Hi everyone, well first of all I want to apologize for not writing anything sooner. I have been so busy with school ever since Christmas break that I really haven’t found the time to write. However, my E.T.A Hoffmann Literature course was cancelled today so I figured it would be the perfect time to update my blog and let you all know what’s been going on here in Germany.
So the last time I left off I believe I had just gotten back from my trip to Berlin. So much has happened since then and I won’t be able to mention everything, but I’ll fill you in on the main highlights. Not long after my return from Berlin I decided to make some nearby weekend trips with some friends in Freiburg. First we went to Heidelberg, which is only a couple hours away from Freiburg. Heidelberg is a very beautiful city and the castle there was definitely worth visiting. We went there towards the end of November beginning of December so they already had all of the Christmas trees and decorations up around the city, which made everything that much more beautiful. However, when it comes to Christmas decorations and beauty, nothing compares to the next city we visited, which was Colmar, France. Colmar is a small city only an hour from Freiburg very close to the French- German border. The city in many ways reminded me of Strasbourg, but in my opinion much nicer. Nearly every where we went in Colmar we ran into little Christmas markets selling Christmas ornaments and a variety of foods and drinks such as crêpes and Glühwein. But my favorite part of Colmar was just the overall look of the city. The houses around the city looked were so old looking and painted with so many different colors. It was quite possibly one of the most beautiful cities I have been to in Europe. However, if you ever want to visit smaller cities like this in France make sure you can speak the language or at least have a phrase book with you, because it’s extremely difficult to find anyone that can speak English. Luckily, most everyone in the city spoke German as well so it worked out for us. But that wasn’t the case in Paris, which I will tell you about later.
Back in Freiburg the Weinachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) had been running for about a week and it was a great place to visit for food and to enjoy a nice glass of Glühwein. They had set it up right in front of the Rathaus (city hall), which I thought was strange because it seemed like the best place would be infront of the huge Münster (cathedral) in the center of the city. But apparently the food market that is always in front of the Münster daily fought to keep their spot, so the city just decided to put the Weihnachtsmarkt in front of the Rathaus. I tried to make it to the Weihnachtsmarkt everyday, but with classes and everything it was just too difficult.
For Christmas break I decided to visit my old host family in east Germany from my previous exchange I did in the city of Gera in 2005. I was always close with my host family and friends in Gera, so it was great to go back and see everyone again. However, the week was a little stressful because so many people wanted to meet up and I only had 6 days to do it. But overall it was an amazing week. For Christmas Eve my host family made a typical German meal of wiener with potato salad. Afterwards we drank wine and then rolled dice to take turns opening presents. In Germany all of the presents are opened on the 24 and not on Christmas day. After opening presents we just drank and socialized until early morning. What I thought was really funny about Christmas Eve in Germany was what was shown on television. Apparently it’s a tradition that the movie “Die Hard” be shown on every Christmas Eve. So early on the evening of the 24th we all sat and watched “Die Hard” together, which was kind of torture for me because it was pretty difficult watching Bruce Willis speak German for an hour and a half. I thought it was also funny that since the whole movie was shown in German, they didn’t know that the actual terrorists in the movie were German. But I just let that slide lol. The next day we went to my host grandparent’s house for dinner and the food was excellent. We had Schweinebraten with potatoes and Rotkraut. For dessert we had homemade ice cream made into the shape of a small house. You really can’t beat homemade German food.
After my week in Gera visiting family and friends I took the 8-hour train ride back to Freiburg so that a few friends and I could make our plans for New Years. We decided to rent a car in Freiburg and drive to Paris for New Years. I met a French girl this past summer when I was I was traveling through Australia and she invited a few friends and I to her home outside of Paris for New Years. She owned a small little Villa in the outskirts of Paris with her own horse barn and everything. It was a great place to stay for a few days and only 20 minutes by train from Paris. So 2 friends and I made the 6-hour trip by car to Paris, which ended up working out great. We just parked the car at my friends house and took the train into the city to do some sight seeing. I had been to Paris before so it wasn’t my first time, but Paris is always a beautiful place to visit. We visited all of the main tourist sights such as the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and so on. For New Years we went back to my friend’s house in the outskirts and joined her and her friends for a New Years party at her house. She had probably 2o or so French friends over and we had a wonderful French dinner. Unfortunately, because of the cold weather I had caught a cold while I was there so on New Years my voice was nearly gone, which was quite difficult trying to communicate with people who speak very little English. But overall we had a great time. For dinner we had some kind of mixed meatloaf with seafood as well as an assortment of desserts. When the clock turned midnight everyone screamed Bonne Annee, which is French for Happy New Year. Then everyone grabbed these new years ball-spitting toys and blew small balls at each other, which was pretty funny to watch. After New Years we all just talked for hours until we fell asleep. The next day we packed up our things said our good byes and came back to good old Germany.
Not much interesting has happened since New Years though. I’ve pretty much been stuck in Freiburg busy with homework, speeches and tons of papers. I had to give my first speech a few weeks ago, which I think went fairly well. But I still have 3 different 15 page Essays to write as well as several tests to study for, which is the reason why I’ve been so busy lately. Everything is due in 3 Weeks so I’ve just been scrambling trying to get everything done. I can’t wait until the semester break. We have from February 15 – April 19th vacation so I plan to do a lot of traveling during this time. A few friends and I in Freiburg will be traveling to Egypt for a week at the end of the February, which I’m very excited about. I had to apply for an Egyptian visa and finally just got my visa back yesterday so everything is set now for our trip. I’m also planning on backpacking with a friend of mine all through Italy and Greece in the month of March depending on how much money I’ll be able to save. I also might be traveling to Iceland in April because a few other friends found a great all-inclusive deal, which is really cheap. So it looks like I’m going to have a pretty busy but awesome vacation and I can’t wait. I’ll try to keep all of you informed as much as I can on my next blog.
Grüße aus Freiburg,