April 30, 2013

Going, Going, Gone

Sonja: Two thirds of the staff in the company I worked for is either dieting, lactose intolerant or gluten sensitive, hence my ex-colleagues put a lot of thought in providing me with a delicious edible gift which served me as dinner. I am going to miss those guys and gals. They were the best team I ever had the pleasure to work with.
The last morning has arrived.
 Everything packed up and ready to go.

At the airport. 
 Good bye, Canada!
I'm closin' the book
On the pages and the text
And I don't really care
What happens next.
I'm just going, I'm going, I'm gone.

April 29, 2013

The Last Hurrah!

Sunday morning... and the weather looked better than its forecast had promised. So for the last time we went on the Lillooet loop, along Sea-to-Sky Highway a.k.a. Highway 99. In Squamish we gathered some necessary supplies at Starbucks for a coffee break at Brandywine Falls.
While we enjoyed the view, the sun came out and presented us a lovely rainbow. It was fairly nippy but the warm beverages did the trick, and kept us warm.
Blue Jay!
We drove past Whistler towards Pemberton, and those clouds meant business... of the snowy kind.
And yes, we have been snowed on, it's only April.
Posing at Duffey Lake. It's cold and windy!
We left the snow behind, and it got warmer again as we headed towards Lillooet, where we had a quick lunch at the D'Oro Coffee Lounge.
 Seton Lake
The road to Lillooet.
 Along Fraser River.
 Oh deer!
 Rugged roads.
 Oh, mountain sheep!
 Beautiful vistas!
 Spring has arrived!
 The sky is weeping. (... and so are we...)
Our trip and our sojourn in Canada have come to their inevitable end.

April 27, 2013

Become a German!

For re-integration purposes we are going to watch the recently released (April 25, 2013 what a coincidence!) movie: Werden Sie Deutscher! (Become a German!). The documentary is following immigrants for six months while they are taking their mandatory 600 (!!!) hours of language course plus 45 hours of orientation course. The protagonists come from different cultural backgrounds, and have one common goal: to live, work, and/or study in Germany.

Here is a rough translation of the trailer:

Excercise 3: German for Integration Courses
"I work a lot and always come home very late. On the weekend I rest. And if there’s a good thriller on TV I am happy."

*Become A German*

Teacher: Let’s play a little bit “party”. Party? Do you understand party? (Students looking clueless, and so would we...)

German National Anthem playing.

Immigrant lady reading from study book: If you look for work, you shall... (daughter correcting: should...)

Innkeeper to immigrant: Do you have an idea about German cuisine in general? Can you prepare an Eisbein (pork knuckles, yikes!), can you bread a Schnitzel? Can you make Klöpse (meatballs) or Kohlrouladen (stuffed cabbage)? It is not simple! (Immigrant shaking head)

Immigrant’s Wife: Who is supposed to be able to read this when you take your test? (ripping paper apart) Again!

Teacher writing on blackboard: Cultural orientation, rules and behaviour patterns. Time is Money!
Comic strip: Here is a young man who doesn’t do everything right.

Immigrant lady reading from blackboard: You have to follow the laws. Don’t throw away your documents. You must read all offical letters. Pick up after your dog.

Role play 1: Policeman: Do you have an idea why we stopped you, Herr Doktor Schnöbel? Immigrant lady: Oh, boy!

Role play 2: Do you know what my problem is? YOU! You and your music!

Teacher: We are new here, we don’t know each other.

April 24, 2013

Meanwhile Upstairs...

Sonja: While I was busy supervising the motorcycle transport, Roland was in the last leg of wrapping up things. We had already packed 25 boxes ourselves, and only left the fragile stuff to be packed by the movers.
A team of four turned up upstairs at the agreed time, boxed the 'leftovers' with utmost care, and wrapped up our furniture in several layers of bubble-wrap.
They had their own system of handwritten paperwork (in our computerized world we honestly somewhat expected scanners and handhelds), but Roland recorded everything electronically. Aren't we German after all?
The whole pack & wrap took longer than anticipated, so we were quite happy that we had already done our share of boxing the day before. Everything is packed up now, and tomorrow our stuff will be picked up and shipped.
We even received an approximate arrival date (although this does not mean too much yet as we will have to store our goods for a while anyway, until we have a final destination in Germany).

Downstairs: Getting the Bikes moved!

