off. The restaurant also offers  other meal choices that you do not have to reserve, but the menu is not extensive. One point that interested me is that they bake their tarts in house as opposed to a majority of the other restaurants who buy their cakes and tarts off site.

Parking is available in the  Vrijthof 100, 6211 LE Maastricht

http://www.taartzaak.nl/

Helmstraat 2a 6211TA Tele: 0437370054

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Kasteel Limbricht – Limbricht NL

Located a short drive from GK is the Kasteel Limbricht. Although today it is used as a restaurant, bowling centre, and overall tourist destination, it was once a beautiful fortress.

From In Your Pocket Guide:

The current building, which was built upon the foundations
of the old castle, originates from 1630, although exact
dates aren’t 100% certain since the castle’s archives disappeared
when it was pillaged in 1650. These days you’ll find
the oldest remains of the first chateau in the cellars of the
castle. Of all the rooms in Limbricht, the Great Hall has the
most valuable design elements including its centrepiece, a
unique sandstone fireplace. Unfortunately, you can only visit
the castle as part of a tour group, but you can visit the large
public terrace of its historic courtyard restaurant.

http://www.kasteellimbricht.eu/#

We visited this castle as part of an office dinner party and were met with the kindest hosts. The dinner atop personal table top grills was delicious and the bowling was very fun. Be aware of the platforms on the bowling lanes. They are slippery!

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Ich & Dich – Sittard

This restaurant in the market square is sometimes overlooked but it’s definitely worth a try. Their menu is mainly sandwiches, but soups, salads, and a few tapas are also available. The soups were a favorite of people who were sitting around us, while we enjoyed our sandwiches. There are tables outside that you can sit at or walk inside to the back of the restaurant past the bar area. There is an open area back there that is quite nice. I think Ich & Dich is a nice alternative to Bagels & Beans every once in a while. Give it a try next time you’re in Sittard at lunch time.

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Zaanse Schans – Windmills!

Just a 20 minute train ride from Amsterdam is the Netherlands we all thought of before moving here. Zaanse Schans is filled with quaint houses surrounded by canals, windmills, wooden shoes, boats and bikes.  Most parts are open 1000-1700 everyday during the high season (April-November), while some shops are closed on weekdays during the low season. You can go inside the windmills for around €3. Why not start your day trip to Amsterdam here? Just switch trains at Amsterdam Centraal towards Koog-Zaandijk.

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Zum Goldenen Einhorn – The Golden Unicorn- Aachen

Located in one of the many beautiful and historic buildings surrounding the Aachen Cathedral is Sum Goldenen Einhorn. This translates into the Golden Unicorn. The building was once the horse stables for the town center and the restaurant plays off of this. The fayre is typical German, specifically Aachen specialties. The ambiance is so warm and inviting and the staff were more than helpful.

The prices for lunch were moderate, but the service and quality of food were fantastic! The schnitzel was superb (which is a make or break deal around here) and the Aachen specialty of roast with apple cabbage slaw and potato dumpling was delicious. This is a gem of a restaurant that I hope you experience to believe.

Address: Aachen, Restaurant Zum goldenen Einhorn Innenaufnahmen 3-Bildaufnahmen 52062

Image

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Leisure Dome – Movie Theater, Bowling, Mini-Golf, Play Place in Kerkrade

A new entertainment complex has opened up in Kerkrade and it has something for everyone. Here’s a summary of what they have to offer.

JT Movie Theater – This theater boasts the largest movie screen in South Limburg. There are 8 screens total, but the large one also has XD sound and the option to sit in D-Box chairs that move with the movie. Their prices are comparable to Foroxity, including the reduced prices and sneak previews on Tuesdays for €5. The theater does not take credit cards, but had pin-code machines, so you may be able to buy with Dutch bank cards, but cash is always accepted. As with other movie theaters in the area, beer and wine are available and there will be an intermission during the movie.

If you are facing the theater, there are stairs outside and to the left of the theater entrance that will take you to the bowling, mini-golf and arcade.

Bowlo Bowling Lounge – This is the classiest bowling venue I have ever seen. The lounge area looks like a nice place to have a cocktail while you wait for your turn on the lane.

GlowGolf – Indoor mini-golf under black lights. I think kids will love this one. A regular game costs €7,50 per person and will take 60 to 75 minutes to play. Birthday parties can also be arranged.

Darteldome – This indoor play place is huge, measuring 2000m², and is open to kids ages 0 to 12 years old. Prices are based on age; up to 2 years old is €2, up to 4 years old is €4, and kids up to 12 years old are €8,50. Birthday parties are also possible here. There is also a Darteldome location in Sittard at Dr. Nolenslaan 128.

Gamestate – This arcade is larger than the usual in the area, but it’s no Dave & Busters. I’m sure the video game lover could still have some fun in this place.

WOK Parkstad Plaza – This restaurant has a few sides to it. There is a brasserie/cafe, which is open all day, and a restaurant open in the evenings. There is also a play place located in the restaurant for the kids to enjoy.

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European VAT Forms for GK Stationed Families

This is a question that I’ve often asked and have received several answers to. So let’s crush the rumors once and for all and give it to you straight!

Building 74 is just outside the front gate of GK. There is a sign on the building for NATEX Administration and AMSTO. You are able to purchase European VAT forms from the AMSTO office, which is located just inside the front door of the building. AMSTO also sells tax forms for European car purchases. For the European VAT form, you buy the form for 5 euro, they certify it and you can use it anytime within the a year. This form is valid for Belgium, the Netherlands and many other European countries.

If you are using the VAT for the first time, make sure you ask the store what their procedure is before your purchase because they all handle it differently. Some take it at the register and remove the tax prior to your payment. In other stores, you pay the full price, then you take the form to a service desk and get reimbursed the taxes.

