Food Shopping in Gütersloh

When I go food shopping in Gütersloh, I am always trying to compare it with shopping from my past. Is this a good price? Is this cheaper or more expensive? What is the converted price?

Numbeo is not only the world’s largest cost of living indicator, it is also a crowd-sourced global database indicator of quality-of-life rankings. They rated the North Rhine-Westphalia district in which Gütersloh exists as one of the best places to live in Germany. This might be a guess as to the prices of food shopping in Gütersloh.

Some Recent Shopping

Following is a list of some miscellaneous items I have purchased in the last two months. The prices have been converted to the US Dollar and the Imperial Measurement System (pounds, ounces).

Milk                                1.01 (quart) (2.11 lbs.)
Chips *                            2.11 (5.3 oz.)
Colgate toothpaste        1.26 (2.25 oz.)
Coffee beans*                10.10 (8.8 oz.)
Spaghetti sauce             2.65-4.46 (12 oz.)
Cheese                            3.64-4.81 (1 lb.)
Oranges                          2.96-3.42 (bag of 8)
12 Eggs                           3.73 (farm stand)
          Way up from early 2023 when $1.74
Mayonnaise                   2.33 (15 oz)
Peanut butter                 2.24 (12.3 oz) 

Zucchini                         2.43 (2 med. size)
Oats*                              1.26-5.31 (1.65 lbs.)
Mushrooms                    1.79 (carton of large)
Frozen pizza                   2.33 (medium size)
Blueberries                     4.24 (small tray)
Tuna fish                        1.79 (1.89 oz)
Ice cream                        2.32 (1.2 lbs.)
Salt                                   .84 (1.25 lbs.)
Pepper                            2.54 (1.6 oz)
Soap                                  .79 (bar) (3.5 oz.)
Bread                              1.69 (loaf 2.5 lbs.)

I have been confined to shopping in a medium-sized market a few blocks from where I’m living, plus some vegetable and fruit shopping at the local Farmers’ Market. My shop primarily has small sizes of items and a somewhat limited variety. There must be larger supermarkets in Gütersloh, but there are none I can reach by foot. Expatica (an online platform serving expats and the international community) suggests that staple foods in Germany are not too expensive in these larger stores, such as Aldi and Lidl.

Shopping in Germany

One procedure in Germany, and some other countries, is that you must weigh your own individual fruits and vegetables. Mostly you do this on scales in those departments. Here plastic bags are available for these items. Glass and plastic bottles have a refund price and most stores have machines to receive these returns. Each is processed and a total receipt spits out for your use in the store (or to request cash).

Further research indicates that a single person in Germany should be paying about $160.00 – $213.00 a month for the cost of food shopping in Gütersloh. These figures strike me as low, at least compared with the United States. I don’t know if inflation has anything to do with it, but in Germany the August inflation was 9.08 versus the March rate of 21.2.

I have not eaten out in restaurants much, but my perusal of their posted menus strikes me that their prices are high. I generally prefer to cook for myself. However, a cup of coffee and a pastry is about $4.25 and up. Ethnic foods are generally scarce and many expats visit various shops for supplies to cook their own meals. Another alternative readily available to expats is to order online.

Shopping carts are usually plentiful at all grocery stores. They use the system of unlocking them with a coin and then after shopping re-inserting the metal plug to get your coin refunded. Shopping bags can be purchased, but people take their own bags with them. Even at my smaller store, checking out is a bit of a pain. I feel that I am rushed when trying to pack my bag and deal with paying for my goods. It’s especially hard when I’m still learning one coin from another.

Sunday Shopping

There is one guarantee with food shopping in Gütersloh and Germany in general. You cannot shop on Sundays as stores, with a few exceptions, are closed. This was a federal law until 2006 when the individual states were allowed to set their own hours, Monday through Saturday (24/6- a new phrase for many of us). Only two states are still following the federal directive with more limited hours.