Sonja: Today the bikes got picked up for crating. The Sportster will get shipped in a metal box the moving company procured from a local Harley Davidson dealer, while the Vespa will be protected by a wooden custom crate.
With combined muscle power two men and myself pushed the motorcycle on to the road, since it got no insurance left. I noticed that the gentlemen in charge were no motorcycle experts. The concept of using the levers for breaking or pulling the clutch to get it into first gear to prevent the bike from moving seemed fairly new to them...
The Sportster merely fit on the lifting ramp, and again I had to make sure that the guy in front used the hand brake to prevent the bike from rolling further.
While maneuvering the Harley into a better position the battery cover came apart, and one of the rubber thingies that hold it in place got lost in the process...
Quite skeptical I watched their efforts to strap the Sportster to the wall of the truck. I was tempted to jump into the back of the vehicle and do it myself.
Next in line was the Vespa. I almost lost it when they tried lifting the scooter by its accessories, and got quite verbal about it.
I explained that the accessories are not made for heavy duty and that they should please apply appropriate care when handling those babies. I can only hope that the bikes will arrive unscathed at the warehouse and that the craters will do a good job of wrapping up the two-wheelers for the upcoming ocean transport.

April 21, 2013

Flights are booked!

Roland: Things are getting serious now since we have booked our flights to Europe. We will have a stopover in London, and to ease the transition from Anglo to German culture, we decided to spend a few days in England's capital before we fly home to Düsseldorf. We will leave on April 30th with destination London and arrive in Düsseldorf on May 4th. We are starting to get excited!

Also, we had to wave another goodbye today, this time to our trusted and beloved Audi A3, maybe the best car we owned so far. We are both pretty sad that it cannot accompany us on our trip to Europe, but this would just have been too expensive. But it would certainly be nice if we could buy another Audi in Germany, and I already laid my eyes on a certain model...

April 20, 2013

Behördendreikampf - Redux

Eine gute Zusammenfassung an Tipps für die Rückkehr nach Deutschland gibt es bei der Bundesanstalt für Arbeit. Hier werden die Schritte von der Anmeldung im Land bis hin zu Leistungsansprüchen gegeben.

Natürlich kann man auch entsprechende Beratungsstellen in Anspruch nehmen: Das Raphaelswerk berät bei der Rückkehr und Eingliederung, während Eures-Berater bei der Arbeitssuche in Europa unterstützen können. 

Nachdem man wieder eine Adresse in Deutschland hat, meldet man seinen Wohnsitz beim Einwohnermeldeamt an, beantragt den Personalausweis und tauscht den Führerschein (innerhalb von sechs Monaten) um. Letzteres sollte genauso problemlos vonstatten gehen, wie seinerzeit bei der Einwanderung nach Kanada. Laut unserer Recherche wird Führerscheininhabern aus BC für das Führen von Autos und Motorrädern keine erneute Prüfung abverlangt.

Mehr Informationen zum Thema Führerschein gibt es auf dem Merkblatt des Bundesministeriums für Verkehr und hier.

Weiterhin sollte man sich zügig wieder bei der Krankenkasse anmelden, bei der man vor der Auswanderung versichert war. Dort kann man sich i.d.R. für einen Basistarif zunächst privat versichern, solange man noch keine Arbeit hat.

April 19, 2013

Wie bereitet man sich auf eine Rückwanderung vor?

Im Grunde genauso, wie man sich für eine Auswanderung vorbereitet...

Wir haben unsere Privatkontakte regelmäßig gepflegt und unsere Familie und Freunde auf unseren Heimaturlauben besucht. 

Auch haben wir über die Jahre Kontakte zu Exkollegen aufrecht erhalten. Besonders hilft dabei das Berufsportal LinkedIn weiter. 

Wir machen Gebrauch vom Online-Angebot der Tagesschau und wissen, welche gesellschaftliche und politische Situation uns in Europa erwarten wird. 

Selbstverständlich haben uns über die Arbeitssituation informiert und Stellenportale (Stepstone, Monster, Jobpilot) gescreent. Somit wissen wir in etwa, in welchen Regionen wir voraussichtlich die besten Chancen für einen beruflichen Wiedereinstieg haben sollten.

Wir haben unser deutsches Konto behalten.

Wir haben uns ein finanzielles Polster angespart, um einige Zeit ohne Einkommen überbrücken zu können, da wir die Sozialversicherung nicht in Anspruch nehmen wollen.

April 18, 2013

Our European Adventure calls for a new Blog!

For our friends and ex-colleagues on this side of the world we have created a new blog in which we continue to write in English:

Please visit: http://magersineurope.blogspot.ca

Tag line: Two Canadian Krauts explore the old World and expect Culture Shock.

This is not the End but just a new Beginning!