Quick Tip: If you have a favorite store that you go back to time and again, this tip is for you. Many stores will reimburse your VAT for multiple purchases. Save your receipts and take them all in at once with your VAT form. Make sure you purchase your VAT form before you start buying though and process it before it expires. Also, check with the store to see what their policy is, but if they do allow this, you’ll be able to save time and money.

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Listen to AFN Online

If the radio signal is weak in your area, or you just don’t have a radio that tunes to even numbers, you’re in luck. AFN streams online.

AFN hosts the local Benelux station along with the other European bases. You’ll also find several stations focused on different types of music; Country, Classic Rock, Contemporary Hits and Talk radio, plus a few more.  You can listen on your computer or download the AFN Europe App (Android and iPhone) and listen on your phone. Happy listening!

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MSC Cruise Lines – Sinfonia

Living in Europe gives numerous opportunities to travel and one of your travel options is a cruise. When my family and I decided we would like to take a cruise I went to a ton of websites and ultimately decided on militarycruisedeals.com to book our cruise. We chose this option due to the ease of the website, the variety of destinations, and cost.

I called the number at the top 866-9-MILITARY and spoke with my travel agent Mitch. He was incredibly laid back but professional. He walked me through choosing the best deal to meet my demands. I had 4 adults and 2 children. I chose a Mediteranian cruise on MSC because it offered children cruise free. You will see a variety of different destinations that offer this same deal, but I chose Genoa as my departure port because of the close proximity to a Ryan Air destination. Again, this will be your choice.

Mitch talked me through the steps and I booked and paid that very day. Because of the fact that we used our military status to get a discount he needed my sponsors LES to prove that he was indeed American Military. You will need to scan this in and e-mail it right away.

Skip ahead to the cruise. We flew from Dusseldorf Weeze to Milan Italy and stayed the night in a very quaint apartment near the airport called Airport Abaco Suite. The owners picked us up from the airport and drove us to our accommodation where we had to pay cash for the room. Did not see that coming, but now maybe you will! Website: http://www.booking.com/hotel/it/airport-abaco-suite.en-us.html?sid=818548ad7a402af3a396bfb975101d7f;dcid=1;checkin=2013-12-24;checkout=2013-12-25;srfid=5da0575cd1b4afa9fe7d2f4399533f4031321d95X6

The next morning we woke up and walked the very short distance to the train station where we boarded and headed to Milan Central train station. Our tickets were purchased ahead of time on the EU train website but you can buy tickets at the station very easily. At Milan Central we changed trains and went straight to Genoa. At departure we walked the next short distance to the port. You can easily see the boats when you come out of the station so just head in that direction!

Because you have your tickets printed and you know your departure time you need to show up at the terminal at least 2 hours prior to departure. You will need to follow the well positioned signs to find your cruise line terminal. It was very easy for us. They took our bags outside the terminal and took them to our rooms for us. After we checked in we bought our all inclusive drink package and it was billed to our rooms. Then we took the small ramp to paradise.

First they gave me all of the information I needed for my children. Lots of paperwork. Bring a binder. Then we headed to the deck for a mandatory safety meeting where we were shown how to put on our life vests and which lifeboat we would be on in case of an emergency. There are plenty of lifeboats. Don’t worry.  Enough with the technicalities. We went back to our rooms to find our bags and put away our life jackets. Then to the deck for swimming and daiquiris.

The Sinfonia was beautiful, but don’t get me wrong. They are a discount destination cruise line. The price was nice and the ports were beautiful, but if you are used to fancy ships, you wont get that here. It was my first cruise so I was PLENTY impressed. There were a lot of services.

My children used the kids club once when we went into the city of Mahon. They were very professional and courteous. My kids were well taken care of and the process was easy and free! There was entertainment every night such as bingo, movies, dance lessons, fashion shows, and bartender shows. They also had mini golf, a basketball court, and a disco on the top of the boat. In the boat were 2 bars and a casino. We spent most of our time on the top deck soaking in the sun and swimming in their two pools. For dinner we were assigned a table in the same restaurant every night. Their menu changed every day and there were gala nights for dressing up. If you didn’t want to partake in the fancy sit down dinner you could always go to the buffet. Any time of day there was food laid out for the taking. For breakfast we could either go to a separate restaurant or the buffet. The food was absolutely delicious.

We went to 5 ports. Nice, Palma, Menorca, Sardinia, and Solereno.  I will post about the cities in a separate post, but if you were interested in purchasing any of their excursions you could do that at the excursion desk. You could inquire about anything that was going on on the boat, ask questions about your bill, or order room service and a wake up call at Reception.

I am sure this is not all of the information I learned on my first cruise, but enough to set your first cruise off to a good start!

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Locking Your Door

This seems like a silly thing to write about, but some don’t know about or don’t use the deadbolt feature on the front door of their house. Without a handle on the outside of the front door, it is difficult to break into your house, but not impossible. A thief could jimmy the latch open or, if you have a mail slot in or around your door, they could hook the door handle from the inside . If you have clever pets, it is also good to know how to lock the door and disengage the inside door handle so they can’t open it and let themselves outside.

Dead-bolting the door is simple. Turn once counter-clockwise to engage the deadbolt and turn again to disengage the handle inside (so your adventurous dog can’t get outside or a thief can’t use the easy exit). It might be good to test your lock out with two people and two keys to make sure your lock works the same way. Test out locking from the inside and outside and with a key stuck in one side while trying to use the other side. Try all of the combinations to make sure you won’t get locked out or in accidentally. You and your house will be more secure and hopefully you’ll have some extra peace of mind.

