Esso Station Finder Website and Mobile App

If you’re planning a road trip. This website is handy in finding the nearest Esso stations along your route. Each stations lists their phone number, address, opening hours and other helpful info. You can narrow your search by clicking the check boxes to see which stations are open 24 hours or which one are right off of the highway among other things.

Esso Locator

Esso even has a free App that you can download for use on your smart phone (iPhone or Android) that should work the same way. I don’t have a smart phone, so if anyone can test this out and let us know how well it works, I would appreciate it.

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Centro Mall – Europe’s largest indoor mall

That’s Right! According to the Centro website, this is the largest mall in Europe. I have to say that it wouldn’t surprise me since it is rather spectacular.

The store list could go on forever, but they have everything popular and even some things from “home” for us Americans. Take Hollister… Yep, they have one! In the food court they have it all too with a mix of foods to choose from. Burger king (outside) and McDonalds, KFC, Subway, a Donner shop, Bubble tea, etc. You name a type of food, they most likely have it…


Over 200 shops in the Mall are open Monday – Saturday from 10am – 10pm.
Fr – Sa: 10am – 10pm

Most of the catering outlets and leisure facilities on the Promenade are already open at 11 am in the morning and remain open after midnight.

Now what’s the promenade you ask?!? Oh its just the most beautiful area outside the mall. Just walk down the mall steps outside the food court and there are restaurants galore. During the Xmas season they have a tiny Christmas Markt too. It is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon on a nice day. Much better to eat out there in the summer then in the food court!

Basically, to sum everything up, this place is worth the 1.5 hour drive to Oberhausen. It is something you could spend an entire day viewing.

The attached photos don’t do it justice so please go check it out for yourself. I mean, if nothing else, the mall has three Starbucks so you’ll get a cup of coffee out of it! 😉

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Posted in Malls, Rainy day items | 1 Comment

Import Taxes

If you buy something outside of Germany that has to be shipped to your German address, the shipping company will request that you pay import taxes on the item (usually from 0% to 20% of the item’s value). Naturally, the shipping company does not know you are supposed to be exempt from these taxes, so there is some paperwork that is required to get your item delivered tax free. Once you have bought the item, you will have to go to the Customs office on GK (Building 84) with your receipt and request an AE Form 550-175A. The form is good for 90 days, so apply for the form early. This way, you can have it ready to go once the shipper contacts you about the import taxes.

How your form is processed by the shipper is different for each company so you will have to ask their employees about that part of the process. I know FedEx’s closest customs office is at the Frankfurt Airport and you must be present to clear customs, so tax free may or may not be worth your time.

For more information on German Customs and Import taxes you can look here.

More information on the AE Form 550 is here.

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Tappas Sittard

Tapas! How can you say no?

We recently went here with friends and got to try a little bit of everything. My hubby and I split a tapas feast for 2 while our friends ordered À la carte from the menu. It was a fun atmosphere and the food was excellent.

Like all tapas places, expect to pay a little more for dinner, but I can say for us it was worth it and we’ll do it again. The menu had so much to choose from and I want to try it all. The only thing that everyone agreed on? Don’t get the nachos….

Markt 37 Sittard (in the main center)

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Roermond Outdoor Outlet Mall

This designer outlet has it all. Think of just about any name brand and you can probably find it here. Of course just because it’s an outlet doesn’t mean you can afford it all!

A beautiful area to walk and the parking is easy with lots of spaces (the all-day parking fee is 3€).

Due to the number of stores, I recommend you check their site for a reference on all that you can see.

Monday – Friday 10am – 7pm
Thursday 10am – 8pm
Saturday and Sunday 10am – 8pm

Stadsweide 2, 6041 TD Roermond,

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Makado (Mall) w/ Free childcare

This reminded me of one of the Tucson Malls. After not having been to one in a while, I felt in awe of this place. Not a large mall, it certainly had plenty to see. One of my favorite stores was Bruna. This store sells gift certificates and gift packages. You can buy dinner for two, or a spa trip, or a vacation package to give as a gift and the receiver can choose from all sorts of places to use their package.

Other places included one medium and one XL toy store. The x-large one was called Toys XL so I think you’ll figure it out quickly! 😉

This place had a few flower shops, clothing stores, a BCC (think of any electronic/appliance and they have it) and more shops to choose from. They did have a large Xenos and Blokker too.

It’s a wonderful way to spend a few hours picking up things you need and you could even grocery shop in their large center.

Just a few exits from Schinnen, this is a great place to go for those extra items!

Oh and the best news you ask?!? FREE CHILDCARE!!!


Open Weds-Friday 1300-1800 and Sat 1100-1700 for a max of two hours and for children under the age of 9.  See their website for more info!

Wethouder Sangersstraat 314 • 6191 NA BEEK


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Kinderstad -Heerlen

When it’s raining, this is the place to go with the kids. Perfect for the adults to sit down and enjoy a coffee or snack whilst the children burn their energy running through this warehouse of fun. With bouncing, climbing, riding, running, boating and more, this is a wonderful time for all ages. I know that I may be in my late twenties, but I rode all the rides and played just as hard as the kids did!

The price was 9€ per person and well worth it. When you enter you can also buy “munts” which are the coins to purchase food and drinks. You can also buy them from a machine next to the vendor. The food and drinks were more then reasonable in cost too which my wallet appreciated!!

They are open 365 days of the year! (Yes you read correctly) Hours are 1000-1800 daily.

Please give this a try next rainy day!

Parallelweg 4
6411 ND Heerlen


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Ristorante-Pizzaria Roma in Tüddern

Roma’s is a small restaurant on the main drag through Tüddern. There is seating inside and out back on the patio. They will take To-Go orders and have English menus for you to use.

Roma’s offers schnitzel, a gyro plate, 50 different pizzas, pasta, salads and, my favorite, Indian. Their main special is “Get three pizzas for the price of two” from Monday-Friday. So stop by next time you’re in the area . You won’t be disappointed.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 1600-2300
Holidays and Sun: 1130-2300

Sittarderstrasse 15, Selfkant-Tüddern

Phone: (0)245 650 7794

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Biercentrale/Drankenhal Corstjens – Belgian Beer Heaven

Located just across the Belgian border in Maaseik, Drankenhal Corstjens can fulfill your Belgian beer needs without the long commute. As usual, you can buy beers individually or by the crate at a reasonable price. The staff is extremely knowledgeable and friendly. They’ll help you pick out new beers to try according to what you already know you like. The store has beer, wine, liquor as well as juices and water. I was told that the beloved Christmas beers will be on the shelves by the end of November.

The store also makes beer gift baskets (the ones in the picture were 15€). Beer tastings are held most Saturdays. If you’re interested, you can also join their mailing list by sending an email to or like their Facebook page.

Opening Hours: Tues-Sat   0900-1800

Schoorstraat 6 (you might have to use 1520 in your GPS)
3680 Maaseik, BE

Phone:  0032 (0)89 75 19 95

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Christmas Time HereAtGk

Spending Christmas at home is a luxury for those who have home at their finger tips. HereAtGK has compiled a list of places that would work as a home away from home during the holidays. Ranging from absolutely picturesque to the birthplace of Christmas, these locations should suffice for places for the Tri-border community to fulfill their Christmas holiday memories.

Vienna, Austria

Popular attractions at the market include the Nativity Scene, Carved Nutcrackers, toasted almonds, Christmas cookies of forms of soft gingerbread, a sort of egg bread with candied fruit, Bratwurst, and for many visitors one of the highlights of the market if Gluhwein: mulled wine, or Eirpunsch a egg based warm alcoholic drink. Both help stave off the cold winter air which sometimes dips below freezing. Many other handmade items, toys, books, Christmas tree decorations and can be found at a Christkindlmarkt.

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Prague, Czech Republic

The markets consist of brightly decorated, wooden huts selling a variety of traditional handcrafted Czech products, such as wooden toys, Bohemian Crystal, jewelry, embroidery, metal-ware, ceramic plates and mugs, scented candles, hats, gloves and scarves, beautifully dressed puppets and dolls, and of course Christmas tree ornaments. Indeed, visitors may find some very nice Christmas stocking fillers. The Prague Christmas markets are not just about shopping. Visitors can observe traditional foods being made, and sample all manner of local food and drink.

There are large hams roasting on spits, traditional Czech pastries to try, such as ‘Trdelník’ – a hot sugary coated pastry – and of course terribly unhealthy, but wonderfully tasty barbecued sausages. To accompany the food, you’ll find Pilsner Urquell and other Czech beers on offer. And warm drinks can be most welcome too. Outdoor Christmas shopping is so much nicer with a cup of hot wine (svařené víno or svařák) in your hand! At the Old Town Square Christmas markets there is an animal’s stable, where children can stroke sheep, goats and a donkey. And there is also a large Bethlehem scene depicting Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and the Three Kings in a wooden stable.

Most impressive of all is the Christmas tree, shipped from the Krkonose mountains in the North of the Czech Republic. The tree is erected in a central position in the Old Town Square and draped in a blaze of lights. It is then turned on around 5pm every night. Set against Prague’s dark gothic skyline, this is a spectacular sight.

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Cologne, Germany

Cologne celebrates the season with seven Christmas markets throughout its city center. The Christmas market directly in front of the Cologne Cathedral is the most impressive one and boasts the largest Christmas tree in the region. Free Christmas concerts playing nightly in front of the Cathedral; starting at 6 p.m., you can enjoy everything from jazz, gospel and rock, to traditional German Christmas carols.

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Amsterdam, NL

Sinterklaas is a kindly bishop. He wears red robes and a tall, pointed mitre on his head. Sinterklaas travels by ship from Spain to Amsterdam’s harbor every winter. With him he brings his white horse and a huge sack full of gifts for the children. The mayor and all the people of Amsterdam flock to the harbor to greet Sinterklaas as he arrives. Bells ring out, the people cheer, and a brass band leads a parade through the streets. The parade stops at the royal palace, where the Queen welcomes Sinterklaas.

Families celebrate St. Nicholas Eve at home with lots of good food, hot chocolate, and a letterbanket. This is a “letter cake” made in the shape of the first letter of the family’s last name. In some families, each person gets a little letterbanket with their first initial.

In the eastern part of Holland, farm families announce the coming of Christmas from the first Sunday of Advent, which is the fourth Sunday before Christmas, until Christmas Eve by blowing a horn made from hollow elder-tree branches. The horns make an eerie noise as they are blown at every farm in the neighborhood.

Later in December, Dutch families decorate a Christmas tree and trim the house with candles, evergreens, and holly. Some children hang up a stocking from the fireplace mantel on Christmas Eve, but there are no more presents after St. Nicholas Day for most Dutch children.

Families go to church together on Christmas Eve and then again on Christmas morning. They gather together for a family dinner of roast hare, venison, goose, or turkey. Eggnog and a mulled drink are specially made for this celebration. After dinner, the family gathers before the fireplace to tell stories and sing carols.

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In Sittard there are a few places that you can buy used furniture. It is often in excellent condition, made from real wood, sometimes antique, and always a wonderful deal! One on my favorite places to look is the two story building known as Bis-Bis.

You can find couches, tables, chairs, dressers, toddler beds, cribs, etc. They also sell cups, plates, clothes and during the holidays, they sell decorations.

Stop by on your next trip to the markt. You will be pleasantly surprised!

BIS-BIS Sittard

Milieuparkweg 13
6136 KP Sittard
Tel. 0888 – 444 444

Opening hours:

Monday 13.00 – 17.00
Tuesday 10.00 – 17.00
Wednesday 10.00 – 17.00
Thursday 10.00 – 17.00
Friday 10.00 – 17.00
Saturday 10.00 – 16.00

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Brunssummerheide- Brunnsum NL

Located behind AFNorth International School is the 1800 recreation area used for walking, cycling, golf and horse riding. The nature park is an immense reserve that contains many ponds, hills, and trails for everyone to enjoy. On one end is Brunnsum, the other is Laandgraff. This gives you an idea of how massive the park really is.

The Brunnsum golf course is also located near the park and uses the park as a backdrop for golfers. Rode Beek and Schrieversheideven are both attractive spots for nature exploration.

The park is also home to the old landfill that was housed on this property before the current environmental legislation was put into order. The landfill is covered and now the area is used to promote nature.

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JFC Brunnsum Alliance Theater

The JFC Alliance Theater in Bldg 405, seats 365 people. AAFES Reel Time Theaters provides newly released movies with showings every Friday and Saturday. Visit the Brunssum Morale and Welfare website for more information.

Reel Time Theater Schedule or check on their Facebook page at JFC Alliance Theatre.

The theater is also home to the Alliance Players, an all-volunteer community theater group performing in Brunssum, The Netherlands since 1974. Located on the NATO Joint Forces Command Headquarters, the troop entertains audiences from the three military installations of the Tri-Border region: USAG Schinnen and JFC HQ in the Netherlands, plus Geilenkirchen NATO Airbase in Germany. The Players draw from all three installations as well as the AFNORTH International School for volunteer support and community involvement.

For more information about upcoming plays, visit their website.

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Ocean Wok Paradise- Sittard

Located in Sittard, the Ocean Wok Paradise is a moderately upscale Asian Buffet. If you go right near opening hours the atmosphere is perfect. They only serve dinner, however do offer take-out at lunch time.

The atmosphere is what I liked most about the restaurant. It was clean and pretty to look at. They even had koi swimming along streams throughout the eatery.

The buffet is pretty large and they offer a Mongolian grill as well. There is a nice ice-cream buffet in the back of the restaurant too. The price is steep at 20 euros per person and 10 euros for children. If you are a big Asian buffet lover, then the price is right, but a bit pricey for just a casual dinner.

Rijksweg Zuid 726134 AD Sittard Nederland

Telephone 0031 046 4586311

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Markets in the Local Area- Plus Late Night Shopping!

Markets and Late Night Shopping in the Local Area

Amstenrade Thurs morning
Beek Wed morning Fri
Brunssum Sat morning Thurs
Elsloo Sat morning Fri
Eygleshoven Sat 10.00-17.00 hrs
Geleen Thurs, Sat all day Thurs
Heerlen Tues, Sat All Day Thurs
Hoensbroek Fri morning Thurs
Kerkrade Fri morning Thurs
Kerkrade West Wed morning Thurs
Klimmen Fri morning
Landgraaf:Op De Kamp Thurs afternoon Thurs
Schaesberg Fri afternoon Thurs
Maastricht Wed, Fri morning,
Sat (Flea market near rail station)
Meersen Thurs afternoon Thurs
Merklebeek Wed afternoon
Munstergeleen Fri afternoon
Nuth Fri afternoon Thurs
Oirsbeek Thurs afternoon Fri (until 20.00)
Puth Wed afternoon
Roermond Saturdays until 15.00
Schinnen Thurs afternoon Fri (until 20.00)
Schinveld Thurs afternoon
Simpleveld Fri morning Thurs
Sittard Thurs morning, Sat morning Thurs
Susteren Thurs morning Fri (until 20.00)
Valkenburg Mon morning Thurs
Vorendaal Thurs afternoon Thurs
Waubach Fri afternoon Fri

Wassenberg – Thurs morning
Heinsberg – Tues and Fri 0800-1200
Geilenkirchen – Tues and Fri 0700-1200
Rheindahlen village – Fri 1300-1800
Monchengladbach – Tues, Thurs and Sat 0700-1300

Posted in Food, Geilenkirchen, Heinsberg, Maastricht, Markets, NO COST, Other markts, Sittard | Leave a comment

Christmas Market Websites – Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg

The Christmas season is fast approaching, and with it come the Christmas Markets or Weihnachtsmarkts.  Most towns in Germany have at least a small market while the large cities, like Cologne, have several markets that you can visit within walking distance of each other.  You’ll find handmade goods of all varieties at these markets and you can be sure to find unique gems at each one. Gluwein, warm spiced wine in red, and sometimes white varieties, and Kinderpunch for the kids is readily on hand along with all the German food stands you’ve come to know and love.  So dress warm and put on your walking shoes. It’s going to be a fun and cheerful month.

I’ve compiled a list of websites that can help you out in planning your Christmas Market excursions.  Some markets will be open by mid-November with most starting by the beginning of December.

Germany – is a good place to start your search. Everything is in English, they give descriptions of the different markets along with the dates and times of each, and they give the link to the official market page if you want to do more research. The list however is not as comprehensive as the next link. has a huge list of markets, along with the same summary information as the first site. I tested the site out using Google Translate with no problems.  You can also filter the list by region or look at their list for markets in other countries. Their Termine gives you a summary of the opening dates for all of the markets listed. lists all of the markets in France. You can narrow down your search to a Province (a map of French Provinces is here) and narrow further to major city location. The marches permanents are the markets that will be open the entire season.