Cash is still king, though some of the larger stores do accept credit cards. The sales tax in Germany is 19%, though for food it is 7%. These taxes will show on your receipt, but the price you see when shopping or reading a menu is the final amount you will pay. The VAT tax on large items for non-EU residents can be waived. However, it is not easy to make this happen. Forms must be filled out at the time of purchase, and proof must be given that the item will be leaving the EU within three months.

Food shopping in Gütersloh is primarily like food shopping in most Western grocery stores. Prices are another matter. How do you compare the prices listed above with your own experiences where you live? I welcome your comments.

Fact: Online purchasing is shaping shopping in Germany like elsewhere
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An English Garden in Gütersloh

There is an English garden on the edge of city center Gütersloh. This city park, Stadtpark, or Volkspark (peoples park), is made up of 38.3 acres, seven and a half of which are a botanical garden. The entire park is very popular with the citizens of Gütersloh given its lushness and walkability. It has sometimes been referred to as Gütersloh’s green living room.

The Park is Created

Path Along Stadtpark

This English Garden was created during the years 1909 to 1914, and included a botanical garden. Parks like this were developed in Germany at the end of the 19th century, especially in industrialized cities. The rapid industrial and population growth at the time resulted in a deterioration in living conditions. Parks were created as places for respite, relaxation, recreation and physical exercise.

A popular area is the lake at the south edge of the park. It includes an island in the middle, known as the love park. In the winter, it becomes an ice-skating rink.

The Park is Restored

Old plans and photographs were used in 1992 to restore the park to its original design and expand the grounds. Toward the end of the restoration period, 1997-1998, themed plots were added in the botanical garden including sun, medicinal, fountain, and semi-natural gardens. I found the medicinal garden fascinating with 50 different herbs and plants that can be used in healing. I also walked down the perfume tunnel, along which a series of various plants offered subtle smells.

The following YouTube video is labeled the Botanical Garden, but in reality, it is much more the Stadtpark or English garden.

Sitting amidst the botanical garden is the Palmenhaus Café. It looks like a greenhouse without plants; instead, you can relax and enjoy a meal or a beverage while looking out at the various gardens.

Meiers Mill –

Meiers Mill

When I visited the park, I approached it along its western side and saw this large, half-timbered building. In the center was a display showing that it was a bridal salon. I thought, “How strange.” I crossed a bridge and went on. On my way back, I saw a clever painting of a waterwheel on the side of the building which sat alongside the waterway I had crossed earlier. As I got closer, I realized it was the real deal. Then I could see the small waterfall cascading toward the wheel.

Meiers Waterwheel –

I did some research on Meiers Mühle (Mill) and found that it is the oldest mill in Gütersloh. I learned that about 800 AD there was a large farm with mill which the farmers used to grind their crops. That farm became the beginnings of Gütersloh. Some of that land must have also become today’s Stadtpark and Botanical Garden.

Fact: The Stadtpark receives about 170,000 visitors every year
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Promise of Forever

The international Miele company is headquartered in Gütersloh, Germany. They make a promise of forever better for everything they produce.This means they will do all that they can to be forever better than their competitors and forever better than they already are.

Early Miele washing machine
with a mangle (probably 1930)

Miele’s Beginnings

Carl Miele founded his company in 1899. They are the manufacturer of high-end domestic appliances for the kitchen, laundry room, and for floor care. They also produce machines for commercial operations and medical   facilities. Miele ranks among the world’s leading manufacturers of washer-disinfectors and sterilizers for hospitals, medical and dental practices and laboratories. They aim to be the world’s most trusted and desirable premium brand.

But we’re ahead of ourselves. Let’s back up to see what got all of this started. In 1899, Carl Miele hired 11 employees and began making cream separators, butter churns, and tub washing machines. The company started to diversify by producing vacuum cleaners in 1927 and celebrated in 1929 when they produced the first electric dishwasher in Europe. They were on a roll.

Miele Continues to Expand

In 1930, they began manufacturing motorcycles. Later they produced control units for torpedoes used in World War II. They have begun to make home/smart electronics. In 2021, the Miele Company acquisitioned the Eurofilters Company and now are invested in making solutions based on random-spun fibers used in face masks and dust bags.

