Like a Town from a Fairy Tale

Jan’s mum and sister were in Tübingen, spending some mother-daughter time together.
Because Tübingen is so close to Karlsruhe (only about an hour and a half) and because neither of us had ever been there before Jan and I decided to go and visit them for a day. And so on Saturday, 18th July we left the house at the ridiculously early hour of 8am (it is ridiculously early on a Saturday!) and headed off in the direction of Pforzheim and Stuttgart.

lamp post

 

Tübingen, says Wikipedia, is a traditional university town in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is situated 30 km (19 miles) southwest of Stuttgart, on a ridge between the Neckar and Ammer rivers.
What Wikipedia doesn’t tell us is that Tübingen is beautiful. Admittedly it looked even nicer when we were there thanks to the millions of flowers which adorned, well pretty much everything that could be adorned with flowers to be honest. Like the lamp post below. But even without the flowers the town would be gorgeous. Our first stop was at the Kunsthalle (art gallery), in the northern part of the town because it was close to where Jan’s mum and sister were staying. Walking there I was struck by how green everything was.Visitors to Karlsruhe often comment on how green it is here (and having the castle gardens right in the town centre helps a lot) but it is a city and with so many cars, trams and people there’s only so much you can do. But Tübingen is something else. Even the fairly busy road leading into town was lined with trees. Not that we took the time to stop and admire them – at that point it was chucking it down and all we wanted was to get to the art gallery, where it at least wouldn’t be raining.
Inside the art gallery we were treated to an exhibition that was quite frankly… strange. It featured a wall of drawings which looked as if they had been stolen from the kids at the local Kindergarten, a photograph of vegetables carved into amusing humanesque characters, a shiny, brightly coloured penis shaped sculpture with a sad face and about 6 drawings featuring penises (penii? What is the plural) which also looked as if a small child could have drawn them. Except that most small children don’t paint picture of a penis sitting in a tree looking at his reflection in the puddle below. I think I should do a few more carvings a la aubergine bee. Maybe I could get my own exhibition in Tübingen too!
Other than that exhibition there was nothing to see at the art gallery. No permanent displays of art that are always there. Nothing vaguely normal. Nothing by anybody that I had actually heard of. Just the penis exhibition. So off we went to take the bus into town.

The so-called Altstadt (old town) of Tübingen also happens to be the main part of the town (is there actually a new town I wonder? Maybe the suburbs are a little newer), which meant that all we had to do to see old (and beautiful) buildings was head for the town centre. Everywhere we looked another old house or cute little side street just beeged to have its photo taken. Just look at this picture, showing part of Marktplatz (Market Square). If that doesn’t make you think of a village from fairy tale I don’t know what will!

Tübingen Marktplatz
Tübingen Marktplatz

After a quick walk up to the castle (now an archeological museum), where we had a great view of Tübingen from above, we headed down towards the river, which we found to be just as beautiful, with more gorgeous old houses lining its banks and a weeping willow trailing its leaves into the water. Fabulous! We had lunch in a nice little beer garden overlooking the river before heading back into town where we soaked up some more of the old town atmosphere, had a look inside the church and headed up to the top of a hill for another view of Tübingen from above – we had hoped to climp up a tower on top of the hill but it was all locked up and didn’t look like anyone had been allowed to climb it for years!  After the disappointment of the tower we took the bus back down the hill and stopped off at a nice cafe, which also happened to be a bookcrossing zone (I managed to find 5 books to take home with me!) then finished our trip with a walk through the park before catching the bus back up to where we had left the car.

It was a lovely day in a beautiful town. And I have now decided that if I can’t live in Tübingen I would at least like to find a town that’s similar. Even if it’s only half as beautiful that would be good enough for me!

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Oh weekend, how do I love thee

This has been a long week. OK, officially it’s been the same length as every other week. It seemed much, much longer though. Who invented 5 day working weeks anyway? I would love to track whoever it was down and shoot him! (It has to have been a him, surely no woman would have come up with anything so insane?)

So yesterday was Friday. The end of the week. A night for meeting up with friends, having a few drinks and planning the weekend ahead. At least I seem to remember that’s what Friday evenings were meant to be like. I wouldn’t know. Last night, having tidied the living room (an event that practically deserves a blog post of its very own. Or a fanfare at least) I was in bed by 10:45. Not even in bed reading either – although that was what I had intended to do. I picked up some new books from my local bookcrossing zone last weekend and I was looking forward to getting started on Two Caravans. But I was too exhausted to even write a blog(!!) so it was straight out with the lights. I think I need a holiday. As in some actual time off work, not just a weekend away. Paris was nice but it wasn’t particularly relaxing.