Belgium -I had a hard time finding a good list for Belgium Christmas Markets, along with should point you in the right direction. Also worth noting is that some Belgian markets will continue until New Years. again lists some of the larger city markets.  There is also, which allows you to search by region, although they don’t have much listed for the Limburg province.

Luxembourg – The main market will be in Luxembourg City. More information can be found here.

If you have any great websites you use to plan your Christmas market adventures, let us know in the comments.

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Current Traffic and Construction Information Online

Don’t you hate being blindsided by a detour when you’re just minding your own business driving down the autobahn? Me too, so I went on a mission to find highway traffic and construction information online. At least then, it would be possible to know what you’re getting into when you decide to go on a what you think is going to be a three hour road trip. These sites are the best I could find. They have interactive maps, where you can zoom in and out and click on the traffic signs to see how the construction will affect your journey.


This is the only site I could find for Belgian Road Works. But it’s pretty comprehensive. It even gives expected completion dates for construction. The key word is “expected”, but we can hope.


This site was my favorite that I tested for German roads. The map is interactive if you click on it. You can also get summaries by region or highway.

Other sites I tried are and which both work, but they don’t have the cool map.

Netherlands: and These sites are similar to each other. There might be a better site out there, but I haven’t found it yet.

So check these sites out and hopefully you won’t be caught by surprise again on the autobahns, and if you have any sites that you use, let us know in the comments.

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5€ Movies on Tuesdays at the Foroxity

This deal (Voordeel Dinsdag) is still going on. You pay 1€ extra for 3-D movies and it’s not valid for special events or on January 1, 2013, but otherwise, this will save you €2,50 on each ticket!

UPDATE: I have since found out that €5 movies on Tuesdays happens at many of the movie theaters here. So check out your movie theater’s prices online. You can probably cash in on this deal too.

There is also a Sneak Preview movie every Tuesday at 20:30. The movie is a surprise and is usually something that will be released in the Netherlands in the next week or so. You can ask the cashier if the movie is in English and what category it is (action, horror, etc.) so you don’t pay to watch a Dutch movie accidentally.

The movie schedule is updated on under “Dag Overzicht”. Remember that (OV) at the end of a title means the movie is the original version with Dutch sub-titles while (NL) means that the movie has been dubbed into Dutch.

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Koopzondag – Sunday Shopping in the Netherlands

Shops are generally closed on Sundays in the Netherlands, but about once a month there is an exception to the rule in almost every city. These days are called Koopzondag and most shops will open their doors and operate their normal hours. Depending on how large the city is, this might rotate between their markets each weekend.

You can find out what markets will be open here. This site is really easy to navigate. The list of open markets is categorized by provinces. The home page will show you what cities have Koopzondag that week. If you want to look at a particular week or the yearly schedule of a particular city, you can look through the lists on the left-hand side of the page.

There are some cities that are always open on Sundays for tourism. Some of the cities in Limburg are Thorn, Vaals, and Valkenburg aan de Geul so going to these towns will always be a nice way to spend a Sunday.

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SnowWorld Outdoor Park

The outdoor park just opened in May, and is a great reason to visit SnowWorld. The website describes the outdoor park. It is basically a giant ropes challenge course, with two levels built on telephone poles and a 5 stage zip line. The course costs about €20 for adults and €17 for kids up to 12 years old. There is a height restriction of 1.4 meters and you must wear some sort of tennis shoes, but those were the only restrictions I could find.

There is also an alpine coaster that costs €2.50 per ride or can be combined with the climbing park ticket at a discount. The alpine coaster is definitely better than I expected. I like roller coasters so I thought this coaster would be tame, but it is surprisingly thrilling. The website says that the climbing course will take 2-3 hours to go through and they aren’t kidding. We went through the lower level of the course and the zip line and it took us 2.5 hours. You do spend some time waiting on people in front of you to progress, but as long as you aren’t behind a large group, you should be good. Overall, the experience was a good one and we will definitely be back. I went with my younger brother and sister (10 and 12 years old respectively). They both had a blast, especially on the alpine coaster.

If you’re climbing with kids, stay on the lower level of the course. The higher level is more difficult and some parts are hard for kids to reach. The attendants also require that adults be on either side of children so they can help out when needed.

Some words of caution:

Wear sunscreen – There is very little shade in the climbing park, and you’ll be out there for quite a while.

Brake on the zip line – The zip lines aren’t designed like the ones in the states that slow you down before you get to the end. There is a pad at the end, but you’ll want to slow down before you get to it. Your only brake is pulling down on your tie-in, which is just metal on metal contact so this method won’t leave you stranded in the middle of the zip line even if you brake as hard as possible.

Other activities at SnowWorld:

There are three restaurants on the ground level: self-service, a-la carte restaurant and a fondue restaurant. There are also several bars. SnowWorld is mainly an indoor ski facility. They have rental equipment and lessons for skiing and snowboarding if you are interested in learning before hitting the Alps.

Other things to see in Landgraaf:

GaiaZoo – The zoo appears to be fairly close to SnowWorld. I haven’t been, but their collection includes rhinos, giraffes, gorillas and many more. The zoo is free for 0-3 year-olds, €15.50 for kids under 10 and €18.50 for adults

Continium –  Located in Kerkrade, Continuum looks like it’s a children’s museum/science museum. Entry is free for 0-3 year olds, €8.50 for 4-17 year olds and €11 for adults. The Dutch Museum Card allows free entrance.

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There are three Trinkgut businesses in the area, their addresses and opening times are given below. As the store name implies, this is a place to buy anything that you drink: beer, wine, liquor, water, soda, juice, they have everything. They also rent out glassware, beer equipment and tables.

The main draw to this store is the selection of beer. Sure you can get Erdinger at a cheaper price on base, but Trinkgut has a huge selection, including some of your favorite Bavarian brews as well as more local beers from Dusseldorf and Cologne. Check out their website  and see for yourself in the “Sortiment” tab. The store in Heinsberg is within walking distance of the Real, so stop by when you’re in the area. You won’t be disappointed.

Von Humboldt-Str. 103, 52511 Geilenkirchen – Niederheid
Tel.: 02451 4096949, Fax: 02451 4097005
Open: Mo-Fr: 09:00 – 20:00, Sa: 09:00 – 20:00

Friedrich-Ebert-Str. 103, 52531 Übach-Palenberg
Tel.: 02451 628705, Fax: 02451 628706
Open: Mo-Fr: 9:00 – 20:00, Sa: 9:00 – 20:00

Borsigstr. 38B, 52525 Heinsberg
Tel.: 02452 1061770, Fax: 02452 1062861
Open: Mo-Fr: 9:00 – 19:00, Sa: 8:00 – 18:00

Posted in Drinks/Beverages, Food, Geilenkirchen, Heinsberg | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Language Courses – Online and In Person

Courses are offered during the Spring and Fall on GK and Brunssum. The following flyers show you information on previous offerings. A German course for children has also been offered in the past.

IYA flyer_002
 Brunssum Language Program

Language courses 2015_001

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GK International Library

For current information visit the NATO E3-A website Newcomers Guide.

All items are available free of charge for all NATO ID card holders. The regular book collection contains over 12,000 books and is broken into nine language categories. (Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Norwegian and Turkish) There is a paperback book exchange, the McNaughton book Collection, some university text books and a large kids selection with more then 2,500 children’s books. There are also 40 periodicals in the English language and the daily ‘Stars and Stripes’ can be read in the library’s relaxed atmosphere.

The audio items include over 500 music CDs & 50 language courses & audio books. More than 650 DVDs for adults and children are available and there are 6 public computers with internet.
For more information, call +49 (0)2451 63 4956.

The International Library is in building 71, near the NATEX Grocery Store and Rotodome.

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If you haven’t read it yet, I recently blogged about Disney Paris.

Basically, we stayed outside of Paris at a hotel with a free shuttle. We did Disneyland one day and Paris the next. Anthony and I hopped on the free shuttle to Disney and took the train from Disney Station. It was very easy and cheap. We spent 20€ each to have an all day unlimited train pass. We really got our money’s worth too!!!

We did the Louvre Museum, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, Champs-Elysées, Arc du Carrousel, and Arc de Triomphe. I recommend looking up attractions.

As these places are spread apart, we used the trains to get around. We probably hopped on twenty to twenty five different trains as we moved through the city. It was very easy to navigate and figure out. I was able to understand it quickly and easily. Before this I had never ridden the trains and no, I do not speak much French.

Your hotel concierge can give you a basic explanation but you can look at the signs and know if the train pulling in is going to your stop. Trains run every 3-5 minutes at all stops so there isn’t much of a wait. If the sign says “Court” it means the train will be a short one and you should walk to the front of where it will be so you may board.

This train is only going to the places highlighted. If you need to go elsewhere, you must wait for a different train. Also in the bottom right corner (click to enlarge photo) you see “TRAIN COURT”. This when highlighted means to move towards the front which is marked on the ground. If you are too far back and the train is short, you will have to run!

The Louvre was quite empty until you got to the Mona Lisa, and it is also EXTREMELY large. I don’t think I could ever express how BIG this place is. To say the least, it would take days before you could see it all!!!

As for everything else, it is mostly free unless you want to go up into the Eiffel or the Arc de Triomphe. These things are inexpensive, but will be time consuming because of the lines. You should show up at opening time to avoid waiting for hours.

All in all, this was a great trip and something that is easily kept within a budget (see the Disney post for cost on the hotel we used).

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The MWA is located in building 81 .

For current information, look in the Newcomers Guide at NATO E3-A website.


  • German Postal service (including Postage of parcels/letters, sale of German stamps, telephone cards, and express international.
  • A dry cleaning service with general tailoring available
  • Newspapers/magazine/greeting cards for sale


Posted in Geilenkirchen NATO Base - Info | Leave a comment

Schuhcenter & Schuhtreff -Shoe Stores in Heinsberg

Owned by the same company and across the street from each other, these two stores are a worth while stop. Although they did have a few identical pairs of shoes at both of the stores, for the most part, each store sold different items. The shoe stores are very large and you will almost be able to guarantee that you can find anything you need. The prices were pretty great too which you can see online.  (we cannot post the direct link per the companies request, but you can copy/paste it)

So pick an address and park. They are walking distance! (Also, a fellow reader advised us that they accept the VAT form!!!!)

Both stores have the same opening hours:

Monday thru Friday 0900-2000

Saturday 0900-1800


Borsigstr. 38  Heinsberg



Humboldtstraße 20 Heinsberg, Germany

02452 2026

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We set our goal on conquering Brussels in a day and we may have eaten our way through it, but we didn’t even see 25% of what there is to see. If you really want the opportunity to check it out, I highly recommend staying the night. This is a wonderful city and full of adventure.

We started our morning at the Don Quixote statue. It was right next to the parking so that made it convenient! Finding the parking in the area was relatively easy and the parking garage is gigantic! For the day we spent about 13,60€ on parking for 7 hours. (see website below for exact fees and address)

From the parking we walked in the center and started shopping for chocolate. Belguim as you are probably aware is known for chocolate, waffles and beer, among other things. The chocolate is amazing and it’s so rich, one piece is truly enough to satisfy you.

After this, we checked out the square which was beautiful. The buildings are incredible and you will want several photos.

One of the more famous things in Brussels is the Manneken Pis. It’s a small boy peeing into a fountain. Originally built in the 1600s, there are many stories about why it exists. The more popular is because a sculpture lost his son and asked the town’s people to help find him. When they found him, the man promised to build a sculpture of what the boy was doing when the discovered him. He was peeing…. So as a thanks, he built the sculpture that people came to know and love. In the 1700s, the people of Brussels protected it from being stolen twice but the third attempt to steal it was successful and the thieves broke the statue into pieces. A replica was built and now, famous people bring it an outfit and it is dressed for all special occasions. The Manneken Pis has over 400 costumes from around the world and from presidents, prime ministers, ambassadors, etc.

In the 80’s the town built a female to accompany the male. She is a few alleys away, but she is a sight to behold. For the adults, they will want to find her as she is located next to the bar: Delirium. If you haven’t heard of this place, you can look them up in the Guinness book of records for having the most beers out of any bar in the world. They have a phone book menu that lists over 2,004 DIFFERENT beers. You can buy the book as a souvenir for about 5€. The upstairs has 14 or so beers on tap, but the secret is to go down the stairs. This is where a large bar is and it is where they serve those 2,004 beers. Don’t say I didn’t warn you though, because most Belgium Beers have 7-13% alcohol by volume. This is why you might want to spend the night in Brussels!

After walking around and seeing a few more sites, we ended up eating at a restaurant located next to Delirium where they served a fish dish that was for 2 people. A bit expensive and the fish was a tad overcooked, but we enjoyed it regardless. It included prawns, mussels, and two kinds of fish for each person. You should definitely look around at the menus posted outside the restaurants and see what appeals to you at an affordable rate. It is very expensive to eat in Brussels. Lunch consisting of mussels and fries was 23€ for one person and didn’t include the cost of the drinks.

In conclusion, this is a great place to spend the day seeing the sites or shopping and it’s a really great place to spend the night and enjoy the night-life if you can break away from the kids for a day!

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Parking Grand Place 
104, rue Marché aux Herbes
1000 Brussels

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Disney Paris

After being raised right next to Anaheim Disney, there is one thing I’m crazy about…. MICKEY MOUSE! I don’t have kids, but this summer, my husband and I booked a hotel and went to Disneyland Paris.

Our vacation like all good vacations started online. We checked out several websites and found the best deal on a hotel at It was a “super saver” deal and they only had a limited amount of rooms at the special rate. The normal rate for the hotel was 480€. I had looked at this hotel the day before booking and had kept looking around for a better deal on any hotel. So when I saw 279€ for three nights at Park & Suites, I booked it right then and there! This was the price for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday stay in September. We went during the week and after school started in order to get a better rate and also to avoid crowds/long lines at Disneyland.

On arrival at the hotel, we took the free shuttle they offer (which is a nice tour bus) and we made our way to Disney Village. It’s a free area of the park with stores and restaurants. It was a great way to spend the evening without paying for admission to the park since it was already 4pm by the time we arrived. We ate at Planet Hollywood, but they had a McDonald’s and a handful of other choices as well. We also shopped and got 90% of our souvenirs so that we wouldn’t have to carry them all around the next day! This was a nice evening and it did give us the opportunity to buy our Disneyland entrance tickets with NO line! You are able to purchase them at the gate and just let them know you want them for the next day. (The prices are listed on their website below)

Tuesday, we hopped on the shuttle yet again and made it to Disney. They opened the park at 10:00 and stay open till 22:00. We did ALL the rides and attractions in about 6 hours because the lines were all less then 15 minutes. It is based after Anaheim Disney almost exactly, but of course it was built in 1992 instead of 1955 so it’s a bit newer! 😉

We ended up eating lunch and dinner at the park. For 11.99€ each, we had lunch at a burger fast food cafeteria. It was very similar to McDonald’s in taste and came with a large drink and a small ice cream. Very yummy!!! For dinner we went to a deli on mainstreet and had subs for about 6€ each. They were okay, but nothing to write home about.

All in all, this was a fabulous experience. On Wednesday, we opted to take the shuttle to Disney because it is right next to a train station and we went to Paris for the tourist sites. That’s for another blog though so stay tuned! Just know that the option is certainly available and we didn’t have to switch hotels or get taxis. NICE AND EASY!

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Geilenkirchen Park

A nice little park near downtown GK, this place has plenty of beautiful paths, a playground, and a nice pond with stepping stones. There was also a skate park in the back area.

If you want to grab a bite while you are here, there is a vendor that has a few items and has some clean restrooms in a trailer behind his stand.
The website the city has shows multiple photos and gives excellent info on the park so please check it out as you plan your adventure.

52511 Geilenkirchen


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Emergency Leave – My experience overseas

My first thought when I moved to GK was “My dad has cancer, what if he dies? How will I get back?”. It’s a hard and scary thought. I had warning of my fathers impending death, but sometimes we don’t get that luxury. What happens? How do we get home?

July 2012, I called my father for a chit chat and was told by my mom that he was being rushed to the hospital and had less then a week to live. I talked to my husband and we waited two days pondering what decisions to make. Go on emergency leave? Find a pet sitter last minute? Stay home? Go after and attend the funeral?

It was a confusing and emotional time, but we made the decision to go on leave and try to catch the chance to say goodbye. On a Wednesday night (rather late I might add), we called my husbands first shirt and started the process. The next day my husband went to work and within 2 hours arrangements were completed. Another family sent their high schooler to come sit the animals for a week, and on Friday morning we took off from the local airport on a civilian airliner. The airline costs from Dusseldorf to Dallas Texas (where my dad was hospitalized) was completely paid for. All we had to do was stay with family or pay for our own hotel. We stayed for 7 days (chargeable leave).