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Tri-Border Playgroups Summary

There are a lot of playgroups to choose from. Here is a listing of all the ones I know of. Feel free to add to the list in the comments!

TAPS (Tots and Parents) at the CMFRC – Ages 0-4 years old – Tuesday mornings, location and times vary (CMFRC website)

GAP (GK AFRC Playgroup) – Ages 0-3 years old – Tuesdays 1000-1130 in Building 298

Playgroup at Brunssum – Ages 0-Pre-School – Thursdays 1000-1130 at the Brunssum West Chapel

GK Mama HAWCs – No age requirement – Monday, Wednesday, Fridays 0900-1100 in Building 298 (One hour for you to work out and one hour to play with the kids)

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Recieve calls from the U.S.

Submitted by Melissa B. ~

I wanted a Washington phone number, so all of my friends and family could call me. When we cancelled my cell phone with Verizon in the U.S., we IMMEDIATELY called Vonage and they were able to use the same number. You can buy $100 kits with all of the phones included, but you really only need the box. The Vonage box by itself is about $40. When we started, it was a special deal, free for 3 months and $25 a month after. The list of countries that I can call is amazing, but the best part is all the people that can now call me. We bought a house phone for our German land-line, and another to plug into the Vonage box. Now people in North America can call away (so long as they mind what time it is!).

Unlimited calling from Germany to landlines and mobile phones in the U.S. with No Contract! Free shipping to Germany!

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Fitness Options in the Tri-Border Area

We’ve written about many of the fitness options available to you on the bases in the area. This post is here as a summary sheet.

Brunssum:

Fitness Classes on Brunssum

Indoor Swimming Pool Schedule

Geilenkirchen: (US and NATO)

Fitness Classes on GK – Mostly located at the gym located near the base track. You need an MWA card to use these facilities.

Mama HAWCS – Meet at the US Gym on GK on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 9-11am. One hour of childcare and one hour of working out.

Crossfit Gym -Located in the old elementary school gym (Building 298). They are sometimes open on the weekend. Check the Facebook page for updates.

Crossfit Gym Opening Hours
Mon/Wed/Fri  0600-0830
Mon/Tue/Wed/Thu  1200-1430
Mon/Tue/Wed/Thu  1500-1800
Fri  1200-1700

The E-3A Component Softball Club has opened up a “League Night”.  The Club is open to anyone in the Tri-Border area that enjoys playing softball regardless of skill level.
Come out every Wednesday from 1715-1900 @ the Softball fields near the NATO Gym.

Schinnen:

Fitness Classes on Schinnen  – There is also a rock wall located in the Community Activity Center. Call the Gym for more details.

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Spoordeelwinkel – Dutch Train Ticket Deals

Spoordeelwinkel is a great place to get ideas for trips around the Netherlands. The items offered on the site are a varied, from day trips to museum, zoos or theme parks, to a meal at a restaurant, or even an overnight stay at a hotel. These offers always come with a train ticket (greatly reduced in price) to the destination.

Take a look around the site. You’ll be sure to find something that peaks your interest.

Note: The only way to pay for tickets on this site is through iDEAL, which is connected to Dutch online banking systems. You will need a Dutch bank account to use this service.

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Waldschänke – Selfkant

Waldschänke is my favorite German restaurant in the area. Their menu isn’t as extensive as some other restaurants, but they excel in what they do have. Their Rahm sauce is delicious and they have homemade croquettes. Most dinners come with the salad bar and fresh bread as well. Soups, salads, fish, meat and even a vegetarian items are on display in their menu.

In the summer months and on weekends in the winter, you can stop by their Eiscafe for one of their sundaes. Many people bike here when the weather is nice.

An der Waldschänke 1
52538 Selfkant-Süsterseel
+49 (0) 2456 509 9971

Opening Hours:
Summer: Closed Mondays
Winter: Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

Restaurant:
Tues – Sat 17.00 – 21.00
Sun 12.00 – 14.00 and 17.00 – 21.00

Eiscafé & Bistro:
Winter Season:
Sat, Sun 12.00 – 19.00

Posted in German, Restaurants | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Student Discounts for .edu emails

Discounts are a wonderful thing, but they aren’t always something you know about. If you attend school in the tri-border then you should be taking full advantage of your .edu email address. UMUC is my school and they just recently switched to giving this access to students. So contact your school if you don’t have an email account set up yet!

Click on anything blue to be connected to that link!

Amazon – Free year of Student Prime which gives you free shipping! This can save you money on school books and supplies, or even just your everyday purchases. After the first year, they give you a reduced rate for your prime membership. 

Norton- Computer Protection Software 

Hp- Computers, printers and more

Dropbox-file transfer system. If you enter your .edu email address, Dropbox gives you 3GB of extra space. 

Apple – Save on a Mac

Microsoft- Software

StudentRate-a website where you sign up with your .edu email address and get access to hundreds of discounts from stores that you’d regularly shop at like Forever 21, Boohoo, Urban Outfitters, Toms and more. 

Barnes and Noble – You can even rent textbooks….

More to be updated as found. Of course, feel free to contribute!

Posted in Education Resources, Things to do | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

NMBS/SNCB – The Belgian Rail System

I’ve found that when it comes to traveling by train, crossing country borders increases the price, so when traveling on the Belgian trains, I leave from Genk.

Genk is the closest Belgian train station to the Selfkant region(EUROPALAAN, 39
3600 GENK). Free parking is on the side of the station (put a copy of your ticket on the dash), otherwise, there is a Parkhaus underground just across the street. There are trains going between Genk and Brussels every hour with no transfers. A weekend ticket (half price round trip) from Genk to Brussels currently costs €15,40.

