A Travellerspoint blog

Germany

The journey begins

sunny 28 °C

On a bus now from Frankfurt to Prague, with an hour's stopover a Mannheim.

I love that the scenery out the window has changed since March. Not just with regard to the place and climate and particular fauna, but also with regard to the seasons. In March the trees were bare and cobwebby with birds' nests, and the fields were brown and solemn green. In April the trees had fresh young leaves of a peculiarly light green, and the flowers had begun to bloom in profusion. Come may, the flowers had started to fall, but the trees matured. It's finally the end of July, and I see rolled bales of hay dotting flat yellow fields, and crops grown up in their straight rows. All of the trees are a dark thriving green.

I love that the weather has changed too! And this is more a personal preference because I think everyone knows my sensitivity to the cold :D in March I would be freezing in my 3 layers plus winter jacket. Then, I learned to walk quickly outside, both for warming up purposes but also to get back into a warm place sooner. At the end of April, the knob on my heater was turned for the last time. In may the end of 3 layers (the winter jacket was discarded in April). June signalled the gloriousness of single layers and shorts, but also reminded me of the existence of sweat. July has actually been much better, with less days above 30 degrees. Wearing shorts again is the best thing about summer!

On Sunday night I sort of finished packing at 2 am haha. Then, exhausted, I went to sleep, and continued packing in the morning. That entailed throwing a lot of things away, and just stuffing things into both bags. Checked out, will have to pay for the walls which I didn't clean (I forgot), and handed over the keys. But I got tricked, cos I thought I'd get to go in one last time, but she locked the toilet door from my side too so I couldn't even say goodbye! S helped me to bring my stuff down 3 storeys, bringing down my yellow suitcase was the WORST. And after just about managing to get it all the way to E's place in darmstadt, I regret ever thinking I could make it back home by mrt haha. Taxi here I come. Very worried that I've overshot my 23kg, E said she'd try to borrow a weighing scale from her neighbours. Had ice cream with E, then back to Frankfurt to sleep.

Also, I finished Joan yesterday. I lament the end of Joan, more literally than figuratively though. Mark Twain was a little too obsessive about how awesome Joan was, and ended up with a draggy trial section. He did win me over to his perspective that Joan was amazing. Apparently he wrote a fairly accurate account of her life. I think I'll read some non-fiction about her when I get back. Rather interesting.

But now I'm struggling over whether to start on the Neverending Story on my phone (which beguiles me with its fantasy pedigree, and also I really like children's books) or the more non-fictional Seabiscuit (which was there first). Okay, never mind, I've decided on the former since a charger is on hand. K bye

Posted by seaskimmer 04:48 Archived in Germany Tagged bus books weather frankfurt hamburg luggage darmstadt Comments (0)

Harburger Days

Der letzte Tag

sunny 31 °C

It's 10.45pm and I'm sitting here at my desk for what seems like the last time. I'm 90% done with packing, all the rest of the stuff will be thrown into any small available space in half an hour. Tomorrow I check out at 9am, sell my mattress and bed stuff at 10am, run down to Marktkauf to get Ovomaltine for a certain A, and then set off for my bus to Frankfurt at 11am.

But now, now all I have is a sense of loss, or maybe it's the feeling of leaving the familiar and stepping into the unknown. I have two weeks of somewhat planned exploration, a kind of transition period before I head back home. And once I would have thought that going home would relieve me of all this awkward uncertainty and nebulousness. I think now I know better, and will prepare myself accordingly.

Home, defined as my room, will always be my ground zero. But I understand that home, defined as Singapore, has changed, in the same way I suppose I have changed. Coming back I'll have to deal with that, all relationships will be sort of the same and yet imperceptibly different. The conversations I've missed out on, climbs, popcorn prayer! And that's not necessarily bad. Change is the only constant, and no matter how annoying, discomforting, and downright wrong it can be, I guess I've come to terms with the need for adaptability. If that means accepting that things can never go back to the way they were before, so be it. I will survive. After all, I've managed the past 5 months!

Okay, enough emoness for now. Today I did sort of attempt to drink Hamburg in, to remember these 5 brief months. I woke up a little earlier and had breakfast at the fish market with S, which is apparently the thing to do, especially if you've been out all night partying at Reeperbahn (but obviously I just joined the morning crowd). The food was kind of whatever, maybe I didn't get the best haha. There was this old-ish band playing old rock and roll in front of a crowd, they were awesomeeee. I also had a nice time just sitting outside in the sun, eating my crab sandwich in front of vegetarian S hahaha. Going back with the S-bahn, I'll miss crossing the rivers twice to get to Hamburg, and once to Wilhelmsburg. I see my old Nordwandhalle everytime on S3 and S31, and I'm kind of sad that I didn't get to go in the past month. Ughhh. I'll miss my gym. I didn't even finish all the blacks and purples. And as we were walking back through the station, I told her I was smelling the pee smell again for the sake of remembrance hahaha.

