Monday, November 15, 2010

First signs of winter

Its starting to get real cold in here! The Germans really enjoy saving on energy bills. Hence why our Geoscience building has an overall temperature of 17 degrees. I find that even if I wear 3 sweaters, winter boots, scarfs in class, it's still not enough. It's still somewhat above the freezing point. I don't have a clue how I am going to survive a whole winter here.
Thus I made some trips to nearby towns of Esslingen and Reutlingen, mostly looking to stock up on sweaters and thermal underwear. If i can't buy any christmas gifts for people this season, at least I will buy things for myself to keep me warm!

The closeness of Christmas is starting to be seen everywhere, as more markets pop up, people talk about their travel plans for the winter break...I miss family and home and it is sad I won't be going home for the holidays. 

Esslingen church on the neckar river
Fresh baked buns in Esslingen

Sunday, November 14, 2010

small town life

Today I looked at how my choices and beliefs led me here today, remembering what it was that made me go to university in the first place. It's very interesting. Being here gives you such a perspective! Later, watching a travel documentary, they showed a bit of Calgary. I must say, whenever I see it, the images of the city do not make me miss it at all. I have come to appreciate the rugged Canadian wilderness, the impressive mountains and how much of it is still to be explored, but as far as everything else, I am happy to be somewhere else. Even if Tubingen feels very small sometimes (example: Today, in 3 hrs we walked in 2 different areas of the city, had dessert at a cafe and went grocery shopping!) Still, it's the human interactions with the people who I have come to know and love that I miss most...And not really miss, but just appreciate that it took a while to find people in Calgary and it is good to know that no matter what, these people will be in your life. I know people like that exist here too, I am yet to find them though. 

Well, I must go to bed, Monday always comes too soon. Wish you all pleasant dreamy journeys in your sleep tonight. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Guten tag!

Today was my 3rd German class. I am making quite the progress. Actually, I sat in the front row and had too much fun yelling out all the answers before the teacher could finish a question. Sorry for all the other students, but I had a great time. So I guess it's official, I will register for the class even though it makes my Tuesdays and Thursday to be 12 hrs long! Ah, the sacrifices I make for learning!
Also the teacher told us that Tuebingen is known for science and philosophy but not so much for visual arts. Literally, she says, there are no painting studios on campus! You have to go to the towns nearby. No wonder I couldn't even find drawing paper. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Berlin trip

 It is a long weekend and I have been pondering the idea of going outside the Baden-Wuttermberg region. Berlin or Munich were both high on my list, as I was beginning to ache for some art and culture. Being so close to the date, neither German Wings, nor the Air Berlin had any good deals for flights. The only option left was the Deutsche Bahn, or the Damn Bahn, as I prefer to call it. I mentioned earlier my complete disillusionment with the "speed and comfort" I seemed to remember from some travel show I watched about Europe back in Canada. The trains are expensive, slow and often not air-conditioned.
Not having any other option, I looked into the cheapest way of getting to Berlin from Tuebingen. The funny thing is, if you are a "youth" (under 26) it is often cheaper to get a 2-3-4 day pass than paying the last-minute fare one way (which, in my case, was 148 euros for 2nd class. No, thanks, DB!)

 And so with the German Rail youth pass I went...8 hrs on the train! Amazingly enough, it wasn't too tiring. It was actually a good time to relax and reflect. I listened to Deva Premal the whole way there and I arrived in a very peaceful, accepting state. And I am sure this was a big part  of why everything went fantastic. The hotel was great (booked on and Berlin itself was very interesting to see. The metro system was surprisingly easy to figure out, while the trams-not so much. At one point I started walking in what I thought was the hotels' direction, based on the posted house numbers (they are usually at every intersection), which turned out to be exactly the opposite. However, I wasn't about to take my chance with the trams, that seemed to go every way but straight. Well, that's just me.

I took a bus tour for most of one day and walked around on the other two. Parts of the city reminded me of Moscow, parts were just like in the tourist book and others were just surreal pieces of history that could be felt very strongly....I am talking about the Berlin wall, of course. What an experience to walk where it all happened, to read the timeline posters that were put up with great care in order to fill the tourists in on the timeline (let me summarize: the Russians are to blame. Germany wanted nothing but peace, of course. Ha ha ha)

It is one of those cities where you just like to wander, eat food from the street vendors, take lots of bad pictures and blend in with the crowd. It was equally as exciting to explore the sights during the day and at night, when the shop windows became lit in all colours of the rainbow. 
First impression of Hauptbanhoff was the surreal, 5-story design with trains going on the top floor (!) and the shops on the lower ones. Then, stumbling upon a swanky but unexpectedly cheap wine bar in the same central train station, I knew I wasn't in Tuebingen anymore. A pleasant change from donairs to curry wursts was also quite welcome. The Zoo square, in particular, caught my attention. It had food booths from every international food group imaginable. You could have fish and chips with a noodle box and shashlik without walking as much as 50 steps. Oh, Berlin, a food lover's paradise! I am quite happy to say with selection like this, I never once made it to a restaurant in 3 days. Unfortunately, I also did not make it to a contemporary art museum, as most art destinations were outside of the city centre and frankly, I was too lazy to figure out how to get there on transit. Partly, my laziness was due to knowing that soon enough, I will be back for more.

Curry wurst mit pommes und ketchup. It's Bio (meaning organic)-eat up!

Charlottenburg palace. I never made it inside, the only time I had to see it was at night. It 's prettier this way anyways.

The Braedenburg gate.
The awesome contemporary architecture (art gallery, I think?) right across from the Reichstag.