Eupen (BAHNHOFSTRASSE, 2, 4700 EUPEN) or Welkenraedt (PLACE DE LA GARE, 11, 4840 WELKENRAEDT) are the closest train stations to the GK area, however, they are only about 10-15 mins closer than the Genk station. Both stations require no transfers to get to Brussels. A weekend ticket from Eupen to Brussels currently costs €21,60. Welkenraedt is one euro cheaper. It’s a close call on which station is best in terms of travel time and price for all three stations.

It is possible to get on the Belgian Rail system from Aachen or Maastricht. These tickets have their own special category on the ticket type drop down when you go on the website. You will have to pay for your NL or DE train ticket separately to get to these stations.

Please note, that on the way back from Brussels, the train splits. Half goes to Liege, the other half to Genk. Ask the ticket checker if you are on the correct half. You can also determine this by looking at the LED signs on the side of the train cars or the TV screens inside each car. If they screen says Genk, then you are on the correct car. It splits around Hasselt.

Buying Tickets
On the train website http://www.belgianrail.be/ put in (Your Starting Station) [NMBS/SNCB] to (Your Ending Station) [NMBS/SNCB]. The part in brackets tells you that it’s a train station and not a bus stop. Brussels Station name is Brux.-Central / Bru.-Centraal [NMBS/SNCB] and is a short walk from the Grand Place.  If you are going on a weekend, you can choose “Weekend Ticket Internet” for your ticket type for 50% off. Buy the tickets and print them out. I have always bought the tickets online with a credit card and had no problems. You should also be able to buy weekend tickets at the train station at the ticket counter or kiosk.

Ticket Specials
The website frequently has tickets specials for round trip tickets at a set price. Check online frequently so you don’t miss a great deal.

Tickets for Children
Up to 4 children under 12 years old ride FREE per paying chaperone.
Half price children tickets are available if you have more than 4 children traveling with you.

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Kruidvat

Kruidvat reminds me of a Dutch version of CVS or Walgreens. They have a little bit of everything, from makeup and hair items to baby products and items to clean your house. They are also one of the stores that sells discounted train tickets from time to time.

The closest Kruidvat is located in Sittard, relatively close to the ABC parking lot. There are also stores located around Heerlen. If you want to search for other stores, go to their website and use the search function. Change the radio button above the search bar to “Winkel”, which is the Dutch word for a shop. Be sure to use Dutch city names or postcodes when searching.

WALSTRAAT 45
6131CV, SITTARD

Opening times:
Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri: 0900-1800
Thurs: 0900-2100
Sat: 0900-1700

Posted in Health and Beauty, Maastricht, Sittard | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Your German Dishwasher and Dishwasher Salt

When we moved here, we were lucky to have a friend and our landlady explain the ins and outs of how to use German dishwashers properly. I know your thinking “uh, you are retarded!”, but seriously, they require care different from back in the U.S.

SALT

Yes, really! There is a screw off lid in your dishwater at the bottom where you need to fill it with salt. There is also usually a little symbol on the timer inside that says it needs salt. Now, don’t be thinking “table salt” because that will get you nowhere. You must buy the “Salz” in the local grocery store, the Natex, or you can even pick it up at Schinnen. In each store it is located next to the dish soap. Most of the time it comes in a red box. You might need two boxes to fill up the reservoir.

Here’s a YouTube post by another military wife showing the process of putting the salt into the dishwasher. The salt softens the water, allowing the detergent to work more efficiently and helping to prevent lime scale.

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TAPS playgroup at the CMFRC

Open to all NATO ID card holders. Most sessions are free of charge and held at the MFRC office in Neiderheid.

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US Gym on GK – HAWC

HAWC

The US Health and Wellness center is located in Building 109 on GK (part of the old elementary school complex). They have cardio and weight lifting equipment along with balance balls and other assorted fitness accessories. This gym has no air conditioning, so plan accordingly.

You need an access code to unlock the door to the center. You can ask your sponsor for this information. Remember, this gym is for US personnel and their dependents only.

There are no locker rooms or showers available in this building, however, there are bathrooms that you can use to change.

Open24/7

Crossfit Gym

Located in the old elementary school gym (Building 298), this gym is only open M-Th 3-6 and Fridays 2-4.

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Posted in Geilenkirchen NATO Base - Info, Sports Clubs and Classes | 3 Comments

Tirerack.com — Online Tire Sales

According to most Americans Tirerack.com is the place to go for tires when you are stationed overseas. Some say that the price of tires in Germany and The Netherlands are just way to high to pay. That is opinion, but we here at GK must be open minded and so I am putting this website out there for those that would like to try them out.

I drive a Subaru Outback Limited 2.5 with 17 inch rims. My tires are big and costly. I went to the site to find that they boasted a 107 USD price along with a 55 dollar per tire shipping fee. That seemed reasonable to me for my Hankook Optimo tires. I check with Schinnen and their price was 235 USD per tire. This price included no mounting. So tirerack  seemed legit. So this is 324 for the two tires I needed plus I had to pay someone to mount them. This would be minimal at about 20 dollars. It can take between 1-4 weeks for delivery.

Then I went to Van Son, my go to place in The Netherlands (see blog on this site). They are charging me 112 euros per tire and that is for mounting and balancing. Then we must add the 19% sales tax because I can not get my VAT back because I live in Germany. This comes to about 349 dollars for both tires. Best part though, I get them in two days MAX!

See both sites and compare to get your best results. This is bias on only one type of car, but just to keep your options open there are the two place I know about!

Site is very easy to use: http://www.tirerack.com/

Posted in Auto or Motorcycle, Shopping | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu on Brunssum

BJJ Flyer

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Babysitters

It can be tough to find a sitter. AFRC at GK NATO Base does have a list but here are some of our readers who also offer sitting services!