God, it’s 25 past 10. Where does the time go? And I have so much to do this morning. Wash dishes (which have been sitting there since Tuesday!), finally post the present for my friend’s baby who was born 3 weeks ago! Make cakes for Fest at my old student residence this afternoon (will explain that later when I have more time), take out the rubbish which is staring at my accusingly even as I type. Washing – handwashing no less, for I have no washing machine and the boyfriend is in bloody America. Aaargh, so much to do! See, this is why 5 day weeks are a bloody crap idea!

Spend, spend, spend

I was back at work today. Still coughing, but I have my voice back, which is good cos I spent pretty much the whole day phoning random people to ask if they would be interested in maybe possible coming to teach for us at the language school which we haven’t even set up yet and really can’t give them any information about right now, but thought we’d, y’know, just ask anyway. Yes. It wasn’t my idea.

On the way home I went shopping. First I had to go to a book shop. You see I’m taking part in a combination Open University / Bookcrossing Not So Secret Christmas Santa (NSSCS). It’s organised by OU people who just happen to also be bookcrossers, based on an idea that originated on bookcrossing. Those who don’t know what bookcrossing is need to read my previous blog entry on it here. So, what you have to do is buy some books which your NSSCS partner has put on their wishlist (I huess this is where the not so secret comes in – they sort of know what they’re getting already), register them on bookcrossing them package them up nicely into a parcel along with some sweeties and a small gift before sending said parcel off to your partner’s address. Unfortunately I couldn’t get hold of any of the books on my partner’s wishlist. The book shops here didn’t have single one of them, at least not in the right language. Still can’t believe I couldn’t even get “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” here! So I got two that I hope she’ll liked based on the stuff that is on her wishlist. Then I headed of to Nanu Nana (brilliant shop by the way! If you’re ever in Germany and need to find a gift, or just a nice cheap set of coffee cups, you have to go there!) where I bought a couple of candles shaped like fir cones for the secret santa partner’s parcel before finally heading off to Karstadt where I first visited the food department in search of something for tea and some choccy for the secret santa parcel then headed towards the bit where the gifts live to pick up something for a friend whose birthday party I’m invited to next week. Oh yes, and between Karstadt and home I also found myself popping into another shop where I bought a colourful scarf/shawl thing for my Grandma and also discovered something amusing to get my sister for her birthday, which is January. Phew! Lots of money spent. And I still haven’t even got all my Christmas presents yet! I keep thinking I’m done then realising there are still more people to buy for. And what am I going to get my sister’s boyfriend? I’ve only met the guy twice! Sister dearest suggested a book but it seems they’re having trouble finding the books he likes in England so I’d probably have no chance here. Hmm, he does like tea though (understatement of the year there!) so that could be an idea.

Anyway, must dash. I have some food to cook. And I’m pretty sure I’ve bored you all enough by now anyway. It does make a change from complaing though I suppose 😉

A ray of books

I got a book today. I didn’t buy it, I received it in the post. It’s a bookcrossing book which was sent to me by a fellow bookcrosser as part of a book ray.
What’s a book ray? you ask. Well to put it in fairly simple terms it’s a chain. Here’s how it works.
1. Someone registers a book on bookcrossing
2. They announce that they are starting a book ray
3. Other bookcrossers who are interested in reading the book register for the book ray
4. The creater of the book ray makes a list of the bookcrossing members who have joined the book ray
5. They then read the book (if they haven’t already) then send the person who is first on the list a private message asking for their address
6. The creater now sends the book to the first person on the list
7. This person receives the book, reads it then asks the next person on the list for their address
8. The pattern repeats until the last person on the list has the book
9. The last person on the list is free to do what they like with the book.

If it were a book ring, the last person on the list would have to send the book back to the person who created the ring, but in this case it’s a ray so the book could end up anywhere at the end.

It’s been a while since the ray actually started and I’d forgotten I’d signed up for it, so it was a nice surprise when the person who had the book before me asked for my address. Now it’s here and I can’t wait to start reading.

Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, the book is We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.
I shall let you know if it’s any good.

Long live bookcrossing! There’s nothing better than free books 🙂

It’s Saturday, hip hip hooray

Actually Saturday is pretty much over at this point but the title was too good not to use. (OK, it wasn’t actually that good but I couldn’t think of a better one).

A friend of mine who used to be a language assistant with me has come back to Germany to do a second assistantship. This time she’s living in another town roughly 45 minutes away from Karlsruhe, but today she came into town so Jan and I went to see her. We went to Cafe Emaille for lunch then to Gelbe Seiten Cafe so that we could have coffee and I could pick up some books. I needed new ones to read on my daily journey to work and they have a bookcrossing zone there. Hooray for free books!