One of the Miele buildings in Gütersloh

Miele continues to produce domestic appliances including dishwashers (we have one of their dishwashers where I’m living) and vacuum cleaners. Still growing with their motto, a promise of forever better, they are producing built-in convection, steam, and speed ovens; cooker hoods and cook tops; free-standing and built-in refrigerators, freezers, wine coolers, and coffee systems. The company also produces commercial laundry equipment including wet cleaning machines, lab glassware washers, dental disinfectors, and medical equipment washers.

The Miele plant in Bürmoos, Austria

From humble beginnings, Miele products can now be found in 47 countries. Predominantly Europe, China, and the United States. Most of the products are made in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Romania.

Miele Overtakes Google and Porsche

In 2007, Miele was given an award for being the most successful company in Germany that year. They beat the previous year’s winners, Google and Porsche, which had placed second and third respectively.

A Miele Showroom –

The Miele Group, as they are now known, remain a family-owned business. They have a museum here in Gütersloh which I want to visit and report on at a later date. If Carl Miele could see his company today, he would be very proud and have every reason to be.

Fact: Gütersloh’s diversified economy produces machinery, metal products, chemicals, clothing, and furniture
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Are the Rumors True?

I attempted to go to church last Sunday to experience a German worship service. Are the rumors true? Have the churches become secularized? The Martin Luther Church was locked up tight. The other church in the city center was open with candles lit on the alter but totally empty. Did they maybe have an earlier service? I will have to check their schedule.

City Center on a Sunday Morning

I was not the only one wandering around the city center that morning. I did encounter another tourist seemingly also wanting to go to church. Only a few coffee shops were open with a cluster of people sitting outside. No stores were open that I noticed. This was to be expected. My own search for coffee ended stopping at a bakery half was home.

The Corona Virus Hits NW Germany

Are the rumors true that the epicenter of the Corona Virus in Germany was the Northwest region including Gütersloh? It appears that the meat processing industry may have been the culprit. The Tönnies meat processing plant in the Gütersloh district employes 7,000 people, 1,500 of whom contracted the virus. Scientists decided the source was the air conditioning system in the plant. The temperature wasn’t low enough to kill the virus, and the circulating air was never refreshed.

Delivering food to those quarantined –

More than 2000 people contracted the disease, resulting in 21 deaths. The workers in the plant were primarily from Bulgaria, Romania, and Poland. The plant alone was not the only culprit. The living conditions for the workers were far below standard (16 people to a room, 20 people with one bathroom, etc.). About 2000 of the workers living in one of the direr housing complexes were literally fenced in and not allowed out. Their kitchen was so full of mold as to be unusable. Food had to be sent in.

Delivering food to those quarantined –

Consequently, Gütersloh went into a heavy lockdown. Stores were closed; only a couple of restaurants stayed open and did takeout. German travelers were advised not to visit the Gütersloh district. The only good that came from this was to bring to light the horrible living conditions of the workers. So, are the rumors true that the German epicenter for the Covid virus originated in Gütersloh? Probably not entirely, but the city seems to have given rise to the country’s pandemic.

The Local FIFA Connection

Women’s football has been all the rage recently. Are the rumors true that the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World’s Cup has a Gütersloh connection? Three times the Portugal team trained in the North Rhine-Westphalia, a district including Gütersloh. The training games were very popular, with 5000 people coming to watch on the largest video screen in the area. As a result, Gütersloh was one of the few towns which was able to show the 2006 winning cup.

Many people had a second-hand association with the games, as Gütersloh’s Bertelsmann media company produced many of the books, magazines, and posters for the games.

Miscellaneous Facts About Gütersloh

Aramäer Gütersloh wins the Gütersloh city
for the first time in 2003

Are the rumors true that Gütersloh is home to the largest number of Arameans in Germany? In fact, there are about 10,000 Arameans locally. Some speak the Aramaic language and play in one of the three Aramean football clubs.