We will do our best to keep this updated and add more names often!

Regina Dante –   A local spouse, she lives in Kreuzrath and has her own transportation. She provides adult supervision for your kids while you are away and can also provide sewing classes as well. She has experience in both babysitting and teaching classes.  rmdan14@gmail.com  or 0049 170 299 7298

Nicole Schlicker- 18 years old and speaks German and English fluently. She is first aid trained and has experience babysitting for families of all nationalites and ages. Nicole is able to provide her own transportation. 02454 936095 or email is lschlicker@me.com   Located near Birgden.

Dan Schlicker- 17 years old and speaks German and English fluently. He is first aid trained and has experience babysitting for families of all nationalites and ages. 02454 936095 or email is lschlicker@me.com  Located near Birgden.

Vivyan Howell – 14 years old and  is first aid certified with previous experience babysitting. Also has 3 younger siblings so lots of experience! She lives in the Schalbruch area. vivoli98@hotmail.com

Olivia Howell – 12 years old and is first aid certified with previous experience babysitting. Also has 3  siblings so lots of experience! She lives in the Schalbruch area. vivoli98@hotmail.com

Posted in Businesses of GK families, Kids | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Asian Cash and Carry – Market

From our reader Mary:

There is another great Asian market in Landgraaf called Asian Cash & Carry. It’s a big store that I can even take my stroller comfortably into and the parking lot is big as well. It’s pretty close to being my one stop shop. I was elated to find a big bag of sticky rice and they also had ingredients/spices I grew up with. I’m pretty picky when it comes to my soy sauce and spring roll wrappers and they had it all.

 

http://www.heuschenschrouff.com/consument/en-GB/917/asian_cash_carry.aspx

 

**Thanks for sharing Mary!

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Toko Lim–Asian Market

I am always just one ingredient shy of the perfect recipe. Especially when it comes to Asian food. However, on a recent trip out to Sittard, a friend showed me the place to go!
Toko Lim
Rijksweg Zuid 2A, 6131AN Sittard
031 – 46- 4517894
This is walking distance from the market and if you know where Thai Garden is (my favorite place to eat!) then it is on the other side of the street and next to the light where the pedestrian walk way is.
It’s a tiny store but it had everything I needed from my favorite crackers to the wonton wraps to the perfect thai rice noodles.

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Tri-border Walking club

Imagine a great day filled with beautiful sights, awesome people, and a little healthy walking….. If this sounds like a great idea to you, well your in luck! Somebody else already thought of it and they are inviting everyone to join in!!!

The Tri-Border Walking Club is based at JFC Brunssum and is a recreational club for the NATO military and civilian community and their families. Members participate in volksmarches throughout Europe but mostly in the tri-border.

For information on participating or to see some of their previous adventures, check out their Facebook page: Https://www.facebook.com/triborderwalkingclub

Staying in shape and seeing the local areas have never been more fun!

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V & D department store

Website: http://www.vd.nl/

This store (which I frequent in the Sittard market place) is a normal department store that could be compared to JC Penny’s. The clothes are fashionable and varied. They have name brands and great prices and sales. We shopped for school clothes for my children there and I picked up a few items for myself. I was so impressed by their wonderful selection and prices that I had to pick up a gift card for my friend. You will not be disappointed in this store. The stores in Heerlen and Maastricht are even bigger than the V&D in Sittard!

Markt 1, Sittard
Opening Times

Dautzenbergstraat 47, Heerlen
Opening Times

Grote Staat 5-15, Maastricht
Opening Times

Posted in Clothing, Craft/Home decor, Shoes, Shop by city, Shopping, Sittard | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Blueberries!! “Oppe Boesj” Blueberry picking

Blueberry picking in the heart of all things that grow is just as fun as you would think. They have acres and acres of blueberry bushes just waiting to give their fruit.

Located at: Prinsenbaan 45
6104 BB Koningsbosch

They are a hop skip and jump from our local tri-border area. We had a wonderful time picking blueberries and the prices are great at 2.50 Euro/kg but you must pick at least 3kg (one bucket). The farm provides you with a crate to transport your berries home.

Take your time this growing season to pick some blueberries for pie, muffins, or just snacking. Check their website to make sure they are open, the growing season is throughout the summer, but they close from time to time to allow more berries to ripen.

Helpful Tip: If you go on a drizzly day, there will be less customers and less insects to compete with.

Website (in English) :http://www.oppeboesj.com/

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Ride the Alps–Annual Edelweiss Sponsored Event for Motorcyclists

Each year, Edelweiss Lodge and Resort hosts “Ride the Alps”. They offer a discounted room for two and it includes Friday and Saturday night, the dinners and the breakfast. But the most important part is the ride! They have a ride through the alps that is a poker run. This means you follow the signs to the stops where you pull a card in hopes to win the grand prize by getting the best hand. They also have live music and several fun games for winning prizes. Our club (the Geilenkirchen Riders Association) goes annually and has a great time! The event is usually held in June and advertised early in the year on their website. Reserve early to ensure your ability to participate in this highly anticipated event!

Ride the Alps 2014 Information June 20-22

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Posted in Adults, Auto or Motorcycle, Places "HereAtGK" has been | 2 Comments

Helpful Facebook Groups

There are a bunch of Facebook groups/communities out there that are helpful in sharing information and connecting people. Here’s a list of some of them. Please note that most of these groups are closed, so an administrator will have to grant you permission to enter these groups.

GK/Schinnen/JFC Brunnsum Garage Sale – An alternative place to connect people to buy and sell items in the local area. This group now uses the VarageSale App on Facebook. (www.gkswap.org, gk.bookoo.com and Park and Sell are the other main options).

