Settling Down in Konstanz

Old Konstanz

The title is a lie... for now at least.

We spent the better part of 9 hours driving from Berlin to Konstanz. That included gas stops and food stops and stops in general. Nevertheless it was a long drive and our landing was highly imperfect. We have a nice Airbnb here, but the hostess thought her husband sent us a welcome email and the husband thought his wife sent it. Needless to say, we were not welcomed in Konstanz. After a long drive, I said "fuck it all, get a hotel." All ended well when the husband showed up moments later with some wine and keys and parking advice. We all landed in our apartment here and went out for a quick three-hour dinner at the quaint French restaurant around the corner.


Waking up the the next day, I managed to reason about our situation a bit more.

The next day

Konstanz is beautiful. The old city is quaint, very walkable and has almost every kind of shop and service one would need for living without an automobile. We have an upcoming wedding that we need to attend, so the five of us need to get some more suitable clothing as the event does not have a "traveling nomad" theme. Luckily, less than 100 meters from our doorstep, the old down of Konstanz sits with all of its fantastic shops from tiny boutiques to shopping malls with H&Ms. While I like little local shops, I don't particularly enjoy clothes shopping, so I prefer to just hit a mall or something because it will take less time. I suppose this is funny, because I can stand in a food market, a wine store or a beer shop for hours on end searching for the perfect indulgence.

Luckily, in Germany they treat alcohol as part of one's diet. So, at a decent supermarket one can expect to find a good selection of all three of these things. Maryland could learn a lot here, but I suppose we've never been about consumer convenience when it come to consumer good, we've always been about controlling supply and distribution for profit. Sad.

Today was the easy day, it gets more complicated.

On being absent

I was told and I understood that being a US citizen outside of the US isn't particularly difficult, but handling affairs at home could be challenging. Well that's a fucking understatement. It turns out, through a variety of unexpected circumstances, we need to deal with some real-estate issues while we're away. This requires a power of attorney. Luckily, we have much family at home that is both willing and has the capacity to serve as such. Assigning power of attorney while living abroad is (in theory) easy, but while traveling abroad is ridiculously complicated.

  1. Find a print-copy-shop and print your docs.
  2. Go to a US Consulate and have them notarize the document.

Well, sounds easy except our documents we need two witnesses and (a) we cannot serve as each other's witness and (b) the consulate will not provide/act as a witness. Additionally, you need to make an appointment at a consulate and most have a two week waiting list. We aren't in any given place (until Konstanz) for more than 7 days and we don't have two people outside the family to serve as witnesses. Additionally, Germany's consulates are quite far from Konstanz.

A few weeks ago, I made an appointment at the US Consular Agency in Zurich and asked on Twitter if I knew anyone who could help out. Luckily, two wonderful gentleman in Switzerland who knew me offered up their time.

So on Wednesday, we packed up the kids and our documents and drove from Konstanz, Germany to Zurich, Switzerland. Marc and Tomas met us and we went through the rather fantastical security of the facilities there and had our documents notarized. Honestly, I feel like it would be more secure if I had a notary in the United States that I already know watch me sign the docs over telepresence and then notarized them two days later upon receipt over telepresence as well. Sadly the process to keep people authentic actually reduces the authenticity... surprise!

We returned home to Konstanz and attempted to find a place to mail them out: DHL or UPS. Four miles of walking resulted in complete and utter failure and depression of our party of five. It turns out there was a recently moved Mailboxes, Etc. 100m from our apartment. We got the new location address and Lisa and I ventured out Friday morning to mail it out.

The world is unifying and people are beginning to not care where they are in the world as they interact with other people and services remotely. The elements of identity, law, citizenship and rights simply are not caught up with modern reality. It most certainly won't make realizable progress by the time our trip is over.

Anyway... this frustration is over, at least for now.

I said we're settling down, but the irony is we get in the car tomorrow and drive far away for a wedding!

General Information

Where we were.

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Where we are.

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Where we're going.

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