I am posting this today, on the 18th of April 2013, as it marks our eighth year since immigrating to Canada. We have had the greatest of times. Our new life began during the economic boom in Alberta, where we quickly found work, built a new life and career, and made new friends.
We explored the mountains, the prairies and the badlands, loved the vastness of the country and its spectacular scenery. We got back in touch with nature, and learned more about vegetation and wildlife, than we ever learned in school. And best of all, we got our work-life-balance back. Yes, we worked hard but there was still enough time in the day for motorcycling, hiking, boating and enjoying life. Gotta love this country.

Three years ago after a traumatizing work assignment in Winnipeg (dark, cold and dull, but mostly cold) we packed up and moved to the We(s)t Coast. Instead of snow we got rain, and lots of it. But wow, when the sun comes out, it's the best place on Earth! With mountains and the ocean in sight and close reach we became even more outdoorsy. We had arrived, or so we thought.
But isn't life what happens to you while you're busy making other plans? Because now time has come to say good-bye, not to the blogger community but to the country we called home for the past years.

We have the desire to be closer to our families, especially with parents getting too old for intercontinental traveling. We had pondered over moving back to Europe for quite some time now, and are sure that this is the right thing to do at this time.

It all comes down to family and friends, doesn't it? And at home we will be welcomed with open arms. We received overwhelming positive feedback on sharing our plans, and were literally buried with offers to help settling in. We have plenty of places to sleep, and people in our professional network have offered their support in finding new jobs.

Of course having embraced the Canadian lifestyle and having been deeply spoiled by it we are curious and a bit anxious too, if we can still fit in and comply with the German way of life. We shall see. For starters I can bring my Sportster along, I take this as a good sign.

This change might put a stopper to this blog since there won't be much motorcycle content while preparing the move and starting up our new lives in Europe but I hope that you will meanwhile continue to follow us on our new blog (it's in English!) as hubby and I rediscover Europe two-wheeled, two-legged or by other means of transport, and make an effort to reconnect with the European culture and the somewhat peculiar lifestyle of the locals.

I am going to miss the ocean and I am going to miss our friends on this side of the world!
Auf Wiedersehen!
So long and see you again.

Acht Jahre!

Es gibt Menschen, die sind voller verpasster Gelegenheiten. Wir wollten nicht zu jenen gehören, die später einmal sagen “Ach, hätten wir doch...”. Kanada ist für uns die Realisierung eines Traums, ein Abenteuer, etwas, dass wir machen wollten, bevor wir zu alt oder krank oder unflexibel für Veränderungen werden. Acht Jahre Kanada. Wo ist nur die Zeit geblieben? 

Am 18. April 2005 wanderten wir nach Calgary in Alberta ein. Dort waren wir willkommen, fanden schnell Arbeit und neue Freunde. Es gab die Badlands, die Prairies und die Rocky Mountains, einen Haufen Schnee, aber auch viel Sonnenschein. 
Vor drei Jahren zog es uns dann weiter nach Port Moody in British Columbia. Das Wetter an der pazifischen Westküste ist im Gegensatz zum rauhen Klima in den Prairies vergleichsweise mild, und so tauschten wir Schnee und Kälte gegen wochenlangen Regen ein. Aber kann es etwas Schöneres geben, als die Berge und den Ozean direkt vor der Tür zu haben?
In Kanada haben wir zu unserer Work-Life Balance gefunden und staunen immer wieder auf's Neue über das, was uns Mutter Natur zu bieten hat. Wir lieben dieses Land, es ist uns zu einer zweiten Heimat geworden.

Aber nach acht Jahren vermissen wir die Nähe zur Familie und haben Heimweh nach europäischer Kultur und Landschaft. Ja, uns ist bewusst, dass wir ein Luxusproblem haben, oder besser: wir haben die Wahl, denn...

... wir ziehen einfach mal wieder um! 

Bevor wir uns zu einer Rückkehr entschlossen, stand sogar Neuseeland mal zur Diskussion, wurde aber wegen der noch weiteren Entfernung zu Freunden und Familie dann doch wieder verworfen. Denn bei aller Liebe und Bewunderung für die fantastische Gegend, sie ersetzt doch auf Dauer Familie und Freunde nicht.

So machten wir eine Liste der Länder, die uns auch noch interessieren könnten. Dabei stellten wir fest, dass für uns der gesamte deutsche und englische Sprachraum, sowie Skandinavien oder Holland zum Leben und Arbeiten in Betracht kommen können.