GK/AFNorth/JFC Classifieds – Another Facebook group for listing items for sale.

GK / AFNorth / Schinnen / JFC Brunssum Volunteer Connection – A group dedicated to letting you know what volunteer opportunities are out there. Clubs and individuals can advertise to get the word out on the volunteer work they are doing.

GK/AFNorth/JFC Friends and Faux – A tri-border consumer review platform. They let you know good and bad experiences at companies in the area.

Tri-Border Village Elder Program – This group is an extension of the GK AFRC Village Elder program. Members post events in the local area and use the group as a forum for questions about the local area.

Alternatives to shopping at the BX/Commissary in Germany – If you need to find a specific item on the economy, this group can help you out.

Companies that ship to APO’s – A place to find/discuss your experiences with companies shipping to APO addresses.

Wives of Germany Travel Information – Ask a question and you’re sure to get an answer quickly on this group. It started in the Tri-Border community, but it has grown to include people from many of the other bases in Germany.

411 Travel through Germany! – There is a ton of information on this site. Their files can be helpful as well. This group started in Ramstein.

I Love Germany – Ask questions about moving to and living in Germany!

SHAPE Travel Tips – Another travel group a little closer to home.

BEEN THERE ~ Stuttgart’s Essential Travel Club – Exactly what the name says. They have few helpful files posted in their group as well.

Travelling Spouses – A group mostly based in England, they still have some good ideas for traveling around mainland Europe and they have a ton of files with notes on different locations.

The below image came from a recent edition of Stripes Welcome to Europe publication. You can see a complete listing of their publications here.

Moms Helping Moms Facebook Pages

Posted in General Local Info, Newcomers, Resources/Help | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Dachau Concentration Camp and tour from Munich

You have heard us rave about Sandman’s Tours before, well here we ago again. These tours are in major cities all over the EU. Most of the city tours a free, but they offer bike tours at a low cost and in some areas have tours for specific attractions. In Versailles they offer a tour for example. I think one of the most serious tours they offer however is of the Dachau Concentration camp. This tour leaves the main square of Munich and for a little over 20€ a person, it includes the train and bus ride to get to the camp. Upon arrival, you take a tour of the camp which covers all the highlights. If I did it again, I’d get the travel info from the guide and make my own way back to Munich because then we could have stayed and spent time combing through all the reading and such that was offered. However, the guide did tell us about the book he used to learn everything and it was 10€ including a cd and you could buy it at the camp. The tour itself is about 3 hours long and then there is also travel time.

This experience is life changing. It is sobering and not something to do alone. I am literally crying tears as I write this simple blog because it brings me back to the feelings I had walking through the camp. It brought to life, the pain and suffering and injustice that occurred and it made my heart physically ache in my chest. It was however the single most important experience of my life and I will never forget the way it felt to see the this place of terror.

It is not something for young kids and I found it frustrating that people brought their small children because they were running around and untamed. However, for a high schooler, this would be a prime example of how living in Europe is living in history and I highly recommend everyone does this with their teenager. We stayed at Edelweiss and they do offer child care at the resort.

For info on the tour, please click here.

Click to enlarge photos.

DSCN2683 At the entrance

DSCN2686The gate into the camp translates “work makes free” (Arbeit macht frei)

DSCN2694The art was added after and represents barbed wire and human bodies. Many killed themselves on the wire in suicide to escape the life they were forced into.

DSCN2697The active years of the camp

DSCN2719A toilet in one of the barracks where people were put in small rooms and punished for days on end.

DSCN2749The dorms were actually destroyed by angry American soldiers before the prisoners wisely stopped them from destroying the whole camp by telling them that it needed to be preserved so that the future generations would learn from it and never forget the lesson. The dorms were then rebuilt by the prisoners to ensure that history lived on.

DSCN2763The crematory

DSCN2764

DSCN2768The gas chamber. While  this was not a death camp, it did have a gas chamber. It is unknown if 10 died or 10000 in this room as it was not recorded.

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Sewing Classes by Regina Dante

Hello Tri Border Community!

My name is Regina Dante and I would like to provide the community with the opportunity to learn how to sew.  I’ve been a sewing enthusiast my entire life. In high school I worked at my local fabric shop as a sales associate.  I later went on to teach classes for student’s ages 9 to 18.  I taught classes from beginner to experienced and I would like to continue to spread my passion for sewing in my new locale.  My most recent accomplishment was creating a true labor of love, my wedding dress.  Whether your aspirations are large or small I would love to help make it happen.  The base class I offer for students is Kids and Teens Can Sew Workshop.  This class can have up to four students (I only have two sewing machines at this time) and would take approximately 3 hours for the students to make a small tote bag with straps and Velcro closure.  The fee for this class is $25 per person and I will provide materials.  After that students can move on to Sewing 101, a pajama pant class.  If your or you child is interested in learning how to sew please call me for details at +49 2454 934 8931 or email me at rmdan14@gmail.com to discuss options.  Classes can be customized to your level of experience.  Private lesson are available.  I have stateside and local references available upon request.  (I moved here in January and have completed one Kids and Teens Can Sew Workshop with a group of students)

Posted in Businesses of GK families | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Outdoor Recreation Rental – Schinnen

The binder listing all of the equipment available is located in the Andre Bruls Fitness Center on Schinnen.

  • Canopies,
  • patio heater,
  • beer tables,
  • XXL BBQ,
  • dunk booth,
  • bounce houses,
  • tents,
  • coolers,
  • and a few other items.