I packed for most of the day. That involved La Sera, UB40, Big Mountain, Coldplay, Muse, John Mayer, Norah Jones, and not much packing. I was doing random exco stuff (another big deal, things will never be the same), doing my laundry, cooking a mountain of sambal fried rice, cleaning my room, throwing out the trash, borrowing a vacuum cleaner, and attempting to borrow a weighing scale. Oh yeah, and then watching Rushmore with S over my sambal fried rice dinner. (it's really good) (the movie, but the rice wasn't bad)

I guess I should go finish packing. Writing this has helped to reduce the magnitude of the end of Harburg! I don't know how I'll feel when my room becomes clean and white again (only possible when it's empty, aka none of my stuff in there hahahahah) and it becomes just another room, not my room. Emoness begone.

I'm looking forward to a dramatically nondescript return to sg actually. I really want to walk through the gates at Changi Airport, just me and my bags, and get to the MRT or the taxi stand. Like it's been for the past few months. Sort of. Exercising my poetic license to depart from sg with a huge bunch of people, and return with none. Besides the symbolism, it's also a chance for me to reflect and say hello again to sg on my own terms. No need for a rush of words, it's just me seeing home again :)

Posted by seaskimmer 13:45 Archived in Germany Tagged germany reflection hamburg harburg Comments (0)

First day with the famz

Took an early Friday bus to Berlin. Spent some time at the bus station just waiting for them to pick me up in the car, due to issues with the car and gps. Then when we thought we'd be on our way to Frankfurt an der Oder, we discovered that the middle seatbelt was jammed and couldn't be used. That necessitated a return to the airport where a number of sixt staff tried in various ways to fix it, (all of which we had already tried) but to no avail. In fact, it got even worse and the back seat couldn't be raised from its horizontal position anymore hahaha. After an hour and several car changes, we finally got into a Ford Mondeo and drove off into the sunset.

Just kidding, it was 4pm and sunset only comes at 10 now. It wasn't a very long drive to Frankfurt an der Oder (Not Frankfurt am Main. It's a small town on the German-polish border), for me at least. I've gotten used to long bus rides. But for my family, it had been a really long journey from sg and they were battling jet lag too. So we were anxious to get to the hotel asap.

Left hand driving had to be gotten used to too. Bro S kept driving near the right side of the lane, giving my mum heart attacks. I wasn't allowed to drive because I'd forgotten my driver's license on hamburg :(

After that it was just checking in, a joyful reunion with wifi, and dinner at a Spanish place nearby (the hotel had a 5eur discount). Then quick showers and an early sleep.

Awesome being back with the family! With my lovely parents and disgustingly annoying brothers! I love how it's like I've never been away. Almost. Not quite but almost. Next two weeks gonna be awesomeee

Posted by seaskimmer 14:57 Archived in Germany Tagged germany family frankfurtanderoder Comments (0)

Bonn

sunny 23 °C

Aachen is a hot spring place, with the distinction of being Germany's westernmost point, and also bordering both Belgium and the Netherlands and thus having a tri-meeting point! On the other hand, Bonn used to be Germany's capital, before Berlin snatched the title back. Besides being briefly the seat of power, Beethoven was also born there. Bonners are inordinately proud of that fact, with so many random things named after him, even though he publicly said that he hated Bonn lol. But don't tell a bonner that, apparently he'll cry.

Despite still feeling sore about not getting to visit Aachen, I set out and grudgingly paid over the 7.7 for the ticket there. Once there I got a map from the info center and went to the Beethoven museum. Cool to walk around where he lived for about 7 or 10 years of his life. And I realised that he had many good friends! I don't know why this should be of signicance haha but seems like many famous people lack friends. Saw so many paintings and busts of him, I think I'm tired of seeing his face already!

Walked around and saw some other stuff. Then to the bonn uni mensa for lunch cos I'm so poor. And asked someone for directions to the mensa cos I had no idea where it was, and since he was going to eat also he brought me there and we had lunch together. Studies theology and hopes to have a year long exchange in Taiwan next year. Cool. And later he brought me to see the clemens Schloss, which is also part of the uni but isn't on any map. And then set me on my way to the Haus der Geschichte. Nice guy.

I spent a few hours wandering around the museum. It was a museum chronicling the history and politics of Germany after 1945. I chose it out of the dozens of museums out the museum Meile (mile) because it wasn't about ww2 and the atrocities which I'd had so much of already. Furthermore, it's free haha. But so little of it was in English, and I was tired and wanted to be back a little bit earlier. In the end I skipped the last part because it felt sort of repetitive. But I did get a better sense of really how long the wall was up. Which is to say, a long time, and it's been down for such a short time!

Went back, had a falafel sandwich. That makes no sense, by the way, because falafel involves couscous. But I wanted to try it haha. It was alright. I read for like an hour there, til 8 and no on else was in the shop. Then I went to bed and read it finish. By then it was just before ten and my dorm mates were going down to watch the match! So I showered and then sort of joined.

First match of the World cup season, Brazil and Croatia. In a stadium even the Brazilian couple the previous day were very doubtful about lol. In the end Brazil won, but it was so marred by bad ref decisions and attempted dives it wasn't that fun to watch. Had another brand of Kölsch, finished a 0.5L bottle myself. Beginning to realise really just how lightweight I am.