36 hours after calling the first shirt, we were in the air. That’s pretty miraculous that they arranged for that and people came together to take my husbands work shifts and to arrange to have a pet sitter, and to get round trip paid airfare. I’ll tell you that my father, my mother, myself, my husband, his father, his sister, and his sister’s husband have all served in the military or are currently serving. So to say the military is family is a drastic understatement. During this hardship, it was so relieving to know that the military had our backs and exceeded all of my expectations in taking care of us.

They did offer counseling and repeatedly checked on us to see what else we needed to have taken care of. It was a blessing and a heart warming experience.

I truly hope that no one ever needs to use emergency leave while overseas, but I wanted you to know that if you do, it is a simple process that happens quickly and makes things so much less stressful. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

I hope our experience helps to alleviate that worry in the back of your mind.

Just so you know, we made it in time. We got there and held his hand and gave him a kiss. He died about 15 minutes after our arrival. I don’t know if that last minute goodbye would have been possible without the quick actions of all those at GK.

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Kik is a pretty general outlet store. It has quite a bit of clothing (including some cheap versions of the German costumes for Oktoberfest) and some small accessories. It offered clothes for all ages and had items as low as 1€. There’s not a lot to say about this place other than it is a true bargain. Take a peek and send us a comment of what you think of Kik! 🙂


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Posted in Clothing | Leave a comment – Get your VAT back

Amazon has recently updated their policy concerning VAT refunds. The policy now states:

“If you are an APO-address holder or work for the NATO troops we will be happy to refund all the VAT you were charged for your order. Please note that this does not apply to delivery addresses within Germany or for members of German troops.”

If you do intend on getting a VAT refund, you may have to ship the items to your APO address instead of your physical address.

So the secret to shopping here is knowing that you can get the VAT refunded. Simply get your package, then send your **SIGNED** VAT form and receipt back to them. Remember your VAT form must have been bought from the VAT office prior to you ordering on the site or they will not be able to use it. (ask the VAT office for more info)

Once you mail it back to them (the German post office is on base next to the dry cleaners and T-mobile), they will refund the VAT within a few days to your credit/debit card and send you back your copy and the VAT office copy of the form. Then all you need to do is return the white copy to the VAT office and enjoy your refund!

For the address and more info, see the website below:’s address and return process in English

Amazon’s explanation on VAT and why some items are only charged a 7% VAT

Posted in Appliances, Clothing, Craft/Home decor, Financial Resources, Food, Furniture, Hardware, Health and Beauty, Outdoor/Camping, Pets, Shoes, Toys | 13 Comments

Computer Help – GKSQUAD

This “squad” is run by some of the tri-border residents and is available to assist with computer/tablet issues. They have a list of all services and contact info at their website and when I emailed them, they were very quick to respond. If you are having issues with technology, give them a call. We HereAtGk believe in supporting our fellow families businesses as much as we can and we know we will be calling them next time we have an issue!

“Solving your (IT) Information Technology problems”

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International Drivers License – GK stationed members only

According to GK base legal office, the USAREUR license that is issued to you when you take the test on base is only valid for driving in Germany.

If you want to drive in other countries legally, you need to get an international drivers license. This is actually very easy and cheap to do.

First you need the following items:

  • NATO ID card
  • Passport
  • Your German (army issued) USAREUR license
  • Passport Photo (Print on photo paper at home or use a passport photo booth for 6€ -one is at Kaufland in GK).
  • 12,80€ cash (This price may have changes since the original posting)

Next you need to drive to the Heinsberg government office:
Valkenburger Str. 45
52525 Heinsberg, Germany

The Citizen Service Center is open the following hours: (check for updated hours/fees)

There is a parking lot next to the building for your use.

Enter through this door: 

Look to the right as soon as you enter and you will see the info/kasse and even more to the right is some cubicle style desks with seats in the aisle. Sit in one of the seats and wait your turn for one of the people at the desks. Most were young and spoke English. You will go to their desk and explain that you want an international license. At this time, present them with the above items (except the cash as you will do that later) and they will begin processing everything. The procedure takes about 10 minutes and they will then have you sign your new license (a booklet), a paper with Nato’s info on it (you sign in two places), and they will return your items (except the passport photo as it is now in your license booklet).

They will give you a yellow card and ask you to go to the Kasse and pay 12,80€. Once you have done this, take your receipt and you are done! That’s it.

Honestly, it was too easy and I always get nervous when things are that easy! Obviously, they deal with us NATO folks a lot though….

Now you may drive in the other European countries. Just be sure to bring both your Army license and your new international one with you.

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Tongeren – Sunday Antique Market

If your looking for a no cost (unless you buy stuff!) way to spend your Sunday, this is a great trip. About 1 hour and 15 minutes from GK, Tongeren is a beautiful town in Belgium that is known because it is the oldest town in Belgium and also for it’s vast array of antique shops. On Sundays, people from the shops and all over, come together and host a market in the centrum area. You will see many vendors in the streets and in buildings such as underground parking lots. These areas are marked and easy to find and allow for a lovely walk outdoors. You will find that most vendors speak English, French, and Dutch.

We walked through and saw many wonderful collectibles and gorgeous pieces of history. After, if the walk has not worn you out, I recommend a short walk to the cathedral which is beautiful and has  a sign in English outside explaining the history. If you arrive around 10-11,you will hear the church bells and the mass. My husband and I loved the joyous sound of singing during this last Sunday’s mass. As you walk around this area, you will find a monument that celebrates the Romans who lived here first, and a monument that is engraved with the years of both world wars.

Lastly, check out one of the many cafes. We ate a baguette and had a cup of delicious coffee before the drive home.  The market is from around 7am – noon and so it is perfect timing to enjoy a little lunch before you go.

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Article I read before going

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Restaurant Palladion – Greek food in Aachen

Can you say YUMMY?!? A friend and I went to this Greek Restaurant and ate outside with a wonderful view and excellent service.  Don’t bother asking for ketchup though because that doesn’t exist here. LOL

I ordered a schnitzel and was very pleased with it, while my friend ordered pork medallions in mushrooms and sauce with potatoes. We also received a basket of some delicious bread that had me eating every last bite!

If you sit inside, you will find a classy set up with the ability to possibly sit inside with the windows and doors completely open giving it a balcony feel. As far as price, this is a bit more pricey then the average place in GK, but then again, when in the big city, expect bigger city prices! 🙂

Restaurant Palladion
Schmiedstr. 3
52062 Aachen
tel.: +49/(0)2 41/40 70 38


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FC Moto

If you are looking for gear for your motorcycle or scooter, this is a large one-stop-shop. With lots of helmets to choose from, you won’t know where to start. They carry most major brands and they also carry the big brands for clothing, jackets, gloves, and boots. As far as pricing, even with taking the vat form, this will still be a small amount more then what you would pay in the U.S. However, the convenience is definitely a bonus for FC Moto because being able to try the gear is critical!

Aachener Straße 21
52146 Würselen, Germany
02405 4950050


Monday – Friday: 10.00 – 19.00
Saturday: 10.00 – 16.00

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Valkenburg – caves and ruins

An adorable town that holds many wonders, I can say that Valkenburg was truly worth a look. I had heard of the Christmas Markts in the caves, but to be fair, I think that this was a great trip and it had nothing to do with the Markts. Not to say you won’t be reading about them come this Christmas!!!

My husband and I rode the motorcycle down to Valkenburg and enjoyed a beautiful trip. Upon arrival, we parked and took off to find out what the town itself was like. It turned out to be a busy but sweet little town with lots of little shops. After making our way through, we found a place to eat. It was nothing out of the ordinary, unless you count that they had many more options for Belgium’s finest beers than I’ve seen in the GK area.

A short walk away was the castle ruins. The best deal is to buy the combo since you pay for a dual ticket to the ruins and the caves and save money. The entrance to the caves is just across a small alley and very convenient.

(For info on days/time and ticket info, please see the links below!)

There are two sets of caves to explore, the Gemeentegrot and Fluweelengrot. Between the caves and the ruins, you will do a lot of walking. Also, the tour to the caves is only in Dutch, but they will give you an info sheet in English. You must read it first because you will not be able to read in the caves and you won’t want to miss seeing around you and having a sense of what it means.

Andrea’s family joined us for this adventure and the kids had a pretty good time. It is definitely something that slightly older kids may enjoy as they can climb all over the ruins and for moms, it’s a lovely photo opportunity.

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Biohofladen-Selfkant -Organic Food Store

Located in Selfkant this health food store of sorts is a bio lovers paradise. In Germany, products marked “Bio” are organic items that have a higher standard then your average food does. Bio items  may only be marked as such on the label of the product if at least 95% of the ingredients of agricultural origin come from organic farming. Water, salt, yeast and a few expressly authorized additives are not considered agricultural ingredients and are therefore not taken into account in this calculation. Consumers can rest assured that products labelled with any of these terms at least meet the standard of the EU Organic Farming Regulation.

This store had cheese, bread, fruit, veggies, meat, wines, and canned/jarred items. It even included food for your beloved cat or dog.

Although small, the selection is fabulous and fresh.  Give it a try!

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Selfkant street o146
53258  Selfkant
Phone: 02455/930 082

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The BAHN- trains in Germany

Trains in Europe have been a mystery to me until my recent train adventure. I would like to share with you my experiences with the train system in hopes that it will help you a bit during your first train expedition.

Geilenkirchen Train Station Parking Garage (Free)
An der Friedensburg 28, Geilenkirchen, Germany
(this address will get you really close to the entrance to the garage)


GK Train Station Ticket Desk Hours

Step 1: Either log onto or call their number for a per minute fee booking (specifically 0180 5 99 66 33 – The number of train service
(14 ct / min from a landline, mobile phone max 42 ct. / min.) Chose your location of departure. In most of our cases it may be Geilenkirchen main hub. But please, feel free to look around for better deals by choosing Cologne, Dusseldorf, or Aachen as your departure city. This discount may be enough of a motivator for you to chose a city of departure further away from home. Then chose your city of destination. Lets just say your city is in the middle of no where away from the train tracks. You must chose the city closest to that train depot. How do you do that? Go to or Google maps and check it out. For example, I was going to Pinswang Austria, my nearest city was Fussen Germany. Easily spotted by the bold letters of the city on the map.

Step 2: Chose your class. Unless you are riding ICE the entire time, don’t worry about paying twice as much for 1st class. No point. The first class seats are minimal and barely any better than the regular seats. If you are riding with a larger party then I would suggest paying for reservations on the train (this can be done at the train station after purchase of the ticket as well). This way your party may be seated together. For example, I chose to reserve seats on the ICE train from Bavaria to Dusseldorf because I wanted my 6 person party to sit together during this 5 hour leg of the journey. We chose compartment seating (the rooms on the train) and it only cost 8 euros. So chose 2nd class and book your seats. Unless your train is at 4 o’clock in the morning. Then no one is going to be on them, and there is no point. You will have the pick of the litter.

Step 3: Chose the train with the least connections and lowest travel time. This is obvious. You don’t want to be switching trains every 20 minutes just so that you can cut 30 minutes off of your trip.

Step 4: Pay. Can’t help you with this. Other than the fact that they website offers numerous deals and discounts at different times. Usually none of which you can utilize, but hey! If you are up for a trip at any given time and want to check out the deal they are offering, then they do have pretty good discounts.

Step 5: Departure day. The train stations have parking lots specific for their patrons. Follow the signs with the trains on them and the parking emblem. You will be just fine. In GK the parking is free and a moments walk from the platform. Arrive just a few minutes early for your departure. Trains are notoriously on schedule. If they are going to be off schedule then you will know so at least a day in advance (most of the time!!) and will be advised via e-mail of such delays.

Step 5: Check the information kiosk when you arrive. You can chose to have the information in english (or duetch if you are feeling crazy). Chose your time of departure, cities and voil’a! You have a train by train guide for your reference during your trip. This would also be the time to do a last minute reservation if you chose so.

Step 6: Finding the train of your liking. On your ticket reference you will see a train number and time along with a stage number. This is going to indicate where and when and what train you get on. Once you land at lets say- 11:30 in Aachen on stage 3 and you know by looking at your ticket that you must get on train 5011 at 12:00 on stage 5, then you will use the train stations handy dandy tunnels and follow their signs to stage 5. At this time you will see information on the signs located above your head. It will say something like Train 5011 – 12:00 – Liege (BE) <–Belgium. And you know you are in the right spot. Because you are going to Liege for holiday. Bam!

Step 7: Getting off the train. Get off the train at your allocated destination and go out the front doors of the train station. Here you will find buses and taxi’s or your rental car. Enjoy your vacation!

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Monschauer Vennbad- Swimming in Monschau

This indoor pool has basic amenities for a sports pool. It is a great place to take a swim and relax, not a water park. The hours and prices are posted on their website: 3€ for adults- 2,30€ for children. Hours are fluctuating per day but are vast. What I liked about this pool is that it’s inexpensive for the area and located in beautiful Monschau.


Located at:

Wilhelm- Jansen-Stabe 1

52156 Monschau

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Eifel National Park

A nature lovers paradise, this park offers a view at wild animals, gorgeous views of nature at its finest, and a tour if you aren’t sure of your naturist side :). The park can be reached easily by car and inquiries to the area can be addressed at +049 0 244495100. The Information office, a great place to start is located at:

Franz-Becker-Str 2

Simmerath 52152 Simmerath

The area offers bike paths, horse rides, and in the winter- skiing. The paths go from Aachen to Trier. The lake has sailing, swimming, camping, fishing, and a canoe festival in March. Don’t underestimate the vastness of this park or it’s ability to offer a nature lover what they need. The information on this site is too much for this blog to encompass. So take at trip to the info center or the website to experience for yourself every thing that the area offers.

For your information:

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Yumi All you can eat! – Japanese Sushi & Grill Restaurant, Sittard, NL

Yumi is located in the Sittard Centrum next to Thaiphoon and is an “all you can eat” Sushi restaurant. This was a wonderful place to eat and we adored the view of the Sittard Centrum. Compared to other sushi places we’ve tried, this one was probably the best and as far as price, it was about equal with everywhere else.

With the option of all you can eat sushi, you can do up to 5 rounds per person with a max of 5 items each round. The menu of items included about 75 different options ranging from sushi, handrolls, spring rolls, gyozas and more. You have the ability to mix and match your rolls with appetizers and soups.You only have 2.5 hours to eat for the price of the all you can eat. Also, you cannot have more then the five rounds, but I have never heard of anyone making it to round five at any sushi place yet.

The cost is 17€ per person for lunch & 21.50€ per person for dinner (weekend nights is 23,50€). The menu also includes ala carte items for take away, or if you don’t want the “all you can eat”.  After you complete your rounds or your time limit, you may let them know you are done and ask what the ice cream flavors are. The ice cream is included in your sushi price and they had about 5 flavors to choose from. I had the green tea as it is my favorite!

(warning, as with all sushi places that offer All-you-can-eat, do not order more then you can finish as they will charge you for waste and this can become very expensive!!!!)

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El Greco, Greek restaurant, Stahe

Offering Greek fare right on the B-56 in Stahe, the El Greco Griechisches Restaurant is a very popular place among the locals. We live just a minute from the front doors of this restaurant and see the parking lot full almost every night. The price is moderate and the food can be very good if you stick with the Greek cuisine. Hours are Mon-Sat 16:30-24:00 and Sun 12- 24. Also, during a heat wave, this is the place to go as they have air conditioning!!

Bundestrasse 163 Gangelt-Stahe 52538

El Greco’s little brother has recently opened in Tüddern. The menu is smaller, but it’s nice to have an alternate location. They’re open Tues-Sat 16:30-23:00 and Sun and Festdays 12:00-23:00.

Kämpchen 16a Selfkant-Tuddern 52538

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Mosae Forum : Maastricht

The large town of Maastricht has a mall atop the parking structure that you use to visit the architecture and history. It is called the Mosae Forum and it’s pretty awesome! Maas is plumb full of shops, but only in this mall can you do it all without getting wet!

A list of the stores is below. I have only included descriptions for the stores I particularly liked, but there are more.

50/50: Fashion and Decoration

Amazing Oriental: Food

Antony Morato: Sophisticated (kinda) fashion

Bufkes: Food

Esprit: Clothing

EDC Esprit: Clothing

Grand Cafe: Food

H&M: Clothing

Disini: Accessories- Very cute Claire’s with style. Accessories for your cute european wardrobe.

Intersport: One of 1430 stores in Germany this store provides the sports enthusiast with the equipment they need to preform at their best.

Jumbo: Supermarket

Kap-Tif: Hair dresser

Kruidvat: Wellness, think Walgreens

Maison Florop: Food specialties

Pajar: Shoes

Preuve Limburg: Food Specialties

Saveurs: Food

Schoenenreus: Footwear

S. Olivers: Clothing- a store that has made it’s name all across europe specializing in laid back clothing for the family. This store is very much like most clothing stores around with a moderate pricetag.