After coffee we headed to C&A so that Jan could buy me some clothes. (And before you start thinking I’m one of those girlfriends I should point out that normally I buy my own clothes, but this particular shopping trip was part of my birthday present. He doesn’t like to surprise me with clothes in case a) I don’t like them or b) they don’t fit, so instead I got a birthday card promising me a shopping trip at a later date).

Currently Jan is at his flat where he has to pick up a few things. But soon he’ll be coming over again so we can have dinner. Then we plan to spend the rest of the evening eating Ben & Jerry’s icecream and watching films. Not a bad Saturday I’m sure you’ll agree.

Shoes and other things that girls worry about before a night out

Loking at my stats, I’m quite pleased to see that my bookcrossing blog got 25 views yesterday and another 5 today. Now if only all 30 of those people have signed up things would be perfect. The more bookcrossers there are out there the higher the liklihood that I’ll find a free book lying around just begging for me to take it home and read it. Free books are definitely among my favourite things in the world. Actually, I quite like anything that I don’t have to pay for, but books are definitley among the best.
Good old Joachim Loew and his cigarette are still getting me a lot of traffic as well. His nickname is Jogi you know, which amuses me greatly. In German a ‘j’ is pronounced like an English ‘y’, so Mr. Loew shares his name with a certain cartoon bear. *snigger*

I’m feeling quite excited today. Jan and I are off to Baden Baden tonight with 6 other people. We’re going to a rather posh hotel called Brenner’s Park. I’m not sure how many stars it has… 4? 5? I just know it’s posh. And we’re going to have a 6 course meal there. Six courses! I don’t know how I’ll fit it all in! I’ve spent the whole morning making random comments like “I really need to pluck my eyebrows” and “I’m not sure what shoes to wear”. I expect Jan was quite pleased to escape back to his flat where he’s going to do computer sciency type stuff until it’s time to get ready. He wanted me to meet him at Marktplatz later so we can get the tram to the train station together, but I insisted that he come here first so I can take a photo of us in our posh clothes. It’s not often that I get an opportunity to get dressed up in posh clothes. I need photographic evidence to prove that it is actually possible for me to look good.

I have to go and write another job application now. This time for a company in Mannheim. Then I can get back to wondering what on Earth I’m going to do with my hair tonight.

Bookcrossers cross books at bookcrossing.com

Wow, I think I should blog about Joachim Loew smoking more often. I’ve had more hits tody than ever before (ok, I’ve only been blogging here for a week, but still…) The stats now say:

does joachim loew smoke? – 3
joachim löw smoking – 2
+ “joachim löw” + cigarette – 2
joachim löw cigarette – 1
joachim loew cigarette – 1
loew smoking – 1
“loew smoking” – 1
joachim loew+smoking – 1
joachim loew+cigarette – 1
joachim cigarette germany – 1

The numbers are how many people have searched for that phrase. Anyway, Mr. Loew isn’t what I want to talk about now. Instead I want to advertise one of my favourite websites, http://www.bookcrossing.com

Bookcrossing is brilliant, especially if you’re a book lover like me, and I think everyone should join. Basically it’s like a giant book club. The idea is you sign up for free, register any books you don’t want any more and they give you a number for them, called a Bookcrossing ID. You write the ID on the book, along with a note explaining that it’s a book crossing book (there are even special labels with a message already on them, all you have to do is fill in the BC ID). Then you can either leave the book somewhere (called wild releasing) or pass it on to someone else in person. If the boom is left in the wild, bookcrossers can find the book, go to the website and enter the number and you get an email telling you where the book is now. One book I left in Newcastle was taken by someone from Innsbruck! You then get to go looking for books that other people have “released”. You can set up your bookcrossing account so that you get an email every time someone releases a book in a town of your choice, so that you can go out and try to track it down.

There are also official book crossing zones, known as OBCZs in bookcrossing slang. These are public places, usually cafés, where one or two bookcrossing members have set up a bookshelf specially for bookcrossing books. Members can leave their books there instead of releasing them somewhere random. Other members can then come to that place and be guaranteed to find books. Another good thing about OBCZs is that they are set up by someone who lives in that town, and you can usually assume that they will pick somewhere good. Every time I go on holiday I check whether there’s a bookcrossing zone in that town. Not only can I gather new reading material, but at the same time I’m guaranteed to find at least one good place for a coffee while I’m on holiday.

I love the concept of bookcrossing. If more people got involved in this, less books would get thrown away. No book should ever be thrown away, unless it’s missing pages or disintegrated after being dropped in the bath. If you don’t want your books give them to bookcrossing! It’s not like it costs you anything…

For more information, and to register, check out http://www.bookcrossing.com

Oh, and I have to admit, I didn’t dream up the title of this blog – I’m not that creative! I actually stole it from the title of a group on Studivz (the German version of Facebook). Credit where credit’s due and all that…