Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Deutsche Bank

Ugarte: Heh, you know, watching you just now with the Deutsche Bank, one would think you've been doing this all your life.
Rick: Oh, what makes you think I haven't?

We had a brief meeting with Deutsche Bank this morning, well, the Hamburg branch office on Schulkteblatt Strasse. Very nice and helpful young man. Excellent English. But it turns out we won't need them. Alas, I was relishing the opportunity to use this line on Vicki (our CFO).

Vicki adds:

May 19, 2009 Hamburg, Germany

While Mark has been regaling everyone with the lighter side of our travels, in the background we have been working through further serious camper shipping issues. Seven days ago we got an email from the shipping people in Germany telling us that German customs would require that we leave a $19,000 deposit with them in order to release the camper. Needless to say, it was the first we had heard of this. Turns out one can only have a vehicle in the EU for 6 months at a time otherwise you have to pay customs duty and the VAT (a 19% sales tax). The Germans started requiring a deposit last year which you get back when you take the vehicle out of the EU. We frantically started emailing our shipper, customs etc. and the bottom line was that had we shipped to England, Netherlands or Belgium no deposit would have been necessary. But the Germans require it. Our shipper neglected to mention this. So we have transferred this to an account in California where Rebecca has access and the money is going to be wired to the customs bank account. To further complicate things, the ship arrives on Thursday, which is a holiday in Germany. We may be able to get the camper Friday or maybe not till Monday. In the meantime instead of paying $20-25 a night to camp, we are staying at a hostel with the bathroom down the hall for a mere $70 a night.

At least the food here is much cheaper than Ireland. In fact the grocery—which is a small, urban type, not a large suburban affair—has prices almost cheaper than in the US. I bought ham, cheese, bread, mustard, coke, wine ($2 a bottle), prepared lasagna, milk, prepared salad, garlic bread, muesli—enough of everything for 3 lunches and breakfasts and 2 suppers for $21. So we aren't too far over budget. We plan on taking the 2 hr train ride to the port of Bremerhaven on Thursday and staying in another hostel there until our ship comes in.

The hostel is fine and has free wifi. All ages are staying here, including couples with babies, but it won't be full before the weekend. It is very helpful to have the kitchen with refrigerators. Of course Mark and I are used to sharing communal bathrooms because we camp so much. In fact the hostel bathrooms are always much cleaner than a KOA or such back in the States. But we can't wait to have our own “little home” on wheels.

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