Sissy Boy Homeland: Cute and boutiquey. I like to look around this shop if not to buy, but to soak up the design.

Subway: Heck yeah! You can smell it from the street.

The Sting: The Sting and Lady Sting, check out this store for a different take on younger european fashion.

Turquoise Mosae Gusto: Food

Your nails & Beauty: Salon

Van Haren Schoenen: Footwear

Van Melik Du Chef: Food

Q-park is directly under the mall for parking convenience (for a fee):

Maasboulevard 40, 6211 JW Maastricht, The Netherlands


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Camping in the GK area

This post will be ever changing and ever growing. I felt the need to post it, even with limited information, because of the growing myth that GK has no places to camp. In my travels I have come across a wide variety of places to camp. Most of them more built up and exciting than the places I was able to camp back in the Black Hills of SD. That’s saying a lot. If you have anything to add to this post please do and I will update it as often as I have contributions.

Signs directing caravans to camp


A list of ACSI endorsed camping spots

Not all, but some of these sites can be booked on-line. Even if it can not, this list gives you contact information and addresses to close by campsites.

Android App for finding Camps in Germany


Click through the sites to see them all. They are spread out but near this area.

A few camping sites that we have found to be interesting:

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C&A Clothing

C&A is a franchise specializing in clothing. Their stores can offer an entire families clothing options depending on which city you find one in, but I especially enjoy their children’s clothing. Their looks are affordable, chic, and always cutting edge. It’s the place I like to check out when I want to know what looks are coming next in the kiddie world. I have composed a list of nearby C&A stores below. My favorite is the C&A in Maastricht. Website:





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H&M does not really need an introduction to this page, but for those new to the area: It’s a shopping paradise. The clothes are European, plentiful, and best of all- CHEAP! I used to love Charlotte Russe in the States and this is what I would compare it to if you have never been to an H&M in the States before. However, they have men’s and children’s dept’s as well. The store locator link is listed below.

Store Locations


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Eiscafe Peters -Huckelhoven

One of the largest Eiscafes I’ve seen, this place is a treat. A large menu and a friendly staff made this a fun and delicious place to try. Both the indoor and the outdoor area are large enough for groups. Also, there is a park across the street on the opposite corner and if you walk just a short ways, there is a playground for the kids. If you live in this area, I recommend this for a nice outing with the family.

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Am Kirchberg 17


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Van Haren – Shoes – Sittard

A large and inexpensive shoe store, this is one of my favorite places to pop by and try on the latest styles. In the fall and winter, they change the stock to boots and then I really go crazy. The best part really is the prices though. I bought a pair of boots 9 months ago and they are in great condition and I wear them quite a bit. I only paid 20€ for them too!

Since it is right next to the market area, I always make it a point to stop by on the way back to my car. If you haven’t been here, you should do the same. It will change your closet forever!


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Limbrichterstraat 23  6131 EA Sittard, Netherlands

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Thaiphoon – Restaurant – Sittard

Owned by the people that brought us Thai Garden, this restaurant is located right in the heart of Sittard’s Center. There is plenty of seating inside, but the thing that Thaiphoon has over Thai Garden is that you can sit outside. It’s a lovely view too!

The other difference is the ability to order sushi for an appetizer. I felt that it was fresh and tasty, but overly priced for the meager amount.

Overall though, I loved it and the menu is mostly the same as Thai Garden and we all know that is one of my top two favorite places to eat. I’ll be back there again!

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Markt 4 6131 EK Sittard, Netherlands

046 4581512

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Sausalitos – Restaurant – Aachen/Cologne

I’ll concede that it’s not authentic mexican food I’ve ever had (I lived in Tucson for almost a decade before GK so I know what authentic mexican is! YUM).  However, after eating at SEVERAL “mexican” restuarants, I have found this to be the best one. They have a large menu to select from and an even larger drink menu. A bit pricey for a meal out with the kids, this is the perfect place for date night. The restaurant located in Aacen has outdoor seating in the zentrum, it is a beautiful view of the area.

We ordered the beef fajitas and the chicken wrap. My fajitas came with four homemade tortillas that were cooked to perfection as well as a plate of sides and rice. It was large enough for two people to share! Anthony (my spouse) ordered the chicken wrap and was surprised when he bit into a strawberry. I tasted it myself and although I never would have put a strawberry in a chicken wrap, it was delish!! It was a surprise and we both really enjoyed the meals.

This was a definite ten out of ten for food and service even though I had hoped it would be more authentic. Give it a try and let me know what you ordered and what you would rate!

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Locations are located at bottom of their webpage. They have MANY locations including Dusseldorf, Cologne, and Aachen.

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Intertoys – Aachen

Equivalent to toys-r-us, this store had a wonderful selection of children’s toys and a large array of legos to choose from. If Santa shopped in Germany, I’m sure this is where he’d go. It is just a short walk from the Aachen center. As far as prices, it was definitely comparable to toys I’ve seen in other stores.


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Aachen- Kleinkölnstrasse 20-22


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Nanu-Nana – Aachen

For some fun craft and gift items, this is a great store to look through. They have lots of different items to choose from and were very well priced. I ended up leaving with some postcards that had a painting canvas for the front of the card. I thought it would be fun next time I have kids over for them to paint them and send them to their grandparents or someone special in the states!

If your already making a trip to Aachen, stop by the shop for a few minutes. You never know what treasure you may find for a friends birthday, or even just for yourself….

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Grosskoelnstr.52062 Aachen Deutschland


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Villakunterbunt – Aachen

I love walking into this store because it isn’t just children’s toys. The main level is filled with fun home décor items and some fun gag-gifts. Some of the stuff is very cute and I do have trouble not buying it. From the main floor, the kids can head down the slide to the lower area that contains toys and a section for babies apparel, toys, and stuffed animals. There is something for everyone here because the outdoor lovers can head to the loft area and find interesting kites, balls, and games. My husband enjoyed looking through this small area and nearly left with one of the large kites.

A fun place to look for a party gift or a children’s gift. I recommend stopping by.

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Markt 1
52062 Aachen
0241 24868
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Schneiderwind – Aachen Cigar/whiskey/hookah shop

My husband drooled all over himself in this store. It is loaded with more cigar and whiskey options then you thought existed. With amazing selection and even rare collections, this is a wonderful place to take the man that loves cigars or whiskey. The staff spoke English and were quite helpful in helping Andrea select a cigar for her friend’s birthday. They do also carry hookahs and the tobacco for them if you are looking. This shop was well priced with items for the low and high end budget. Of course you get what you pay for, so if you want that 1930’s bottle of whiskey, prepare to spend all your pay!


Kramerstrasse 13-15 Aachen 52062

0241 30837

Posted in Aachen, Adults, Drinks/Beverages | 2 Comments

JFC Brunssum- Allied Joint Command Amenities

Brunssum is a NATO base in the Netherlands. Located just a hop, skip, and a jump from our west gate it has facilities that GK does not. Many services must be completed at this base including US ID Card replacement. The base contains entertainment facilities that children might enjoy as well. Our favorites are the library, pool, theater, and CYSS.

Visit the Brunssum Morale and Welfare website for a complete listing of their services.




CYSS: Child and Youth Services

Alliance Theatre

Arts and Craft Centre


Auto Hobby Shop

Posted in JFC Brunssum- Info, Kids, NO COST, Open Sunday, Parks/pools | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Gas Station Hours & ESSO Locations

Do you need to find a gas station store open past 8 o’clock on a Monday night? I did some research and put together this list of gas station hours. Also located below is a list of the nearby ESSO Stations in Germany that take the AAFES ESSO card.


Monday – Friday: 0600 to 2130

Saturday: 0700 to 2130

Sun: 0800 to 2100


Mon-Fri: 0600 to 2200

Sat: 0600 to 2200

Sun: 0700 to 2200

Pfennings Tankstelle between Gillrath and Geilenkirchen-

24 hours!


Mon-Fri 0800-1200 and 1300-1800

Sat 0900-1300


Mon – Fri: 0600 – 2200

Sat: 0700 – 2200


Mon-Fri: 0700-2200

Sat-Sun: 0700-2200

GK area ESSO Stations:








Other German ESSO’s can be found on or by using the Esso Fuel Finder App on Apple or Android.



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RS – Furniture store -Aachen

A high quality furniture store (Julie a fellow HereAtGk reader compared it to Pier1), this beautiful selection of wood furniture is just right for any home. The cost is reasonable for most of the items and they have a large showroom and big catalog for you to choose from. The items are made from real wood and were very just the kind of thing I’d love to fill my home with. I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself buying my next dresser or table there and was having a hard time leaving without one of their baskets as they have a large selection of adorable crates and baskets for decoration and storage. If your around the Aachen area, give them a look, you’ll be dreaming of what you want for days after!

I have been told they will take the VAT form.

RS Website

Pontdriesch 8    52062 Aachen

Phone 0241-20408

Monday – Saturday: 0900 – 1900


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Porta- Furniture/Home decor SUPERSTORE -Aachen

If you can’t find it here, you’re not gonna find it. This four story building is bigger then most malls in the U.S. and it’s filled with furniture of every kind. You name it, they sell it. Porta also has a large home decor, kitchen accessories and children’s section with toys, clothes, and more. Even if you don’t need anything, this place is worth stopping by. Outside it has a food vendor with brats and pommes (frys for us Americans!) and an ATM. Inside is  a small sandwich restaurant, a bakery counter, and upstairs is a full cafe (cash only).

If you need to take the kids, head straight to the level 3 (fourth floor) and head to the back corner where there is a place for them to play (ages 4-10 only) and be supervised by employees while you do your shopping. The hours for the Kids area is:

Mon-Fri 1400-1900   Sat 1030-1800   School Holidays 1200-1900

Although I have not personally used the VAT form here, I have been told that they DO accept it!

Krefelder Straße/Am Gut Wolf 2
BAB-Abfahrt Aachen Zentrum
52070 Aachen
+49 (0) 2 41 / 1 89 81-0
(also located in Cologne)

Mo.-Fr. 10.00 – 19.00
Sa. 10.00 – 18.00


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Planning Your European vacation

First off, I would like to say that what I do is not right, or perfect, or the only way you could possibly plan a vacations from Germany. I am just saying… this is what I do.

1. Get a great idea from a brochure, friend, dream, or movie.

2. Go online to and see what they think about it. I decipher their “likeness” of the place by the number of attractions they have listed for such city. If it is, let’s say Paris, it better have at least 60. If, on the other hand, it is a more country venue like Neuschwanstein, then I expect less and understand that the trip is mostly targeted for the huge castle that looks like I am going to Disneyland.

3. I ask Tripadvisor what hotels it would suggest. It would give me at least 20 hotels that I cannot afford and then I would go to

4. Aaaah thank you You can chose to sort by price and by Km to the area you are actually visiting. The best part is that after a few visits to this site the cookies will build and it will know exactly what you want, posting that perfect hotel right at the top of the page. This is only after you have about given up on going to that particular place.

5. Chose Air, Train, or Car. There are many things to consider when choosing your mode of transport.

1. Do you really “need” a car when you are there. Munich, naaaa probably not. Paris, nope.        Lego Land (AKA the middle of nowhere) yes, yes you do.

2. How much do these items cost? If you are going to say, Croatia, I would suggest you seriously consider your sanity, gas rations, and money before you chose driving. Why not go to and check out what they have to offer you first. Not every destination is perfect for flying, but I would say if it’s more than 6 hours away, consider it.

3. Something you need to know is that trains are NOT necessarily faster than cars. What they do  offer is convenience! If you are going to Koln for Karneval, take the train- it’s your DD. If you have more than 7 people in your party, take the train. If you do not have the rations of gas left on your card, take the train. If you are going to Aachen to go shopping for clothes and want to get Starbucks, don’t take the train. Check out the unreasonably confusing website for more information, or better yet, just call them! They do charge a fee for calling, but in my opinion, pay the fee.

6. So check, I know what mode of transport I wish to take me to my very desirable destination. Now you have to ask your spouse. OH NO! First, give him/her a back rub. Then give him/her a glass of wine. Then tell them that they could really use a trip; they have been working so hard! After these things are done break it to them that you have already booked it and you hope they can  get leave on such and such dates. Big SMILE!

7. Once these items have been checked off your list, all you have to do is wait. Wait for the fun, the excitement, the views, and the relaxation. Be sure to check for the weather for those days in order to know if you need to pack shorts, daisy dukes, or snow gear.


I would consider reserving your seat on It guarantees you a seat with your family and you can go to the front of the line all VIP like,  for just 10 Euros.

If you need to take a suitcase, pay for it ahead of time and weigh it on your scale. Don’t go over the allotted weight or you will PAY!

Be sure to check the weather.

Have a friend to go with you for backup in case your spouse goes TDY on “accident”.

Go to the gov’t website for that particular country and see if there are any warnings for that area. Fires, spontaneous wars, and weather could put a damper on your trip.

Any other ideas please let me know!


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Beaches of The Netherlands

Far north (about two and a half hours) is the wonderful ocean region of our community. They call this region for the most part The Hauge. There are many beaches scattered about this region ranging from straight up touristy to a little bit laid back. Even on the chillier days the beaches will be busy during the summer months, but not to worry- there is enough sand and sun for everyone.

Scheveningen Beach

Schevenigen beach is a wonderful beach for taking your children. The beach goes out for at least 20 beet without coming up to a child’s waist on good days. This gives a parent a bit of ease about the depths of the water. The area has three parking garages that are mapped out on the web page and has a plethora of places to eat. Get there early on high tourism days or deal with the traffic of cars and bikes. The beaches are somewhat divided into sections indicating where you are in vicinity to a hotel, but all in all I just find a spot and park it. Whatever you do, don’t miss the pier. It juts out an amazing 984 feet and gives you a panoramic view of the city and sea.

Katwijk Beach

Boat trips, water sports, you have it all in Katwijk! In general Katwijk is considered a little more low key than Schevenigen, but still busy on nice days. Check out the dunes, shopping, and nearby windmills for picturesque moments.

Noordwijk Beach

Located extremely close to Katwijk is Noordwijk. Don’t be confused though- apparently Noordwijk is Holland’s finest beach. Each area has many different attractions that they call their own. Take a look at Noordwijk’s website to see their proximity to Amsterdam and other sightseeing adventures. Now would be a great time to mention that many of the beaches offer Nudist sections that can be visited with or without clothes at an age limit.



The last beach I will mention is Schoorl. This beach is unique because of its high dunes and forest area. This area is a bit different than the others and can offer more than one nature experience. Because of its forest region, the area has a high camping turnout as well as crowds for the beach. That sounds like a good time to me!

The beaches I have mentioned in this article are just a few of the  beaches near us. Don’t forget about the numerous lakes and rivers as well. I have only included beaches in the Netherlands region due to the fact that they are closest to us at GK. Don’t discount France! Enjoy your time at the beach and be sure to read the safety warnings at each individual beach. Some can periodically become infested with jelly-fish or other marine life that could be hazardous. Have a good trip!

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Tri-border Treasures Thrift Store

American Spouses Club thrift store. This store is located across the street from Schinnen’s bowling alley. There is also a door to the building past the right corner of the post office. Everything you can imagine is sold here. I bought a 220v crockpot for about 10 bucks and it was in the original box and looked completely unused.

If you’d like to consign items, call first for an appointment (0031-46-443-7436). If you can’t reach them on the phone, then email All proceeds go to support the Tri-Border community.

Posted in Schinnen Services- Info, Used items | 1 Comment

GK’s Base Pool

There is an outdoor swimming pool available during the summer. MWA members can enter at a reduced price. Visit the NATO E3-A Newcomers Guide for more information.


Posted in Geilenkirchen NATO Base - Info, Kids, Open Sunday, Parks/pools | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Van Cranenbroek

A superstore by anyone’s standards, this is an inexpensive place to find just about anything. Andrea’s mission was to find a tent for the Air Force Sergeants Association. She found it alright! A nice quality tent approx. 10’x10′ in size and only 40€. BARGAIN!

I enjoyed this store and found many home decor items that I’d love to go back and look through. I know my hubby will be kept busy and distracted by all the tools and such too, so it’s a win win for us!


Van Cranenbroek Landgraaf

Minckelersstraat 1 PP 6372 Landgraaf, Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0) 45-5213430

• Open from 930 to 1800
• Saturday Open from 830 to 1700
• Thursday Late night shopping until 2000
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Sparks Photography

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Ubach-Palenberg park

With a beautiful river to ride past on your bike, a pond to feed ducks, ruins to climb on, bridges to capture the perfect photo, playgrounds to burn the kids energy, and a cafe to order beers, you couldn’t ask for a nicer place to spend the day.

The playgrounds have lots of activities and they are located next to the cafe which offers a huge patio with umbrellas. There is ice cream for them and beer for you. A treat all around! If you are just looking for a place to walk and enjoy nature, this park has some great trails and is a perfect vision of nature’s beauty.

