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Mike's Excellent Adventure to Europe 1993

Part 3: The First Week

So, we worked hard all week.  At night, we cooked our own meals in the barracks, so that we could save up our per diem to travel on the weekends.  We each took turns cooking for the rest of the office, and started playing poker each night for entertainment, which was pretty entertaining, since everyone had different currency.  The rest of the office spent the first weekend up in the Netherlands and Amsterdam, so we were playing with Deutschemarks, Gilders, Franks, and quarters, and trying to figure out the conversion factors made them pretty fun.

"I see your gilder and raise you a quarter."  "What's that equal to - three francs or what?"

We worked in a hardened bunker, which was probably very important during the Cold War, but at the time when we were there, it was just treated like another office.  It was very cool, but we all agreed that at this time, it was probably no longer necessary.  Below is the scene of the beautiful German countryside that we saw every time we came and went from the bunker.

The beautiful German countryside
This was the view from the bunker.  This was the part I liked the best about working there.

I can't get into a lot of the work stuff, but I did learn some interesting things.  We were working with NATO troops, which was interesting, because it wasn't a purely US unit.  As a result, they followed different rules.

One thing I noticed was that they had beer in the break room.  In addition to the candy bars and sodas, they had beer in there.  I asked one of the Americans about it, he said that the Germans are allowed to have a beer while on duty.  Cool.

Also, we were training the staff on how to use the software.  Our classes lasted from 8 until 5 each day with an hour break each afternoon for lunch.  Everything was going well until Friday.  At around noon, we decided to break for lunch, and we told everyone we would see them back in the class at around 1 PM.  Everyone laughed, and left.  We didn't know what was so funny, so we asked one of the Canadian officers.

"This is NATO.  They don't work on Friday afternoons.  They thought you were kidding."

No, we were serious.  But, the joke was on us, when at 1 PM, no one came back from lunch.  So, at around 2 PM, our boss decided that no one was coming back, and we could start the weekend.

Our boss had a great idea.  The US military had a recreation area in Garmisch, Germany, and he and his wife had reserved a hotel room down there.  While there were no more rooms, there was a pop up camper that he reserved for the rest of us if we wanted it.  We all agreed, and we decided to take him up on the offer to go to Garmisch.

We decided that since his wife was traveling with him, he and his wife would take one car, while the four of us from the office would take the other and follow him down, so that he could be alone with his wife.  You might think we were doing this to be nice, but in actuality, we were pawning off the two door piece of crap Astra for his four door, mid-size, slightly better than piece of crap Vectra.  Our boss agreed, and he took the Astra, and we took the Vectra.

And since no one came back from class, we hopped on the road and headed for Garmisch for the weekend.

Continue on to Part 4: Garmisch