Dem/der geneigten Leser/in wird vielleicht aufgefallen sein, dass wir im vergangenen Jahr verdächtig oft in Europa waren. Wir wollten ein Gefühl für eine Rückkehr entwickeln, und konnten sagen, es hat sich gut angefühlt.
Auswanderung - Rückwanderung. Das hört sich doch alles sowieso viel zu entgültig an. Wir nennen es daher Weiterwanderung. 

Zum Zwecke einer Neuorientierung werden wir erst einmal wieder in unsere alte Heimat umziehen, uns nach geeigneten Arbeitstellen umsehen und überraschen lassen, wohin es uns als nächstes verschlagen wird. 

Am meisten freuen wir uns schon auf die wieder gewonnene Nähe zur Familie und zu Freunden, auf Straßencafes und Biergärten und auf Ausfahrten mit unseren Vespa’s, auf Museen, historische Architektur und Konzerte und darauf, dass wir innerhalb weniger Flugstunden in eine völlig andere Kultur 'eintauchen' können. 

Der erste Schritt ist getan: Wir haben unsere Jobs gekündigt!

Wir sind dann mal weg! Das Ende? Nein, ein neuer Anfang. Denn, so unglaublich es klingen mag, jetzt heißt es: 

Goodbye, Canada - Hallo, Europa!

Wer an unserer Auswanderungsgeschichte interessiert ist, ist eingeladen, sich auf eine Zeitreise in das Jahr 2003 begeben, wo alles anfing.

Lots of errands to run!!!!

Roland: I am back in Canada for a week now, and Sonja keeps me REALLY busy with all kinds of errands, e.g. to deal with our bank, our real estate guy, and the notary, to have our Audi appraised for the lease return, to prepare the move that will happen next week and so on, and so forth...

Currently my most important job is to get rid of junk (fortunately we do not have a lot of THAT!). Some of our stuff can be donated, other sold on Craigslist and the likes, or given to friends and colleagues, and so I continue to clean out the closets and cupboards, while the wife is still working.

Moving boxes will be delivered tomorrow, so the weekend will be all about packing up!

April 16, 2013

The Next Best Thing to Riding Your Own...

 ... is becoming a sidecar monkey.

With my motorcycle still in storage the next best thing is shamelessly soliciting a ride from the famous URAL handler Dom whom we had the privilege to host before he would leave civilization for the cold wild tundra.
The handsome orange motorcycle/sidecar combination named Valencia offers a whole new perspective on riding, and it almost feels like riding in a convertible sports car, if it wasn't for the motorcycle gear.
 Shadow Riders

I want (need?) to get in as much riding time as I can, so I show him the way to Alouette Lake (50 km one way) in the Golden Ears Provincial Park through effective punch and point. This specific means of communications works perfectly, and an hour later we stop to enjoy the lake and mountain vistas (No, I still can't name them, so let's stick to Mount Bob, Roland Peak and Martha Heights).

With me out of the sidecar the next thing I watch is Dom rolling down the boat launch to find out if his hack is amphibian.
Just kidding! In fact he is looking for the perfect position to pose with Valencia, while I am waiting for the Kodak moment in which the brakes of his URAL would give way...
All goes well though, the brakes are holding, and I force Dom at gunpoint to pose for a picture, hence the face...
To test out the sidecar's capabilities I guide him and Valencia further into the forest to the "Rambo-Bridge", and with impeccable precision Dom managed to hit every single pothole on that short stretch of gravel road.
His attempts to shake me up left me completely unimpressed, though. The sidecar seat is not only safe and comfy but special shock absorbers help preventing any spinal damage. For all I know it is a perfectly smooth ride.
Dom in action... no wait a minute, does he ride with his eyes closed? Maybe Valencia knows the way...
Three hours later... and we are still riding. The light is fading and it is rapidly getting cold. Not for me on "my" monkey seat, though. I just hide under the cover and all is well.
A ride in the sidecar, especially with an experienced rider like Dom is FUN, capital letters! I enjoyed every minute of the 3 1/2 hours, and could have gone much longer.

If you like motorcycle riding but don't ride your own, forget about going pillion, get somebody with a hack! It is the next best thing to riding your own, honour bright!
Thank you, Dom for this unforgettable experience, and thanks to your wife Martha, who had sent you on this trip of a lifetime. Drive safely, and don't get hit by moose or bears. By the way I hope you will find your way to Alaska without the map you forgot on our dinner table... 

Roland and I genuinely enjoyed having you over and sharing our views on world, life and (yes, it is indeed a hobby of those bloody Krauts...) politics. Please know that you and your family will always be welcome whenever, wherever...