Take the time to visit and enjoy a free day under the beautiful skies!

Parking: Gps coordinates 50.927959, 6.093700

Closest address I could find was a house that is across the street. I am not sure how close it will get you though to the parking in your gps.

In der Schley 44     52531 Übach-Palenberg, Germany

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Day Trips : The IYA and MWA

Located on GK NATO AB is the organization, IYA. This group takes care of school aged child care on base as well as plans a plethora of outings for children and their parents. Visit their building during base business hours or the AFRC Facebook page for an upcoming trip that could suit you. You must go into the office located next to the old GK school to sign up for the trips. They will direct you on where to go to pay for that particular trip.

Schinnen support base is home to the MWR. Their trips are focused on families and single people alike. They have more varied trips than the IYA and the trips are sometimes over-night. Their Facebook and website will give you the current trip’s dates. You can visit their office located on the base to sign up and get information.

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Mondo Verde theme/amusement park

Mondo Verde is a theme park dedicated to the enjoyment of nature. This being said, there is also an amusement park located inside that has a variety of fair rides. Adults enter for about 15 euro, children 9. There are many animals to see at the entrance. My favorite were the porcupines. The park is divided up into geological themes. You can see the gardens of China as well as a nicely set up southwestern desert. Don’t miss the lion and lioness at the entrance to the lake on site. The lake also houses a cute monkey island. The monkeys are not caged, only kept in place with a moat. My children especially enjoyed the dino park. Replicas of dinosaurs on display are almost lifelike! The website leaves much to the imagination, so we were surprised to see and experience all that Mondo Verde has to offer. The park has plentiful parking and a restaurant on site. Enjoy the sights!


Open daily 10am-6pm

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Monschau-open Sunday

Located within an hour of the GK area, you can take the autobahn or enjoy the scenic route thru the eifel and make your way to Monschau. One of the most beautiful towns I’ve ever visited (and I’ve traveled the world quite a bit). We visited on a Sunday and that alone makes it a great place. This will be on the list for our family when they visit because it has to be one of the best places you could spend your day when most things are closed.

We walked around and found the tourist info office first. They speak English, French and German and were very helpful. They sold maps and tickets to attractions. After that, we found an ATM that accepts American cards and then we rushed to fill our bellys with Schnitzel and the local beer. We ate a a beautiful restaurant along the river and enjoyed the outdoor scenery.

From here, we walked around and visited all of the local stores. These stores definetly cater to tourists and are filled with lots of fun things to buy. I had the hardest time holding onto my wallet and my husband had to drag me out of most of the shops.

Next on our to do was a nature hike. We climbed the stairs of the old wall and walked until it led us back to our motorcycle. It was parked at a “mall” that we saw when first entering town so we ran in and took a peek at the stores inside. It had a bar, a resturant, some small souvenir shops and a HUGE glass shop where they made hand blown glass objects. It was spectacular!

All in all, this was a beautiful day with beautiful weather and we will be back again!

Here is the website with info on their Christmas markt. You can bet I’ll be blogging all about it this winter because as beautiful as this was in summer, you can probably bet it’s gorgeous in winter!


**Stores are open on Sundays

Follow the signs to find the parking lot that bests suits your location:

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Cook & Co.

Located just a short walk from the Sittard market, this store is a jewel for anyone who loves to cook or have parties. With hundreds of fun items to either decorate your cake, display it, or more, this is your stop. They sell tapas dishes, bakeware, kitchen appliances, and so much more. It’s definitely my store of choice when I need a serving dish or utensils. In fact, I would buy the whole store if my husband would let me.

So when you make your next trip to the Thursday Sittard Markt, be sure to swing by and check it out!


Limbrichterstraat 11
6131 EA Sittard Tel: 046-4528447

(other locations as listed on their website)

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Sashimi – Sushi in Maastricht

A higher end sushi restaurant, this sushi place will delight your tongue. With the option of all you can eat sushi, you can do up to 4 rounds per person with 5 items each round. The menu of items included about 65 different options ranging from sushi, handrolls, spring rolls, gyozas and more. The largest selection I have seen in quite some time and the ability to mix and match your rolls with appetizers was delightful. I ate more appetizer type items then I did sushi, but my husband filled himself on as many rolls as he could. We both agreed that it was fresh and well worth the price. Attached is a photo with the all you can eat prices listed for both lunch and dinner. I recommend this for date night! We will most certainly be there on our next date….


Helmstraat 8-A , Maastricht , The Netherlands

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Hellas – Greek Restaurant, Ubach-Palenberg

If you need a gyro or something of that variety, Hellas is a great place to eat in or do pick up. It’s got a good amount of seating and is a nice place to stay and eat so my husband and I pick this place often. The quality of the gyro meat is exceptional and they have many options on how to eat it. I like mine with fries and I drown both the meat and fries in sauce. My husband likes his with melted cheese on top, and the neighbor likes hers on pita. No matter how you like it, they have options. There are many non-gryo items on the menu too, so just about everybody can find something different that they’ll really enjoy!

Give this place a try and you won’t be disappointed….

Open for lunch and dinner, but closed all day on Mondays.

Marienstr. 20 52531 Übach-Palenberg

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Geilenkirchen Riders Association – GKRA Motorcycle club

This group of riders are from all over the world. This association is non-military and rank is not used in any way. We (yes, my hubby and I are members!) love the rides that the group does twice monthly, along with events, meetings, and traveling opportunities. Many members do not attend the regular meetings or do the “pick-up” rides that occur twice a month, but they may attend the other events whenever possible. The freedom of this group means joining in on what you want, but no pressure to go to anything your not interested in. This is a fun way to meet others with similar interests. Some are civilian and some military. I can’t even tell you which are which because we have fun and keep work at work. So join us for a fun ride whether or not you want to be a member. We are always looking for a good time!



2011 Poker Rally


Posted in Adults, Sports Clubs and Classes | 1 Comment

Barefoot Park – Blotevoeten Park, Brunssum

Barefoot Park in Brunssum is located in the MiniHaven Schutterspark in Brunssum, perfectly situated between JFC Brunssum and the GK back gate. The park is a barefoot obstacle course good for the young and young at heart. My children and I enjoyed the 2 hour excursion across logs and rocks, into coves and through trees. The course also takes you through a pond on logs. Be sure to keep a towel with you to clean off at the end! Although perfectly easy for an adult, the course can prove challenging, yet fun for children.

You can read another person’s experience at the park at Maastricht Minutiae.

Ganzepool 9A 6443 WZ, Brunssum, NL

Open April – October.

Hours and Prices are listed on their site.

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Koln Zoo

This zoo is a vast collection of many different types of animals. We spent the day here and could have spent two. The zoo is divided into sections for the land animals and the sea animals as well as a nice collection of reptiles and creepy crawlies.

Restaurants are on premises for those who wish to restart their engines after a hard days work of sightseeing these beautiful animals. The prices are a bit high, but to be expected at a touristy arena such as this. You are able to bring your own food and water as well. Wagons for the children are available for a fee, as well as strollers. Be sure to stop at their fully stocked gift shop for something to send home to the family.


Zoologischer Garten Köln
Riehler Straße 173
50735 Köln

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Aachen Day Trip

Aachen day trip is amazing! Just a short drive away, this place offers a starbucks, shopping, restuarants, a centrum with an occasional market, and is where the college is located.

Using the trip advisor I have on my phone allowed me plan my trip. We stopped off on our way to Aachen in  Herzogenrath at Burg Rode castle. It was the off-season in March but the inside is supposed to be beautiful. Check out the Burg Rode blog for more information. 

Parking was easy once we arrived in Aachen and we strolled down market street and others and window shopped as we made our way to the Aachen Cathedral. . It was one of the most breathtaking cathedrals I had seen . The stained glass windows and artwork on the ceiling or something not to miss. There were free pamphlets that told the story of Charles the Great, or Charlemagne. Off  in a separate room Charlemagne’s tomb was open for viewing. Wikipedia actually gave us quite a bit of information before hand. Afterwards we headed over to the treasury.


For 10 Euros for our family of four we could visit all rooms of the building. For an additional 2 Euros we could rent an English speaking audio tour of the building. The building was remarkable. It had been used for several different purposes since it’s construction. There were rooms with beautiful artwork and a wonderful history of Aachen’s rich culture. The building is still used today for the elected city council member meetings. Be sure to check out the top floor which house is some of Charlemagne’s relics. The collection of treasures it houses are some of the most important ecclesiastical treasury north of the Alps.


After leaving we had lunch at Ratskeller which is a quaint pub like restaurant 3 small stories tall. The staff was friendly and helped us with the German menu of German fare. I of course had the schnitzel and it was the best I’ve ever had. They catered to my children taste as well making then a delicious spaghetti dinner. The price was fair for the touristy area and we left spending under 50 Euros for my 4 person family. Afterwards we had icecream in the marketplace. The trip took about 5 hours and was an awesome experience. I definitely recommend Aachen as a day trip .


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Burg Rode, Herzogenrath

Burg Rode is located in Herzogenrath Germany, near Kerkrade. The castle was first documented in 1104 as a monastery.  It is an absolutely beautiful castle that is used for weddings and is open for tours all summer long. The castle itself is worth a view, but they also have concerts and theater performances at castle.

Burg Rode Castle

Burgstr. 5  52134 Herzogenrath, Germany

02406 5230

Located at the gates is a sign, in English it reads:

1104 First documented
to 1136 Possession of the Earls of Saffenberg
1282 King Rudolf von Habsburg permits that must be stamped on coins Rode Castle
1289-1387 Possession of the Dukes of Brabant
1389-1393 The current castle tower will be built
1387-1425 Rode Castle and Country are the dukes of Burgundy, then they will include a year pledged to Jülich
1544 Emperor Charles V. Rode repurchases. Country and Castle Rode include the Habsburgs until 1794 (first Spanish, then Austrian)
1794-1814 Under French administration
1814 Castle and town Rode come to Prussia
1913-1978 Rode Castle’s Town Hall Herzogenrath
19771982200720082012 Inaugural meeting of the Association Rode Castle Herzogenrath eVRode Castle is transferred to the association Rode Castle Herzogenrath eV / 1 Castle FestivalThe association Rode Castle Herzogenrath Association celebrates its 25th anniversaryRedevelopment of the castle environment and installation of the new castle lighting35 years club Rode Castle Herzogenrath eV / 30 Castle Festival

June 2nd 2012 at 3:00 o’ clock the castle will host medieval folk in the Castle Street: expect artists, entertainers, artisans and musicians. Historic children’s games provide entertainment for the kids. At 8:00 o’clock the city of Herzogenrath invites you for a “sundowner” in the castle garden (admission: 7.00 € at the box office).

Enjoy your time at Burg Rode as much as we did!

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Jabusch German restaurant, Geilenkirchen

Jabusch is a great restaurant in the middle of the market place of Geilenkirchen. It serves fabulous and reasonably priced German fare. The restaurant itself is quaint with an outside eating place that serves as a great place to view the hustle and bustle of Geilenkirchen’s downtown area. If you order the day’s special as we did you can leave spending under 20 Euros for 2. A pork tenderloin with small fried potatoes was this day’s special. It was served with a fantastic mushroom gravy sauce. GK is incredibly close and this restaurant is a must hit.

Am Markt 3
02451 2725

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T’loons (mall with carnival/party/costume store)

This mall has it all!!!! A grocery store, chocolate shop, gift shop, hema, blokker, electronics store, C&A, sports store and more. That’s just inside…. Outside is the greatest Carnival/party/costume shop ever! (see pics/click to enlarge).

Andrea and I checked everything out and had a lot of fun in the process. There were several places to eat so if you want to have a couple of fun hours shopping and having a bite to eat, this is your place.

You can park in the Q-park downstairs and walk outside to the party store from the second floor exit in the mall, but the parking does cost money. The other option is to park upstairs from the Q-park which is free. You simply drive down the street that the Q-park entrance is on and then take a right into the parking lot. This is where the party store and the other mall entrance is.

Homerusplein 1, 6411 AW

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Margraten Cemetery – NO COST – Open Sundays

Every Memorial weekend has a special ceremony at Margraten Cemetery. Although I was unable to attend this event on Sunday, I did spend Memorial Day with our soldiers.

My husband and I rode our motorcycle about 40 minutes to Margraten Cemetery to visit the soldiers that made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Buried here are 8,301 soldiers. All of these graves have been adopted by local people out of gratitude for their liberation.

As you enter, there are two Tablets of the Missing on which are recorded 1,722 names. The rosettes mark the names of those who were recovered and identified.

Once you have visited the cemetery, you may want to drive the 5 km to the neighboring town of Valkenburg to visit the many wonders it holds.

Open 0900-1700 —- open everyday except Christmas and New Years


Other References

Amerikaplein 1
NL-6269 ZG Margraten
The Netherlands

Click to enlarge
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A visit to Maastricht can provide a wide variety of amazing opportunities for sightseeing, especially architectural. Maastricht holds their claim to fame as being the oldest preserved city in all of Holland. Holland is a state of the Netherlands. (Edit: Maastricht is the longest continuously inhabited city in the Netherlands and is located in the province of Limburg.) The city’s name literally means crossing at the Meuse and refers to the bridge built by the Romans to cross the river “Maas” in the 1st century. Great site! 

Insert from our reader Ashley: “So glad I stumbled upon this.  As a fellow tri-border resident, it is always great to read about other’s experiences.   Maastricht, capital of the province of Limburg, is the longest and continuously inhabited city in Netherlands.  However, the city of Nijmegen, in the province of Gelderland, is the oldest, as it received Roman city rights for being the first settlement in the Dutch country.  The 12 provinces of the Netherlands are like states, and there are actually two separate provinces called “Holland”:  North Holland (includes the capital city Haarlem), and South Holland (with a capital city of Den Haag.)”

We visited the VVV which is the information center for the city and a must do as soon as you enter the city. The helpful personnel at the site recommended the ride along the river as well as the city self guided walking tour. They sold us 2 maps for 3€ that were a detailed description of the walking tour and of the whole city center. The walking tour had a plethora of information written in English.

During our sightseeing cruise tour on the river, we observed many historical and even prehistoric highlights including the locks of the river which have an amazing history that you must go on the tour to find out about. The tour was just 7,50€ per person and well worth it.  They play the information over loud speakers in English and then in Dutch. The boat tours also offer an additional tour of the caves for just 5 euro extra (only offered in Dutch). The caves were used by the soldiers of Maastricht during the early ages and span the entire city! It is a must see.

The walking tour took us to St. Servaasbasiliek, the St. Jan’s Church and the Het Vrijthof square in the middle of town. St. Jan’s (John’s) is an ancient monument from the 16th century.  We also visited hells gate, which is the original entrance to the city dating back to the old ages .

The market located around Town hall built in the 17th century by Pieter Post. It is open every day except Monday. It is vast market that includes all that European markets would expect. A short walk away is the Centre Cermique- also on the map- which is a public library and exhibition space and The treasury of the Basilica of Our Lady, a beautiful church with religious artifacts. A fun fact is that Maastricht attracted over 100,000 people to its population in just 100 years. In 1818 only 20 thousand people lived in Maastricht and now it’s a hustle and bustle cultural hotspot. After all was done we made our way back to the car that we parked at the Mosae Forum. We stayed for approximately 4 hours and were charged 11 euros for our stay. Good money for great parking that can be extremely hard to find in the hustle and bustle of Maastrichts city center. Take a day or two and stroll the beautiful and historical streets of this delightful Netherlands city.

Parking: Mosae Forum 
Laag 40 Maastricht 6211JW
Other Parking Options

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Lego Land – Gunzburg, Germany

It was my son’s birthday just 2 brief months after we arrived here at GK. Being the awesome parents we are, we wanted to plan a trip to his most sought after adventure: Lego Land! I began researching in mid March for the best deals; first going to and checking the tab for Lego Land Germany. It is located about 4 and a half hours from GK in Gunzburg, Germany. I researched the hotels and found great deals and then even better deals and finally decided to go with Parkhotel Schmid Superior as our hotel. Good news is that Lego Land had a special going for the weekend of Easter that allowed us 2 days for the price of one! Parkhotel worked for us because it boasted a family room with tons of toys, internet access, a close proximity, and an awesome indoor heated pool! A beer garden is also open in the summer months. The service was amazing. The food was delicious. I could not say anything negative about this hotel.