Hours of Operation:
Monday  –  Friday                                            0600  –  1900
Saturday, Sunday, US Holidays                    0900  –  1700

Phone Numbers:
DSN:                                            314-360-7561
From Europe:                            0031-(0)46-443-7561

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Oil Purchase

Oil Purchase

When the oil gets low, there is only one place to go: The AFRC’s booklet titled: Guide for buying heating oil in Germany. This is a link to the what’s and where’s to go to buy your oil for the winter and hot water.

Call the companies to ask for a VAT free quote on how many liters you need. They will give you a price per liter, e.g., 0.69 cents/liter. Once you have found the best price, call that company back to set up an appointment. Usually you can get the oil in the next week or two. The window for the truck to come is quite large, usually morning or afternoon, so you’ll have to stay at home until it shows up. Remember to have your VAT form ready.

Group buys of oil are also possible. Find some friends that live relatively close to you. When you call to order the oil, you will tell them the total amount of oil, plus the addresses for each house. There may be an extra fee for the truck stopping at multiple houses, but depending on the bulk oil discount, this fee might be worth it.

Posted in Appliances, General Local Info, Newcomers, Resources/Help, Shopping | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Genker Plantcentrum

I found this store in one of our local newspapers. They had an ad that said they were the biggest plant center in the Benelux area and they were open on Sundays. I have to agree that this place is quite large. I was able to find all of the plants I was looking for plus a few extras.

First, parking is free and open. They have room for cars with trailers, so they can fit a truck easily. Almost everything is outdoors so either go on a nice day or plan accordingly for the weather. There is a map as you first walk into the center which is helpful if you a looking for specific items.

This place has everything: flowers, herbs, ground cover, bushes, trees and hedges in all shapes and sizes. You can buy all of your gardening tools and supplies as well. There was also a bounce house when I was there for the kids to use some of their energy.

Address
Hengelhoefstraat 118
3600 Genk, Belgium
http://www.genkerplantencentrum.be/nl/home/

Opening Times
Open on Sundays and Holidays

  • Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri: 9.00-18.00
  • Sat, Sun and Holidays: 9.00-17.30
  • Closed Tuesdays

Winterstop
Closed 12/15 – 01/31

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Posted in Shopping | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Weather Websites

It’s always good to be prepared, so here are some weather websites (that specialize in Europe weather) to keep you up to date.

Wetter.de – This trusty site seems to be most peoples go-to site. Just put in your zip code or city and get local forecasts up to 8 days out and radar. They have an App for your smart phone as well.

Weathercast.co.uk – This site has excellent radar for many European countries. There is one for Germany, but I usually use the Netherlands and Belgium radars because they’re more zoomed in to our corner of the country.

Do you know other good weather sites? Let us know in the comments.

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Have questions or want to share info? Let us help!

If you have a questions about places to go that Hereatgk hasn’t blogged yet, and you want to put it out there to other spouses in the Tri-Border to answer, send us your question and we will post it on Facebook so that you can find what you need. The best part is, afterward we’ll check the places out and blog about them so others can know about them too!

If you have a great place that you want to share or something that provides important info to the community, let us help spread it.

Email or Facebook us!

HereatGK@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/HereAtGk

Posted in General Local Info | Leave a comment

Eetcafe Pretzels – Sittard Whiskey Bar and Restaurant

This whiskey bar has it all. I don’t care how many you’ve tasted, you have barely begun denting the list of whiskeys that they carry! With a range for everyone’s preference and budget, this is a quaint bar that is quiet but fun. The decorations alone will give you something to remember.

The restaurant has a good selection, with some seasonal items (mussels in the winter). The soups were quite good. Our meals both came with a salad and fries and everything was delicious. The staff is very friendly, which is always a plus.

They offer deals for whiskey tastings on Social deal sometimes or on their facebook page.

Putstraat 37 6131 HH Sittard       Tel: 046 – 4 51 53 52

Open Wednesday-Sunday after 5pm

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Posted in Adults, Drinks/Beverages, Sittard | Leave a comment

Gasthof Peters – Höngen

Gasthof Peters is a traditional German restaurant with loads of character. All kinds of farming and kitchen tools hang from the ceiling of the historic building and a huge fireplace dominates one of the dining areas. The menu offers a variety of German specialties, all of which can be reviewed on their website. This restaurant has been a favorite of many people stationed here. There are also several rooms available for large gatherings, one of which seats up to 180 people. I am personally intrigued by the bowling room, where you can try your hand at Kegelbahn style bowling.

Heerstraße 1
52538 Selfkant – Höngen
http://www.gasthof-peters.de/

Opening Times
Wed – Fri at 18.00
Sat at 17.30
Sun at 16.00
Mon and Tues Closed

Posted in German, Restaurants | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Ryan’s Car Detailing Service

Getting ready to PCS, need your vehicle detailed to ship it? Or does your vehicle just need a good detailing in and out? Everything is cleaned: engine, interior, exterior, radiator. 100% guaranteed to pass inspection! 70 Euro.

Call/text me at 0031-61-687-7175
or email me at rrudd44@yahoo.com7270a

Posted in Auto or Motorcycle | Leave a comment

New speed cameras!

New radars

Posted in General Local Info | Leave a comment

Heinsburger

If you’ve been craving big juicy burgers, we’ve found a new place for you to try. The restaurant is fairly new to Heinsberg, but it has already had quite a few rave reviews in the Facebook community. I have to agree that this is a great place to get your burger fix. The staff was friendly and the restaurant has a a fun quirky style. They also have a patio area that should be open now that the weather is nicer. Their menu is listed on their website. Unfortunately, the menu can’t be translated through an online service, but you can still get an idea of prices (and manually translate as needed) before you head out.

