Last week, we had our "Look and See" trip to Mannheim, Germany.  The purpose of this trip was to find an apartment for when we move over there in a few (short) weeks, and to decide if living in Germany was something we would like (in short, I'm pretty certain we will).  While technically, this was "vacation time" for me, it was a lot of work.  For the first couple of days, we explored Mannheim and a little bit of the surrounding area.

The flight from Detroit left at about 6PM Eastern time and we flew all night.  Thankfully, BASF flies people Business Class for long flights.  Not trying to brag or anything, business class is awesome.  Good food, bottomless wine and fold flat seats mean that we were well-fed and able to get some sleep.  The flight got in to the Frankfurt airport at 8:30 in the morning.  We went through customs, which only took a few minutes (how it's easier to get into a foreign country than back in to the US as a US citizen is something that will always baffle me), claimed our luggage and our rental car, and were off.  First stop: one of the dive shops in Mannheim, Splash Tauchen und Reisen.  We met the owner, grabbed a couple of tanks, some weights and set up a time for a dive in a local lake the next day with one of his buddies.  Yes, we took all of our gear - including dry suits - for a dive in Germany.  Hopefully, it was the first of many.

We also took some time to explore what will be our new home city: Mannheim.  Outside of our hotel was the Wasserturm, or water tower.  It's unclear whether or not it is still used as an actual water tower, but it's beautiful nonetheless.  There are gardens around it and (appropriately) a fountain.  

Beautiful statue in front of the watertower in Mannheim

We also walked around part of the Quadrate, or the city center.  Many cities in Germany have an altstadt, but Mannheim has a more modern city center.  There is tons of shopping and lots of restaurants.  I'm sure I will be spending quite a bit of time here.

Garbage cans scattered around the city in multiple languages, including English

One of the great things about German cities are how clean the are.  The Germans are very deliberate about their waste.  They separate out the paper from the plastic from the glass from the metal, and each has their own bin.  They even separate their glass by color: green, clear or brown.  Any they have small trash cans, like the one above, on just about every corner to make throwing away your garbage, instead of littering, easy.

In case you aren't aware, especially if you live in the US and are not interested in sports (like me), the FIFA World Cup is currently being held in Brazil.  On Saturday, 14 June, Italy faced, and beat, England.  You know how I know?  At 2 am that night, we were awoken by this crowd, accompanied by copious amounts of car horns honking.  Apparently this is a big deal.  I'm not much of a soccer fan (or really any sport for that matter), so please excuse my lack of knowledge regarding this matter.

Late and roudy night after Italy beat England

I think we will like this new city.  There's a lot of culture and it's pretty centrally located.  The hauptbanhof in Mannheim has high speed trains that will allow us to easily access some of the larger cities not only in Germany, but also in the rest of Europe.  The people, contrary to popular belief in the US, were very friendly.  Most were even able to understand our terrible German.  Check out more pictures from our exploring below.

Stay tuned for more updates about apartment hunting, our new apartment and some more exploring we did while in Germany last week!  This week is going to be busy!

- Meghan -