A preview of our trip to Lego Land Germany

Lego Land started immediately as we arrived via car at our hotel. We only checked in and then sped to our destination. The kids were stoked. We had printed our tickets easily at the website and so checking in was easy and electronic. The park has tons of activities, rides, food vendors, and events. We started off at the Imagination section where we rode rides and took Lego classes. The classes presented certificates to the children (or adults) who completed their Lego projects. All was free! Then we went to the pirates cove where we enjoyed getting sprayed by some very naughty children and sprayed them back on the pirate ride. It was cold so we warmed up for 2 euro in their convenient  warming booths. The log ride was next. What a thrill!! We did get wet again, but did not care! We wanted to go again, and again…

Lunch was eaten at an Asian Cafe. We spent a little over 20€ for our Asian fast food and then visited the mini Lego City. Many people were checking out this area, taking pictures and just admiring the fantastic talent that it takes to create such beautiful art out of Legos. Many European cities were replicated including Dusseldorf, Berlin, and more. The star wars exhibit is what had my family in awe. Life sized Darth Vader’s and Luke Skywalkers challenged you to a fight. Replicas of the movies were put on display for all to reminisce. Then the time came to settle back into the hotel.

The pool was first and foremost on my children’s mind so we spent a few hours in the pool swimming and splashing and playing before our stomachs forced us out and to the restaurant. Dinner was pricey but worth it! Prawns and steak, meat and cheeses all greeted us with hungry tummy’s. The service was amazing. The waiters even brought a five star spaghetti dish out to my children and dished it out into two bowls while only charging us one fee. Then grated cheese and presented their food with charm. The beverages were served with ice which I loved.

The room was turned over for us when we went back upstairs. Our children slept on a couch pull out that was comfortable enough for them  and then there was one queen bed for my husband and I. Good accommodations for us sleepy heads.

The next morning was Easter morning so when the children woke up there was one extra basket outside our door from the staff , not the Easter bunny. What a delightful surprise. Our (free) breakfast that morning was even more extravagant than the next would be. We dined on bunny shaped pastries, bacon, eggs, meat and cheeses. A kids buffet was set up to the side with Nutella and breads, candies, and hard boiled decorated eggs. My children felt special.

Lego Land was surprisingly packed! We arrived at the opening time of 10 am and were greeted with hundreds of other smiling faces. Today we visited the Hero Factory, rode the car roller coaster 10 times, and went on their new attraction the Ninjago Dragon. We tried our skills building race cars that went faster than the next person and rode the dragon roller coaster. Our lunch at the Main Cafe was decent and pricey but filled us up for the next few hours of fun. Since today was our last day we dropped a few euro’s at the shops and picked out some souvenirs for those less fortunate back in the States.

We spent the rest of the day at the pool and restaurant mingling and laughing with the other guests. Our children got plenty of use out of their play area down on the bottom floor near the entrance to the pool. The next day was our drive back to GK and we were sad to leave.

I hope that our experience at Lego Land Germany will help you to plan your trip. Take the time to get to know this part of Germany at Lego Land and the surrounding area.

For the same great deal that we got for our tickets and the hotel we stayed at, check out LegoLand’s Website or you can check out Ramstein’s Travel site for their latest deal on a package.

Click to Enlarge

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Neiderbusch Park

In the small town of Neiderbusch there is a city park that my children just love. It is a large park that the town is very proud of and it is taken care of nicely. There is a zip-line, tall tower with 2 slides, merry go round, huge wooden play set and much much more. We love to go there with our ping pong paddles and soccer ball and take advantage of their small soccer field and ping pong table. They also have a huge chess set and type of Sorry! game that have pieces that are set out in the summer. The King is as big as my 6 year old! The park is located right next to the Neiderbusch bike path so it is a short ride from Stahe or Gillrath and a short drive from many of the neighboring towns. It is located on the main strip through Neiderbusch -L272/Dorfstrasse. Enjoy a sunny afternoon relaxing in this park.

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Rodebach/ Roode Beek Park

Gangelt is a beautiful town offering amazing activites and restaurants. One treasure is a setback park called Rodebach- Roode Beek Park. This park offers mini-golf, a great outdoor pool, boat rides on a quaint pond, and a restaurant on site.

Haus Hamacher is a charming restaurant located across from the beautiful nature and landscape park . It offers snack items as well as a full menu of great traditional fares of this region. We ordered the dinner for two as a special for Mothers Day and it came with 2 of 3 different types of meat (Schnitzel, steak, and fried chicken breast) and a plethora of vegetables to include fried potatoes, peas and carrots, broccoli and more. It was enough for my entire family of 4 and leftover’s for just 40 euro.

The park has a main building that is a great information center. They offer tickets for mini golf and boat rides. Go to the pool house to get entrance to the pool. It is May and the pool already had people in it. Not for me in this 60 degree weather, but hopefully soon. There are also walking trails all through the park and into the woods.

This blog is a brief description of the nature park. It is really a vast park that you must visit to appreciate. Take a weekend and take advantage of all this park has to offer!

Am Freibad 13
D-52538 Gangelt
Tel.: +49 (0) 24 54 · 93 63 41



The pool – for more info on pass, see below:


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Eis Brustolon

I love ice cream. This is my second favorite place locally and it beat out many taste tests from all over the area. My favorite is the Snickers, but pretty much anything you order is gonna be to die for. Closed for the winter.

Konrad-Adenauer-Str. 110
52511 Geilenkirchen

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Hahn Wohnen mit Kontrasten

A cute place to find seasonal decorations for you home without having to leave the area. They rotate the stock constantly and everything is very high end quality. I love to take a quick peak each month. If you let them know its a gift, they will beautifully wrap the item at no charge and its so pretty, you may find that you don’t want anyone to unwrap it!

Hahn Wohnen

Gerbergasse 9
D-52511 Geilenkirchen   (inside GK shopping center/Best to park by Bocadillo)

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AquaZoo- Dusseldorf Germany

Located amongst a plethora of beautiful parks in the museum district of Dusseldorf is the AquaZoo. As its name represents it is a garden of retiles, fish, and other water life including penguins. The facility also houses a small rainforest exhibit that contains turtles, crocodiles, and otters. The prices were very reasonable ranging from 7 euro to discounted prices for larger families. Their rock and fossil room was amazing. It contained gems from all over the world, including the USA! Butterfly and arachnid rooms were also on site. The most amazing part, in my opinion, was the fish. Their ability to house such a variety of fish and other sea creatures was just breathtaking. I could have stayed for hours admiring their exotic collection. Outside of the zoo were a fountain, waterspouts, and a flower garden 2 football fields long. Take a day trip to Dusseldorf and make this one of your stops along the way!

Kaiserswerther Str. 380 im Nordpark, 40200 Düsseldorf.

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Plant Market

For 72€, my friend just replanted her whole garden (that was a lot of plants). We stopped by to see what they had and WOW, what amazing prices on beautiful plants. They sold just about everything I could ever dream of planting. The women here were very helpful and they ended up gifting my girlfriend a few free plants because she made such a large purchase.

If you are looking for something to test your green thumb on, take a look and see how hard it is to pass up deals like this!

Pflanzenmarkt Doris
Alte Aachener Str. 17

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Cafe Alte Ziegelei – Burgers and Ice cream

The best burger you can probably find in 100 miles, this is as American as you can get. Yep, your new favorite place to eat! I found this place to be not only appealing to my taste buds, but even more appealing to my eyes. Our view was of a pasture of beautiful horses on one side, of their beautiful courtyard on the other. I can’t wait to eat outside on a warm summer day and I’m sure this place will be packed as they cater to bike riders as well! Don’t forget to eat some of their ice cream from the shop located in the restaurant.

This is paradise in Gangelt! Just walk in and sit in the back with the tables (if you want to sit inside). The menu on the table is only the ice cream stuff, but if you wait till the waiter comes by, they will bring you a dinner menu….

Alte Ziegelei

Ziegeleistraße 13,
52538 Gangelt/Kreuzrath


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Magic Park- Kids play park – Currently closed

Magic Park has temporarily closed! More information on this will be posted if the situation changes. Thank you!

Tucked back in the Industrial/Business district of Geilenkirchen is a gem of a child’s play place called Magic Park. Two stories tall this hollowed out warehouse houses bounce houses, rides, trampolines and more! Prices are reasonable for a day out with the kids. Adults are 5€ and children are 3€. They have special pricing for groups and birthday parties as well. Additional activities are their “Magic Ice” arena and “Magic Golf” packages. These activities are an additional fee, but the Magic Spielplatz is wonderful in itself. My children and I played there for 3 hours non-stop before we had to leave, but we could have stayed 3 more! We did not play in the Magic Ice Arena nor the Golf course, but we are interested to see how much fun it can be. This type of ice-skating has no real ice but a different substance that is skated on. The golf course is a glow in the dark type. Please share with us your experiences from when you go. There is an 1800’s Carousel, 2 theme park rides, a jungle play area, 6 Olympic sized trampolines housed in one, 2 jumpy houses, a ball pit and for 1€ a circus style trampoline with harnesses that take you to the roof and back! They also have a snack bar with moderately priced food and snacks. Take the family for a day of fun here locally; you will be glad you did!

Max-Planck Str. 14
52511 Geilenkirchen

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Thai Garden- Thai food restaurant, Sittard, NL

This is one of my favorite things in this world. I love thai food and it is especially delicious here! They serve it mild so if you want it spicey, you need to let them know when you order it. I love the Pad Thai Kai (#56).

Please don’t miss this experience. It is a clean and quiet place to enjoy some of the best food you can find!

Opening hours at THAI GARDEN:

Tue to Sat 1700-2200 hrs

Sun 1600-2200 hrs

Rijksweg Noord 8
6131 CL Sittard
Phone: +31 (0)46 4517324

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Cam Nguyen – Asian Restaurant, Geilenkirchen

Near the heart of Gk is a small and eloquent Asian restaurant that has become popular with many of my friends. I have eaten here several times and found it to be clean and reasonably quick with the food. This restaurant offers an English menu.

Personally, I could eat the spring rolls here all day!! So the next time your having a craving, give this place a try…..

Konrad-Adenauer-Straße 170, 52511 Geilenkirchen

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Moments Decoratie

This small gift/flower shop is so close to Schinnen Army base, that you would be shocked. The shop makes wonderful floral arrangements and has a few cute items for gifts or your home. Inexpensive and constantly changing ornaments make it worth stopping by every holiday. I visited during carnival and they had masks and decorations. During Easter, the stock was all about the eggs and the spring. A wonderful place to take a peak at and not inconvenient to your shopping at base.

Knit Weekender 3, 6365 CX Schinnen, Netherlands


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Biker Ranch

My husband and I love two things in life: 1) our motorcycle 2) food…

If you enjoy these too, take a ride and check this place out. It was inexpensive, but extremely delicious food. We spilt the cheese, ham, and egg baguette and it was more than enough to share. We showed up on a rainy day and the place was packed. Imagine how busy it would be on a day with some nice riding weather!

See you there!

Biker Ranch

Monschauer Strasse 66
52152 Simmerath

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Bonn, Germany

A large city with many things to see and do, along with lots of shopping, this is a great day trip for the family or to take with a friend. From the Gk area is it about 1-1.25 hours away.

Cherry Blossom Avenue-25 Heerstrasse Bonn Germany

This is something that you can’t miss and it only lasts about 2 weeks a year. We went today and the flowers were at the end of the blooming phase but it was still quite beautiful.

There is parallel parking on each side of the street and although there were already many people parked, we still caught a spot at about 9am when we showed up. There were no other tourists around, just a few locals on their bikes. My friend and I walked the street and estimate it to be around a kilometer in length.

Beethoven house– Bonn is the birthplace of Beethoven and hosts many museums and music halls named for him and about his life. Located at Bonngasse 20 is his childhood home and you may take a peek around for 5€ per adult. It is home to a few instruments, paintings, and music sheets that belonged to him. The English paper guide included in your entrance fee and for a few € more, you can rent an audio guide as well.

Bonn Munster– Gerhard-von-Are-Str. 5

This is a beautiful Romanesque Basilica that is open for public viewing. Inside, photo may be taken except in the crypt which is only open to prayer. In the center of this amazing cathedral is a courtyard which is worth a look and a few photos. There is a small area set aside for questions and purchasing of postcards, but other then merchandise, the cost of viewing this gorgeous piece of history is nothing.

The cathedral is in the middle of the centrum so this would be a great point to take some time and explore the area and have a little shopping. With TK MAXX, H&M, and most other major retailers, this is a shoppers paradise. I could have spent the day shopping and stayed busy much less see everything else!

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El Dorado Steakhouse

The El Dorado is a traditionally upscale restaurant in the Market Place of Heerlen. It is located on the Pancratiuspleen court next to a nice Korean restaurant. The fare was an authentic Argentinean steak house type. You must walk up the stairs in the court house, facing the Dom and to your left is the door. They have a nice outdoors sitting area, as well as a good seating area inside. The menu featured many different steak delicacies. I ordered a “Mexican” style steak that had a medley of vegetables atop a delicious steak of unknown type. The only negative thing I thought of this place was that they did not specify their steaks by type. Growing up on a beef farm, I know my steaks. We as American’s know our steaks. A filet minion is much more expensive than a sirloin; you know a porterhouse from a rib eye. But here, a steak is just a steak. The most distinction you get is a “piece” from a full steak. My husband ordered the mushroom sauce with steak. Ordered medium, it bloodied his rice to full perfection. He called it perfection! My steak was medium as well but plump and pink. As good as any steak I have ordered anywhere. No lie! It came with a salsa on top that was without coriander but still quite delectable. My children easily split an order of grilled chicken with fries. It was a huge order and in my opinion, fit for an adult. It was very good. Our order, along with a few adult beverages and two kids’ drinks, came above 50 euro but this is to be expected of a nicer restaurant in the market district of any city. I believe I will be returning when I feel that need to experience a bit of steak house very much like the ones at home.

Pancratiuspleen 42 — 6411 Heerlen NL

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Danny’s Bloemen en Kadoshop

Across from Kadoshop Bakker this place is a wonderful boutique with things that you won’t be able to resist. The prices were irresistible too!

They will make custom floral arrangements that will knock your hostess’ socks off, or you can pick up a gift for just about any of your friends and they will think you are the worlds best gift-giver.

I beg you not to miss this shop. My friend even bought a “magic” plant that blooms green, but as you keep it healthy, the flowers change to blue, then pink, and then white. If that’s not awesome, I don’t know what is.

Danny’s Website

Hoogstraat 189  –  6373HS Landgraaf, NL

All pictures can be enlarged by clicking them

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Kadoshop Bakker

This is one of the cutest gift stores I’ve been in lately. It is a bit pricier than a similar gift shop that is across the street (see Danny’s Bloemen en kadoshop), but it carries different and slightly more high end items.

This boutique was quite an exciting find and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did. I bought two of the English signs from below and I can’t wait to buy more things. If you ask, she will give you a discount card and after 5 purchases, you get 10% of the money you’ve spent on those 5 trips back to use in the store on an item. If that confuses you, just ask, because her English is better then mine!

Hoogstraat 102 – 6373HZ Landgraaf, NL    (+0031) 45-5319293

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This grocery store is very similar to Aldi. It is a smaller store than Kaufland or some of the other grocery chains, but a nice place to shop if you need to pick something up.

Lidl Website

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Botanical Garden (Botanische Tuin) – Kerkrade, Netherlands

A beautiful garden that makes for a nice place to stop and visit on a beautiful spring or summer day. Price list is in the pictures.

Botanische Tuin

St. Hubertuslaan 74
6467 CK Kerkrade

Garden open: M-F 900-1700 and Sunday and most Holidays 1100-1700 (Not open on Saturdays!)
Closed Sundays during Oct-March
Discount for groups/seniors, membership card available
guided tour by appt.
Tea house and patio may be rented for events

Garden Entrance

They do have english explanation. You can view by clicking on photo and it will enlarge.


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Eygelshoven Market – Netherlands

This market is held on Saturdays in Eygelshoven Centrum. It is an extremely small town so you can type it into the GPS and it will take you to the center. No way to miss this, not that you would want too.

Small by comparison to Sittard, this market has maybe 20 vendors. Several seafood, fruit, veggie, and home decoration booths. Also, one place even sold honey from France which looked like nothing I’d ever seen and would make a cool care package item!

Don’t miss the chance to take your husband here. Sittard’s Thursday market may not fit his work schedule, but this one will. Its open from approx 0900-1700 according to this.

You will see me here again and again!

Beautiful clothes for your table. I bought one!

Fresh seafood!

The church across from the market. It is famous and is written about here:

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T€DI – the starting from one € store

This is your average dollar store. Most items are 1-2 € with the occasional things being more. The most expensive thing I’ve ever run across personally was a vase that was 10€. The store is constantly rotating the products available, so I go often to see what fun items they may have for a party or gag gift. During carnival they had temporary hair dye, and today (April) they had flip flops. Whatever the season, you’re sure to leave with something in hand!