Packed and then went to sleep. Woke up in the morning very unwilling to get out of bed. But somehow I manage and then I'm on the bus! To Berlin and to family :) I'm also very excited to get into a car and drive again by the way, hahaha. The last time I got into a driver's seat was when I adjusted the car in font so I could vacuum it properly. Autobahn here I come!

Posted by seaskimmer 02:36 Archived in Germany Tagged friend bonn cologne Comments (0)

Cologne is not for men

sunny 24 °C

Got to my bus in the morning, was one pleased that the air was cooler! Was asleep for most of the bus ride, but halfway through it rained and I felt so comfy. I love being in a vehicle when it's raining! Except when it's crazy heavy and I'm driving. But yeah. That was nice.

When I got to Köln it was 11am. From the bus I'd seen the Kölner Dom already, and it took my breath away. When I emerged from the 'right' side of the hbf, there it was again, and I admired how tall it was, how elegantly Gothic. Dumped my bags, ate leftover pizza, and headed back to it. Inside it was gorgeously high. I don't know why I was so enraptured by this cathedral when I'm usually kind of jaded when it comes to churches. Just the picture of it, rising up in the blue sky, with the morning light upon it, is enough to take my breath away. But it was really nice, I spent like 5 min walking around the interior with my head tilted up and eyes raised. Nice. And then I paid 1.5 to climb the 533 steps up one of the towers. Tough climb but I made it.

When at the hostel (station hostel) I talked to the receptionist a while, asking about where to go and eat. The hostel is pretty awesome actually, they have a free map with lots of tourist info on it. Really helpful. And there's a free walking tour in cologne! At 6pm everyday.

The hostel, and the hbf, is in the centre of the city but to the east. I walked south, roughly heading for Severins Tor, and letting myself drift left and right when I felt like it. And the South East side of cologne is really nice actually, lots of nice architecture.

Saw a lot of nice things, but one of the churches was cool. I think it was Mauritius. It wasn't very big, the inside was a pastel grey (if there is such a thing) which is a very sweet, gentle and warm colour, and was livened with some red/pink, blue, and yellow here and there. Not a lot, the quietness of the grey was dominant, but the colours gave the church extra vitality and sweetness. I liked that this church wasn't overly decorated, like the Dom and most other churches. It was very pretty, laid back, unpretentious.

Had a snack close to the tor in the middle of a green green field :) then roughly north West til I reached the place where the tour was to begin.

I was early so I sat and read lady chatterleys lover, until it was almost time and I began to freak out cos I didn't know exactly where it was. I even tried to Google and see if I could find it, but it somehow doesn't exist on the internet. Finally though, after wandering further I saw someone who might be the tour guide and yay it was.

Tour guide was from Seattle, the only other people were a Brazilian couple. So just a very small group. Who can blame anyone, publicity so bad haha. He was a fun guide but a bit unprofessional haha, like 'I have to take a photo of you guys in front of the dom because my bosses say so'. But it was good because I saw everything I'd wanted to see in cologne, my own walking and with the tour! That was the plan, and the plan was fulfilled. Yes.

One cool thing I learnt was that cologne was founded by Julius Caesar himself! Back when he was still just a general. Helped one tribe on the right side of the river to conquer that on the left side. And then started a proper settlement there. Also, he took some right side soldiers with him for his campaign, because they were so good at crossing rivers in full battle armour, while still staying in position. What a cool special ability hahaha. Imagine that in a game.

Cologne is also really the place that cologne was invented. (French fries are Belgian) and I knew this from my perfumes module already, but cologne is not necessarily for men, the technical term refers to any citrus scent. Cologne was invented by an Italian family living in cologne, and later another family basically ripped them off and sold the same, but renamed their brand 4471 after legal issues. And then it became world famous and cologne became not the name of a specific scent but for all citrus scents, and then unofficially also for all guy's scents. And why that number? It's something to do with Napoleon but I'm too lazy to type that out.

Went up to a pub near my place, that the receptionist had recommended. I passed over all the pork this time for a herring filet and potatoes, with gaffel Kölsch! Kölsch is a light beer local to Köln, or cologne (I feel like saying endemic lol). In pubs it's sold in 200ml glasses. And they put a mark on your coaster the first time you order. And when you finish a glass they'll replace it with a full one and add another mark, until you put the coaster on top of the glass.

I went back and then began desperately to find a cheap way to Aachen. Both train and bus is ridiculously expensive, 15 eur one way when it's only 45min! So I tried bla bla car and mitfahrgelegenheit, two car sharing sites, but basically it was too last minute and no one could get back to me on that sigh. But it could have been 2 to 5 eur only. So I gave up, and decided to go to bonn instead, which is nearer and thus cheaper. I was so broke it wasn't funny.

Overall I liked cologne a lot. Most people have said that cologne isn't the prettiest place, and disparage it, but I honestly liked the architecture.

And on a conclusive note, the weather was so much better than the days before!!!! 24 degrees at the highest I think, which is a little too warm when actually in the sun, but totally fine compared to before. Gorgeous (comparatively) weather.

Posted by seaskimmer 02:23 Archived in Germany Tagged germany cologne Comments (0)

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