Is there a death Sunday in the German Evangelical church? Yes, the last Sunday in November is designated the Sunday of Death referring to those killed in World War II. It has been broadened to include all who have died in the last year. In Gütersloh, several people who had sought safety in the Apostle Church were killed from the bombing.

At last Saturday’s Farmers’ Market, my take was extraordinary. Are the rumors true that the high-water table has generated a good top soil? I do not know, but I can tell you that the heads of cauliflowers and the green and red peppers I bought are the biggest and brightest I have ever seen. I thought I was doing well at Ecuador’s markets, but I see now that I have struck it rich with the German markets. Bon appetite.

Fact: Gütersloh developed in the 19th century around the textile and meat-processing industries
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Gütersloh is a Green City

Gütersloh is a green city. It is often called the green city on the Dalke River. The adjective green is aptly applied to the city for a number of reasons. These include the many parks and green spaces in and around the city, an impressive 100-year-old botanical garden, and the many biking and walking trails throughout the city. Added to these is the fact that the city is a fair-trade city.

Gütersloh Coat of Arms

The wavy bars symbolize the city resting between the Ems, Dalke, and Lutter Rivers. The wheel stands for the Flywheel of a spinning wheel representing the fine yarn spinning mill that used to be based in Gütersloh.

Visiting Mohns Park

Entrance to Mohns Park

About two blocks down the street from me is Mohns Park, created in 1937. I spent the first two nights after my arrival here attending a rock concert and a movie in German in this park. The park has a large amphitheater seating 1,100 people. It was constructed in 1949 from 50,000 meters of rubble left from the heavy bombing the city received in World War II.

The park is named for Friederike Mohn(1859–1946), a bookseller at what is now the largest media company in the world (Bertelsmann). The park is very much a family park, crowded on Sundays with people of all ages. There is a special emphasis on children with an adventure playground area containing a tube slide and ropeway, a water-and-mud playground, large sandbox, and various playground equipment. Especially popular is a large paddling pool.

Mohns Park is not only for Strolling

Mohns Park Amphitheater

Facilities for adults are not overlooked in this park either. Beside the large amphitheater and its events, there is a concession stand for food and drinks, a miniature golf course (for all ages), and many sports fields including hockey in the winter. Even a delightful stroll under the many old trees offers a cool environment on a hot day.

The city also has four swimming pools, inside and out. The outdoor pool is Olympic size with diving boards. The indoor pool also offers a sauna and steam room. I have visited the park several times, but I have not yet gotten to the swimming pools.

Sports in Gütersloh

With all of this green space, it should come as no surprise that Gütersloh is a sports city. At last count, there were 96 sports clubs with 25,000 members, 24 sports fields, and 39 sports halls and arenas. There are three nature preserves accounting for a little of 2.5% of the town’s acreage.

The use of bicycles is very prevalent seen by the large number of persons riding on the bike lanes. These lanes are usually alongside the walkways in a different color brick. It is essential that pedestrians not step into these lanes as bikes are steadily flying by. Gütersloh is on the R1 European Cycle Route which connects Boulogne-sur-Mer in France with Saint Petersburg in Russia.

The reputation that Gütersloh is a green city is well deserved and celebrated.  

Fact: Gütersloh was first mentioned in 1184 in a document from the Bishop of Osnabrück
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Going with the Flow

My understanding of house sitting at this point indicates that I will always be going with the flow. Changes can happen from day to day. There is little in the way of long-guarantees. Some would call it living on the edge.  

Arriving in Gütersloh  

I arrived in Germany a month later than what I originally agreed to as my hosts were behind schedule building out an apartment on their top floor. That was no problem, as I still had an apartment in Ecuador. When I did arrive, the construction work was still ongoing. I lived with my hosts for about three weeks until they finished. They then took off for about four or five days.  

They returned as their four children were arriving from England, France, Australia, and here in Germany. Two of them were attending a wedding here. It was the first time in four years that these children had all been together. So, I lived another week with the family. The house was jumping from top to bottom. I fit in as best I could. This was not a problem, but it did require me to remain flexible (the major tenet of house sitting).  