Find one closest to you

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A steal of a deal for some things. I thought the curtains were something my wallet could smile at and I found a few small items for my bathroom too. All in all, its worth a look but don’t expect too much. Maybe its different in the states or other countries, but in Germany, I’d say this is a typical discount store. They sold clothes, appliances, school/office supplies and home decor.  So shop away and save!

Woolworth Website

Ostpromenade 103
52525 Heinsberg


Posted in Appliances, Clothing, Craft/Home decor, Heinsberg | 1 Comment

Shoe donation buckets

This bucket may wind up next to your door every few months. It is a shoe collection bucket. You place shoes you no longer want inside and put it on the street for pickup. If you have none, thats ok, just place the empty bucket at the curb and they will pick it up that night with all the other buckets. Each house in your neighborhood will get its own.

The shoes are for charity and go to people in need. Whether this country or Africa or somewhere else around the world, your old shoes can help someone else.

Germans should take the quote “waste not, want not” and post it on the flag. They reuse and recycle everything and I think IT’S AWESOME!

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Update 31 August 2015: You can now sign up for an annual membership card for free with your NATO card. If you visit frequently, stop by customer service and ask for the membership form. It will save you from having to get a day pass every time you visit.

I call this Dutch Costco! You walk in the door and on the left is the customer service counter. Give them your NATO ID and they will give you a day pass to allow you into the store and to purchase items. Just like Costco in the states, this place has a membership in order to purchase, but they do allow NATO members to shop free!

They had patio sets, tools, appliances, and more. The food was well priced and would be great for purchasing fresh fish. Also, if you are having a party, this is the place to buy the food!

Thermiekstraat 15  Nuth, Netherlands

Makro Website

Posted in Appliances, Food, Furniture | Leave a comment

Happy Preis

Decorating your home? Time for holiday cheer? Need a special gift for a loved one or friend? Look no further! This inexpensive and quaint store offered many choices of decorations and gift type items. It contained the most selection I’ve seen and you can not find better prices on similar items anywhere else. This is another of my favorite stores. Take the time to go, because you will walk out with something!

This store is very close to the Heinsberg Real, so stop by on your next trip.

Otto-Hahn-Str. 14, Heinsberg  02452 23680

Posted in Craft/Home decor, Heinsberg | Leave a comment

Papier & Mehr

This store is a scrapbookers dream. If you are crafty, I recommend stopping by for a peek. Pens and markers and anything else you can think of are available in every color imaginable. The paper comes in color, white, card stock, poster size, card size, etc. A really quaint place with sticker, stamps, and such. Definitely my choice to buy supplies to make my own invitations or thank you cards. Loved, loved, loved this place, but then again, I love crafts!!!

Papier&Mehr Website

Located in Heinsberg on the same street as H&M. Just a few hundred feet away and located on the same side of the street

Hochstrasse 85, Heinsberg

Mo – Fr. 9.30 – 18.30
Sa. 9.30 – 16.00

Posted in Craft/Home decor, Heinsberg | Leave a comment

Fressnapf – Pet store

This pet store carries anything you need that Schinnen doesn’t have available. The items like Dog Beds can be quite pricey compared with similar ones in the states. Trust me, I have three large dogs so I know all about this!! I do think they have a nice large selection though and when the item is right, sometimes its worth the extra money. They offer a nice selection of food and toys for all kinds of pets. Stop by for a treat or toy for your “kids with tails” and try something new. My girls love getting new items from here because they have treats that we don’t have in the states.

Fressnapf also has sales every month that will bring down prices dramatically on certain items. I just bought a winter jacket for my dog for €10 opposed to their usual prices between €20-50. Look in your local newspaper for the red Fressnapf ad.

Fressnapf Website

Von-Humboldt-Strasse 103, 52511 Geilenkirchen – next to the Dänischen Bettenlager

Peace Strasse 1, 52531 Übach-Palenberg

Heinrich Josef Otten-Strasse 8, 52 538 Gangelt

Karl-Arnold-Strasse 76, 52525 Heinsberg

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Dänischen Bettenlagers

“Danish Bed store” is a small chain store that has items to decorate your home. Furniture, pictures, curtains, tableclothes, and more. A definite good find in my book, I love going into this store. During the summer they have patio sets for a steal! I highly recommend popping by for a look.

von-Humboldt-Straße 103
52511 Geilenkirchen  (located next to pet store)

Nordsternpark 9
52134 Herzogenrath (located next to Obi)

Posted in Craft/Home decor, Furniture, Geilenkirchen, Outdoor/Camping | Leave a comment


February 16th, 2012:

It’s Carnival in Germany! Although it is celebrated in all of Germany and many other surrounding countries, the area it is mostly celebrated in the state we live in (North Rhine Westphalia). The tradition started back in the 1800s and has grown since then.

The main carnival celebrations start the Thursday before Ash Wednesday. Thursday is the day of  “Old Women Day” or “The Women’s Day” and is in tribute to the 1824 revolt by washer women. On this festive day, women storm city halls, cut men’s ties, and are allowed to kiss any man they pass. Everyone wears costumes, so you may see some are men dressed as women or nuns, or maybe some pirates, pilots, clowns, etc.

On Monday, there are parades and people wear all sorts of costumes, from carrots to monks. Every town has its own parade and there are even floats. Monday, is not technically a holiday, but many stores and businesses are closed. (That means Sunday and Monday you better be prepared to not have the grocery store open!) Cologne has the biggest celebration in all of Germany and it is the home of the Carnival. Their parade lasts hours and the center of town is packed with people. Many roads are closed for the parade so it is highly recommended that you take the train.

It is believed that the name of “Carnival” was due to the words Carne Vale which means farewell to meat. This is because lent begins on Ash Wednesday and for the religious, it is common for meat to be given up for the forty days. These few days before lent is a time to eat, drink, and be merry.

For future dates please click here!

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Built in late 2011, this store is a fun place to shop with lots of easy parking. It has a parking garage that our full sized pick up truck fits in  easily. I have seen a four door F150 park there before too.

Located inside the building is a Takko (clothing for adults like H&M), a children’s clothing store, a Deichmann (similar to Payless), and a DM (similar to the Walgreens).

The ATM in the Kaufland itself is able to accept American style debit cards.

I shop here weekly and found that it is clean, fresh and very affordable. We love the turkey breast and the fresh brats as well as the delicious authentic German side dishes. After comparing to the things we buy at the commissary, we found that we saved money here (except on beef products) and that the food and meat is much fresher. The milk lasts longer and is cheaper as well. We have been grocery shopping on the economy quite a bit since living here, but now we will do most of it at Kaufland because it is such a nice store with such a large selection!

Herzog-Wilhelm-Straße 17 (Geilenkirchen)

Open Mon-Sat 0700-2200

Posted in Food, Geilenkirchen | 1 Comment

Toom Markt

This is not so much a store as it is a strip mall of sorts. One large parking lot with a car wash in the middle and a large building that is the Markt.

You enter through the main doors and there is a bakery and a small cafe. Once we walked past that we found that the Markt is divided into three different stores. One is like a Real. It sold groceries, small appliances, electronics, clothes, shoes, etc. (Think Super Walmart but not quite so large.) You can find out more at their website, TOOM.

The second store was more like the Best Buy but it had more appliances (large and small). We found it interesting that the hand mixer in the first store was cheaper then the one in the ProMarkt.  The last store was like Ace Hardware. It was just a small store with a limited selection of tools and such called toom-baumarkt.

We really liked this store and its about 15 minutes from the Teveren-Ubach area.

Am Rosenkränzchen 5, Alsdorf, Deutschland

ProMarkt (electronics/applicances)

“the Walmart””the hardware store”

Posted in Appliances, Clothing, Food, Hardware | Leave a comment

Drielandenpunt- NO COST-Open Sunday

This was an easy day trip and is open on Sundays if you are looking for something to do. It was about 30 min from the GK/Brunssum area and was beautifully scenic. If you have a dog that is behaved on the leash, bring “fido” along for the of nice hiking trails. Everything but the towers is dog friendly. At Drielandenpunt you can be in three countries at once by being a little creative with your body and standing in the spot where Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands all meet . About 50 steps away, is the highest point in the Netherlands, making it a two for one trip!

There are two towers here that you can go up and view the sites and see all three countries by simply gazing around you. One tower is located in the Netherlands and was open for us to view, the other tower was in Belgium and is not open on Sundays. All of the restaurants and most of the small shops were open for Sunday.

Viergrenzenweg 97
6291 BM Vaals, Netherlands

No cost unless you go up in the towers or eat/buy something. You could bring your own picnic and it would be very nice! Parking is a few euro.

Above is the highest point in the Netherlands

The tower in Belgium where you may view all three countries

looking up the NL tower

Posted in NO COST, Open Sunday | 1 Comment

Köln (Cologne) Christmas Market

The Cologne Market begins in the Centrum and expands over the city. In total there were 7 different markets. Each had their own entrance and used unique gluhwein mugs. This market is considered to be one of the larger markets in the local area and I thought it was well worth seeing. We took the train from GK to Köln (the German name for Cologne) by buying a family pass, called the “Nord Rhein Westphalen Ticket” for 40E (its cheaper for 2 people to buy a family pass then to buy individual train tickets).  You can use the family ticket round trip and it is valid for a group up to 5 people. This was definitely the way to go around Christmas time because the traffic getting out of Cologne can take longer than the drive there does! There is lots of parking in Cologne, but between the gas, traffic, cost of parking, etc… I say the train is the way to go!

Being in Cologne for the market makes it easy to grab lunch and warm back up after walking around. It was quite a bit of walking to see all 7 areas. They did have a trolley that traveled between them, but it was rather expensive to use.

All in all, we had a great day and would definitely recommend it to those who’ve never been.

Posted in Christmas Markets, Cologne | 1 Comment

Local Veterinarians

I have not used nor endorse any of the following places.This list is purely for information purposes only. Thank you.

Emergency Vet:

On page 2 of the HS Woche, you’ll find a Notdienste (Emergency) section. The listing also gives a number for Tierheim or Animal Shelter. If you need help, they should be able to point you in the right direction.


Geilenkirchen-   Gross & Brosi, Heinsberger str. 6, Geilenkirchen   02451-7055
Walks in- Mon – Sat: 9-12

Geilenkirchen- Dr. Teeuwen, Aachener Str. 1, Geilenkirchen   02451-65069
Closed Sat and Sun / Does health certs.

Gangelt- Dr. Breickmann, Pastor-Fischenich 4, Gangelt (speaks English) -Offers Pet Passports.

Heinsberg- Dr Merschbrock, Schafhausener 40, Heinsberg   02452-3899

Ubach-Palenberg- Dr. Kloser (He speaks English) Julicher Str. 64, Ubach-Palenberg  02451-44457
Walk ins M-F 10-12

There are many vets in the NL areas as well.

Spangdalhem does offer services on space-A basis.


Hundsalon Mary Nuesser

Bundisstrasse 38, Gangelt-Stahe   02454-938390
(She offers nail trims, hair cuts for dogs and cats, ear cleaning and dog washing/Kennelling)

These and more are listed at on the GK A&FRC information booklet on Military One Source:


Posted in Emergency Resources, Family Resources, General Local Info, Health Resources, Pets | Leave a comment

Cell Phone Options

If you are looking into prepaid phones, I suggest reading this comparison first. It will give you an idea of what options are available in your area according to SIM card availability and network coverage. It will also allow you to quickly compare rates.

FONIC: (PRE-PAID) We use Fonic and love it! It’s a pre-paid service so you can decide how much you can afford on a phone, and you can pick from HUNDREDS of different kinds of phones. You can go as cheap or expensive as you want on the phone and buy it from several vendors including Real or Real has a couple options and they do take VAT forms! Another option is to buy a phone from Fonic itself on a monthly installment plan, although this pricier in the end.

We bought our phones from They do free shipping to your house or guest house on orders over 20€ and it arrives in about 2 days, plus if you mail your receipt and VAT form signed back to them, they will refund you the VAT directly to the card you purchased with and then send you back the copy of the VAT forms for you to turn into the VAT office.

We bought our sim cards at the Real. They sell the cards at the cash registers or you can order it from Either way you have to register the sin card and need your German BLZ and bank account number. (BLZ is the German routing number, which you can get from your German bank).

Fonic is cheap and it works everywhere in the local area! Flatrate internet is 9.95€ a month for 500MB and the minutes are 9 Euro cents each to call within Germany (Roaming fees apply when outside Germany but are VERY affordable) . Also, if you needed to call a landline in the States, you could and it would be the same .09 cents you’d pay to call another German phone!!! (of course your landline is going to be cheaper if you have the Stateside call plan from TKS)

They do have a plan for 29.95€ a month with flatrate internet and 500 min/texts included!


Vodafone: (Pre-paid) These inexpensive phones can be bought at the Aafes Clothing Store on GK. They run about $30 and are an easy way to get a cell phone. The minutes and texts cost more than Fonic though and the phones are basic and cannot get internet or wifi. If you just want calls and texts (and don’t use many minutes) and you want to go with an easy route, this may be for you.


T-mobile: (pre-paid) I do know several people that went with the T-Mobile pre-paid and have had no issues so far. They purchased the sim cards at the T-Mobile store on GK and used them in phones they already had or ones they bought in a store like Real, or at


CONTRACT CARRIERS: Some of the contracts seem awesome, but ask around and you will hear stories of people forgetting to cancel the contract 90 days in advance of renewal and being charged for an entire extra year of service when they leave. You will hear how people spent 400E a month because they roamed. With things like that, I said no thanks. Prepaid is just fine for us and I call/text quite a bit and I only use 10€ a month.  For some people contract phones are the best fit, but they do usually come with higher monthly costs, and they may have high roaming charges if you cross into the Netherlands or other countries. You may notice that your cell phone may automatically connect to the closet cell tower (provider). You may want to make sure that you manage your connection settings on your phone to prompt you to change the network options yourself. This way you will avoid paying for roaming charges.

Posted in Newcomers, Resources/Help | 1 Comment

Schinnen PX and more

Updated 28 Feb 2016

For current hours, check the Exchange website, Schinnen MWR and Commissary websites. There is also a flower shop, dry cleaners/alterations, Enterprise rental cars, family hair care and new car sales listed on the website with their hours.


Troop Store (Main Exchange and Express)

Open 24/7

Pin Point Cafe at the Bowling Alley

Car Care Center and Gas Station

Schinnen Gym Class Schedule

DOD Community Bank

Andrews Federal Credit Union

Posted in Schinnen Services- Info | Leave a comment

GK Natex/AAFES Clothing Sale Hours

Update 28 Feb 2016

For NATEX operating hours please see the NATEX website. Hours are listed under the “Home” tab. Click on “What you need to know”.

You must have a shopping card to shop at any of the NATEX stores. More information on the shopping card can be found on the NATEX website.

US personnel cannot use the NATEX gas station for gas rations. You must use your Esso card to fill up on the economy.


Monday-Friday 1000-1700, closed Saturday and Sunday

Posted in Geilenkirchen NATO Base - Info, GK/Schinnen/JFC Brunssum Info | Leave a comment

GK – U.S. Post office

Hours may change. If you know of any updates, contact us at
Pick Up for packages
Mon-Thurs: 0900-1700
Fri: 0900-1530
Mail out/Postage
Mon/Fri: 0900-1300
Tues/Weds/Thurs: 0900-1600
Posted in Geilenkirchen NATO Base - Info, GK/Schinnen/JFC Brunssum Info | Leave a comment


Real is your German Super Walmart. It has a wonderful selection of gluten free and lactose free items for families with special food needs. You can purchase cheap and fresh dairy, fruit, veggies, etc. There is a large selection of produce that is currently in season and it changes accordingly. When you bag your items in the produce section you will need to weigh the fruit/veggies and place a sticker on the bag. The machine is next to the produce and there is also one just past the registers, so if they speak to you and point, that’s probably what they are telling you if you didn’t do this yet. Another thing to know is that they have a wonderful selection of shoes, clothes, electronics, etc. We bought many household items here. It is better to buy bulk and use the VAT than to buy an item here or there. Try to plan ahead on getting as much as possible if you like buying non-grocery items. We bought some kitchen appliances, trash cans,  bio bags for the bio waste, etc. We saved a lot of money by planning ahead to get everything we needed at once.

As for wine, we typically find more bottles here than anywhere else. They have a large selection of 2-5€ bottles that are pretty good. We liked the Real Bio Dornfelder ourselves. The price of some of the alcohol is cheaper here than at Schinnen or the Natex so price shop around if you are buying an expensive bottle of something.

To use your VAT form, go to the service counter instead of the regular checkout.

pronounced: Re-all

Real’s Website

Humboldtstraße 26
52525 Heinsberg
Open Mon-Sat 8am-10pm

Boschstraße 4
52531 Übach-Palenberg
Open Mon-Sat 8am-10pm

Posted in Appliances, Clothing, Food, Furniture, Hardware, Health and Beauty, Heinsberg, Outdoor/Camping, Shoes | 2 Comments


If you are from the South East, you may have heard of this store. Aldi is a German company, which explains their unique way of running their business in the states. You can also find Aldi in the Netherlands.

