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Entries about germany

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)

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)

Raging heat

sunny 33 °C

Today I spent the morning at primarkt. Woohoo! Finally got to go shopping. And I'm not sure, but since it's in Germany it might be cheaper than in London? At any rate, I overshot my budget so no more shopping for a while for me. And I'm gonna have to scrimp for the next few days already. No moneyyyy.

Dropped off my shopping at the hostel and then went off to darmstadt for the afternoon! Ended up paying for a tageskarte (day ticket) which was expensive but turned out to be really useful, because it was hot and I got to take the trams and buses around. Lifesaver. Otherwise I really would have walked most of it and then ended up with heatstroke. I'm not whining here, it's that bad. But because when you travel you pretty much spend most of the day walking in the sun. So yeah.

First I took a bus up north to see the waldspiral, it's a residential area with an interesting architecture? Kind of like a successful Parc Guel but not quite so... Gaudi hahaha. Then I attempted to get a bus that would bring me South east, but I got a bit lost in a school compound so I asked someone to help. And somehow his sense of direction was a bit off and he ended leading me in the opposite direction, so I was pretty much back at the waldspiral lol. And he was very apologetic about it, rather annoyed at himself too, but okay la I had a nice conversation.

Then at the bus stop I got some help from 2 old people and one young black dude on how to get to Mathildenhohe. They were so nice about it!

Finally got there, had no idea what I should be looking for, but went into a museumish place with 'Mathildenhohe' on it, decided not to pay for entry fee, and used the toilet (it was so much cooler there than anywhere else, what relief), then asked the receptionist about where to walk. She showed me and then I roughly set out to see the houses.

Mathildenhohe, from what I gathered, is an art nouveau area that managed to survive ww2 bombing. I just managed to see some cool architecture, that was nice?

Then bus back to the Markt Platz to meet E. I went into a grocery store and bought carrot juice. Then sat on a bench inside the store for close to 45min because I was early haha. And also for the blessed air con!!!

I waited for the longest time. Her seminar supposedly ended at 6, we were to meet at 7, but she didn't reply til 8. I thought she'd stood me up lol. But apparently archi lecturers are crazy and are pretty terrible sometimes, and it only ended at 9. She rushed over and we met at 930, it was really cool seeing her again!

Went for a beer at a local Biergarten. Was very cool cos so far I've only been to one Biergarten and that was in München but like, before dinner time haha. We had Apfelwein because I asked for a local bier, and it was like only slightly gassy cider. Which is why I managed to drink 400ml no problem. But I really think I'm a lightweight by the way. So good conversation, also when her friend T arrived. That was a lot of fun!

Left to get my 1130 train back to Frankfurt. Then mad rush to pack. I didn't even shower that night which was really gross because I was so madly sticky. But I didn't care because it was so very late already and it wasn't my own bed anyway. But it really took me a while to fall asleep.

Posted by seaskimmer 15:48 Archived in Germany Tagged shopping germany frankfurt darmstadt Comments (0)

Heat wave

sunny 33 °C

Hello from dresden! (I am so tired now you wouldn't believe)

(and does anyone get the reference in the title or am I the only one who watches/d that?)

On Saturday I hot footed it out of my politics of science seminar, got a little flak from the coordinator from it but oh well haha. Caught bus to dresden, there was a one hour stopover in Berlin. Hello Berlin for the second time, I'll see you once more, and just as briefly.

Got to the hbf at 11, tried to catch a s Bahn 3 to the neustadt, or where my hostel is. The clock thingy said 0.01 and I stressed out cos I thought the timer was stuck at 'coming in one minute' and basically that the train was extremely late. But turns out it just meant 12.01 haha drat those 24h clocks. So I got to my hostel, it's really near the station, I just changed and went to sleep. Okay, not really, I made a lot of noise and annoyed a lot of people in the process, I'm sorry, I really tried!

Woke up a little later since I was tired and I'd gotten back so late, and finally got on my way to the sächsische Schweiz! Aka saxon Switzerland aka dresdens national park aka birthplace of free climbing.

From the outset it promised to be a hot day. Weather forecast said 29 degrees. I wore a tank and my favourite pair of black shorts (let me complain about how I've put on so much weight. I used to be able to run around in these shorts, and even climb, after hiking them up a bit. Now it's a pain to walk in) and sweated almost the whole day. The train to Kurort rathen was filled with maybe half of dresden, and the barge over the Elbe had 322 people on it (that was the maximum). I thought it was kind of funny that the barge didn't even turn to get across the river. It kinda just drifted the 20m, very anticlimatic haha.

Now, I wonder why I had to go hiking on what is probably the hottest day in Germany since last summer? Oh well, I had no choice.

So I walked up to the Bastei, the highest point that's near to the train station. I thought I was going to die from heat and exhaustion. But it was so gorgeous, there are these huge pillars of rock, it's really stunning. And I noticed bolts on some of them.... Hmm....

Then I walked to the amselsee which was a really uninspiring small bit of green water, and up to amselfall. Also rather uninspiring trickle of water, except for a period of 30s when water suddenly cascaded down, and then was as before.

By this time I was pretty tired and needed water and relief from the unrelentless sun. But I went backwards and then up to Hockstein. Walked a long time and finally got there, asked quite a number of people about buses down. After walking all the way there (nice views again), I went back about ten minutes walk to a bus stop. Almost decided to wait out the hour for the bus (Sunday, less frequent) but then decided to try to hitch a ride.

Thankfully this guy stopped after just 5 min! Swiss tourist. I basically had to get to any S Bahn Station so he dropped me at the furthest place he could bring me, some random part of the town Lohmen. I'd still have to wait half an hour for the bus to Pirna, so I again tried to get a ride.

This really nice couple picked me up, and they weren't actually going to Pirna. They'd rented an apartment that's slightly off Pirna, but they very very kindly drove me all the way to the station! They were German, but from a small town near München.

And this time the train was cheaper cos the distance was much less. That was great, but then I spent half an hour on the stuffiest hottest train ever! Like outside it had been hot, it was maybe even 30 degrees (the second car showed 33) but the moment the doors opened, this wave of heat went over me. Like going out of a shopping centre in sg. It was mad.

Walked around the Altstadt for a few hours, saw some of the cooler stuff but missed the supposedly great graffiti cos I was just too tired. Cooling off measures included ice cream and dipping hands in fountain water. I passed so many fountains on the way, with naked playing babies, that the urge to shower got worse and worse! Realised that on top of being tired I was also a tiny bit sunburnt and maybe a tiny bit heat-stroke-y with a slight headache. Got back to hostel, had the most amazing cold shower (that's a first, in Europe), eating lidl dinner now while blogging and waiting for my 11pm bus to Frankfurt.

Whew that was a long post. Good for a long day and the whole of dresden.

Oh, one last thing. My hostel is called kangaroo hostel, and true to its name it's really decorated and designed to look like Australia. Combined with the heat, I feel like I'm Down Under. It's a really weird feeling when German is everywhere.

PS maximum temp the next few days is above 30. I'm gonna be wearing these shorts continuously lol. Pretty much the only pair I have here.

Posted by seaskimmer 09:14 Archived in Germany Tagged germany dresden hike hot solo Comments (0)

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