After a few days, the children started leaving, with one remaining. By the time you read this, the parents will have left to start their long-awaited travels, and I will have begun house sitting (with one son) as originally planned. All of which is to say, I have been going with the flow.  

Getting into Town          

Marketplace with Martin Luther Church steeple
 in the background

I haven’t had much opportunity to get out into the community, though I’ve made a few ventures. Gütersloh, like most European cities, is built out from a central square. The square here is not as striking as many others, as I believe there was much war damage throughout the city. Yet it is functional. Three days a week, the square functions as a marketplace with food vendors taking up most of the space. I have managed to get to the market twice.  

Woolworth in Gütersloh, Germany

On my last trip into the square (about a 20-minute walk), I discovered a Woolworth store. I grew up with a Woolworth Five and Dime store in Minnesota, but I was under the impression that they had long gone out of business. In fact, I’ve learned they have diversified but declined over the years. A current brand is the Footlocker stores. I am going to visit this Woolworth on my next trip to the square.  

Attending an Organ Concert  

Martin Luther Church Gütersloh, Germany

Last weekend, I attended an organ concert in the Martin Luther Church. I had not been to an organ recital since some years before leaving the U.S., as I had not been around pipe organs where I lived. I very much enjoyed the concert given by a Swiss-trained organist who was a native of Gütersloh. The organ was German built in the 1950’s, and the organist showcased it as it was intended to be played, choosing a single 19th Century popular French organ symphony. I hope there will be other organ recitals here.  

Searching Future House Sits  

In the meantime, I am spending a lot of time searching for future housesitting opportunities. The secret seems to be to jump on the newly listed openings for the months ahead. It seems to be harder to secure more immediate opportunities, as they have been listed for some time and the hosts have had many applicants to consider. Consequently, I am also looking for alternative housing situations.  

With time, finding subsequent opportunities should even itself out. So, I’m hanging in there and simply going with the flow.  

Fact: House sitting is what a volunteer does when someone asks them to live in their home while they are away on holiday or travelling. 
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A Fear of Using Language to Communicate

I am finding that there is a fear of using language to communicate when travelling. My experiences tell me that many people do not speak when encountering a stranger in a foreign country. This seems to be true for the would-be listener as well as the would-be communicator.  

A Lack of Understanding

The fear is that the person wanting to speak will not be understood and that the listener will not be able to comprehend. So, silence reigns. The solution is for one of the parties to break the ice in order to find out what language can be used for communication. Either verbal communication will work or it won’t.  

This has been evident to me when walking down the street and encountering a passerby. No one speaks. There seems to be a certain rudeness to this. I am as guilty as the other person. It’s easier to say nothing than to be rebuffed. However, this is a lost opportunity that may in fact prove to have been a positive surprise.  

Melanie Wasser –

In my own travels, a fear of using language to communicate has occurred for several reasons. There is the unfortunate perception of class difference. I have skirted the issue with indigenous people who I know or assume have their own language and may not be able to speak to me. This can occur with native people also who are not indigenous. The issue can be that of an expat being resented for intruding on another’s culture. The reasons may be many.  

To My Surprise

I have been pleasantly surprised at how often English works with strangers. As I mentioned in my last post, when I was lost, I found that I could use English with younger people to ask for directions and that older people could not help me. As a neighbor recently told me, English is taught in the German school system and that most people below the age of 35 likely speak my language.  

Torik –

I think this is true of other countries as well. The most common languages in the world are English, Mandarin, and Spanish. However, relying solely on English is a cop out. Every traveler should attempt to learn at least a second language, especially if spending a large amount of time in a particular culture. It is important to know simple words for greetings, locating destinations, saying thank you, you’re welcome, excuse me, and I’m sorry.  

Using Non-Verbal Communication

Karolina Grabowska –

Non-verbal communication can also work well. In my recent experience with older Germans, I found that I could sometimes get help by naming a store or place and pointing in one direction or another. You might get help by raising your shoulders and holding your hands up. A general confused demeaner may bring results.  

Ultimately, don’t let a fear of using langue to communicate stop you from proceeding. You may gain a lot by trying a little.  

