Cars and Castles
Thurs 21 April
We both now know more about cars than ever, having just gone through the process over the past week of looking for one to buy. And we swear they’ve multiplied! We’re seeing the various models at every corner! And now, the news you've all been waiting for... we have bought a car (well, half a car)! On Thursday we put a deposit on a car with the immense help of Peter (and on Friday we officially became residents of Berlin in order to register it). The best part: it's a red Kangoo! We came all the way from Australia and still can't get away from them (although we hope this one doesn’t jump)! It is a Renault Kangoo Maxi Plus and is about 2.1 metres long in the back of the car (made for people Jo's size). Peter was such an enormous help in the buying process as he helped us research on the Internet, took it for a test drive (as we were not 100% confident driving on the other side of the road and car in the middle of Berlin) and he even got a mechanic (who he tutors maths in exchange for car services) to look over it before we purchased it! We are very excited to pick it up and start turning it into our comfortable little home for the next eight months!
On Thursday afternoon, after we bought the car, Peter, Angelika and Nadia took us to Park Babelsberg, a park just over the Berlin-Potsdam border. We wandered around the beautiful park and marvelled at the lovely little castles (featured in photos below) which were scattered about the vegetation . A stones throw (rather a long throw at that) from the park we could see the well known 'Spy Bridge' (Glienicke Bridge) where in the days of the Cold War, the Russians and Americans would exchange sorry spies which they had found snooping around their side of the border.
Our German Family have been so generous and kind in letting us stay at their house, showing us around Berlin and helping us with buying our car. We are so grateful that we have had such a lovely base to land at and get our bearings!
A colourful Mandarin Duck paddling along the placid Havel River.
For fellow travellers looking to buy a car in Europe (or car enthusiasts in general): this next section is strictly for you (as it is far too boring for anyone else)! In Germany, cars must have a special mandatory service called a TÜV every two years where there are two main tests: the HU 'road worthiness' test and the AU 'exhaust emissions' test. So it is best to buy a car which has undergone a recent TÜV service so that you know that the car will most likely not die on you while you need it. Also, especially in Germany but also in various other European countries, there are green zones in certain cities where you need a Euro4 class engine which means that it is low polluting. The engine class can depend on the age of the car, whether it is petrol or diesel (diesel is worse) and if it has catalytic converter and particulate filter attached to the engine. Good car buying sites for Germany are 'autoscout24.de' and 'mobile.de'. Boring (but very important for car buyers in Germany) section finished!