For those of you who have not heard the agonizing details of our shipping saga, here is the condensed version:
We shipped our things through Beltmann (don't use them) movers on July 21st. They told us we would receive them in Germany in 35-45 days. Then they said it would take more like 60 days, we argued, tried to get refunds, and got nowhere. Our things ended up in England for like 3 weeks, went through customs there, we had to pay extra to get them delivered up to our 4th floor apartment since there is no elevator, and learned that we had to arrange for our own parking permit so that the truck could park outside our building. We couldn't do that until we had a delivery date, which took about 2 weeks to get.
What I left out is a lot of frustration, emails back and forth, phone calls, analyzing contracts, etc.
I have never daydreamed about having bathrobes and bowls and rain boots before, but for the past month or so, that's what I did in my spare time.
Anyway, yesterday, Oct 21, three months to the day since the movers packed up our things in St Paul, the shipment arrived. The company in England (Beltmann has stopped communicating with us) told us this date about a week and two days ago, so that we could arrange for a parking permit. That, of course, was not covered in the fee that we paid to Beltmann. Philippa, our lovely school secretary, did some research on how to get a permit. She found out the we could either do the paperwork, pick up the signs, and the weights for the signs, set them up, then return them ourselves the next day, or we could hire a company to do the same thing. She offered to arrange the permit with the company and confirmed with us on Monday that it was all set.
Meanwhile, Brian's school is on fall break for two weeks and we have planned a vacation to Ireland for six days, leaving (of course) on Oct 21st. Brian's friend Andy agreed to let the movers in if they came while we were gone, and we gave them Andy's phone number. The movers were supposed to call at least an hour before arriving.
We started to get nervous when there were still no signs up to block the street on Wednesday, or Thursday, or Friday morning. Brian was convinced our things would not come. I was sure it would all work out somehow. So we went ahead and packed all the warm things we had to take to Ireland with us, even though we secretly hoped we might get our stuff before we had to catch the train to the Hamburg airport around noon.
At 10:30 the doorbell rang. "Pearson's removal" said a very English accent through the intercom and I sort of jumped. They hadn't called us, or Andy. I went downstairs to find the huge truck - about 60 feet long, sitting in the middle of our busy city street. Of course, there were cars parked in front of our building and nowhere for it to go, since the parking permit people had never shown up. Our pal from the truck and I looked for spots on side streets, then he told me he'd go talk to the driver and they would come back. So Brian came down and stood in the handicapped parking spots on the street, ready to fend off any disabled drivers who might try to park there, and we hoped that possibly the other cars would leave. Andy and his wife Anne showed up too, and the four of us stood around for an hour, waiting for the moving truck to come back. Finally I went upstairs and called the company in England to find out if they knew what was going on. They told us that the driver's copilot had called (the driver couldn't since he is mute and only communicated through some made-up sign language), and that they had tried to park in several places and been moved on by the police. This was fishy since we hadn't seen the truck anywhere and it was almost lunch time. The guy from the shipping company said that if they couldn't park then we would have to find them an alternate location to leave our stuff.
Of course it would go this way - so close and we might never get our stuff!
So we decided to take them to the school where we could leave the boxes for a week and use the school van to bring them home after we get back to town. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking and we have already missed the 11:40 train. So Brian got in the big truck with the movers, apparently checking out their empty beer bottles, nudie magazines, and the shipment they were hauling to Sweden next, and guided them to the school.
I frantically finished packing his things and got in the car with Anne and Andy (thank goodness for friends with cars) and our bags to go to the school. They unloaded our stuff and Brian and the mute driver moved them into the lobby, only after I fished out Brian's raincoat and hat, my hiking boots, and (hooray) my big yellow rain boots. Then we hopped in the car, Andy dropped us off at the train station, we paid an extra 60 euros to catch the express train, and we made it to Hamburg on time to catch the flight.
So our things are in Hannover, even though we are not. Of course the saga has not ended yet since they still have to get to our building and up the 5 flights to our apartment. Then we can wear bathrobes and rainboots and eat soup out of our bowls all day long.
- Thanks for coming to my blog. It started as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, and now has become an ongoing project. I'm an American living in Germany and trying to travel whenever I can. I write about my experiences as an expatriate (the interesting ones and the embarrassing ones), and about my travels. There are some recurring characters in this blog, particularly my husband Brian and several of our friends. The title comes from the idea that living in a foreign country means making a lot of mistakes. So the things you used to do easily you now have to try over and over again. Hopefully, like me, you can laugh at how idiotic it feels. If you have happened upon my blog, then welcome. Knowing that people are reading what I write makes me keep going. Feel free to write comments or suggestions for future posts.