Fact: Xenoglossophobia is literally the fear of speaking and foreign languages, a language learning phobia
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My Introduction to Germany

I have arrived and find my introduction to Germany to be both entertaining and challenging. The city of Gütersloh is quite upscale. I love the clean, varied residential areas. What I’ve seen so far is a combination of post-war housing and more contemporary homes. As would be expected, the older buildings are in the center of the town.  

Cultural Activities  

In my first week, I went to a film in German, attended a rock concert, went to a jazz concert, and was introduced to televised rugby games. The film and concerts are free each week during the summer into September, underwritten by the city and/or businesses. What a pleasant way to spend late afternoons.  

Gütersloh buildings surrounding the Martin Luther Church –

My hosts are still here. Now that their kids have moved out, they are making their three-story house into rooms and an apartment. The apartment has taken them much longer to build that they expected. They will probably leave about the time you read this and I will be on my own. They are very lovely people and it has been a joy to live in a family situation after so many years. The husband, Henry, is a rugby referee and player, so we have watched several games, a sport which is new to me.  

New Challenges  

My introduction to Germany has also pushed me into the 21st Century. The home I’m staying in for the next 2-1/2 months is for me high tech. I have had to learn how to operate a Krups coffee machine, not the kind with the small packets of ground coffee, but an installation with built in water supply and bean grinder. I think I have mastered this.  

Gütersloh Historic Water Tower

Then there is the fancy microwave and oven. They require choosing time and temperature and figuring out many buttons to push depending on what you are heating/baking. I think I have this down. At least, I can heat porridge (oatmeal) in the morning. I did bake a loaf of banana bread last Saturday. Veronica, the wife, has been coaching me so I’ll be able to operate the home after they leave.  

As if those were not enough, my introduction to Germany has meant trying to fathom a large-screen television. I have not had a television since 2006. The challenges have been to get all the right buttons pushed to get basic channels. I have yet to learn how to go beyond those to get the myriad of channels possible. Henry set some of this up for me. Since my German is almost not existent, I want to have some English-language news and programs to watch. There’s nothing like challenges to keep me young.  

Going to Town  

Gütersloh Germany

I’ve been into the town square a few of times, but I need to get back there again to discover the stores and restaurants. I hope to take some pictures. The second time I went in, I got lost coming back. I had to ask several people how to get home. I discovered that all the younger people could answer me in English while the older people could not. On top of that barrier, I was caught in a pretty dreadful rain storm with branches falling (I pulled one out of the street so cars wouldn’t have to drive around it). I was totally soaked by the time I did get home. It took two days to dry out my shoes.  

I think I’m really going to like living in Gütersloh. When it isn’t raining (which has been a daily occurrence), there are a lot of paths, bike ways, and sidewalks to discover. I also have a wonderful home in which to spend my time. I’ll keep you posted.  

Fact: Gütersloh developed in the 19th century around the textile and meat-processing industries
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There but for the Grace of God Go I

I have arrived in Gütersloh, Germany but not without the help of many. I frequently remind myself “There but for the grace of God go I”. I have not been averse to go up to people and ask if they speak English. Fortunately, 99% have said yes and been happy to help me.  

Travel Pains

Veerhoffhaus, built in 1649 –

My traveling was horrendous. I had to go through five airports (2 in Ecuador and 1 each in Bogota, Paris, and Hannover (Germany) on four planes for two days, with 19 hours of layoTravel Painvers. Seven and eight-hour layovers are really boring. If one could travel from major hub to major hub, it probably would be much better.  

My second airport did not seem to know how to book me all the way to Germany. They flagged me for some reason, and twice I had to explain why I was traveling, how long I was staying, and show that I had an onward flight. I don’t know why they were so skeptical about me. I managed to overcome the challenges without telling them what I would be doing. Some countries consider my venture to be employment and they would require a work visa.  

The People I Met

I’m still living out of a backpack along with a computer bag. The only good part of flying is I have no luggage to check. In the end, I found train travel to be superior to air travel. But it was meeting very nice people along the way who saved each day.  