This grocery store is great for buying food locally. The cheese is a much nicer selection than Schinnen and reasonably affordable. Wine,  fruits and veggies are also really good deals here and the fruit lasts longer than the commissary.

Note that Aldi has two branches. Aldi Nord is what you’ll find in the Netherlands, while the stores in the local area on the German side of the border are Aldi Süd. You will find differences in the brands available between these two.

Aldi’s German Website

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Just like Lowe’s or Home Depot, this is a great place to get curtains, flooring, hardware, garden items, and anything else you may need for home improvement or repair. It is worth just making a trip to see all of the cool stuff they have. I can never make it out of this store without spending a fortune. They do take the VAT!

OBI’s Website

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Mobau Bauzentren

Mobau is like Ace hardware or a small Home Depot. A smaller store but a great selection of hardware and such.

Friedrich-Ebert-Str. 16-18
52531 Übach-Palenberg

Gangelt and Heinsberg
Sittarder Str. 62 52538 Gangelt
Industriestr. 44 52525 Heinsberg

Dresdener Str. 14
52068 Aachen

Posted in Geilenkirchen, Hardware | 2 Comments

Thomas Philipps

I don’t really know how to describe this store other then to say it reminds me of the Dollar Tree, except things are more then a dollar. You can get inexpensive electronics, kitchen appliances, outdoor items, gardening items, decorations, pet supplies and arts and craft stuff. The products are high-end quality, but it is great if you don’t want to burn a lot of money on something you may only need 3 years. This is one of my favorite stores when I’m looking for decorations or crafts.

Daimlerstraße 1, Übach-Palenberg 52531

Thomas-Philipps Website

Posted in Appliances, Craft/Home decor, Furniture, Hardware | Leave a comment


These are located in several places throughout the local towns. Rewe is one of several grocery store chains in the area. They are usually connected to a bakery/cafe and drink market as well. The size of these stores varies, but are usually of a medium or small size.

Rewe Website

Posted in Food, Geilenkirchen, Health and Beauty | 1 Comment


Think Payless Shoe source and this is your place. Higher quality shoes then you will find at Real but not high end shoes like at the Natex or other shoe stores. Lots of choices though and my favorite place for the croc style slippers.

Deichmann Website

Posted in Geilenkirchen, Shoes | Leave a comment


DM ore Drogerie Markt is like your typical Walgreens or CVS. This is a great place to get tea, make up, diapers, lotions, emergency items, toiletries (including travel size) and more.

You can also get photos developed here. If you use the red machine the photos will be made in a lab and are much cheaper, but you will need to come back to pick them up. If you use the yellow Kodak machines, they are a bit expensive, but you have them within a few minutes as they print at the machine.

DM usually has a few recycle boxes at the front of their stores for batteries and CFL or LED lightbulbs.

DM website

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After exploring both of the nearest stores, it seems that the Dusseldorf IKEA has a nicer selection of bathroom “schranks” (cabinets) and for less cost. The Heerlen IKEA is much closer but offers a smaller selection, although that selection is still quite sizable. Whatever you decide to do, you’ll be like a kid in the candy store because I have never heard of someone who didn’t love going to IKEA!

Please note that if you have German VAT forms, they can be used in Dusseldorf IKEA or any German IKEA, but they CANNOT be used in the Netherlands IKEA. VAT free purchases are possible in the Netherlands, but there are differences depending on which base you are connected to. Please contact your VAT office for more details.

IKEA Germany

IKEA Kaarst
Düsselstraße 2-6, Kaarst DE (Opening Hours)

IKEA Düsseldorf
Oerschbachstr. 75, Düsseldorf DE (Opening Hours)

IKEA Köln-Am Butzweilerhof
Butzweilerstr. 51, Köln DE (Opening Hours)

IKEA Köln-Godorf
Godorfer Hauptstr. 171, Köln DE (Opening Hours)

IKEA Netherlands 

IKEA Heerlen
In de Cramer 142, Heerlen NL (Opening Hours)

IKEA Eindhoven
Ekkersrijt 4089, Son NL (Opening Hours)


Posted in Appliances, Furniture, Hardware | 1 Comment

Hans Stassar

Brunssum has a really nice outdoor rec store. It has hiking, camping, pool, bbq, sledding, skiing, snowboarding gear and more. Name it, and they probably sell it. You can check their website first to see some of the selection, but I thought the prices were nice and the selection was fabulous.

Hans Stassar website

Pijler 36,  Brunssum, NL

Opening Times

Posted in Clothing, Outdoor/Camping | Leave a comment

Tips and Tricks for Those New to Town

For those beginning the PCS process, I have created a page about our move here. Check out for even more info!

When you arrive your sponsor will take you to base and help your family get settled and checked in. You will get ID cards and licensing and much more.

Here is some of our experience:

Licensing – You will need to study prior to your test. This isn’t the worlds easiest test, but it is very easy if you take some time to read the booklet they provide you or if you study online.

If you or your spouse has a CAC card, you can take the drivers license test online BEFORE you PCS. The scores are good for at least 30 days, so take the test, print out your scores and don’t loose it in the move. Once you’re at GK, you just watch the mandatory videos, give the personnel your test scores, fill out some paperwork and you’re done! (CAC enabled)

After the test, you’ll get a paper temporary license and then your permanent one will come in the mail in about thirty days. There is no photo on it so no worries about a crazy hair day!

If you think you have a ticket coming (aka you got flashed while speeding), the below has some info on fines and such. NOTE: Any points on your license related to speeding are placed on license for the person who registered the car, regardless of who’s in the picture. You can identify the person the points should go towards after you receive it. This will hopefully keep anyone from having their license taken for 30 days or more. or

Speeding, Tickets and Other Traffic Info

Furniture: You can borrow furniture until your household goods arrive. Also, you can get closets (wardrobes or shranks as the German’s call them), a washing machine, dryer, dishwasher and a fridge (if you need them) for the entire time you are stationed here. The supply office is located at Schinnen and your sponsor should be able to get you over there to set everything up.

AFN: The military member is eligible to go to Supply and have an AFN box issued. This will be no cost to you and they do have the satellites and cables available as well. If you need professional installation, that does come out of your pocket unless you somehow convince your landlord to pay for it!

Postal: This website lists items that can/cannot be mailed. The zip here is 09104.

Buying second hand items: Some things (transformers are one), are expensive new. You can save a bundle buying second hand items. There are many resources for this.

1) – great place to find all kinds of things from cars, fans, transformers, furniture, etc.

2) Park and Sell – Spring through Fall, you can drive on base during the park and sell and you will find people selling their items. Usually these people are PCSing. Toys, clothes, books, movies, transformers, small kitchen appliances. All kinds of things! It is held on the second Saturday of each month at 10am in the dental clinic’s parking lot on GK. For more info see our posts under Shopping>Used Items.

3) American Womans’ club thrift store. This is in U.S. dollars and is located across from Schinnen’s bowling alley. They do have strange opening hours depending on if they can find volunteers. Usually though, they are open Thur/Fri from 11-3ish. Stop by and see if there is a sign on when they will be open next. Everything you can imagine is sold here. I bought a 220v crockpot for about 10 bucks and it was in the original box and looked completely unused.

If you’d like to consign items, call first for an appointment (0031-46-443-7436). If you can’t reach them on the phone, then email All proceeds go to support the Tri-Border community

4) Several other resources are available on Facebook. I’ve listed them here.

Savings on utilities: It is possible to save VAT (value added tax) on some goods and services. You can find an explanation of the VAT form and their uses here. Please note that there are German and Dutch VAT forms. You have to use the one corresponding to the country the business is in.

Posted in General Local Info, Newcomers | 1 Comment

Rules of Living in Germany and Recycling

QUIET TIMES (Ruhezeit): 8 p.m. until 7 a.m & all day Sundays/holidays

·        House and garden appliances/machinery are off limits. (Quiet time includes lawn mowing, car washing/repairing, loud children, stereo or radio (loud)–if it can be heard outside your dwelling or vehicle it is too loud.)


·        As long as your neighbors are ok with it and you are using dish soap, it is not a problem. You will want to wash with a bucket and soap and then rinse quickly with the hose as you do not want to waste and it is not permitted to use chemicals that may seep into the ground. (We watched our neighbors wash their cars a few times to see what they do.)


·        Ensure that the smoke and smell does not bother your neighbors. Try to place the grill in a place where the smoke will not float into the neighbors open windows.

·        If you live in an apartment building, you cannot grill on the balcony, you must be at least 8 feet away from the building; depending on the direction of the wind, maybe further.

·        Parties are acceptable so long as you only have a few a year. (I believe that less then 4 is considered a few!)  Also I understand that noise outside is permitted till 10, however I have heard parties in my neighborhood much later then that. The noise is permitted however, it may not be excessive.


·        Tenants are responsible for  the sidewalk and street in front of the house.

·        You need to pull out the weeds in the sidewalk.

·        SNOW: You must shovel and sand/salt your sidewalk between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. If someone slips & breaks their leg in front of your house during this time, you are liable.


SOFA (definitely good to know!):


My opinion has always been: If your not 15 minutes early, you’re already late.

·        Germans are very punctual and are often displeased if you do not arrive in time for an appointment or a social gathering. The first thing we learned though is that they are not early and they are not late. I make my husband be 15 minutes early everywhere we go. Even if we sit in the car at someone’s home until the party starting time, we are there 15 minutes early. Here though, you will wait. They are punctual to perfection and so you should be as well!


·        You are expected to generate only a small amount of trash. Generally the recycling is picked up bi-monthly and the trash is picked up either bi-monthly or monthly depending what you choose (you will pay based on the weight of the trash in some areas, and in other areas you pay a set amount for monthly pickup with more cost for bi-monthly pickup.) The recycling bin, grass bin, and paper bin are usually the size of an American bin. The trash bin is typically smaller.

·        Paper bins are generally collected monthly. These are only for paper and cardboard. Grass bin (Bio bin) can be for yard waste such as grass, weeds, branches and also can be used for some kitchen waste such as fruit, veggies, flowers, or egg shells. You cannot throw these items in there in a trash bag. Only bio bags are usuable and these are optional. The Bio bin is collected based on the time of year. In the summer it is collected more often as the plants grow more.

·        The GK Housing Office or your landlord can give you specific information about your collection schedule & how to sort waste.

·        Glass must be taken to special collection centers or back to the store where you bought it (some bottles you pay a fee for and the fee is returned when you bring back those bottles). Most communities have receptacles set out for you to sort your glass–clear, brown and green.

·        Batteries must be thrown into dispensers at stores. There is a dispenser at the Schinnen commisary. Larger electronics can be taken to Media Markt. I know the store in Heerlen (Corio Center 9, Heerlen) has several recycling drop off boxes.

·        Each city has special days for collecting bulk items like furniture and carpets. Check your trash calendar for the dates. You can also use the postcard sized cards in the trash calendar to schedule a bulk pickup.

Gk city posted a pdf in English to explain the trash

Online Trash Calendars


·        Weekdays the shops may stay open until 8 p.m. On Saturdays, they will probably close around 4 p.m. Few places are open Sundays, however, most restaurants are open Sundays and closed Mondays. Many cities in the Netherlands will have late shopping on Thursdays and be open Sundays once a month. A schedule can be found here.

·        Most towns have an open market and on different days of the week.


·        In most towns, there are a couple days a year where everything that is no longer of use or not wanted (if it won’t fit in the regular trash) is put out on the street for pickup (furniture items, etc). However, if someone else wants it, they are free to pick it up and take it.

·        Clothing can be placed into donation bins. These are in located in many surrounding towns and can often be seen near the glass bins.

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Sittard Market – Thursdays

There are two parking garages in Sittard. Both cost €1,00/hr with a max day tariff of €5,00.

ABC Parking: Walstraat 67, Sittard, The Netherlands
(This garage closes at 9pm M-F and 7pm on Sat, Closed on Sunday)
If your trip is less than 30 minutes, you park for free!

Oda Parking: Paardestraat 40 (entrance only) and Haspelsestraat 41 (entrance and exit)
Open 24/7 (Use your parking ticket to use the elevator if the stairs are closed.)
Follow the Green arrows to the “M” section to park close to the Markt.

Other parking options are listed here. The prices might not be current though.

Parking on Sundays is free all day except on Shopping Sundays (Koopzondag) and except at the garages, the same applies for evening parking.

The large Sittard Market is on Thursday from 9am-1pm

The small market (mainly produce, cheese and bread stands) is Saturday 9am-5pm according to this Dutch market search engine.

The Market
This is a great way to get out and they sell everything from shoes, dresses, clothes, fabric, fruit, fish, etc. I mean if you can think it, it’s there and they have lots of stores to shop for anything else you might possibly want! Enjoy because this is a great way to spend the day! Also, look for Bagels and Beans which has great food!

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Gangelt Wildpark

Although its not your typical zoo, this was a great way to spend the day. We accompanied a two year old for the morning and it had a great picnic area, a beautiful children’s playground, a great walking path to view all the animals and it was reasonably priced. For adults it was 6€ a piece, kids 4-15 are 4€, or you can get a family ticket if you have several kiddos. Children under 4 are no cost.

The trail was mostly dirt but it was well maintained. I do recommend proper walking shoes though! Bring a lunch to eat at the park or you can have a meal at the restaurant. However, the restaurant is a bit more pricey then in town of course.

Overall, if you have kids and they are driving you mad, I think this is a great way to get out of the house and enjoy a beautiful day. There are open daily 0900-1900…

Wildpark Gangelt Website

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Musik Park – Geilenkirchen

This is a club with two dance areas. This place doesn’t get busy till after 1130pm and is open till at least 5am. Basically, you go in and they take a photo of you and hand you a “debit card”. As you order drinks, they add them to your card and when you leave at the end of the night, you cash out. They charge you a small cover charge plus the drinks. One person I know had 3 beers and his total including the cover charge was 15€ at the end of the night. While not cheap, this place is a blast!!! We will definitely go again!

Musik Park Website

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Cologne, DE

The big city that is a definite must do. With their own type of beer, we visited the Früh Brewery and drank the local specialty called Kölsch. Lots of shoppingbreweries, a Hard Rock Cafe, and the Dom (cathedral) are all located in the city center, right next to the main train station (Hauptbahnhof or HBF). There are a few ways to explore the Dom, which are explained in a separate post here.

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Dusseldorf, DE

Most people know this city because it has one of the closest airports to us, but it is also a nice place to visit. There was some lovely (and some exclusive) shopping. To get an idea of what stores are in the area, you can download this handy map. We ate at one of the breweries located in the small but charming Altstadt, called Füchschen.The promenade along the Rhein is a nice place to work off a bit of that delicious food or visit one of the many events hosted in the area including Japan Day, a huge Fun Fair or the Fish market (monthly in the summer).

There are plenty of things to see in Dusseldorf listed on their Wikitravel page, but if you’re looking for something old to sightsee, these Ruins are nearby in Kaiserwerth, right by the airport.




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Foroxity Movie Theater – Sittard and Roermond, NL

Almost everyone in the Netherlands speaks English, which is nice for movie goers because the movies will be subtitles in Dutch instead of dubbed. The same occurs across the border in Belgium.

There are some nice differences between American and the local theaters here. Intermissions happen during every movie, so you’ll have some time to visit the concession stand or facilities then. Wine, beer and some cocktails are available along with the usual candies and sodas. There is usually a choice between sweet or salty popcorn as well. Most movie theaters also have a restaurant linked to it, like Brasserie Foroxity, so you can always come early for dinner beforehand.

On the website, movies are marked with (OV) or (NL) at the end of the title. OV stands for original version, so the movie will only have subtitles. NL means the movie has been dubbed into Dutch or was a Dutch movie to begin with. Usually only kids movies are dubbed, but they will still be available sometimes in subtitles.

Take advantage of Voordeel Dinsdag (Savings Tuesday) if you can. All movie tickets are only €5 on Tuesday (except during the holidays).

Foroxity Filmarena
Rijksweg-Noord 330
6162 AR, Geleen-Sittard

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Hoensbroek Castle, NL

Just 5 short minutes from Schinnen is a castle worth going to see. For a small fee (€8,25 for adults, €5,75 for kids 4-12 and small children are free), you can play the medieval games in the courtyard and view the inside of this estate. I found it worth buying the cheap brochure (available in English). You are self paced and glide from room to room where you can really get a taste for what the lifestyle was like. Expect to spend roughly 3 hours here at most though. In 2011, the Tri-Border Air Force ball was held at this castle. I attended the ball and must say it was spectacular!!!

Hoensbroek Castle Website
Klinkertstraat 118, Hoensbroek, NL

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