The restaurant is on the opposite side of the street from McDonalds at the intersection of Hochstraße and Industriestraße. Parking is available just past the restaurant on Industriestraße.

Hochstraße 177, Heinsberg
Open Mon-Sun 1200-2200
http://heinsburger.de/

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Keukenhof Gardens- Lisse NL

http://www.keukenhof.nl/

The tulip garden’s of Keukenhof is a showcase of the beautiful flowers that call the Netherlands their home. The tulips take center stage because of the lush landscape that provides such a solid home to them, but there are other flowers there as well, such as the crocus flower.

When the gardens are blooming there is a variety of color, landscape, and environments to visit. There is also a windmill on display for the Holland experience. The blooming times are from March-July , but the online site gives accurate and up to date information about what is exactly going on with those bulbs. Prices and varying opening times are also listed on the website.

IMG_0022

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Van Son- Brunssum Tires

I popped a tire the other day along side the road driving from GK to Brunssum. After changing the tire I thought, I need to go to Schinnen and get a new one tomorrow. Turns out Schinnen does not carry tires in stock. That’s the first word of advice I have for you. Then I thought- Where oh where will I go? Turns out this little area that I have passed through many times has a plethora of tire shops, mechanics, and car dealers. I chose Van Son on a recommendation. They have a variety of tires and could match my tire to the other on the same axle (law for inspection) and was able to get my tire in that very day. I was so relieved to have an English speaking attendant and their customer service was amazing. The prices are lower than that I was quoted to order tires from Schinnen and the arrival time was faster. Hope this helps if you ever need new tires!

Site: http://www.vansonbanden.nl/

Address:

Autobanden Van Son
Haefland 16
6441 PA  BRUNSSUM

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Blokker

Not really sure I can accurately compare this store to anything in the U.S., but it is a nice store. While it is a bit small in some cities, most bigger cities in the Netherlands have one. It usually has things to decorate your home or toys. The most common reason though that people are familiar with this store is because this is one of the stores where you can occasionally buy NL train tickets for cheap. It is only during one of their sales, but more info is available on this blog.

 

Most people I know are familiar with the store located in Sittard near the market, but there is also a nice one in the mall next to ikea. Plus they have many other locations listed on their website.

Posted in Craft/Home decor, Sittard, Toys | Leave a comment

A Beginner’s Guide to Paid Parking

German (and Dutch) parking rules aren’t always clear when you’re first starting out. I still find parking to be the most frustrating part about driving here, (aside from the slow tractors) but I hope this post will help clarify a few things, especially for those new in town.

What I do beforehand:
If I’m going to a big city that I’m unfamiliar with, I always search for parking garages online. Use the word “parking” for German cities and “parkeren” for cities in the Netherlands. You will almost always find a website listing of parking lots and garages located in and around the city. These listings usually have the address, opening hours, and rates so you can compare between them. I write down 3-4 of the addresses because your first choice might be full and a backup plan is always good to have.

Parking Garages
I am a big fan of parking garages because they are usually cheaper than the open-air parking lots within the city and you only pay for the time you spend in the garage. Here is how they work.

  1. You enter the parking garage, generally by pressing a button at the gate and getting a ticket. Some gates have a slot for a credit card as well. If this works for you, the credit card will act as your ticket. Park and then go have fun, but take your ticket with you.
  2. Once you’re back at the garage, find a Parkautomat or Kassenautomat (or some similar word). Insert your ticket and your total fee will be displayed on the screen. Pay the amount and you’ll receive your ticket back. Keep in mind that these machines have a maximum bill size they can take. (Most give change) Now you can leave the lot.

Parking Lots with a Parkautomat (usually open air)

  1. Go into the lot and park, then find the nearest Parkautomat/Kassenautomat.
  2. Attempt to read the rules for the parking lot. There is usually a time limit for parking there. It’s also possible that the lot is free at certain times or days (for example, after 6pm and on Sundays).
  3. If the lot is free, you’re done, enjoy the day. If the lot is not free, then insert money for the amount of time you intend to stay. Once you say OK, you’ll get a ticket. Most of these machines only take coins and you must have exact change or it keeps the change and just adds more time onto your parking allowance.
  4. Place the ticket on the dash of your car and note the time written on it. This is the time that your ticket will expire.

Parking with a Camera gate

  1. These lots look similar to the lots with a Parkautomat, but there is a camera at the entrance that will register your license plate number and the time you entered.
  2. Park your car and go about your business. You will pay at the end.
  3. Once you return, find the Parkautomat and input your license plate number. The Parkautomat will display the amount due.
  4. You may have an option to pay with coins or card.
  5. Once you’ve paid, you can leave the lot.

Parking Lots with the Blue Disc Placard

  1. Park your car and note the time limit on the disc parking sign.
  2. Note the current time and rotate your disc to the nearest half-hour, then place your placard on your dash. This parking is free, but you might get a ticket if you stay longer than the time limit.
  3. Note: Parking monitors might mark your tires with chalk to make sure you are not cheating the system.

Watch out for:

  • Signs saying Vergunning(houders) in NL. These spots are for cars with parking permits.
Posted in General Local Info, Newcomers | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Haus Hamacher – Gangelt Restaurant

A beautiful restaurant and delicious place to eat, you’ll enjoy a nice dinner out. They have some unique menu options including a Greek schnitzel where they put tzatziki sauce on your schnitzel! (It was heaven!)

We loved our experience so much that we are actually renting a room from them to host one of our dinner meetings for our club! So whether you need to have a large event or a date night with that special someone, consider going to Haus Hamacher.

open from 11 o’clock
sun and holidays from 10 o’clock
7 days a week

Posted in German, Open Sunday, Restaurants | Tagged , | 1 Comment