Welcome to My Apartment in Baumholder Germany

My apartment in Baumholder

I made my way slowly down the mountain because I couldn’t see two car lengths in front of me. I checked twice to see if my headlights were actually on. Five minutes later I was well on my way towards Kaiserslautern. The fog started to lift and I could see patches of blue sky ahead of me. Ten minutes later, the sky had opened up to reveal a cloudless canvass, the prettiest shade of baby blue. I turned up the music, slid back the sunroof, and decided to go wherever I could stay under the sun. These are the days I am missing my apartment in Baumholder.

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My Apartment in Baumholder Germany

I remember the fog was thick in Baumholder. And I could barely see the branches of the thick patch of evergreens that lined the front yard. Or the old lattice wood fence covered in wooly moss all-year-round. All I really wanted was to chase the sun today. However, it was nowhere in sight. Despite the weather, I packed up my camera and an extra battery and waded through the thick soup to my car.

Ranking Military Bases– Baumholder Germany

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Living on the Rock

Don’t get me wrong, I loved my apartment in Baumholder, but that town was well-known for its contrary weather. Baumholder is fondly, and not so fondly, referred to it as the rock. Our apartment was in an old stone mansion that had been renovated into four large apartments.

We shared the second floor with a retired German officer. The first floor was split between a US Major and his wife. Across the hall was a 90+-year-old German widow. Both Germans had lived in that house before it was a US Army post. The German Frau relayed stories about Hitler who apparently loved to train in Baumholder because of the weather.

She walked me around her apartment, pointing to things so I could learn German.  She didn’t have any family in the area. And she was lonely and hoped we would become friends. Unfortunately, we didn’t.

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golfnmisc013 Welcome to My Apartment in Baumholder Germany

Our German Home

for the Next Three Years

The 3-bedroom apartment was tight for four people. And the front door opened onto a shotgun hallway I lined with three long rugs outside each doorway. A woven chest sat just inside the entrance that held our shoes. The kitchen was to the right, my oldest son’s room to the left. One of the first things we did was take the kitchen door off the hinges and store it in the basement. I’ve since learned that many cultures prefer a door to their kitchen. It prevents all the smells from seeping into the rest of the house.

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Our Pink Bathroom

The bathroom was on the other side of the kitchen for the convenience of having all the plumbing in one area. The Pepto Bismol pink and black tiles wouldn’t have been my first, second, or third choice. But it’s funny what you can overlook when you have no alternative. One of the things I never overlooked was that we had a stackable washer and dryer in one corner of the bathroom— also for convenience sake. And although it was a small unit only able to handle 4 or 5 pairs of jeans at a time and it took 2 or 3 cycles to dry them— we were much better off than having to go to the public laundry mat or creepy basement facilities available in most stairwell housing. A large claw foot tub/ shower sat opposite the vanity sink.

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The Bedrooms

Our bedroom was directly across from the bathroom. It was a pretty big room and the only room that the parquet floors weren’t covered by ugly linoleum. It was large enough for our huge queen-size four-poster bed, two gigantic military wall Locke, s and my elliptical machine.

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The third small bedroom sat at the end of the hall just before you reached the living and dining rooms. Three floor-to-ceiling bookshelves purchased from Globus Baumarkt in Idar Oberstein housed my collection of books. Globus is a store very similar to Wal-Mart without the extraneous hours. Wal-Mart tried to gain a foothold in Germany, but the model didn’t work. Germans just aren’t interested in shopping at 2 am.

Lots of Light & Rolladens

This was my favorite part of the house. It was spacious and received tons of light from all the windows and the French doors to the balcony overlooking the large fenced in the backyard we shared with the other tenants. The two rooms were separated by a pocket door, so I could turn the office into a bedroom when company came to visit. I placed a single bed in one corner and dressed it with oversize pillows to make it look like a day bed. The computer and yet another wall locker sat in the adjacent corner.