Old Church Square –

I had an interesing conversation with a young woman from Cuenca (where I lived) who was a native of New Zealand but a world traveler.Then I met a man from Toronto of Sri Lanken ancestry. He liked guessing games and guessed me to be 57 years old!! I guessed him to be 45, but he told me he was 27 (oops). I have trouble guessing ages.

A Cancelled Train

The third day, I went to get my train and found that it had been cancelled for that day only. One other person had arrived to get the train, so I asked him if he could help me, as I needed to get to a second train station. He turned out to work in the travel industry and knew all the ropes. He invited me to join him in a taxi ride to the second station.  

He helped me buy a ticket in a kiosk and got me to the train I needed (he then went off to get his train). Once on the train, I saw it pass through some towns and I got concerned that I was on an express train which wouldn’t stop in Gütersloh. A couple of young guys assured me that the train would stop where I needed to get off.  

Martin Luther Church, Gütersloh

“There but for the grace of God go I” sure proved to turn this trip from what might have been a real nightmare into a success. Thank God for good people.  

Fact: Gütersloh has approximately 10,000 Arameans, the largest number of Arameans of any other towns in Germany
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Starting a New Career?

It seems like I’m always starting a new career. How many have there been: organist-choirmaster, perpetual student, book dealer, medical data manager, author, writer, blogger. What now?  

Daniel Frese –

If you’re reading this on the day I upload it, I may already be starting a new career. At the moment, I am either high in the air or killing time in an airport somewhere. My attempt at starting a new career has the potential of being fulltime. We shall see.  

House Sitting

What is this possible new career? House sitting. This is best defined as taking care of an owner’s home while the owner is away. The primary reason to arrange for a house sitter is to provide some safety for the home. Often this includes caring for a pet or pets. Other responsibilities may include watering plants, gardening or lawn work, bringing in the mail, making sure everything is functioning properly, and preserving the home as it was when the owner left.  

Advertising is the most common way to find a house sitter or housesitting opportunity. There are numerous websites that exist to bring house sitters and homeowners together, usually for a fee. Social media sites are another way to offer or look for these situations. Word of mouth is probably the best source for taking advantage of these situations.  

Free Rent

Housesitting arrangements generally are rent free. A sitter provides a service in exchange for free housing. Some sitters charge for their services, however. Any arrangement can happen when it is mutually agreed upon by two people.  

Why does someone choose to be a house sitter? Often to garner free rent. Other reasons may be to experience new locales, cultures, get acquainted with a possible new home location, bide time while a new home is being built or remodeled. The reasons are numerous and particular to the individual.  

So, what am I up to? I’m still interested in traveling and not interested in settling down. I have the travel bug I warned about at the start of this blog almost two years ago. I have been doing slow travel since then, defined as longer stays in a community. I shall likely continue doing that, but I am also going to be adding some shorter travel experiences. Which brings us to today.  

Gütersloh –

I am leaving Ecuador and flying to Germany. There I will be house sitting for three months while a couple will be doing their own traveling. I am heading for Gütersloh in Northwest Germany. This is a town of about 100,000 population. One of the attractions I want to learn more about is Bertelsmann, the world’s largest media company headquartered there. I will write more about them as I learn more. I will also be writing about Gütersloh and the area.  

Flying High

If you’ve ever crossed the pond, you know it is a bit arduous. It will take me two days and five airports: two in Ecuador, one in Colombia, one in France (Paris) and finally in Hannover, Germany at midnight on the second day. I will lose six hours. On the third day, I will take two trains to get to my final destination. I will then remain there for three months before heading to England and some more house sits.  

I hope you’ll join me on these adventures.  

Fact: Your tastebuds are reduced by around 30% during flights
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A note to my Panamá friends: I tried to schedule a continuing flight (taking a break before traveling on) through Panamá City so that I could come out to Boquete, but I could not find one. I also needed to take advantage of the half-price ticket Ecuador offers to we old timers. I still could become a Panamá resident one day. Hang in there with me.

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