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Souvenirs, souvenirs, souvenirs!

As many of you are going through the PCS madness, I know- just about now, you are writing a mental list of last minute shopping trips of things to bring back to the states. Your parents want something from Germany, Auntie Maggie made sure to remind you on your last phone conversation, how much your uncle loves German food…. The family is breathing down your neck for those European goodies.

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Take the 19% VAT right off in the Schwabengarten – the biggest Beergarden in the Stuttgart area.

We‘ve created this card in hopes of saving you money, so please read below to find out how it works. The Together Card is a prepaid dining card that is given out by restaurants that work together with our magazine. This card is only given out to Americans living in Germany on official military or government orders and their affiliates—as it can only be filled up in conjunction with a VAT form! The Together Card has our logo on one side and the restaurant’s logo on the other.

For example, here you can see the Schwabengarten‘s Together Card:

The Schwabengarten, located in 70771 Leinfelden-Echterdingen, is one of the first, of hopefully many, restaurants to join us! This card offers you the possibility of eating your meals at the Schwabengarten tax free. Just bring your VAT form with you and ask for the Together Card at the register. Here you can fill up your card with varying amounts (100 € / 150 € / 200 € / 250 € / 300 € / etc.). Therefore you can use your credit card (Visa and MasterCard).What this means is that all future snacks, meals and drinks at the Schwabengarten will be tax free when purchased with your Together Card. Even if you‘re just buying your kids an ice cream, or you are stopping in for the occasional weekend beer; why not get every-thing 19% of!

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We found it - the most beautiful supermarket in Germany.

The most beautiful supermarket in Germany can be found right in 70794 Filderstadt Bonlanden, located only eight miles from Kelley Barracks, 12 miles from the Patch Barracks or 14 miles from Panzer in Böblingen. Now this is not just my personal opinion. The Gebauer EDEKA market in Bonlanden was voted No. 1 under more than 11,000 Edeka stores Germany-wide in 2016. Free parking is plentiful in their own parking garage.

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Cora, and the benefits of living right next to France

One of the great things about living in Europe is that you can travel from country to country in a matter of hours. Borders are open to the most parts, and while there are sporadic border checks, you are pretty free to transport bought goods for personal consumption.

Since the Kaiserslautern/ Ramstein area is located right along the border of France, it's super easy to just jump in the car and drive to one of the many stores near the border. The only thing you need to worry about is having an international driver’s license and your official passport and you are ready to go. One of the bigger store chains in France is Cora and well comparable to a Walmart back in the states.

If you are used to the smaller German grocery stores, it can be quite overwhelming at first, but the true American shopper in you will reemerge in no time and let you tackle the isles. The Cora in Forbach offers everything from clothes, jewelry, groceries, pet supplies and even gardening stuff.

The only issue I regularly encounter is that the staff at the store speaks neither English nor German, but they are willing to do broken sign and point language. Cora offers amazing baked goods sections, fresh seafood and the fruits and veggie tables are loaded with any kind of exotic fruit you can think of.

A cold cut and fresh cheese counter is also overloaded with fresh quiches and other savory specialties, whose names I can't pronounce.

You will notice many of the familiar German items, but also many of the goodies that you may have been missing from back home and then on top of that all the French items. Cora also holds wine markets in the spring and fall with a huge tent in the parking lot and bottles upon bottles of yummy French wine.

After an exhausting shopping marathon inside of the store, be sure to check out the small shops located across from the cash registers and stop for a snack at the bistro or restaurant inside. I had no issue using my debit cars or German giro card there, but if in doubt bring Euros.

They do have an ATM in there, but there will be withdrawal fees.

In the vicinity of the Cora store, you can find several fast food places like McDonald’s and KFC, and lots of other stores and shops.

Be prepared for a fun day of shopping and bring your own shopping bags; Cora only has the reusable bags for sale.

The address for Cora is: Avenue de l'Europe, 57602 Forbach, France

Happy hunting

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