All the windows had rolladens. I loved them. They are metal shutters that roll down and completely block out any light from the outside.
In addition, we were given three large storage rooms in the basement and an old garage to the side of the house. Neither was free from the local wildlife that hung in every corner. You can imagine how thrilled my kids were to retrieve anything from either area. They would have rather received a spanking or gone to the dentist.

Baumholder is Close to Everywhere

Travel-Friendly Location

The town sat in the middle of nowhere, yet it was close to everything. Only 45 minutes from the French border where I loved to lunch and practice my parlez vous francais. I could also drive to Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands on less than a tank of gas.

Best of all, I could be in Paris in four hours via a shit load of tolls. It was Paris, so I didn’t care. We went to Paris so much, my kids used to say Paris again? Our family drove to the south of France, Provence, Austria… oh I miss the open borders and the Autobahn more than I could ever express.

Then there was Frankfurt Hahn in the opposite direction. And we could take flights all over Europe for relatively no money on Ryan Air. Steven and I flew to Venice for our Anniversary for a total of $20. We were able to fly to Greece and Croatia 4x; Pisa, Cinque Terra, Florence, Rome (3x). I gotta stop I’m getting teary-eyed.

Then there was SpaceA. We flew home three times using SpaceA travel, flying out of either Ramstein or Spangdahlem for no money… no really no money at all… totally free. I was known as the SpaceA queen because I always managed to get on a flight. I even flew home via SpaceA for a wedding that everyone except the bride thought I would miss.

Living Like a Local

I loved the locals. But I’m sure there were times the extra money the Army brought into their town wasn’t worth it. There were more soldiers (and their families) than actual Germans. Otherwise, Baumholder was like any other small German town. There were a few places to eat a pizza, a McDonald’s, Chinese takeout, and the very delicious doner kebab. Other than McDonald’s there were no chain stores.

There is the requisite hair salon staffed by a bevy of fire engine red-haired ladies. An eis (ice cream) salon run by Italians closed up shop every winter. They returned every spring 20-30 pounds heavier. Baumholder had a bank, supermarket, pharmacy, nail salon, school, a few shops, and two gas stations. The requisite strip club and dive bars found outside of just about every US military installation rounded out the establishments.

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Getting to Know the Locals

It’s the latter establishments that accounted for most of the problems. Soldiers often drank a little too much when they needed to blow off steam— something the Germans know all too well. However, they weren’t accustomed to the fights that often followed. I can honestly say that I never personally witnessed a fight or an arrest that involved two Germans— never. More than a few soldiers— and spouses I know, however, ended up on the weekly military police blotter report.

The Germans worked hard. It took a little getting used to their stern, hard to read faces that didn’t always immediately reciprocate the smile I usually had plastered on my face. Or the fact that 5 pm sometimes meant 4:30 because at 5 pm. I can remember a few times that I pointed at the operating hours on the door, only to be visibly ignored.

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Learning German

If the Germans work hard, they play even harder. They are curious, yet guarded people until you get to know them. If you want to understand the culture, you have to get past the language. German is often described as harsh and difficult to learn.

However, if you know English, you already know a shit load of German too. Foods like brats, frankfurters, sauerkraut, Words like alarm, arm, alibi, alphabet, amateur, and argument are both English and German words. And these are just a few that begin with the letter A. But like most European languages you also have to identify a word’s gender. This can be a little confusing. Thankfully, the Germans are also a little more forgiving, unlike the French and Italians. So I never stopped trying.

Closing Thoughts

Americans take a lot of things for granted. I’m including myself in that. Especially remembering the first time I saw that little three-bedroom apartment with the ugly pink and black bathroom. I had a small stacked washer and dryer. The kitchen was on the other end of my apartment from the dining room. I didn’t think I could get used to it. Actually, I hated it. Too small for 4 people to share and I had no room for overnight guests.

However, we ended up becoming closer as a family. And in the end, all the people who said they were coming never even showed up. Your last duty station is always the best, right? Not always, sometimes the best duty station is the one you least expected and can’t seem to forget. Like missing my apartment in Baumholder.

BAUMHOLDER-GERMANY-APARTMENT-519x778 Welcome to My Apartment in Baumholder Germany